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 - an international team of designers, social scientists, and community leaders ready for big change. InWithForward have worked in six 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, newcomers from the community, 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 with and within community. Based on InWithForward’s original ethnographic research, we are developing solutions to support the emotional journeys of newcomers.

The Process, and our Learning along the way

The Quick Dives

During two quick dives we asked the 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. Read more about the context, who we met, and what we learned in our research reports and blogs:

While the NYCH crew was out learning about people’s experiences in the suburbs of Toronto, their B.C. counterparts were doing the same in Surrey, outside Vancouver. On the West Coast, the InWithForward crew is based at Options Community Services. Altogether we conducted four quick dives and synthesized our data, looking for common themes and important differences. Collectively, we agreed on a deeper focus: supporting the emotional journeys of newcomers.

You can read about our common theme here:

Deep Dive

The deep dive is all about going further to understand context, insights, and pain points of our common theme, in order to propose alternatives that support people’s experience of emotional ambivalence.  

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!

Make & Test
In May we filtered ideas, chose six, cut one, and developed our first prototyping materials for five. We will be spending the summer testing out ideas that were generated after months of field research.

Contact Jenn at for more information to learn more.

Check out our work so far in 2019: