Grounded Space


Grounded Space is a Research & Development Collective that brings together social service organizations to build teams who can ask critical questions, do research, generate alternatives, make & test ideas, and continuously iterate.

Grounded Space is powered by InWithForward. We’re an international team of designers, social scientists, and community leaders ready for big change. We’ve worked in 6 countries, inside and outside of government, unions, foundations, advocacy organizations, social services, and design firms.  The Grounded Space team is made up of InWithForward staff and NYCH staff who serve the community on the front lines, we call them The Crew.

Together, NYCH and InWithForward are building capacity for R & D in the social sector, and are using our research to develop solutions to support the emotional journeys of newcomers.


The Process

Quick Dive

During our quick dive we asked two questions:

  1. What is the lived experience  of migration, reunification and acculturation for Filipino  youth in North York? What is shaping their sense of self, family, and future?

  2. What is life like for adult men  moving to Toronto from Arabic- speaking countries as refugees?  What’s shaping how they see themselves now and into the future?

We spent time with people where they live, eat, socialize, and go about their daily routines. We met people like:


We played back the quick dive experience with community in North York.

From the quick dive we developed insights that led to our deeper focus: supporting the emotional journeys of newcomers.

You can read about our common theme here: Grounded Space 2.0: Emotional Geographies


Deep Dive

The deep dive is all about going further to understand context, insights, and pain points of our common theme.

We did longer ethnographies with people we had met in the Quick Dive.  We shadowed services in Toronto and North York, learned from the literature on emotions, and interviewed experts and academics.

All of this work culminated in a document called the Sense Maker and  our ideation board game, elevate.

Check out our work from the Deep Dive so far:

The Sense Maker

Explore the emotional palettes of newcomers to Canada

Unmuting the Story

Crew member Rommel’s experience with Grounded Space

Prototyping BAM!

How we made elevate

Mary joins the team

We met Mary during our Quick Dive, and now she’s part of the Crew

We will be spending the month of April playing the game around the city with people who are interested in coming up with big ideas.
Contact or visit our events page to find out more.


Make & Test