Geeks & Geezers
Rev. Michael Pergola MA, MBA, JD is the inspiration and visionary for behind the Center for reGenerative Ecology, Education & Enterprise Development (CREEED). He stepped off the “Carousel of Conventional Life” over a decade ago, after meeting an 80-year-old man named John McMillin. His legacy has continued as an inspiration to younger folks such as one of the initiatives leaders, Chuck Lazarus.
Chuck Lazarus has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, one of Michael’s alma maters, and has travelled extensively with a focus on understanding the plight of the planet. His quick intelligence, communications and tangible energy are vital elements for the leadership role he plays in putting the systemic vision Michael developed over decades into action.
A Team of Colleagues
Founder, Hellgate Farm
Rob McGrath is a co-founder of Hellgate Farm, an Queens, New York-based urban farm recently relocated to the Berkshire region. In addition, One area of focus is sustainable design construction specializing in upcycling discarded materials and repurposing them into design elements. Since 2011, Hellgate Farm has constructed and operated various farms from Queens to Cannan, connecting urban to rural with a focus on food and climate justice.
Sycamore is a healer of soil, soul & society. A certified permaculture designer, Work That Reconnects facilitator, and Way of Council space holder, he interweaves ecological and social regeneration, offering "Soil & Soul Suppers,” transformational food journeys that aim to re-enchant our relationship to both the sacred earth, and our unique soul mission. For eight years, he has traveled the country, apprenticing at many permaculture farms, homesteads, and intentional communities.
Dr. Michael Finkelstein, MD
Dr. Michael Finkelstein trained in conventional medicine and practiced internal medicine and was the Medical Director of a hospital for 20 years before embarking on further training in Integrative and Holistic Medicine. He went on to create a Health and Wellness Center, called SunRaven, and wrote Slow Medicine: Hope and Healing for Chronic Illness, because he realized that individuals need more than what is found in typical medical institutions. SunRaven is now the home of his practice.
Solaqua Renewable Power
Jody Rael is an entrepreneur, inventor and environmentalist. Jody created Solaqua Power and Art in 2005. The mission of Solaqua is to integrate renewable energy and the arts, and promote a sustainable future through community education and revitalization. In addition, Jody founded Sundog Solar to install solar electric and solar thermal systems for residential and business clients throughout the Hudson Valley. Jody launced Sundog Cider, of making small batch, hand crafted artisanal hard cider in 2013.
Silvia Neri is a yoga teacher, architect and permaculture designer born in Italy. Her permaculture designs focus on urban applications, such as creation of edible gardens on rooftops, terraces, and yards, design of rain water catchment systems, and applications for DEP grants. She leads weekly vinyasa yoga classes in New York City 6 months a year, and runs Orto Dell'Idro, a non-profit Yoga Eco Farm based in the Italian town of Otranto for the other 6 months.
Farm to Table Chef in Residence
Ricardo Pacheco was born in Ponce PR were his love for working with nature and cooking large family meals was inspired.
He has worked as a Banquet chef for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston & the Executive Chef at the Belmont Country Club. Ricardo has a culinary degree from Escuela Hotelera de San Juan. Certified in Permaculture design from Sowing Solutions in Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts, Ricardo brings culinary expertise and a special emphasis on the healthy soil to soul connection for the wellbeing of all.
Nayda Cuevas, MFA
Artist in Residence
Nayda A. Cuevas Ramos was born in Puerto Rico. She obtained a BFA in Fine Art (2002) from Stetson University in Deland FL and her MFA in Visual Arts (2015) at Lesley College of Art.
Ms. Cuevas passion emerged for unearthing a visual language to better articulate through visual arts her observation and/or interpretation of her Latina American experience. As an artist her interest lies in using history, art history, and current cultural trends to produce images of both her physical and emotional experiences of displacement. She has exhibited locally at the Fitchburg Art Museum and Mattatuck Museum, CT, among others and was an artist in residence at Mass MOCA/Assets for Artists.
Author, Videographer, Communications Specialist
Kate West has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. She attended the Atlantic Theater Company Professional Training Program in New York City, The Lyme Academy of Fine Art and The Art Student’s League in Manhattan where she studied classical drawing and paining. She has worked on both sides of the camera in Cape Town, South Africa where she was a sought after voice over actor and independent film producer. . She is the author and creator of the La Befana and the Star book series as well as its spin off show, Mangia Magic with La Befana and Friends.
Founding Partner - Integrative Permaculture
Ben co-founded Imani Energy Inc., in 2008 with a commitment to community and human transformation, linking concerns for environmental equity and care for our planet with renewable energy, bringing decentralized, solar power generation to traditionally under-served, communities in Los Angeles. He managed the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Los Angeles, including daily operations, cafeteria and kitchen,
finance, book sales, program scheduling, registration, building operations and departmental management of over 40 departments.
Philip B. Uninsky, JD
Nonprofit Consultant & Legal Counsel
Philip established the Youth Policy Institute in late 1996. As an evaluator, academic social scientist, legislative counsel, and legal advocate for children and families at risk, Mr. Uninsky has worked extensively in the fields of juvenile justice, education, child welfare, and domestic violence. He has engaged in a wide range of policy research and comprehensive systems evaluations concerning juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, violence prevention programming, and human services delivery. His law degree is from New York University.