Introducing Residencies & Seminar Series:

Two ways to learn Grounded Change in context. 

Keep clicking to read more >


We don’t do workshops and toolkits. Instead, we immerse you in live projects.

Because learning happens through trying & applying. It’s the difference between learning a language via a textbook, or studying abroad. 


We don’t do process without content.

We work on issue areas such as homelessness, addiction and disability. Drawing on theories from social psychology, behavioral economics and philosophy.  


Do a Residency. Join our team.

  • Do fieldwork in homes & neighborhoods
  • Take away copies of the tools you’ve helped make
  • Give and get feedback in daily team debriefs
  • Slide

    Sign-up for Seminars. Become a more discerning thinker & doer.

  • Get paired with participants from other disciplines
  • Explore a challenge at work with action prompts
  • Discuss films & podcasts featuring users, workers & managers
  • Receive theories & case studies to expand your reference points
  • Slide

    Want to learn more? Get in touch!

    ArticleSee past Online Seminars

    by Yani, September 26, 2014

    We held a series of online seminars about collaborating with the unusual suspects, building capacity to innovate, and making solutions that actually change outcomes. Read more about how we framed the seminars here. Read on

    • tags:
    • learning
    • seminar
    • approach
    • grounded change

    ArticleTeaching ethnography

    by Sarah, February 15, 2015

    We think the best way to teach ethnography is to get out of the office, and do it. But, how do we help teams prepare to observe with equal parts intentionality and improvisation? Check out our online tutorial. Read on

    • tags:
    • ethnography
    • social sciences
    • prompt books

    StoryFay and Problem (re)Framing

    by Sarah, June 6, 2015

    Fay lives on her own and is lonely some of the time, but is she socially isolated? Find out how spending time with Fay helped us to re-frame the problem statement. Learn how we re-define problems using four rules of thumb. Read on

    • tags:
    • problem framing
    • ethnography
    • Disability
    • Starter Projects

    StorySalima's Unsatisfied Life

    by Sarah , February 20, 2014

    "I thought I was going to Europe to lead a satisfied life." Instead, Salima ended up at a domestic violence shelter. In Apeldoorn, a city she'd never heard of. Whilst shelters are designed to protect women from risk, how might they also help women to re-engage in community and build bridging relationships? Read on

    • tags:
    • domestic violence
    • apeldoorn
    • Netherlands

    Story"Who wouldn't want their kids to come good?"

    by Dan , February 26, 2014

    "Family carer?" Renée chuckles, "I guess that'd be me." She's been raising her 4 kids and a foster daughter. And puts a face on policies of 'Person-Centredness' and 'Independence' as she works her formal care shifts. But she'd rather celebrate Interdependence Day with her family and client friends. Read on

    • tags:
    • Disability
    • Community Care
    • Sydney
    • Australia

    StoryMs. Mama Mae

    by Sarah , February 20, 2014

    Mama Mae has lived through 71 years, and just as many heartbreaks. But she hasn't let that get her down. What can we learn from Mama Mae's optimism, and how might our welfare systems enable people to feel more hopeful about life? Read on

    • tags:
    • United States
    • urban
    • older people
    • welfare
    • Austin

    StoryRita, Angie, and the Drop-Ins

    by Sarah, December 24, 2013

    Are drop-in centers about too much belonging and not enough change? Learn how we applied social capital theory to the stories of Rita and Angie - and what that could mean for how we design services with folks who are homeless. Read on

    • tags:
    • homelessness
    • mental health
    • addiction
    • Toronto
    • Canada
    • Drop-in

    StoryJoe, the Maker

    by Dan , April 10, 2014

    Joe’s days are never quite the same: From feeling down and tired one day to performing at karaoke nights. Joe's stories gives us some clues about mechanisms of change like story editing, feedback, and contributing. Read on

    • tags:
    • Disability
    • Retirement
    • Penrith
    • Australia
    • welfare

    StoryBeaker's Musical

    by Sarah , April 12, 2014

    Beaker's musical would start and end with 'Down on the Corner.' That's where he's spent much of the past 30 years. How might we apply Stages of Change theory to Beaker's story? To develop new kinds of social services & supports for people like him? Read on

    • tags:
    • Toronto
    • homelessness
    • drug addiction

    Q & A Got questions?

    Why residencies and seminars?

    We've run workshops, camps, simulations, and safaris. We've produced card decks, toolkits, and guides. None of these teaching methods have helped to transfer the critical thinking behind our approaches. To help people understand how and why to make methodological decisions that change behaviors, and change systems. 

    Residencies and seminars are different. They use live project work as the basis for learning - allowing us to link process, content and context. In a residency, you'll join our team on-the-ground. In a seminar, you'll use stories, films and podcasts coming from our work on-the-ground. Like the stories you see here.

    In both formats, you'll practice extracting, critiquing, and applying concepts from social psychology, behavior science, economics, politics, history and philosophy to the specific communities & social challenges at hand.

    What do you mean by immersive learning?

    Immersive learning is learning that unfolds within a messy, real life project. We think it's the best kind of learning, if coupled with strong debriefing and exposure to different theoretical frameworks. So you can make sense of what you're seeing from different perspectives, and identify alternative ways of thinking and doing. 

    How do the stories I see here work?

    Stories are a key product of our live project work. We use ethnographic stories to make visible the people who are experiencing lousy outcomes, along with the people who are doing surprisingly well. We apply social science theory to stories to identify what we could make & test to prompt change in peoples' lives, and the systems around them.

    During a residency, you will learn how to collect, analyze, and generate ideas from stories. During seminars, you will interrogate the stories and get exposed to the methods behind them.

    What about the ethics of collecting stories?

    We seek permission to collect people's stories, and to use them as learning materials. People decide whether they want their story to be anonymized, or to use their first name. Where we collect stories about interactions within a place (e.g Drop-in Center), we change all names and recognizable details. Because people may not be aware of our presence.

    We believe it's super important for people to feel like they own their story - so where possible, we return to people with their written story to get their feedback. We also believe people should be resourced for their time and for their product. 

    Our ethical practice is very much a work-in-progress. We'll continue to prototype ways for people to gain real value from the story collecting process. If you've got concerns or suggestions, please do get in touch. 

    How do you meet the people of the stories?

    We chat people up at supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, parks, bus stops. We knock on doors. We stand in queues at the soup kitchen and the government benefits office. We run free community events. We create surprising experiences in schools and services. We hire locals to help us with outreach.