Actually Act!

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The Legacy Youth Voice (LYV) was established four years prior to the London 2012 Games and is the flagship youth programme for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. LYV is one of the longest-standing and most vibrant groups contributing to the built environment design and development in the UK. Over 350 young people from diverse backgrounds have been part of LYV, inputting on all development on the Park, including the new neighbourhoods and East Bank. Lola Martinez-Rufetehas been part of the LYV since 2016, working on a wide range of projects. She has reviewed the festival programme and produced her curated list of top events happening across Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Image: Members of the Legacy Youth Voice

Act. What does it mean and how do you actually do it? In my experience as a 20-year-old female student, I have seen many problems raised, discussed, and even theorised but rarely ever acted on. I have found that talking about solutions is much easier and more glamorous than actively implementing them to inspire real social change. I call this the ‘design stage’- the point before the real hard work – when the future seems exciting as well as the point at which the discussion stops but action rarely follows.

So back to my original question, what does it mean to act and how do you actually do it? To me, acting is going beyond that ‘design stage’, it is deconstructing an issue and it is rebuilding it with new and improved foundations. In my case, acting has meant getting involved with my local community by joining a youth group called Legacy Youth Voice (LYV) to help shape future spaces and legitimise young voices. The LYV, in collaboration with London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), have offered a platform for young people, like me, to become significant contributors to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its evolution, while also highlighting the importance of including young people in the conversation. Ultimately, LYV has enabled me and many others to finally act.

In line with the London Festival of Architecture’s 2022 theme of ‘Act’ and coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games, I have curated a list of 7 highlights from the many amazing #LFA2022 events taking place over the coming weeks in June that resonate with me and which I feel are particularly reflective of this year’s theme of Act.

The events I have chosen are in no specific order and are as follows:

How can we Design Cities for Women?

This event is especially relevant today. We need to start considering preventative, safe infrastructure as a crucial element of the design process as opposed to an afterthought or response following trauma and loss.

Delivering an inclusive design legacy

Understanding how spaces have been created to reflect and support diversity is essential to understanding our environment and how it has been tailored to us. If I am being honest, I didn’t even know that there were spaces in the Park built with inclusivity at the forefront of its design, so I think this event that can shed a lot of light on the lesser-known history of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Supporting Communities in Changing Areas: The Neighbourhood Priorities Fund

This is a really unique opportunity to discover and learn about how local funding is distributed and assigned to different initiatives in a transparent manner. As such, local residents can use this panel discussion as a starting point to begin to assert their individual and collective power.

Sustainability at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park: Delivering a legacy, planning for the future

Given the current climate crisis, the reality is that acting now to make sustainable choices is the only way we can guarantee a future for the planet. This session is significant as it reflects and aims to improve sustainable initiatives in the built environment industry, meaning you may walk away with a better understanding of how you can help save the planet.

Art in the Park – a walking tour of Park’s public artworks art and social history

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and its surrounding areas, like Hackney Wick, have a deep history of art, culture, and creativity. This event gives you the opportunity to discover area’s art, what it represents and its significance to the community.

As such, it’s a great chance to learn about how meaningful art can help combat gentrification and keep the area’s roots and social history at the centre of its story. Also, the art itself is great, so it just seems like a fun session to attend!

School of Activism Forum

I picked this because it is very similar to what an LYV session would look like, and it shares the same key goal – to facilitate and encourage dialogue from and amongst young individuals about activism and issues that pertain to the local community.

Neuroformology: Architecture Meets Neuroscience

This seems like such an interesting session to participate in. I think establishing a relationship between architecture and neuroscience is very abstract, but offers a different perspective on what it means to ‘act’. I really like the message portrayed by this session that, “to the human brain, the world itself is a call for action. Moving around and doing things, the most rudimentary yet the most complex brain functions, are how we explore the environment, how we interact, and how we learn. In building and designing the environment, we build ourselves. Consequently, everything we build, and design should be a call for action”. I think this is a beautiful outlook and one that I had never considered before. I am, therefore, excited to learn more.

I have selected the above based on their relevance to the festival theme of Act as well as their overall relationship with the community and contribution to social change. Many of the themes tackled by the events I have chosen align with the discourses held at LYV meetings, which have identified women’s safety in public spaces, inclusivity, gentrification, sustainability, authenticity, and activism as pertinent issues within the local community.

The main thing I would like for anyone reading this to take away is that these issues do exist. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about them. Although you and I alone can’t change the world, through collaboration and action we can make a difference. Even one small drop can make a ripple.

Don’t just talk about action, actually act!


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