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

It’s early in the morning and Martel Posey, the new executive director of Spokes Folks, is making arrangements to move an entire bike shop gifted to his organization from a donor in Bay City to Grand Rapids.

“Forty bikes, a bunch of tools, and a bunch of just boxes of parts that have been sitting there for a while now. And they thought it would be the perfect place to continue the story.”

Screenshot / WGVU

UPDATE: GRCRC issued a statement of thanks to Flamingo Lounge for apologizing and canceling the event. 

The Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission issued a press release encouraging respect and cultural sensitivity during costume events following an incident in which a West Side bar promoted a party themed Cowboys and Indians. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive Mariano Avila has the story.

“Nobody wants to get a press release calling them out for their behavior.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

  LINC UP held a ceremony last night announcing the winners of its annual Community Spirit Awards which also kicked off its Empowered Communities Conference. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, Mariano Avila has the story.

Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of LINC set the tone of the awards and conference saying that all the nominees and presenters whether they work on African American unemployment or children’s lead levels in zip code 49507 have one thing in common.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

Grand Rapids Nonprofit LINC-UP is hosting the second-annual Empowering Communities Conference at DeVos place tonight and tomorrow. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, Mariano Avila has more.

“It really is a chance for us to bring together a lot of people who are doing great work in Grand Rapids and around the country and have a chance to listen to what these things are and get inspired, get renewed, get some new ideas, and improve the quality of work that we all are doing.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

The rain holds off but the clouds cool the thousands who gathered at Cannonsburg Ski Area. Whole families, with spreads ranging from traditional home-cooked meals to chopped fruit and soft drinks. Half or more of the audience is Latino, a rarity for symphony concerts, though not surprising given that the symphony is performing with the best Mariachi in the world, and their joint conductor for the day Nathaniel Espinoza.

“The board of the Grand Rapids Symphony they wanted to get together both cultures, Mexican, Latin cultures, and the American culture of course.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

“Mino Bimaadiziwin is a story about a young, trans-gender Anishnaabe man who has lost all connection to his culture living in the city. Until one day this mysterious Anishnaabe woman, Bungishimogikwe, comes into his life and kind of introduces him back into the culture and the community.”

That’s Shane McSauby, writer and director of the film who calls Grand Rapids home.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

Thousands marched from Garfield Park to the Calder Plaza as part of the “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration in Grand Rapids. 

It felt more like an improvised rally than a protest. Row after row made the three-mile trek to the sounds of drums.


And the usual chants.

But of course, it wasn't a rally. 

-"We are here with Carla Barbei, she's one of the organizers of the march 'A Day Without Immigrants."

Shafer Photography / Shafer Photography

Grand Rapids has a new poet laureate! The Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation announced today that Marcel Price, better known as Fable the Poet, will be our new ambassador of letters. However, more interesting is that he is the first laureate of color, the first one under age 40 and the first one without a college degree. Yet, his career speaks for itself, as he tours the country regularly with his poems. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, Mariano Avila brings us this extended interview with Fable.


Shafer Photography / Shafer Photography

The new Grand Rapids Poet Laureate is the first person of color, first person under forty years of age, and the first laureate without a four-year degree.

The Grand Rapids Public Library made its announcement Tuesday morning naming Marcel Price, or Fable, the city’s poet laureate, not just because he’s published a book of poems or won awards, but because of his vision for bringing poetry to everyone in Grand Rapids.  

“There’s poetry shows almost every single night of the week in our city and people don’t know that.”

A government ethics watchdog says it has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against congressman Justin Amash and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino over a twitter feud.