Join us to map the ‘Understory’ of community action in Dudley Borough

October 26, 2023
Published by Lorna Prescott

We are delighted to announce that Dudley CVS is working with Understory to map community action in Dudley Borough.

Understory is a digital mapping tool that invites people involved in community action in Dudley Borough to reveal the hidden connections that bind them together. People from local groups, projects and organisations come together in a single 90 minute workshop to create a network map. By the end of the session we will all be able to explore the web of relationships between the people and organisations that build resilience in our borough. It might start to look like a bit this:

Why use Understory?

Our map will be a collaborative tool for all those working in the local non-profit sector and people from local institutions who support us, to enable better cohesion and collective working. Understory’s mapping tools will enable us to explore together:

  • the interdependencies between different sectors,
  • our different goals, who shares them, and how they change over time,
  • groups, projects and organisations that are collaborating effectively, and
  • those who might welcome some weaving into a web of wider relationships.

It is for anyone who cares about people, thrives on connections and desires a collective approach to change. 

Mapping workshop

The mapping workshop will take place on Thursday 30 November, 1pm-2.30pm in person and online at the same time, with the option to take part in whichever you are most comfortable with.

Likely venue: CoLab Dudley, 201a Dudley High Street, DY1 1QQ. Please note that this venue does not have accessible toilets. There is a long flight of stairs to the first floor where the toilets are. We are struggling to find other venues which would have the tech that we need for this session (a large screen, rather than a projector). There is the option to join the session online if our likely venue is a barrier. We’re also happy to check out any venues you might recommend. 

If you know of a community group, project, charity or social enterprise who you think should be in the map, please send them a link to this new post.

Sign up to take part

If you would like to take part in the workshop to add your group, project, charity or social enterprise to the map please sign up at

How has this come about?

In July, Lorna from our CoLab Dudley team made a visit to East Quay in Watchet, a cultural venue established by Onion Collective CIC. Onion Collective and CoLab Dudley are among the 22 Emerging Futures Pathfinders being supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Jess from Onion Collective asked Lorna if Dudley would like to be among the 30 places that they are supporting to develop and explore maps with Understory. (See more about Onion Collective in a blog post on Lorna’s visit to East Quay.)

What is Understory?

Understory is a partnership between social enterprise Onion Collective and design studio Free Ice Cream. It aims to support communities who are actively working to improve their place. It asks:

  • What is your organisation or group’s purpose?
  • Who is most important to your work?
  • What organisations in your community are important to your work?
  • What organisations outside of your community are important to your work?

Through these questions a network map can be created, revealing the story of bonding, bridging and linking social capital. 

The mapping workshop on 30 November will be hosted by members of Dudley CVS and CoLab Dudley teams, alongside some of the team from Onion Collective. 

The map will be available to view publicly, however individual names will be anonymised.

If you have any questions please email

This mapping work has been funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

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