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.

We wish to foster vibrant, diverse, resilient and supportive communities. And pods, we believe, can be an invaluable tool for achieving this goal. Pods are an instrument to make explicit idividual commitments to support certain members of the community under specific circumstances. They were pioneered in 2014 by the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) and since then they have been adopted and adapted by countless communities around the globe. Pods can help increase the supporting connections between individuals, and put people in touch with safety nets even before they might need one. This way, (re)current challenges are managed, dealt with and learned from by inviting others to bear witness and support us through them. Having the explicit support of others in the community can offer respite from unwarranted guilt and blame, can increase resources, and can provide the firewalls that help resolve conflicts before they get out of hand.

Communities have the ability to heal individuals and our relationships, expand our approach to conflict from the individual to the collective, and help us continually increase our abilities to connect with each other and to nurture our collective wellbeing. We hope to supercharge these abilities through a common exploration of the potentials of pods. Please join us in this exploration!

1. Definitions

The main concepts come form the original BATJC proposal and are shared by many communities. With that base, we have been adapting the scope, definitions and goals for our group. Plus, we enjoy taking advantage of the plant metaphors it affords!

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.

Support pod – a pod aiming to support someone(s) through challenges, especially external and relational.

Harm Accountability pod – a pod aiming to support someone(s) through self-improvements they need to make in order to avoid hurting others. The pod can serve both to make the supporting pea aware of and hold them accountable for harm they’ve already done, as well as preventing future harm.

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: unidirectional support + central pea control = pod. 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. Proposal


3.1. Steps forward

  1. some tiered events / groups are acceptable / useful (i.e. places that people can access only if they have some combination and types of support / accountability pods)

  2. We will start with workshops / materials / check-ins about accountability pods, and then integrate support pods to finally treat all of support, accountability, plus the lower-footprint pods we’d introduced in step one.

  3. People can start creating pods at any time.

  4. We, as podets, lead by example and create our accountability pods. This way, others can actually experience them by sending us accountability suggestions if they so desire.

  5. Then, we can promote accountability pods to the BPP mods, the banana cake group, the BPPeas, and then to the wider community. Within 3-6 weeks of each other.

  6. But, if anyone wants to create their pods before, they have all our support.

  7. Each non-BPP pea in BPP-related pods should be given a link to the BPP code of conduct to read.

3.2. Accountability pods

  1. each accountability pod needs to contain a BPP member

  2. each central pea is to link their outer accountability pod (ie. the pod minus the central pea), in at least one of these places: their meetup profile, the BPP Introductions group and the Off-BPPeas in a Pod group. This can be, for example, an email address or a Telegram/Signal/etc. group.

  3. Callisto procedure: when an accountability pod receives more than one (non-trivial) note / complaint about the same type of hurt over time, or about the same event, they do their best to make the complainants known to each other.

  4. It should be possible to know who is in someone’s accountability pod. (E.g. when one has good reasons to believe that one won’t have good treatment from one pea if they write to the entire outer accountability pod, one can then write to another(s) in private to start a process that’s more likely to effect change.) This should be made available via things like previewing a group’s members in Telegram, or via asking the central pea’s accountability rep with a private message.

  5. It’s valid and sometimes useful for the central pea, if they wish, or in collaboration / at the request of one or more supporting peas, to temporarily exclude one or more supporting peas from a specific process / incident if everyone (emphasis on everyone; this should not be done behind people’s backs) thinks the results would be better that way (e.g. bias, or a supporting pea being too triggered by the situation, etc.).

3.3. Support pods

  1. Each pea to decide for themselves what support pods they need.
  2. Support pods can be anywhere from very specific (say, for dealing with jealousy in one relationship) to very broad (say, a support pod for all issues in all my relationships). Both specific and broad pods have their benefits and risks. For instance, a very narrow scope might leave us without support in difficult moments, while a broad scope raises the possibility of overwhelm for our supporting peas.

The communication channels will be the BPPeas in a pod Telegram group, pod consultations announced in meetup, pod workshops and check-ins, and, optionally, in private messages to others also engaged in this process.

4. The Support and Accountability Pods


4.1. Support pod

Relationship support pods are there to support the central pea as they navigate conflicts, jealousy, triggers, relationship dissolution / de-escalation, and other challenges that may come up in relationship with others. Recognizing that all our relationships influence and define who we are, these support pods are certainly not exlcusive to dealing with problems in sexual or romantic relationships. In fact, pods that deal with family challenges, workplace relationships, dating, or various kinds of friendships are an integral part of what support pods can offer us.

We recommend that you consider what level of granularity you’d like regarding the issues handled, to then help guide you in deciding whom to invite to support you through these issues. For example, we may choose to have a pod for “conflict management” that will support us through various relationships, of various types, or instead we may choose to create a pod with a goal that’s more granular, say, for conflict management in one specific relationship. This will depend on many factors, including our supporting peas’ interests, desires and abilities, our desires and needs (for instance, for privacy or frequency of processing, among many others), our relationship patterns, and so on. The level of granularity can be adjusted for

  • the category of relationships covered (e.g. one specific friendship, only platonic friendships, all types of friendship, all relationships; or one specific romantic relationship, all romantic relationships, all relationships; one specific family relationship, family-of-origin relationships, extended family relationships, kinship relationships, all relationships)

  • the time span (e.g. past, current, future, or any relationship ever)

  • the issue(s) that will activate the pod and support is focused on (e.g. jealousy, all my triggers, all my challenges; conflicts and disagreements over money, conflicts regarding resource use, all conflicts)

4.1.1. Activation

This pod will likely be inactive most of the time and become active only if/when hardship arises. The central pea is the only person who can activate it, however if supporting peas are seeing multiple signs that the central pea is experiencing a challenge, then they may check in with the central pea and suggest activating the pod. Supporting peas can offer emotional and/or practical support. It is helpful if the central pea is very clear about what type(s) of support they want generally, and make as specific a request as possible through the process when the pod is activated. Perhaps initially the central pea will want a shoulder to cry on, someone to listen empathetically, and then as they continue to process the situation, they might want the supporting peas to offer advice or check in with them after a difficult conversation. The central pea can also ask for suggestions from the supporting peas if they are uncertain about what could be helpful. If the central pea would like to start an accountability process with someone who harmed them, the supporting peas could engage with the accountability pod of that person to start and support them through the accountability process. Keep in mind that the central pea still maintains control of what type of support they receive in these situations, and any communication or actions the supporting peas do on behalf of the central pea need to be done with full disclosure and permission from the central pea.

4.1.2 Outer Support Pod

When the pod is activated, there may be times when the supporting peas of a Support Pod will need to communicate with each other without the central pea. This group is called the Outer Support Pod or Outer Pod. It may be useful at times to form other “outer pods” which include a smaller subset of the support peas.

4.2. Accountability pod

An Accountability pod is there to engage the central pea, with community support, in a process of accountable learning and growth around the harmful effects of our behaviour, and to help improve the behavior and affect its causes.

4.2.1. Activation

As the case with all pods, this pod will be inactive by default, and may be activated when a specific need arises. This can be:

  • when someone has been harmed and requests an accountability process

  • when a supporting pea has noticed opportunities for improvement in the central pea’s behaviour

  • when the central pea themselves wish to improve a certain facet of their behaviour.

Any of these signals may activate the pod or not. This depends on the central pea’s judgment of the signaling event, and their desire to engage in such a process. Let’s recall that an accountability pod, like all the others, exists to support someone who is already willing to improve and work on issues; we are not in the business of forcing anyone to change, not least because we cannot presume to know what’s best for others. Instead, we can offer our support and aim to signal, as honestly and carefully as we can, when we see a problem, or an opportunity for improvement. Due to the purpose of these pods and the sensitive nature of the situations they address, they are different from other types of pods in that they can be activated by someone other than the central pea. Those who have experienced harm, or their support pod(s), can reach out to any of the members of the accountability pod of the person who has done harm to suggest to activate the pod.

4.2.2. Outer Accountabiliy Pod

An Outer Accountability Pod includes all the supporting peas of the Accountability Pod but does not include the central pea. A communication channel is set up for the Outer Accountability Pod when the Accountability Pod is created, which enables the supporting peas to communicate with each other about an accountability process before engaging the central pea in it, and it also offers the person harmed or their support pod another way to contact the Accountability Pod to initiate and/or engage in the accountability process if they find it challenging to speak directly to the person who caused harm. There may also be times when it would be useful to form other configurations of the pod which include a smaller subset of the supporting peas. We’ll discuss that in more detail below.

4.2.3. Announcing the pod

Each central pea can announce to the community that their outer accountability pod is available for feedback by linking to it in at least one of these places: their meetup profile, the BPP Introductions group and the Off-BPPeas in a Pod group.

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.

There’s no rush or pressure as to whom, when, and why you ask to join your pods. There’s no need for a collective pod rush, only for many of us to realise later that others could have been more apt to support us.

We’ve posed a few questions to help with self reflection and, by answering them, perhaps we’ll feel clearer about our needs:

  • Have I lacked support or accountability in the past? For what situations?

  • Do people in my life tend to give me the same advice / criticisms?

  • Do I brush people’s concerns aside as unimportant because they are not aligned with my value system?

  • Are there recurring themes that I am not picking up on?

  • What, for me, would be the difference between the friends / groups I already have, and the pods?

  • What benefit do I see to having a pod for myself?

  • What function could they fulfil for me that is not already being met?

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 this podding is a social experiment. 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 jealousy or fear of missing out.

5.1.1. Accountability pods

When considering who can – and may want to – hold us accountable, some questions to ask might be

  • Who do I trust to point out my mistakes?

  • Who do I know that can abstain from the temptation of taking sides and defending them at all costs?

  • Who do I know who is happy to acknowledge they were wrong?

  • Who do I know who went through conflict and came out a better person, while maintaining good relationships with others as the situation allowed?

  • Who do I know that will tell the truth when it’s difficult to do so?

Also, make sure that your goal in creating the pod is to be supported – and, sometimes, egged on – to improve, rather than surrounding yourself with voices that say you have nothing to improve.

When inviting someone to be part of your pod, you are welcome to send them this document, so they have the context in mind when deciding whether to join.

5.2. Invitation messages – individual

5.2.1. Support pod

5.2.2. Accountability pod

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]

5.3.2 To a non-BPP friend

My dear X, I have a special request for you today. As part of a community process we’re going through in [the BPP / _other community], I’d like to invite you to support me in changing, repairing and growing when I don’t treat people as well as I want to. I trust you very much to be kind and, at the same time, firm in holding me to my own values._

In the language of this group, I’m now “creating an accountability pod”. It’s just a group of people who will help me in taking accountability for relationship mistakes, especially those that are related to [the BPP / other community]. Apart from you, I have also invited Y and Z; you don’t know them, but I have a feeling that you’d get along really well.

In terms of time commitment, I really hope that the pod (the group of me and those who agree from you, Y and Z) will be silent for most of the time. I might make some obvious mistakes sometimes (say, [avoid conflict to the point of hurting someone, as I sometimes do / other personal example]), in which case I’ll probably come to you to describe it and ask for support in repairing that and researching articles, books, videos and exercises to help me make the necessary changes to prevent doing the same in the future. (To be clear, I’m not expecting you to do any research, necessarily, just to hold me to it!) Else, people that I’ve hurt might come directly to the pod to share how they felt in interactions with me, and then we’ll do the same process.

I know that this message might raise even more questions than it answers. Please let me know what you think, and what you’d like more details about, and I’ll try to explain. And I’d love for you to know that I’ll be grateful whatever you end up deciding; I’d like you to do this only because you really desire it, and, if you say no otherwise, it will certainly help us both.

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

[We would like to create a checklist for self reflection and self-analysis here with the intention of building self-reliance. Also, to respect the time and emotional investment of your pod. This is a basic outline/beginning.]

When sending out your invitations, be prepared for receiving a no and practice being thankful for others setting boundaries.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t need to invite everyone at once; you can go in stages. The first person who accepts to be in your pod is your pod, at least for the time being. Make sure they understand that new people might join the pod, and that they’re happy to collaborate with them. (And, when they do, keep in mind that on platforms such as WhatsApp or Signal the new members cannot see the group chat history, so it’s useful to send the introduction again. Which can also be a good time to revise and update it, if needed.)

6.1. Welcome messages

As an introduction to your new pod, it is helpful to send a welcome message to the group reminding them of what the group is about, what they should expect, and what is expected of them. When writing this message, consider how often you would like to communicate in the absence of an activating situation. (This could be your update for how your relationships are going, or even an exploration of specific situations to better understand whether the pod support might be required.) Anything from once a week to once a year is all right, as long as it’s clear and consented to by everyone involved, and also amenable to adaptation to people’s changing circumstances.

Secondly, share the ways you prefer to be cared for, or held accountable. For example, in a support pod I prefer to only receive advice when I ask for it. This may be different in an accountability pod, in which I want to make myself available to blind spots I may have.

6.1.1. Accountability Pod welcome message

Here’s an example of an accountability pod intro message:

6.1.2. Support Pod welcome message

7. Engaging with pods


[Q: Is the current behaviour something you can trace back to previous situations? Is this a pattern for you?]

7.1. Before activating a Support or Accountability Pod

7.1.1. Gaging whether the issue merits activating your pod

Identify our stress level. Two methods that might work for you is to give your current challenge a number from 0 to 10, with 0 being no problem at all and 10 being the biggest problem you’ve encounted. You can have a system in place where you can place the stress on a scale depending on previous challenges in your life. For example, your level 3 might be having a difficult morning where things just don’t seem to be going ok, while your 8 might be when your pet turtle ran away from home. By placing it in this framework, you help yourself by putting it into perspective, and you will also be able to share this with your pod so they can prepare. In most cases you will also know that you have been able to get through those previous stresses at other points in your life. Facing challenges one at a time is the act of building resilence.

Ask yourself: at what number do you want to activate your pod? At five? Perhaps going for a jog and going to bed early might deal well with a level three. That’s up to you.

The numeric scale can of course be replaced with colours if that suits you better. For example your stress level today might be green (no stress) but tomorrow might be bright orange. If you want to, and it suits you better, you can create your own coloured stress levels.

This is a good moment to ask yourself why you created a pod in the first place. What was the designated purpose of the pods you have created and is the current problem within the parameters of the pod’s framework? If you find that issues come up for you repeatedly that are outside of the framework of any of the pods you have created, you might consider either changing the scope of one of your pods to include the types of things coming up or create a new one to address them.

7.1.2. How to communicate with your pod

For some people it might be best to script messages you will send when you are about to activate your pod. This can let your pod prepare for the type of help and the amount of time they might need to address your challenge. For example, the first message might be this is a ‘code yellow’ – moderate problem, or this one is a ‘code red’ – ‘it’s a doozie’ – brace yourself.

Think about if you would prefer to write or send an audio message, or do you prefer to have a live meeting? It might depend on the level of your problem. Make sure your supporting peas are OK with the method of communication you’d like to use.

Be aware also that when you first create the pod, you might think that your preferred communication style will be to write a message when you need to activate the pod, but when you are actually in the heat of emotion, you might prefer a voice note or a live call. That’s ok, just check in with your pod first.

Consider that we have two types of central peas that are on either side of the spectrum of communication frequency: people who are comfortable sharing a lot and could potentially activate their pods too often and people who don’t tend to share much at all, but are working on sharing with others and would like to improve in this area. Think about where you fall on this spectrum of communication frequency.

These are two questions that you could ask yourself and add to your personal pod recipe, depending on whether you are more inclined to over-share or under-share.

  • Am I always trying to do things on my own? If yes, perhaps I could work on sharing some of these challenges with my pod.
  • Do I find it easy to share my challenges with people and have I already told two people who have offered solutions? If yes, perhaps it’s not necessary to activate my 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? Could my supporting peas be feeling a bit overworked or overwhelmed by the frequency of my requests or the continuous chat? 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 an accountability pod, it might be the supporting peas who activate it, when they think the central pea should be held accountable for something. Similarly, other members of the community who do not make part of said central pea’s accountability pod, as well as the central pea themself, also can request that an accountability pod be activated should they feel it’s needed. [Different options, tools to do that?]

On the other hand, it can be the central pea who activates a support pod more often, when they feel they need support on the issue(s) that the pod supports them with. However, support pods can also be activated by the supporting peas who think the central pea can use some support, and/or the members of the community can ask it to be activated as well.

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 to 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. [See section 8.5 here reminder of embodied listening]
  • 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:

    • taking sides, unless it can’t be helped; even then, I’ll make it a temporary measure, because we’re in this together

    • allowing short-term relief to compromise long-term wellbeing, for everyone involved.

    • giving advice before I really understand what is happening (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 will try to be generous with assumptions if it happens that some supporting peas aren’t able to support me at the moment. They might be going through something challenging themselves or are busy supporting others right now.

  • 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. If the situation which motivated activating the pod has come to a resolution or no longer requires active engagement from the supporting peas, then the discussion may subside on its own in which case it will be pretty clear when the pod becomes deactivated.

However, sometimes it can be useful for the central pea to clearly express that they are deactivating the pod so that supporting peas can rest at ease knowing that nothing else is expected of them. This can allow them, for instance, to silence the group for a few days. For example, the central pea of a physical health pod could say something like this:

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


[Qualities/attitude/suggestions for what it means…. and what is required. Being able to deal with possible emotional ‘drama’, etc. Embodied listening practice. Trigger response and checklist.]

One commitment that pod members make is to everyone’s overall well-being (including their own). This is in contrast to “taking sides”, cajoling / convincing, etc. Like this, medium- and long-term well-being are prioritized to short-term relief or avoidance – all resting on a base of kindness, of course.

Part of the toolbox for achieving this needs to be the possibility to discuss, between yourselves – the pod members – the best way to support the pod creator. That is, the possibility to create the -1 pod: a group with the supporting peas that excludes the central pea(s) – especially in the context of a specific activating event (such as a situation of abuse).

Another tool that supporting peas can use is to connect proactively with the central pea(s) about something they’re concerned with, whether they know it from them or from other sources. And it doesn’t need to stop there: supporting peas can also connect – with the knowledge of everyone involved – with a pod of someone else involved (e.g. my accountability -1 pod might likely wish to communicate with the support -1 pod of the person I may have hurt). (Though, with the knowledge of everyone involved.)

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?

There is no obligation to accept an invitation to join a pod if you don’t want to, you can decline for whatever reason. It is important that we take care of ourselves and respect our own needs and boundaries as far as what we can give to others, so if declining is what you need to do for your own self care, then fantastic! You may also feel it isn’t a good match due to how your personalities mesh or your personal history with them. You don’t have to explain your reasons for declining, but please try to be kind when you do.

8.3. What if I change my mind later?

Perhaps things have changed in your life such that you no longer have the time or emotional capacity for it. Or perhaps you didn’t fully understand what was expected of you and you have since realized that you are not able to offer what the central pea needs. Everything is about communication. You can write to your central pea and explain that you can no longer make this 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.”

8.?. Taking immediate measures

When a recent violation comes to light, anyone (the people involved themselves, or their support or harm accountability pods) can, if they feel it necessary, contact the administrators of the various communities the person who committed the violation is in, to ask that they be limited in their various abilities, removed temporarily from the groups or events where the people they have hurt are participating, or even asked to leave the community altogether, and engage in a process that can help them recognise their mistake, make up for it, grow to prevent such violations in the future, and eventually, if possible, be reintegrated into the community.


9. Interacting with the community


When interacting with members of the community, even when you are not acting as a member, it is very useful to be equiped with a rich emotional toolbox and be mindful to use it when the occasion calls for it.

Properly handling challenging emotions will minimize the need for activating support pods. Some tools that you can consider in such situations:

  • The window of presence, originally coined by Dr Dan Siegal, will help you identify when you, or others, are in resourceful or unresourceful emotional states. Knowlege is power and this one will make it easier to decide when and with whom engage and how much.

  • Ring Theory will help you when you are under so much distress that you need to offload some of that preassure. In such situation is important to be mindful to avoid adding stress to people who are being even more challenged than you.

10. Other types of Pods


Apart from the two main pod types – support and harm accountability – we can think of other types of pods that could support us through our specific challenges, and make this process work for us! Find some ideas below:

  • The pod members’ support pod?

  • Trigger-processing pod

  • Mood-boosting pod

  • Relationship conflict / challenge support pod

  • Jealousy support pod

  • Cuddle / massage / touch pod

  • Parenting support pod

  • Check-in pod. “How ya’ doing?” (especially good for people perhaps not good at reaching out)

  • A-game pod for specific relationships: beyond just dealing with problems, what can I do to be a better friend / lover / partner / family member?

  • Elucidation pod: when we need to talk things through to figure out what we’re feeling and why

  • Health pod (for both physical and mental health)

  • “Let’s face it” pod – dealing with challenges that we’re putting off, such as self-esteem, shame, fears in general, tendencies to dominate, etc. And/or patterns / tendencies of previous behaviour that need to be checked.

  • Potential red flags pod – in previous relationships and perhaps in current ones

  • Celebration pod – celebrate nice things happening in your life with your supporting peas

  • Resonance pod? Asking for quotes, poems, word art personalized to you and the moment you’re going through.

  • Rant pod – when you just want to rant and not be judged for it, and optionally receive feedback.

  • Substance (ab)use support pod – support and guidance for putting healthy boundaries around your substance use.

  • Dating support pod – boosting your confidence, offering commentary on potential candidates, locations, or activities for your dates, offering an “escape plan” if a date is going badly, checking in to make sure you arrive home safely, helping you process how it went, and advise on next steps

11. F.A.Q.


Read our FAQ here.

12. Resources