See Two Years of Building R&D Infrastructure

What we tried, learned, and would change

Fred drinks to take the edge off the shelters he calls home. Mark hasn’t left his apartment in days. Tracey wakes up worrying if today is the day her kids will be removed. Billie is tired of taking the people she supports to the same bowling alley. Frontline worker Alisa has ideas for a new way to work with families, but doesn’t know where to start.

Over the past 100 years, Canada has invested in public infrastructure and built welfare systems to improve living standards and elongate lives. How do we know improve the quality of lives? Social isolation, anxiety, and depression are at historic highs. What will it take to develop new categories of supports that increase belonging, meaning and purpose? That has been the big, hairy, and audacious goal of Grounded Space.

Grounded Space – Year 2 Report.pdf

pdf ⋅ 16 MB


We’ve been working with the delivery arm of the welfare state — with the organizations who provide social services to people — to help them function a little more like trampolines. Together, we’ve been imagining what support systems look like that resource people to bounce-up and forwards in their lives.

Grounded Space has been our vehicle for re-imagining. As Canada’s first collective of social and community organizations dedicated to ongoing Research & Development, Grounded Space builds teams to do research, ideation, prototyping, and implementation. And because pilots and one-off innovation projects haven’t moved us from the welfare state of the past to the welfare state of the future, we’ve been trying to seed a culture of experimentation that constantly churns out new models designed with and for Fred, Mark, Billie, Tracey and Alisa.

Grounded Space Team from PosAbilities

In this publication, we look back at two years of Grounded Space: our ambition, process, products, results and reflections — all of which was made possible by the generous support of the Conconi and McConnell Foundations. We want to share the learning widely and leverage this experiment to do more purposeful Social Research & Development across Canada and the world.

Indeed, we’re now experimenting with Grounded Space 2.0, which harvests many of the lessons learned from our first experiment, and is charting new emotional terrain in the refugee and immigration space.

So, how do our lessons compare to yours? Get in touch with your thoughts: [email protected]


dr. Sarah Schulman

Sarah is a Founder of InWithForward, and its Social Impact Lead. As a sociologist, Sarah …

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