Structures of Support

Structures of Support is an ongoing, multi-phase project begun in late 2012 by Jeremy Beaudry, Katie Hargrave, and Meredith Warner. In this project we want to develop a clearer understanding of how our support structures are created and maintained, and how we might then work to build more resilient and robust support structures in the future.

Some people have a robust, healthy support structure — so healthy that they are almost unaware of it. Others’ support structures are weak, unhealthy, even non-existent, and that lack of support often puts them at risk. We want to develop a clearer understanding of how our support structures are created and maintained, and how we might then work to build more resilient and robust support structures in the future. We also want to break the mythology of bootstrapping that is so prevalent today and so embedded in the dominant narrative of our culture.

Structures of Support Survey

Based on our recent research and thinking, we have developed a survey which explores support structures—both personal and institutional. As a first step, this survey will provide us a baseline of data and stories. We imagine this information laying the groundwork for future workshops, visualizations, and conversations that probe our structures of support. In the survey we ask questions in four categories: Self Support, Space & Place, Others in your Life, and Quality of Life.

→ Click here to complete the Structures of Support survey

Visualizing the Survey Data

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Much of what we have learned so far in our Structures of Support research — including wall drawings, visualizations, and posters — was displayed in an installation as a part of an exhibition at the Katherine A. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from May 28th – June 15th.

Localizing the Structures of Support

For six weeks in the summer of 2013, we had the opportunity to gather stories and host conversations on the structures of support in the Germantown section of Philadelphia during our project Germantown City Hall for the Hidden City Festival. We brought many community members together in order to map past and current support networks and assets that might otherwise be invisible—things like informal civic groups, clubs, leisure groups, cooperatives, play groups, town watches, community gardens, and the like. Also, we continued to collect responses to the Structures of Support Survey via a paper version of the questionnaire.

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→ We also asked neighborhood residents to reflect on the meaning of civic space for the community. Here are the video recordings of a select number of those interviews.

Related Notes