Greetings, visitors! I’m
I’m a Miami-based social scientist, writer, speaker, educator and eco-social-spatial justice advocate deeply committed to cultivating a kinder world and more just and sustainable cities. My life purpose is to help decolonize mind-body-spirit so we recognize and honor our interconnectedness with all in the web of life.
Through my eco-social impact business, TerraViva Journeys, I offer courses, content and workshops to help people boost critical thinking, expand sensory awareness, and transform their thinking about places, people (and all beings), and themselves. I teach youth and adults in classrooms, online and through experiential learning, including unique walking tours. Through this kind of teaching, people deepen understanding of how their own identities and feelings of belonging interrelate with overlapping systems, histories, spaces and embodied experiences.
A Commitment to Eco-Social-Spatial Justice
Currently, I am also the Visiting Faculty for a renowned study abroad program, IHP Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, Politics, for the School for International Training. This program focuses on urbanization and social/spatial justice in four cities (New York, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Cape Town) within the global economy. Student participants witness how citizens live, work, and organize to advance more just urban environments.
I am also a widely recognized expert on Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. In addition to co-authoring the book, A History of Little Havana, I have nearly completed the manuscript for my second book on its Calle Ocho heritage district. For more than a decade, I have designed and led unique walking tours of Little Havana based on in-depth ethnographic and archival research on the neighorhood, including more than sixty interviews.
Topics I enjoy speaking about include:
- tourism, place-making, memory-making and their relationship to socio-spatial justice;
- the the history of Florida, Miami, Little Havana and Cuba (and how these histories intertwine);
- race, identity and belonging in diaspora/immigrant communities (and especially Miami’s Cuban community);
- gentrification and the racial politics of heritage and tourism district development;
- the role of cultural arts in place-making and socio-spatial justice.
As an experienced speaker and educator, I have had the privilege of presenting and teaching various courses and workshops at esteemed institutions, organizations and convenings.
Commitment & Qualifications
Throughout my journey, I’ve made a point of dismantling divisive “single stories” about people and place. I strive to nurture meaningful, diverse relationships that deepen a planetary ethic. As a seasoned consultant in civic engagement, inclusive and equitable land use decision-making, and creative placemaking, I have actively contributed to systemic change for sustainable democracies.
The New York Times, NPR, National Geographic Traveler and other prestigious outlets have quoted me for their stories on Little Havana. I have also been showcased in a PBS documentary series celebrating women leaders, profiled in a distinguished urban planning textbook, and featured in an exhibition by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, dedicated to highlighting inspiring Little Havana changemakers.
I hold a Ph.D. in Global & Sociocultural Studies, specializing in cultural anthropology, from Florida International University (FIU). For my exceptional research contributions, I was honored with the Alex Stepick Award for Outstanding Dissertation, complemented by graduate certificates in African & African Diaspora Studies and Afro-Latin American Studies acquired during my time at FIU.
Caring For Community
Beyond my professional pursuits, I enjoy immersing myself in the vibrant atmosphere of port cities, engaging in meaningful conversations, grooving the tumbao of Latin jazz, participating in street festivals and processions, climbing trees, civic engagement in my community, and dancing Afro-Cuban rumba, which I have studied for over 15 years.
Ultimately, my work aims to inspire a more kind and equitable world.