An image of Mia Mingus podmapping worksheet

What is Pod Mapping?

A pod is a concept developed by disability activist Mia Mingus as a part of creating a self-care community. A pod is a group of people who you can go to if violence, harm, or abuse has happened to you, if you caused harm, or if you have witnessed harm. A person can have multiple pods, one for each situation as you might not want to same people to support you if you have been harmed compared to if you have harmed.

By creating a map of your pods for each situation, known as pod mapping, this is a much more real and concrete element than simply saying that your “community” will help you. Pod mapping allows a person to sit down and think about who in their life they actually have a trusted, respectful, and reciprocal relationship.

Mingus suggests using her pod mapping worksheet, which is a document with a center gray circle, five dark circles around the gray circle, and then a series of small and large sized circle around the dark circles. Using the pod mapping worksheet, you can put your name in the center circle. The five dark circles are where you can write the name of five people who you would turn to during a trauma situation. These should be individuals who you can be vulnerable with, is kind and dependable, and know that they will give sound advice if asked. Often, people find it hard to name more than one or two people, or some people may not have any people they feel they can pick for their core circles at all. It is fine to only have a couple people in your core circle, but with the acknowledge that you should be working towards deepening other relationships.

The small sized circles on the outer edge represent individuals who are potential people who could be moved into your pod, but perhaps you need to build your relationship or trust with them a little more. Finally, the large-sized circles on the outer edge are organizations, community groups, and resources, this could be a pay-what-you-can counselling or a local domestic violence direct service organization.

It is suggested that a person updates their pod map every year, as people move away, relationships change, and new resources can emerge. It is encouraged that you talk to the people who are your main five core circles for your pod map about what possible support is needed. Mia Mingus explains how “growing one’s pod is not easy and may take time. In pod work, we measure our successes by the quality of our relationships with one another and we invest in the time it takes to build things like trust, respect, vulnerability, accountability, care, and love.”

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