Damien Porter was born in Santa Monica, California, raised in Pasadena, California, and has been living in Sayulita since 1993. He has been a member of Pro Sayulita for eight years, and currently serves as a board member. He is also involved in raising funds for Costa Verde International School and has been doing so for approximately five years.
How did you get involved with Pro Sayulita?
I was invited to participate in Pro Sayulita by Marcos Scott when he was president and that’s when we started having the annual fundraising Fiesta. Nick, my partner in Don Pedro’s, decided that the best way to raise funds was for us to throw the party and donate all the food, beverage, service, and location to Pro Sayulita.
How does Pro Sayulita make a difference in Sayulita?
Pro Sayulita makes a big difference in town in terms of supporting state and municipal services that otherwise would not be provided for at decent levels, such as police, fire, and emergency services. We have also been able to help with lifeguard programs for the beach, perform water testing for the treatment plant and we now have a Ministerio Publico (State Attorney office) in Sayulita as well. Pro Sayulita also helps with improvements and donations for public primary and secondary schools, Sayulita Turtle Camp, the SayulitAnimals program, the Sayulimpia program, which cleans the beach and beach street entrances, and auxilary support to municipal waste disposal collection. Also, the creation and the operation of the recycle center and trash depot is a huge help to town funded by Pro Sayulita.
What motivates you to continue to try to make a positive impact in Sayulita?
I strongly believe that all home/business owners here in Sayulita should be trying to make a positive impact. As a home and business owner myself, I depend on a viable town for both residents and tourists alike and the need to build a sustainable and just economy while still maintaining a village atmosphere. The fact that I am raising my family here has also greatly contributed to my awareness of our growing pains and the need for me and everyone else to do their part.
What changes do you want to see brought about by Pro Sayulita?
Pro Sayulita has invested a lot of political capital in lobbying efforts to help manage the growth of the town in a positive way. We need to make sure that regulations are in place and enforced to protect legitimate businesses, the quality of life, and to ensure that Sayulita remains a village that is safe and clean for everyone to enjoy. The Pueblo Magico qualification was a result of a big effort on our part to get some leverage and a seat at the table to help manage zoning regulations and planning, while securing direct funding for infrastructure projects via federal and state governments. Hopefully we can manage enough progress this first year on cleanliness and order to remain in the Pueblo Magico program, but it has been difficult so far.
What role do you play?
I guess my main roles are that of a fundraiser for the group, as well as facilitating the interchange of ideas with membership and government agencies that are open to our involvement in resolving issues in the town.
What have you gained from your involvement with Pro Sayulita?
A better understanding of the seriousness of the issues facing Sayulita and how to best affect change locally while bringing in the appropriate authorities to ensure that our resolutions are real and long lasting.
What positive changes have you seen brought about by your efforts? What are you most proud of?
Better security and safety in town via the State Police station and the fire truck and ambulance donated by Pro Sayulita.
What additional change(s) would you like to see in the future and what are you doing to make this happen?
Priority number one is getting the water treatment plant fully operational and to make the major upgrades needed while securing professional management of the plant. Secondly, we need to manage the beach, streets, and plaza more professionally. Right now Sayulita suffers from the abuse and overuse of public space predominantly by illegal individuals and businesses. We need a traffic plan that makes sense for residents, tourists, and businesses, and we really need to shut down illegal installations in public areas.
How can others help?
Easy! Become a member of Pro Sayulita, participate at the committee level to come up with solutions, and donate generously.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Another great way to help out is to purchase your ticket for the Pro Sayulita Fiesta, which is on Wednesday, March 16th. Purchase your ticket here.