Foundation’s CEO to speak on 1 March at Festival of Place: Social Impact 2022

We are pleased to share the news that our CEO Maria Adebowale-Schwarte will be giving an indepth talk for this year’s Festival of Place: Social Impact on Tuesday 1 March from 12-1pm.

Having reinvented itself as a digital event series during lockdown with its popular Bytesize talks, Festival of Place bounced back into live events in October 2021 with a relaxed conference at Tobacco Dock in East London. Now the “uncommonly interesting” event organiser, with content powered by The Developer, has announced a hybrid schedule of events for 2022 in what’s promising to be its biggest year since its launch in 2019.

Maria’s talk will focus on the capacity building work that the Foundation is doing to support and empower East London communities as part of our Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund, an ambitious five-year programme that aims to invest £10 million into the local communities of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest, funded by retail destination Westfield Stratford City.

The Fund aims to transform and catalyse the lives and careers of people in East London by putting funding, resources and support straight into local people’s hands. It will provide new jobs, learning, training and educational programmes through the means of arts, culture, innovation, public realm and creative placemaking. Already in our second year, we have some fascinating learnings and tips to share on how our strategies are working out.

The first event of the year, Festival of Place: Social Impact, is virtual featuring three lunchtime sessions on Airmeet from 11-1:30pm daily on the 1-3 March with a line-up of authors, researchers and professionals.

“Our community wants our digital events to be rich yet bitesized – like the perfect biscuit,” writes Festival of Place Director Christine Murray. “We respect our speakers by giving them enough airtime to share their expert insights, and our audience with enough space to ask questions.”

The Festival of Place is committed to breaking down silos in the property and design industries to bring together purpose-driven professionals who want their work in urban regeneration to make a positive social and environmental impact. It seeks to connect like-minded professionals to form new partnerships to support change in the industry.

The speakers from Social Impact will focus on how urban property can make a meaningful social and environmental contribution through their place-based work. It’s about how to move beyond what Murray describes as “the tick-box approach” to social impact and making a real difference to the people and the place.

“Our community wants our digital events to be rich yet bitesized – like the perfect biscuit” 

Speakers at Festival of Place: Social Impact include:

  • Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative (2018) and her latest book, Heartbreak: A personal and scientific journey (2022) will share her insights on how beauty and nature can help people heal and feel better.
  • Sarah Forster, CEO and Co-Founder of The Good Economy Partnership will be speaking about making a meaningful and measurable place-based social impact. Having worked at the forefront of finance for positive impact for more than 25 years, Forster previously worked in the fields of sustainable economic development, development finance and impact measurement and management before founding The Good Economy in 2015.
  • Dr. Isabelle Anguelovski will be sharing her research on green gentrification and what policies and practices you need to ensure climate resilience and net zero includes all citizens. Anguelovski studies how environmental injustice is materialised and contested, including the social and racial manifestations and impacts of green gentrification for historically marginalised residents and urban planning for health and wellbeing, with a focus on land use, health equity and justice
  • Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO of the Foundation for Future London, will share her insights on capacity building in communities to ensure they gain from urban regeneration. The foundation is a charity set up in 2015 to connect the communities of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest with the new East Bank and its globally renowned arts, innovation and cultural partners. The Foundation for Future London fundraises to expand grant-making and creative placemaking opportunities.
  • Professor Nick Tyler, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at UCL, will share his latest research on how urban parks affect the human brain and behaviour, as learned through experiments in the UCL urban environments laboratory, PEARL. Tyler works in a transdisciplinary way, researching how humans respond to urban environments physically through their senses, and how we can design the city to be encourage sociality.
  • Filip Mesko is an architect and academic researching the divide between the town and country, from the design of the original garden cities, to the emergence of the suburbs, to BIG’s latest proposals for eco-developments. Mesko will discuss the merging of countryside, ‘wildness’ and urban as we see future town-planning paradigms for the survival of life in a world remade by climate change.
  • Olaide Oboh is a Director at Socius Developments, a developer committed to making a positive social and environmental impact. Oboh will share their key approaches to delivering a place-based social impact for the communities in which they work.
  • Andrew van Doorn is Chief Executive of HACT, which helps the housing sector drive value for residents and communities by supporting the measurement of social value and connections to the NHS and other like-minded organisations.
  • Romy Rawlings is a landscape architect and Commercial Director of sustainable street-furnituremaker Vestre. Rawlings is the author of Healing Gardens. She believes in the value that the external environment offers to everyone who engages with it and is consistently focused on the creation of high-quality landscapes of every character and scale.

The Festival of Place is selling tickets to the individual events, but also membership passes for individuals and organisations who wish to attend all events for the year.

For information on tickets, passes and all events, please visit

Social Impact is only the first of three events hosted by Festival of Place this year.

Festival of Place: The Pineapples, featuring the 40+ case studies shortlisted for the annual awards and live judging is a two-week online event broadcasting in May.

The in-person annual Festival of Place is taking place on 6 July at Boxpark Wembley – a new venue for the Festival, which in addition to multiple stages, will host walking tours of the surrounding build-to-let development, Wembley Park. The Pineapples awards will be presented at a party at the close of the Festival of Place, promising a traditional “knees-up” as well as the trophy prize-giving of golden pineapples.

In November, Festival of Place: Climate Resilience will bring together a community of professionals committed to biodiversity, water and energy resilience to hear fresh voices and share case studies.

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