Through events like Impact Hours and the Good Market, ENSA promotes local and regional businesses and educates the community on ethical living.
Ethical living is a philosophy rooted in decision-making about day-to-day life. The idea considers ethics and moral values associated with consumerism, sustainability, environmentalism, wildlife, and animal welfare. It's a practice rooted in the belief of living life more intentionally and with greater regard for how actions impact a community as a microcosm of the larger society shared.
Texas Innovators looks to spotlight changemakers in all Texas communities. This Earth Day, we showcase the work of Ethical Network of San Antonio (ENSA), a non-profit founded in 2017 working to connect purpose-driven businesses through a network of resources and community support to help these businesses thrive in San Antonio.
TXi spoke with local entrepreneur and ENSA President Sharmon Lebby to explore ethical living, ENSA's mission, and the innovative ways communities work together to make Texas a better place.
Engaging Communities Requires Innovation
For all of us, 2020 was a year of transformation. Amid unprecedented changes emerging from a global pandemic, companies and organizations created new ways to connect with the communities they serve. For ENSA — whose Good Market event served as the touchstone of its community-building and networking efforts — this signaled an opportunity to pivot and use a little creativity to reach audiences.
New strategies would chart an unexpected but welcomed growth for Lebby and the team.
"[I]n 2019, we have our last Good Market and then leading into 2020, where we had to completely pivot and try to figure out what we're gonna do with the organization because we were based solely on the markets, we had to figure out what we were going to do from there," Lebby said. "But, it gave us a great foundation and we actually really grew in 2020 because we had to constantly come up with new innovative ways to engage our community. And so, throughout that time in 2021, we got our 501(c) (3) designation and became a full-fledged non-profit and we've just been going full force ever since."
Living Ethically Means Purpose
What exactly is ethical living?
"So, one thing we tell people is that it's completely based on individual values and morals...[Which] makes it more inclusive and makes it more accessible to anybody and everybody in the direction that they want to come into it. It's basically just living in a way that represents your values which you believe in and your desire to create a better and more equitable world for everybody."
Whether it's environmental concerns or those looking to improve life for marginalized communities, ethical living is a purpose-driven attitude toward action.
"I think the big thing is recognizing that all of these things work together. They completely are interlocked, and interwoven."
Behind ENSA's mission is the pursuit of building a collective where these businesses and organizations can collaborate and help each other scale.
"We just feel like all of these things work together, and there's no way to really talk about one without the other. While some people might focus on one, we want to make sure that [one group knows about another group], and we can all come together and build this world, and to build a more sustainable and ethical community."
Supporting Similar Values Leads to a Sustainable Impact
As more consumers look to tether principles to spending habits and who they do business with, ENSA's network and resources offer a streamlined way to connect with companies with shared values.
"A big part of our mission has always been shining a spotlight and making sure we were amplifying voices of color and you know, black and women-owned businesses, making sure we were particularly targeting those businesses. And I think it became even more important for us after that and we made a decision."
ENSA helps create a broader reach for those companies focused on societal and sustainability issues by spreading their name throughout San Antonio.
"We will create this list and we put it out a couple times a year. And that drew a huge crowd. We're all about bringing together communities and people and creating more spokes, right? Because our motto is always community over competition. We would teach our businesses not to see each as competition, but we're part of a community and that's another resource. That's a person to collaborate with."
Upcoming ENSA Events
April 27 7:00 p.m.
July 9 7:00 - 11:00 p.m.
Brick @ Bluestar.
Looking for more information?
Visit ethicalnetworksa.org or check them out on Instagram @ethicalnetworksa.