Couple’s experiment in sustainability
forging ahead in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District


Nando Jaramillo and Blair Butterfield, above, and Colony1 volunteers, below, participate in the Colony1 design charrette, May 2-3, 2014



Editor’s note: Because Edible Palm Beach aims to keep our readers informed about the people, movements and trends that are contributing to a sustainable South Florida, we will occasionally provide updates on significant developments in topics previously covered.

Upon a vacant lot in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami—where a dumpster sits filled with construction trash and a few scraggly trees provide scant shade—will rise a unique development that may lead the way forward in this age of rising seas and climate change.

Colony1, the brainchild of environmental activists Nando Jaramillo and Blair Butterfield, has received the support of the community and the blessing of county leaders. This facility is designed as an ecological think tank combined with a working laboratory that fosters collaboration between art and environmental research. The site will comprise a green building constructed from shipping containers, as well as public spaces that include a cooperative organic garden. On April 8, 2014, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners granted a 50-year land lease to the couple’s nonprofit organization, Art of Cultural Evolution (ACE), to build Colony1 on the 14,000-square-foot lot on Northwest 22nd Street.

Jaramillo and Butterfield wasted no time pushing ahead with their vision. They organized and held a design charrette May 3-4 at the Miami Center for Architectural Design downtown. More than 60 participants—including artists, architects, designers, scientists, environmentalists, professors, students and community members—watched a series of topical presentations before splitting into smaller groups to create design concepts for Colony1. These designs were then shared and discussed.

The event was supported by a grant from Awesome Foundation Miami. Meals were prepared by local chef Sebastian Schwam and his family. The food was all local, organic, raw and vegan—which, Butterfield says, helped create a symbolic connection between the charrette and Colony1’s mission: “people, ecology, connectivity and sustainability.”

Next up will be to create an exhibition of the participants’ design ideas, continue with committee activities, and plan more community events to keep the momentum going.

“Things are unfolding and moving forward with such high-caliber volunteers,” Jaramillo marvels. While dozens have signed on to donate their time and talents, help is still needed in the areas of administrative assistance, grant writing, graphic and Web design and social media, he says.

But volunteers alone will not make Colony1 happen. Although the lease comes with no rent, ACE still will be responsible for property costs such as taxes, service fees, etc. And that’s on top of the money necessary to build and operate the facility. “We need to raise funds ASAP,” Jaramillo notes.

“We know that this is a true community project that people want,” Butterfield says. “People are receptive to learning and adapting to new ways to live. Sealevel rise might be inevitable; but with the right path, we believe Miami can be resilient and vibrant. It just takes a little innovation.”

550 NW 22 St., Miami, FL 33127
For more information:; and

Comments are closed.