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2 November 2022

Jonathan Smales

Creating inclusive, stunning environments, with Jonathan Smales

Jonathan SmalesCo-founder and Executive Chairman of Human Nature
00:00 / 01:04
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In this fascinating and visionary interview, Jonathan:

  • Gives insight into his background and how the shift in attitude towards the environment in the 1980s influenced his goals.

  • Describes some of the built environment projects he and other members of the Human Nature team have been involved in, both with and before Human Nature.

  • Relates the process of co-production and collaboration in Human Nature to Alan’s description of Steve Jobs' approach to innovation.

  • Talks through how the Phoenix project in Lewes, East Sussex, UK started; its scale, the development and planning process, how they plan to make the project carbon negative, and the solutions and the resources that will be available on the estate to create a sustainable neighbourhood and a ‘living landscape’.

  • Outlines the financial side of the project, revealing some of the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them through different streams of funding and investment.

  • Discusses aligned values and how, in the case of the Phoenix, this also includes residents, business owners, and investors.

  • Shares his opinion on what factors currently prevent equitable projects that create a vibrant community.

  • Reveals his background of business training as a civil servant and working for Greenpeace, recalling mistakes he made along his career and the lessons he learnt working with a friend.

  • Expounds on some of his learnings from both Greenpeace and Human Nature, including mentality, values, and the power of doing good and surrounding yourself with good people.

Jonathan Smales

Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Human Nature


1:33 – Introducing Human Nature.

5:53 – Shifting attitudes towards the environment.

10:50 – How Human Nature projects generate innovation.

13:54 – The process of co-production and collaboration.

15:34 – How the Phoenix Project started.

21:44 – The timeline for the Phoenix project.

23:28 – Planning to be carbon negative.

28:38 – Resources to create a sustainable neighbourhood and a ‘living landscape’.

31:42 – How Human Nature is making the neighbourhood economic and accessible.

38:19 – Financial challenges.

44:00 – Aligning values across all project stakeholders.

45:38 – Blockers to equitable projects building vibrant communities.

46:30 – Mistakes along the way.

51:50 – The power of doing good.

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