CHICAGO—If you're looking for nightlife fun, concerts, festivals, exhibits or community events to attend here for free, than Salvador Sandoval, 34, says the website he created, City Vida, is the place to visit.
Sandoval, a Chicago native, founded City Vida ("vida" means "life" in Spanish) in 2008, during the middle of the country's deepest recession since the Great Depression. He says the site gives people an outlet to escape the reality of tough economic times and highlights fun, family-friendly events citywide for free.
"City Vida was inspired by the idea that there wasn't one website out there that provided a combined effort of local entertainment for the Latino community," said Sandoval. "It's a one-stop portal featuring concerts, nightlife, festivals and community related events for the entire family."
The website, www.cityvida.com also features music, humor and cartoon videos, and sitcom clips oriented toward Chicago's diverse Latino communities, says Sandoval. It displays news about pop culture, contests, a space for comments and a photo gallery recapping sponsored events that website visitors have attended.
"I want people to have the opportunity to decide on various options whether it's visiting art exhibits, museums, festivals or concerts," said Sandoval. "The website revolves around relevant and accessible content for folks to make a fun and educational entertainment decision."
Sandoval said City Vida prides itself on identifying events that are free and helps promote the idea of giving back to the community.
"At the end of the day people just want to be a part of something and City Vida gives them that opportunity to connect, network and come together and experience life and share what Chicago has to offer," notes Sandoval.
Given the high unemployment rates and financial woes many Latino and other working-class communities struggle with these days, it is important that City Vida promote activities where people don't have to reach deep into their pockets to participate, says Sandoval.
He added that the site also identifies local initiatives with which people can get involved, such as programs helping senior citizens or others promoting economic and community development.
Sandoval says he is also looking forward to sponsoring a Day of the Dead event in the heart of Chicago's Mexican-American Pilsen neighborhood later this month.
In the age of more and more information rapidly available on the internet, City Vida uses Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to attract visitors. Every week Sandoval says he recommends City Vida ideas for people in a newsletter sent out to friends on Facebook.
"We're moving toward allowing our visitors to become even more involved with the website where they can actually upload their own videos to watch, or post events and pictures, and share what they love about Chicago," said Sandoval.
It's important to have a space where working people can seek out free cultural events geared toward the Latino community and learn about how to get active in their neighborhoods, said Sandoval. "City Vida is truly a community-based initiative and really is an effort to unite Chicago's diverse populations," he said.
Image: Courtesty cityvida.com