Licensed under CC BY 4.0
Please attribute this work to “Lito and Tiffany at 101s, and the BPPodets (including, but not exclusively Cesc, Aleta Dunne, Isa Lutine)“.
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This document is still very much in progress. If you can, do join us in finishing it!

We’ll most certainly find the best ways to do this together, as we go along. The ideas that follow are guidelines for practising pods: creating “low-footprint” ones, and experimenting with giving and receiving the support they are created for. This step is meant as a preparation for creating support and accountability pods later on. Overall, these guidelines are made to be “domesticated” to our individual needs and situations, and cannot be applied verbatim to any person or group.

1. Definitions

Individual Pod – a group of people whose main goal is to support one person. This includes that one person (the “pod creator”). For example, “Ed’s accountability pod”. Note that this is not a mutual support group.

Many-to-many pod – a group of people whose main goal is to support more than one person. (This includes the people they are supporting.) For example, “The support pod of Franklin Veaux’s survivors”. Note that this is not a mutual support group either.

Pea – any pod member

Central pea(s) – the person or people supported by the rest of the pod. Ed, in the example above, or Franklin Veaux’s survivors.

Supporting Peas – the person / people whose aim is to support the central pea(s). E.g. Everyone in the pod but Ed, or everyone in the pod but Franklin Veaux’s survivors.

Outer pod – optional communication channel (live meetings, calls, email, IM, etc.) for the supporting peas. For instance, a WhatsApp group with everyone but Ed.
Therefore, we can have “Ed’s outer physical-health pod”, “Ed’s outer goal pod”, “Ed’s outer online-presence review pod”, etc.

1.1. Pod lifecycle

Pending – by default, a pod is in hibernation, a pending state when not much happens. Until…

Activating – when the need for support arises, either the central pea or the supporting peas themselves can activate the pod by requesting engagement in a process (defined according to the current need and objectives).

Active – the pod is in the process of dealing with the situation that activated it. It is important to clearly define the objectives in order to know when to switch back to a pending state.

2. What makes a group a “pod”?


Partly because the term is not as widely used as the way we are using it here (yet, we hope), it’s not always easy to tell whether existing groups are “pods”, or how to establish our pod to still be a “pod” as we’re proposing it here. Of course, people also speak of “covid pods”, and it’s important to distinguish that use and others from the one we are inheriting from the BATJC and the transformative justice movement they are part of.

It’s also important to recognize that the concept is dynamic, and continuously evolving. In fact, we ourselves have proposed a few extensions to it. However, it is still important to maintain a few central characteristics, in order to still be able to communicate with others interested in pods’ trasformative potential, and to honour the work of the BATJC and the wider community.

The simple rule of thumb is: pod **\= unidirectional support + central pea control**. Namely, inside a pod, support flows in only one direction: from the supporting peas towards the central pea(s). Also, central peas have complete control over membership and activity. If either of these characteristics is missing, it’s likely not a pod. Let’s take them one by one.

2.1. Unidirectional support

Supporting peas are there to support the central pea(s). Their roles don’t change (when other needs arise, other pods may be created, of course), and the central pea is never expected to support the others.

2.2. Central pea control

The last word on who is allowed in the pod, and how the pod functions, belongs to the central pea(s). As a result, both safety and privacy are enhanced within a pod. One can share intimate details and be relatively safe (compared to groups controlled by others) in the knowledge that they won’t be used in other ways than for support.

3. The practice pods

We came up with a few types of pods that we think were good to practice with. They have the benefits that their subject plies well on the definition of pods, and that they are unlikely to present us with situations of abuse or conflict. If you can think of others, do suggest! Without further ado:

  • Mood-booster pod

  • Physical health pod

  • Intention/goal pod

  • Online presence review pod

To all these pods we can invite literally anyone in our lives that we think would like the idea, and that we’d like to have supporting us (see below for questions that can help us find supporting peas for each of these pods): people from the BPPeas in a Pod group, from the BPP in general, from other communities we are part of, from our circles of friends, families, acquaintances, romantic partners, and even professional circles if we think it prudent. Moreover, although in general we do not recommend to invite people we don’t know, if they come with good recommendations from others we trust, that might work, too.

4.1. Mood-booster pod

The idea of this pod is to be helped, by our supporting peas, to raise our mood when we are low. And it is for everyone in the pod to decide the specific ways to try to achieve that (with the central pea ideally leading the way with their preferences) – music, stand-up comedy, articles, memes, jokes, quotes, etc.

4.2. Physical-health pod

The goal of this pod is to support the cental pea to improve or manage their bodily health – whether it’s dealing with long-standing issues, facing acute conditions, or taking proactive actions to prevent illness or injury. (We’re aware that the boundary between “physical” and “mental” health is often porous; our intention is to orient towards the kinds of pod-activation issues that can make for better practice, before we gather experience and can dive into the more challenging issues later on.)

4.3. Intention/goal pod

In this pod the supporting peas will help the central pea to form and maintain habits that will help them achieve the goals they prize. The peas in our pod will ideally help us stay on target with check-ins with appropriate language and feedback that will be mostly decided when the pod is created, according to the needs of the central pod.

4.4. Online presence review pod

The point of this pod is to support the central pea with feedback about their online communication, to ensure it comes across as they intend it. (The implication is that our supporting peas be part of at least some of the same virtual groups and communities we are.) Let’s say that each week / fortnight / month the central pea asks their supporting peas if they have any constructive feedback on their public group messages. To help them, the central pea can define their goals over time. For example, to be clear, to help decrease tensions in debates, to start discussions when the group has been quiet for a while, to make newcomers feel welcome, to not forget about people’s unanswered messages when new topics push them away from view, etc. This might be especially useful for those wishing to actively moderate various groups.

5. Before creating a pod


During our live introductions to pods, people voiced quite quickly their concerns about whom to invite, how to invite them, and their fears of being rejected or saying the wrong thing. We feel this gives us a great opportunity to address, as a community, and in a safer space, how to handle asking for our needs to be met and to practice resilience in the face of potential or actual rejection. This is always going to be something we need to deal with, so let’s take this opportunity to get better at it, to make it our super pea strength!

Specifically, let’s start voicing any concerns we may have, and then let’s deal with them one by one, in all these possible ways: personal chats (with members we feel comfortable with), adding your concerns in the BPPeas Telegram group, and, possibly, by organising new workshops if we see that there is a need to address certain topics in a more comprehensive way. In the following sections we’ve tried to address some of the concerns we’ve already heard.

5.1. Whom to invite

For some people, the thought of choosing others to invite into their pods is going to cause some feelings of anxiety or confusion because they may not feel they have anyone in their immediate circle who could fulfill the role of a supporting pea. Ideally speaking, we could at least recognise and accept this feeling, so we can address it in a positive way. Perhaps, by realising that we don’t have anyone to call upon for such a role, we can decide we’d like to improve that, and then spend some time and energy on this goal. Let’s set the intention that our workshops, our online sessions and our connections with other practicing peas be opportunities to discuss these sensitive and tender topics, and find solutions together.

For other people there might be a few choices, or even too many. In that situation, it pays to be attentive to the reasons we’re considering each person for the pod. For example, we might want to get closer to someone for various reasons, but they might also be a bad choice for the pod we have in mind (for example, someone who distrusts science might not be a great choice for our physical health pod if we ourselves value scientific sources above all else). In that case, the realisation that we’d like someone closer in our lives can be a positive discovery. However, we recommend the prioritization of people who are appropriate for our pods, and to find different ways to approach the people who are not. It is true that pods end up having compounding benefits that go beyond the immediate purpose of the pod, but they do require us to create pods in good faith, rather than for other, unexpressed purposes.

Another consideration when thinking about, and searching for supporting peas, is to what extent we currently rely on very few people for many types of support. The opportunity presented by pods is to distribute the fulfillment of our needs between more people and, thus, expanding our support network. Although we find many people can benefit from this, we agree this is not necessarily always desirable, so please keep your specific context in mind.

Let’s remember that we are practising pods and we are pod practising. We don’t have to get it right. Let’s consciously take some pressure off ourselves and remind ourselves that we’re learning together. We will have to make changes as we go along.

In general, we just need people we feel good about, and who we trust for the type of pod we have in mind.

When it’s difficult to identify people, we can

  • make a list of people that we like, but, for one reason or another, we are not in touch with. (It’s good to cross out those with whom it would be impossible to get back in touch, for whatever reason.)

  • search for relevant groups (whether Facebook, Telegram, or real-life groups) that we’ve been a part of, are a part of, or could be, where we knew someone may be interested in the same topics.

  • go through the people in our contact list, or in our Facebook / Instagram / other social networks’ friends lists, and see if there are people we’ve forgotten about that might be good to approach.

  • when deciding to write to the people found in these ways,

    • if we’ve been out of touch for a long time, it might be best to consider them for a lighter pod (say, a mood-booster pod), rather than an intimate, more complicated one, such as the physical health pod.

    • if appropriate, it might be a good idea to suggest that we would like to rekindle our connection, and that perhaps through the pod it can be a good way to do it.

    • it can also be good to suggest to them that pods are for everyone, and that they themselves could create one, if they wished.

What about inviting partners / people I am very close to?

A note of caution about inviting partners to the pods (or people we are very close to, and in very frequent contact with; for brevity, we use the label “partner”, despite its obvious limitations). In some cases, it might work very well. For example, if a partner is already helping you in achieving a goal, it might help to enroll more people and formalize it as a goal-setting pod. Just make sure that the rest of the pod members are also offered the opportunity to help, so that they also feel useful in the pod. This might require some consious work on updating them on developments that your partner is already familiar with.

In other cases, though, inviting a partner to a pod might be putting the pod’s mission at risk. Having a partner in an accountability pod might exacerbate current unhelpful dynamics, rather than shed new light on them. An overprotective partner might end up deflecting valid concerns from members of the community, while a partner who is involved in a conflict with you might inadvertently weaponize the pod against you.

Therefore, before inviting a partner to a pod, make sure that you are doing it for the appropiate reason, and not, for example, for concerns their jelousy or fear of misssing out.

5.1.1. Mood-booster pod

  • Who is a positive, upbeat person (who doesn’t irritate me)?

  • Who makes me feel better when I speak to them?

  • Who understands my humour and could easily lift my spirits with the right joke/comment?

5.1.2. Physical-health pod

  • Who values health as a top priority?

  • Who understands that my health goals are important to me?

  • Who is knowledgeable about the area of health I’m trying to improve?

  • Who is disciplined around health issues?

5.1.3. Intention/goal pod

  • Who is reliable?

  • Who cares about me achieving my goals?

  • Who is disciplined and happy to tell others to be disciplined also?

  • Who would it be ok to hear from if I were behind on my tasks?

  • Who would be able to support me without making me feel ashamed of not reaching my goals?

5.1.4. Online presence review pod

Note that, when referring to our “online presence”, we are not necessarily referring to the one in BPP; you may be active in other communities, and you’re welcome to create pods for them. (And, if it is the BPP, you could also contact people from outisde the BPPeas in a Pod group, of course.)

  • Whose online interventions do I often appreciate?

  • Who seems to display the kind of communication that inspires me?

  • Whose judgment and perspectives about communication do I trust, regardless whether they’re active or not in the group? (Say, because you already got to know this person in other contexts.)

5.2. Invitation messages – individual

5.2.1. Mood-booster pod

Here are some sample invitation texts for specific individuals. Of course, please adapt and customise them to yourself, your invitee and the wider context.

Hi! I’ve got a fun project I’m taking part in and I’m hoping you’ll help me. I’d love you to be part of a smalll group of people who can help boost my mood every now and then 😀️ The idea is that when I send my mood booster pod a little face here on telegram indicating my mood 🙁 , that would activate you all so you could send me a virtual hug, or a sweet gif, or a song that might make me feel better. You’re someone who is usually in a great mood and lifts my spirits and I’d appreciate you helping me with this.

I want to add that this will be part of a bigger social experiment about ways in which we can support our community. If you’d like more information, take a look here:

Hope you’ll join my online pod.


Hello, X! So, I’m creating this thing called a “mood-booster pod”, and I’d be very happy to have you in it! Basically, a pod is a little group of people who agree to support the person who invites them (in this case, yours truly) in a specific goal. You would be, in effect, my side-kicks! In this situation, I chose to create a mood-booster pod (of many other options) because I know how useful it is to connect with people when I’m down, and I thought to experiment with different ways of doing that.

So, what I imagine is that twice or three times a month (fingers crossed) I might ask the people in this – online – pod (I am waiting for two other people to respond) if they could help me cheer up. I respond well to stand-up comedy, silly gifs and memes, and I know you also like many of these things, so I hoped to be able to include you in my mood-boosting team.

Of course, I know there can be many reasons why this may not be what you want to engage in right now, so no worries if that’s the case, no reason needed.

A, and if you want to know more about pods, and maybe even create your own, there’s a document here:

5.2.2. Physical-health pod

Hi! I need help with a small problem that I’m having with my health. I notice that I’m overeating and afterwards I suffer indigestion. I am hoping that, by asking a few people to help support me in my goal of not overeating, I’ll be able to reduce and finally overcome this problem. Would you be up for being part of a small group of people who I can check in with specifically about this topic? I know that you’ve also had health issues in the past that you’ve overcome and I admire your discipline in other areas too. I know this request must seem to come out of the blue, but I hope you’ll consider it.

(I want to add that I was inspired to do this by an initiative in a community I’m part of, the BPP. If you’d like more information, take a look here:

Hope you’ll join my online pod.


Hi, X! Today I’m writing to you with a peculiar, and also heart-felt question: would you like to be part of my physical health pod? 😍️

I know that’s not very clear, partly because “pod” is a new concept, even for me. The way I understand it best is as a group of side-kicks who help someone reach their goal. In this case, that someone is me, and I’d love to have you as my side-kick to help me, at a minimum, with not ignoring my health concerns… 🙄️

The more I read about attachment styles the clearer it becomes for me that one of my weaknesses, stemming from the avoidant pattern that I learned as a child, is that I have a tendency to ignore, minimize and overlook problems. I don’t think it’s extreme or anything in my case, but even a moderate tendency to do that with health issues can allow problems to accumulate, and for me to feel overwhelmed. So I decided to take action. And, knowing how powerful it can be to be accountable to people in my life to get things done, I decided to invite you (and a few others) to this kind of pod. I’ve always admired how you deal with issues head-on and seem to manage to gather just the right amount and the right kind of information to get a good grasp on whatever is happening to you health-wise. Plus, I think we very much share the focus on science-informed measures above all else.

What I envision is that I’d create an online group (on a platform that works best for everyone in the pod), and that every month or so I’ll bring up a health issue I’m worried about. Then, together with you all, I can find the best next step to dealing (well) with it, and I’ll follow-up with my progress. I definitely don’t expect anyone in the pod to do any research on my behalf, but sometimes it can be so useful to run things by others when I’m unsure what to do. So, I suspect that most of the time the pod will be “in hibernation”, except for the few days a month when I’ll present an issue to make progress on.

Please feel as free as possible to decide either way, with no special reasons needed. And, if you’d like to know more about pods of all kinds (and, maybe even create your own), my own invitation comes as part of an exercise within a community that I’m in, the BPP. They have a general document here about pods and their potential:

4.2.3. Intention/goal pod

Hello! I’ve got a special request and I hope you’ll join me. I’ve decided to walk the Camino de Santiago next Summer! But as you know, I lead a pretty sedentary life and I will need to get fitter. So, to help me stick to organising my trip and to increasing the amount of walking I have to do I’ve decided to gather three people together in a ‘Santiago Summer Goal Pod’. I’m hoping you’ll consider being part of it.

Your main task will be to keep me on schedule by sending a weekly inquiry about if I’ve set my weekly goals and if I’ve achieved my previous week’s goals. That’s all! By having your eyes on my goal, I think it will really add to the pressure I think I need to see this through. You’ve already walked the camino and you know how much I loved your photos and stories. Thanks for considering this!


Hola, X! I’m hoping this message is finding you well. I’m writing to you about an idea that I hope you will like and also be inspired by: I’d like to invite you to support me in my goal pod.

It’s an initiative we’re experimenting with in a community I’m part of, the BPP (Barcelona Poly People), but it’s related to much more generic things than relationship issues. Namely, we’re experimenting with creating pods for ourselves, which are, simply put, groups of people who can support us in a specific area of life. I’ve chosen to form a goal pod, to help me with actually achieving my new year’s resolutions this coming year 😀️

So, the idea is that at the beginning of the year I’ll define my goals, and then try to use all your help to develop a plan to work on them and achieve them throughout the year. I expect that for the majority of the time the pod (to which I am inviting two other friends) will be silent (I’m quite familiar to online overwhelm, and keen to avoid it), and that once a month or so I can do a review of how things are going for me, and open my antenaes to all the feedback or advice you, the supporting peas, might have for me. I trust that you could contribute a lot, as we’ve had so many rich conversations about getting things done and goals and habits, and I feel I’ve only skimmed the surface of all the wealth of information you’ve gathered through the years about this topic.

Let me know if this sounds like something you would like to be a part of.

4.2.4. Online presence review pod

Hello! I’m writing to you with a proposal, since you are one of the people whose judgement and opinion I value greatly. This is part of the recent “podding the BPP” initiative aimed at strengthening our community and increasing individual accountability by creating “pods”. A pod, in short, is a small group of people who agree to support the person who invites them (in this case, me) with a specific goal.

With that in mind, would you be interested in being a part of my online presence review pod? 🙂 This would entail giving me feedback on my online presence in the online groups and communities we’re both part of. For example: Is my online communication coming across as intended? Am I taking up too much space? Am I listening to others properly and addressing their concerns? This is not intended to place any extra burden on you, but rather to provide me with safe and trusted sources that I can rely on for honest feedback when needed.

Thanks in advance for considering my offer, and please don’t hesitate to say “no” if you don’t feel like participating for any reason. Also, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have. You can get more information about pods in general and the specific types of pods we are building here:

5.3. Invitation messages – groups

Apart from inviting specific people to our pod, we may also wish to extend an invitation to the members of a group or community, for anyone interested to step forward. Of course, before doing this, it’s good to make sure we’d enjoy receiving such “applications” (to which we can still say no, of course) for our pod from anyone in the group.

5.3.1. The BPPeas group

When sending a request message to the BPP group remember to explain

  • what pod you are requesting help for

  • what skills you’ll value to support you in this particular pod

  • what communication style works for you

  • what is the effort and commitment that you expect from your peas

Example template:

Hello fellow peas! I’m building a [type of pod] pod and I’m looking for supporting peas. At this moment [ I already have one member and I’m looking for X more to complete the pod | I’ve just started and I don’t have any member yet ]. The skills that I think would be more helpful to support me in this pod are [ X and Y skills]. For me it is more important [ pick one: a) that you have personal experience in what I’m trying to achieve (do the splits, start a new company,…) | b) that you can be supportive even if you don’t know nothing about the domain ]. Also, I would appreciate that in the context of the pod you communicate to me [ with special kindness, as I’m prone to get triggered by this topic | being as direct as possible -you can still be kind at the same time- because otherwise I’d feel we are wasting our time. Finally, the amount of effort I expect from you is to [ meet periodically every X for about Y time | to be available when an emergency happens, which they do approximately every X time, and keep in touch until the emergency passes, which typically lasts Y]


Hello dear peas!
I’ve chosen to form a physical-health pod aimed at helping me stretch regularly, and I would love to surround myself with those among you who have achieved some stretching goals. 😊

The idea is that once a week I will activate the pod to share how it’s going and send pics with my progress, which will help me keep at it, maintain motivation and the habit.

Simply knowing a couple of like-minded individuals are there to cheer and encourage me once a week is enough for me.

Let me know if this sounds like something you would like to be a part of.

5.4. Other things to consider

5.4.1. Language

Many of us have people in our network from different cultures and language backgrounds. It’s a good idea to think in advance of everyone we’d like to be part of our pod, to see if everyone shares a common language all are comfortable communicating in. If not, it might be wise to prioritise inviting those from the largest sub-group which does share a language that we speak comfortably.

Some of us might even take this opportunity to combine pods with langauge learning. Since this will inevitably require more time and energy from us, it pays to do this only when we have plentiful time, or with pods that we think will require the least amount of interaction.

Let’s also keep in mind that for some of our supporting peas the language of the pod might not be their mother tongue. In that case, we could be mindful of our own writing, for example by using a simpler register and, perhaps, sharing shorter articles, and videos where people do not have strong accents.

5.4.2. Pea relationships

One of the important aspects of bringing people together is to consider if they will be compatible for the activity at hand. Some questions to help us consider if the peas we have selected are of the right mixing variety for the job:

  • Am I aware of any potential tension or awkward history between these peas? (If we don’t know, perhaps we could ask Pea A in a private message if they have any concerns about being in a pod with Pea B or we could let an existing pod know that we’re thinking about inviting a new pea into the pod, and if anyone would object, to let them know in the chat or privately.)

Taking the ocassional difficulty of relationships as a consideration, perhaps, in some situations, it’s best to ask one person at a time into the pod.

  • How is my relationship with the peas I want to add to my pod? If these peas are added to my pod, how can I foresee that will change our relationship? (Will they need to support me? Will I need to be more vulnerable? Will they be able to separate or integrate our pod relationship with our existing friendship?)

6. Creating a pod


6.1. Welcome messages

6.1.1. Mood-booster pod

Warm welcome, X, to my mood-booster pod! I’m hoping this will be a fun experience for everyone. Thank you so much for contributing to my well-being!

You are now a supporting pea in a pod. If you’d like to learn a bit what all that means, how pods work, and how to create your own should you wish, head over to this document:

The other supporting peas are Y and Z. You all know a little bit about each other from my previous communication, but if you so wish, you’re also welcome to introduce yourselves here.

In terms of time expectations, I’ll do my best to not activate this pod more than 4-5 times a month. I’ll try to give a bit of detail each time, at least in terms of what sort of content I imagine might make me feel better. In general, I watch stand-up comedy regularly, and cuteness also works well – yay for those little furry creatures! 😀️ Other things that cheer me up or calm me when I’m stressed: news of activists achieving some worthy goals, good ASMR, re-watching South Park episodes, watching exceptional moments in tennis (I used to play for many years), inspiring quotes, spoken word poetry. Having said that, I also want you to be your creative selves and send me new kinds of material when you see fit.

Ah, and when I need your super-sidekick mood-boosting powers I’ll send you this sticker: …

6.1.2. Physical-health pod

Thank you! So glad you joined my health pod. Welcome.

The other members are Jack and Sezza, both friends of mine from school who have, like you, heard me talk about this indigestion problem for a long time.

What I would like is to contact this pod when I’ve overeaten. And in that moment, I would like you to 1) Let me know it’ ok and to help me take away the shame about the overeating. 2) Ask me what kind of food it was, what circumstances contributed to me eating so much and also if anyone was with me, or I did it alone. 3) Finally I’d like you to ask me if there are any ways that I could prevent this situation from occuring again. I specifically don’t want you to offer me advice unless I ask for it. In some moments, I might be more open to discuss it, but I will let you know.
I won’t activiate this pod often. At most, once a month, or perhaps, during holidays or high stress, twice a month. Perhaps, just knowing you are here might help me feel more conscious of my behaviour, so thank you for ‘just’ being in my pod.

6.1.3. Intention/goal pod

X! Welcome to my 2021 goal pod, and thank you so much for accepting my invitation! I’m hoping that this experience will be at least as enriching for you as it promises to be for me.

You are currently the second member of my goal pod; the first is Y. I doubt that you know each other, but then again, it’s a small world. I’ve met Y in [this event] and we reconnected when they moved to Barcelona. Y, I’ve known X from university, and we’ve kept loosely in touch; I got to see them a few times in Berlin in my nomad period a few years ago.

Just to reiterate, that my hope is to get better at (defining and) achieving my new year’s resolutions. These weeks I’m thinking of my goals for next year (please do send all the resources that you think are relevant), and after that I’ll ask you for support in drawing up a plan to make them happen. Thereafter, say from February onward, I suspect we’ll chat here only one or two days a month, as I give an update of how things are going for me, and maybe ask you for advice on how I could do certain things better.

If you have any questions about this pod, I’m here, of course. There is a document that our community has been working on, about pods in general, that might be useful to read: Maybe it can inspire you to create your own, too, of course. Also, we have a Telegram group where we share pod experiences, that is open to all of us in pods. Feel free to join it:

6.1.4. Online presence review pod

Thank you so much for accepting my offer, and welcome to my online presence review pod! 🙂

You are now a “supporting pea” in this pod, along with a couple of others you may recognize from the BPP community. What brings you all together in this pod is my admiration of your contributions to the community in general, and your online communication skills in particular. I also know and trust that you will be honest and direct with me regarding any issues that I might not even know that exist — we all have blind spots, after all…

So, how will this pod function? I envision that I can benefit from:

1) Regular check-ins: While the frequency might change depending on the groups’ online activity in general, and my own activity in particular, I thought we could start with about once every two weeks, when I will “activate” this pod by messaging with a request for feedback on my recent online activities to get your opinions.

2) Crisis interventions: The pod can also be activated by either one of you, or myself, to deal with a specific situation at hand. When the moment/situation calls for it, or when either one of us thinks some extra support or feedback would benefit us and the community.

Thanks again for agreeing to support me in this effort, and I’m hoping this will be a fun and beneficial experience for us all. Also, if you haven’t already, feel free to join the “BPPs in a Pod” Telegram group, where we exchange ideas and share our podding journeys:

7. Engaging with pods


7.1. Before activating a pod

Some questions that might help a central pea decide if it’s a good moment to activate the pod:

  • Am I at least in the ballpark of my proposed frequency of activation? Have I been activating the pod less, or more than I thought / told people?

  • Do I happen to know something about the lives of my support peas that might make an activation more, or less welcome right now?

  • When I activate the pod, is it becoming more and more a continuous chat, instead of leading to deactivation? If so, how can I prevent that?

7.2. Activating a pod

Any pea can suggest or request to activate a pod. For example, in the intention/goal pod, it might be the supporting peas who activate it more often, perhaps to ask how the work is going, and if the central pea needs any help. The online presence review pod might be similar in this regard, perhaps set up with an agreement for the supporting peas to offer their feedback at agreed-upon intervals. On the other hand, in the physical health and mood-booster pod, it might be the central pea who activates more often, say when there is a new health concern, or when they are feeling low.

For some it might be difficult to make this step, for various reasons – perhaps due to reluctance to occupy the time of the other peas. It is a supportive gesture from the other peas can try to notice when this is happening (e.g. when the activation is substantially less frequent than initially suggested), and communicate their availability and/or concerns.

7.2.1. Template activation messages

Hi Tammy! It’s been ten days since we’ve heard from you! I wanted to check in with you to make sure your piano lessons were going well! I thought about you this morning when my sister posted this video of my niece singing that song you were practicing! Hope you enjoy it!

Hello my supporting Peas. Today is not a good day. Overwhelmed with the news, and I couldn’t sleep last night. Anyone got something calming, or optimistic for me today?…

7.3 Once a pod is activated

When a pod has been activated, there are a few useful things to keep in mind:

Reminders for supporting peas

  • Proceed with kindness and care

  • Probably the most useful things I can offer are my time and attention.

  • This is about the central pea, not about me.

  • Let me try to

    • care for the central pea, but also for every other pea, including myself

    • be curious instead of reactive if disagreement or conflict appear

    • imagine the best way I can support the central pea in reaching their goal

    • discern which messages are best for the main pod, and which can be more useful in the outer pod

  • I’ll try to avoid

    • giving advice before I really understand the situation (especially without the request or permission of the central pea)

    • continuing the conversation indefinitely

  • If there are things I’m worried about, I can always turn to the BPPpeas support group

Reminders for central peas

  • These people have agreed to be there and support me in my goals. How amazing!

  • They may not be able to do so each time

    • I can be generous with assumptions if it happens that some supporting peas aren’t able to support me at the moment (say, time, or they might be going through something challenging, etc.)
  • I’ll do my best to

    • notice my supporting peas’ effort

    • be kind, especially when something they offer does not help, or when there seem to be other disagreements

    • not continue the conversation excessively, to allow the pod to deactivate, and the supporting peas to rest 😉️

  • If there are things I’m worried about, I can always turn to the BPPpeas support group

7.4. Deactivating a pod

It’s not always necessary to explicitly deactivate a pod. For example, if the usual dynamic in a mood-booster pod is a weekly activation, with one day of back-and-forth messages, and nothing else otherwise, then it should be rather clear when the pod becomes deactivated.

However, sometimes it can be useful for the central pea to clearly express this, so that supporting peas can rest at ease that nothing else is expected of them. This can allow them, for instance, to silence the group for a few days. say this is coming from the central pea of a physical health pod:

All right, it’s super interesting to explore even more studies on vitamin D dosage, but I think it’s best for me to do some research on it by myself, and for you, loving sidekicks, to be able to rest. I can tell you what I’ve decided when I reactivate the pod, possibly next week, after my appointment. Thanks for all your input so far 🤗️

8. Being a pod member


8.1. What does it take to be a pod member?

You! Remember, if you have been chosen to be a member of a pod, the central pea thinks you’re a good fit for them. So you are just right. Make sure to get regular feedback from the central pea about your support and you will make a big, positive difference in their life!

Also, remember that most people prefer to have at least a minimal level of privacy associated with what happens inside the pod, such as the Chatham House Rules. If in doubt, ask!

8.2. What if I’m invited to a pod, but don’t want to do it?

Then you can politely decline. You do not have to accept being in a pod. There is no pressure and no expectation. If you’re wondering what to say, try something like:

Thank you so much for considering me as one of your pod members! It sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately I can’t this time round. Hope you find another pea!

8.3. What if I change my mind?

Everything is about communication. You can write to your central pea and explain that you don’t have the time or cannot make the commitment. It’s important for all of us that our members are clear with their needs and boundaries. Actually, it’s celebrated.

8.4. What if I don’t think I can contribute?

That’s a possibility. Our central pea might turn to the pod with a situation that is outside of our scope, so we might feel like we don’t know how to support them. Perhaps, by asking the central pea what they expect from us, we might be able to listen and hold space for a problem, without needing to solve it. That is often the most important part of support. If we are still sure that we cannot give the central pea what they need, we can communicate it, and perhaps excuse ourselves from the current activation.

Another possibility, when we are not the only supporting pea, is to discuss things in the outer pod. Sometimes the other supporting peas will have it clearer how to best support the central pea, and we might then join that process – provided we feel it’s helpful. Of course, the other supporting peas might be out of their depth, too, in which case it could be easier to tell the central pea as a group that we’re not sure how to best support them, and leave it for them to decide how to move forward.

8.5. Tips for being a Pod Member

The number one quality of a good pod member is listening:

You could ask explicitly if your Central Pea wants you to listen only, or listen and respond sympathetically, or listen and give advice, etc. It’s best to be sure that your central pea wants advice before you offer it. Unsolicited advice could be heard as criticism.

Our commitment in the pod is not to be always available, or to have the perfect reactions and contributions. Everyone’s lives will make it hard sometimes to contribute in pods. Plus, no one expects us to be expert communicators, therapists or social workers; just people supporting other people. The commitment, then, is to do our best to support the central pea while supporting ourselves as well. Remember that literally any contribution is more than no contribution (that may have occurred without the existence of the pod), so you’ve already done a lot to help, thank you!

8.6. Support for being a pod member

When things aren’t going swimmingly, remember that you’re sharing this journey with many other fellow peas. If the nature of your problem allows it, see if they can support you, in the Off-BPPeas group, or even privately, if you know them well. Moreover, behind this project there is a group of people who are committed to supporting you and your fellow peas in making this a great experience. Connect with any of us (you can see who we are by checking for the “Admin” role in the Off-BPPeas group.) We will then create an ephemeral support pod just for you, until the issue is resolved.

“Hi, I have an issue in a pod I’m a [central/supporting] pea in, could I have a temporary pod? Any of the mods will do, thank you.”

9. F.A.Q.


Whom do we invite to these practice pods?

Just about anyone we think would like to, and fit our pod’s needs. With one exception, these practice pods are not restricted to BPPeas in a Pod, nor even to the BPP community at large. The exception is, of course, the online presence review pod, which implicitly requires that the supporting peas belong to the community where we wish to improve our online presence.

One thing, however, to keep in mind as you invite people in your pod, is language: in the end, all the members of your pod need to share a language in which everyone is comfortable communicating.

What if I can’t think of anyone for my pod?!

(Just to be sure, you went through the sample questions in section 4.1., “Whom to invite”? Even if so,)

Worry not; we will explore this question in depth in the upcoming workshops, and go through some exercises meant to help us find supporting peas. Join us there, or else contact us in the BPPeas in a Pod group if you missed them.

Do the pods need to be in English?

Definitely not. You’re welcome to communicate in any language that all the peas share and prefer, of course. And, if you translate the invitation or welcome texts, we’d love to see them, if you care to share, because we also want to translate these documents in multiple languages eventually.

For more information about language, see section 4.3.1. “Language”, above.

Why do pods need to “activate” and “deactivate”?

Pods are recommended to use the active/inactive lifecycle. There are many reasons for this:

  • supporting peas might accept a central pea’s invitation only on the condition that it’s intermittent, and, therefore, manageable given their other commitments, and/or does not add to their online overwhelm.

  • the idea of a pod is to serve the central pea (while, of course, fitting into the capabilities of the supporting peas). Just like in a supportive conversation, it makes most sense for the focus to stay on the person who needs it. So, the more conversations that happen without a relation to the central pea’s needs, the more tangential the interaction becomes, the less is this core purpose achieved.

  • If the central pea would like to keep it intermittent, but one or more supporting peas forgets about this, it might be quite hard for the supporting pea to redirect it back to intermittency: naturally, they will be conscious and grateful that the supporting peas have agreed to dedicate time and effort to them, making style requests much harder. In this way, the pod may become less useful, or even stressful for the central pea, without other peas realising it.

  • If the interaction in a pod becomes an ongoing conversation, it might happen that people are a bit tired of it just when the central pea needs to activate it. This may lead to less support when the need actually arises.

  • When the conversation turns more casual and continuous, it’s easier for supporting peas to forget about the main purpose of the pod, and to start sending in petitions to sign, or funny videos of something only slightly relevant, or to discuss current events, etc.

If such situations come to pass, then peas might come to the conclusion that pods aren’t that useful, after all. Their potential can be missed this way.

Finally, we are in step one of the 3 steps for “podding” our community. During this first step we are practicing with pods not least to “learn the ropes” and be able, in steps two and three, to create and make good use of support and accountability pods. These latter types of pods function naturally with this lifecycle: they are usually activated by something problematic that happens, rather than being active at all times.

What is the difference between one’s friends and pod members?

Pod participants could be seen as enacting a specific form of friendship, especially if they themselves define it as such. They may also consider each other friends outside the pods, whether from before entering them, or using them as a springboard for wider interaction. These two terms are, therefore, not exclusive.

Yet, accepting the invitation to be part of someone’s pod creates a relationship that’s explicit (e.g. “yes, I will do my best to support you when you’re hurt in your other relationships”), focused (e.g. “but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll go to the cinema together”), and where certain values trump others usually associated with friendship (e.g. lovingly challenging the other to improve becoming more important than silencing one’s reserve for fear of affecting the friendship). This is not the usual way in which friendships are formed. As a result, in practice, pod interactions will probably feel more like working together than hanging out – and that’s “a feature, not a bug”.

Sometimes, in fact, our closest friendships and loves are actually the relationships that will most benefit from our pods’ support. And the peas in these pod will ideally be others, more marginal in our network, who can (and want to!) hold us accountable and support us through what these central relationships bring up for us.

Further, we often choose friends based on the enjoyment we feel when together, and not necessarily for the values they uphold. We might be charmed with friends and hold history with them, but we might know that they might not be reliable in certain situations, or able to support or hold us accountable. Conversely, we may not necessarily be the best match at “hanging out” with someone, but can imagine them ideal for supporting our (sometimes unpleasant) growth in our accountability pod.

Why promote pods, and not mutual support groups?

We think mutual support groups are wonderful, and we try to promote them whenever possible and appropriate. (Note, that we use the term “mutual support group” quite broadly, to mean any group of people who interact online and/or offline to offer each other mutual emotional, social or practical support.) Without a doubt, in certain contexts they are more appropriate and useful than pods. However, pods, with their aim to support just one person (or, in some cases, a subgroup of people), are a less common social structure, but one that brings distinct advantages to the table. It is these advantages that we would like to promote.

As noted earlier, the initial idea of pods emerged from the BATJC proposal of support and accountability pods – in their formulation, offering support and accountability for causing or receiving serious harm. In those cases it is easy to see how, at least initially, centering those who need support the most is preferable than a group focus. So, one potential line of separation between the contexts in which pods and support groups might be acuteness: when the need is urgent and intense, pods are better equipped to offer the needed support.

Apart from that, pods make a few other things easier than mutual support groups:

  • taking center stage. Understandably, many of us, especially those socialised as women, feel it difficult to take the space that we need. Whereas in mutual support groups it may feel like we are depriving others of time and support, that is not an issue in the pods where we are the central peas.

  • controlling volume, frequency, and avoiding overwhelm. In a pod the central pea can decide when to activate the pod (or to accept a suggested activation), and when the issue is resolved / put on hold. When there is no issue to be dealt with, the pod is mostly silent. In mutual support groups there can often be a constant stream of activity, and a sense of duty and responsibility might make it harder for some to manage the workload involved.

  • adapting and personalizing support. We often want to help others, and in a pod we can do so knowing what we can do that best offers this support, plus without fearing that others will feel left out from it in that moment (as may happen in mutual support groups).

I’m shy to invite people to form my pod. What if I get left out?

[Write about two-step pod season opening]

Can we choose our pod, or are we going to be placed in one?

How many people should be in a pod?

We are suggesting to start with 1 to 3 peas.

Should I invite multiple people at once? Or add them one at a time?

This is definitely up to the individual or central pea. Some people or even some pods may produce the feeling that there is definitely one pea you really need in your pod, and you might build your pod around that pea. You might have to take that important pea into account when adding other peas.

However, for some pods you might get the feeling that three lovely peas will work well together and they can be invited into your pod at the same time. This is going to depend on you and your pod.

How will my relationship change with the people I invite into my pods?

What if I feel I’m taking up people’s time?

What if I don’t know how to support someone?

I feel uncomfortable about inviting people to support me, without giving back. How can I make it more balanced?

In general, a lunch (on you) and a chat could be enough to satisfy most people’s need to give back to their pod. Remember that they will also probably be central peas in their own pods, and we are all giving to the community in some way.

However, if you still feel you’d like to give back, Gary Chapman offer’s an easy way into the world of helping to make people feel appreciated. Also, our top tips are

  • words of gratitude for their time and support

  • other ways for them to see that their support is making a difference (photos, moments of celebration in the pod, etc.)

  • privately sharing the effects of pods for you, and supporting them in creating one, if they wish

  • chocolates

  • wine

  • Lunch