Mariano Avila

Inclusion Reporter

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
Mariano was born in Mexico City, Mexico, where he learned the value of civic engagement and public discourse. His life and work have taken him from refugee camps in Palestine to garbage-dump communities in Egypt, Guatemala, and Mexico. He has met presidents and dignitaries from several countries, as well several international celebrities.
Mariano is a graduate of Calvin College and has an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

Earlier this week, the Grand Rapids City Commission discussed The High Cost of Inequality, a study by the West Michigan Leadership Collaborative. 

Deputy City Commissioner, Eric DeLong, acknowledged that disparities are real and are part of Grand Rapids. But he invited commissioners to envision what he called a “future-state” in which disparities are addressed. What followed circled largely around one topic: employment. Here’s Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear.

Downtown Grand Rapids
Wikimedia | Grguy2011

Is Grand Rapids the next Ferguson?

That's the question that packed hundreds of people into Wealthy Theatre last week to listen to and engage with the ACLU-assembled panel discussing some deeply-rooted issues.

Mark Fancher is the racial justice attorney for the ACLU.

He moderated the 'Avoiding the Next Ferguson' panel in Grand Rapids before a packed house and set the tone by framing the creation of America's police departments in a provocative historic context.

Here's a story with a happy ending.

A West Michigan couple that retired in the Mexican Pacific Coast is alive and well following Friday's Hurricane Patricia.

Mary and Marvin Dolinka lived in Ada until three years ago, when they decided to retire in a tiny hotel they bought in Sayulita - a town just 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

"It's known for its beautiful beaches, its friendly people, everything is in walking distance." 

But the news over the weekend warned that Patricia, a hurricane with 200 mph winds, would be catastrophic. 

Mariano Avila / WGVU

One in 68 children born in the United States today is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This week, the Autism Society of Michigan organized a conference in Grand Rapids to share and compare resources.

Kira Rockman has a 14-year-old child on the Autism spectrum. She attended the Autism Society of Michigan's conference on Monday because, she says, of the practical examples and the activities she can get there.  

"It's given me a lot of really great ideas about things that I can incorporate, just going to church, going to school and just every day ideas."