Mario Yanez is passionate about the possibility of growing a Life-sustaining culture here in the Greater Everglades, his home bioregion. He is an ecologist, organic farmer, and activist, sharing his vision of the necessary transition toward growing ecologically-sustainable and resilient human communities everywhere. He has attained a deep understanding of our interconnectedness with all life, the severity of current ecological crises we collectively face, and the necessary evolution humans must go through in a short amount of time. Mario founded Earth Learning to create empowering, ecological learning experiences to assist in this cultural evolutionary process.
Mario has several decades of experience applying systems-thinking in nonprofits and educational institutions and has developed a gift for creating cutting-edge programming and curriculum that is relevant, effective and fundable. In his practice as Permaculture Designer, he is applying Permaculture design principles at various scales, implementing regenerative productive landscapes, organizations and social systems.
Buck Reilly received his Masters of Architecture from Washington University in Saint Louis and his Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University where he studied Art & Architectural History and Studio Art. He has spent his professional career focusing on the buildings of South Florida, and the climatic conditions which make our buildings different from the rest of the United States. At his Architecture firm RooTS DNA PA, and his building performance company, Pro Energy Consultants, Buck has found a marriage for his passions of Architecture, Horticulture, and Environmental Conservation in the practice of sustainable architectural design and whole building performance consulting. His spare time is spent serving on the South Miami Green Task Force, and the Board of Directors of the Miami chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, he is also an active member of the Miami Blue chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, the Tropical Audubon Society, and Rotary International. He and his wife enjoy turning their tiny little yard in South Miami into a productive habitat for themselves and all kinds of wildlife and telling anyone who is willing to listen all about it.
Christina Miller is an architectural and urban designer, planner and codifier with 16 years experience; she joined DPZ in 2005, where her focus has been the incorporation of sustainable elements into transect-based codes. Christina’s current projects include the highly-publicized urban retail street for Miami’s Design District, the University of Miami President’s House, the Seven50 Regional Prosperity Plan for Southeast Florida, and DPZ’s research initiative: Agrarian Urbanism. For Miami 21, Miami’s Form-Based Code, she focused on transforming existing thoroughfares of the City into more walkable, bikeable and transit-ready corridors. Before returning to graduate school, Christina spent several years employed in different aspects of architecture and urbanism, including the construction of Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti and downtown revitalization efforts for the New London Development Corporation. Afterwards, she worked for Shulman+Associates specializing in MiMo and modern design, where she was immersed in the climate adaptation techniques of early to mid-century Miami modernism. She holds a B.A. from Connecticut College and masters degrees in architecture and urbanism from the University of Miami where, among other distinctions, she was a Knight Scholar, received the 2004 Graduate Student Award and has taught several drawing and design studios.
Gary Costales is an expert and specialist in the area of labor and employment law. Mr. Costales is a former EEOC trial attorney and Administrative Judge and has litigated class and individual cases throughout the United States. Mr. Costales has also represented deserving employees in dozens, if not hundreds of contract disputes. Mr. Costales has also worked on behalf of municipalities and Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Costales occasionally publishes articles dealing with labor and employment law and also speaks at seminars. Throughout the years, Mr. Costales has been involved in the South Florida Historical Association and the City of Coral Gables, having served on two boards of that organization and city. Mr. Costales is presently a board member of the City of South Miami's Historic Preservation Board.
Dion Taylor is co-owner of rawOne Foods, a raw “living” food snack manufacturer based in Hollywood, Florida. Dion has a Bachelors Degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of New Orleans and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Georgia Tech. He served on the Boards of Positive Growth Inc., an organization that provides shelter and life skills training to abandoned minority boys. He spent the last 18 years in the high-tech industry where he held a variety of management level positions, in 2009 he and his wife, a 20 year Personal Chef veteran…discovered the raw “living” food diet, combining their passion for healthy cuisine, sustainable food sources, and earth conscious living, they launched rawOne Foods. A Hollywood based raw “living” food snacks business which supplies stores such as Whole Foods and Yoga & Pilates studios around Broward/Dade counties.
The Advisory Council
Carlos Gonzalez holds a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Miami. He teaches classroom and WebCT English literature and composition courses at the InterAmerican Campus of Miami Dade College, where he also serves as Campus Coordinator for Service Learning. He was awarded an Endowed Teaching Chair in 2006. Carlos served as core faculty for the College’s Earth Ethics Institute where he was instrumental in the development of Green Studies Professional Development courses for faculty, designed to assist faculty in infusing their curriculum with concepts of Earth Literacy and sustainability. In collaboration with Florida International University’s Center for Urban Education and Innovation, Carlos led the effort to launch the Earth Ethics, Social Justice and Intercultural Literacy Certificate which fuses environmentalism and social justice issues. In addition, he helped establish an educational garden at Phillis Wheatley Elementary in Overtown, Miami’s original black community. The project is for elementary school students in the I Have a Dream Program, which provides tutoring and mentoring for students through high school and scholarships for college. Carlos helped design curriculum that integrates biology, writing and the arts. College students work on the garden to complete service-learning and field experience projects that explore education, racism, poverty and environmentalism.
Deena Blazejack is Professor Emeritus of English at Miami Dade College where she was an endowed chair recipient. She was the co-founder of the College’s EcoUrban program, an interdisciplinary, residential honors program in downtown Miami for which she was awarded Recognition for Innovation of the Year by the League for Innovation in the Community College. Deena now serves on the national advisory board for the Earth Ethics Institute. In her retirement Deena is enjoying her organic kitchen garden, meditative walks on the beach, riding her bike and devoting time each day to writing. She is currently working on a novel and is Artist in Residence at Deering Estate.
Joyce DiBenedetto Colton holds a Masters degree in Adult Education and Graduate Certificates in both Public Health and Environmental Studies from Florida International University. As former Director of the Earth Ethics Institute (EEI) at Miami Dade College (MDC) she now serves as a Council member of EEI and facilitates professional development Green Studies workshops for faculty. Joyce also served as Coordinator for the College’s Animal Ethics Study Center, receiving the 2003 Innovation in the Study of Animals and Society Award for Excellence presented by the Humane Society of the United States. As an adjunct faculty member at MDC, Joyce taught courses in Energy in the Natural Environment, and Preparing for Student Success. In 1998 she received Recognition for Innovation of the Year by the League for Innovation in the Community College, for her collaboration in establishing the award-winning Eco-Urban Honors Program, a college-credit residential environmental program for students located at the historical Miami River Inn in East Little Havana. Joyce has worked to help establish a number of innovative programs at MDC since 1975, including the Environmental Center at Kendall Campus which broke ground in 1978. Her work in the general community includes giving demonstrations and workshops in organic gardening and vegan nutrition. Joyce is a nationally Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).