All things are made of small things

All things are made of small things

Sometimes, it feels like the world’s most pressing problems are too big for us. Climate disaster; fragmented communities; polarised digital discourse… they can feel beyond us. And that’s not good for our wellbeing – or that of our communities, both local and global.

But it’s not really true, either. Taking small steps to change things can help us take bigger steps. And acting together helps us create a collective impact.

So that’s why we’ve decided to take a Year of Action, supported by our friends, collaborators, readers and community. Together, we can make some changes. (And there are lots of things on the Ethos website you can read about this.)




Fiona Shaw & Andrew Beattie

Fiona: Two things happened last year that got us thinking… Andrew was talking to a contact of ours – a network with a community that was keen to champion a more progressive approach to the way it did business. During the same week, I was away at the beautiful Gladstone Library in Hawarden, writing my thesis. I was writing about improving environmental sustainability in micro-businesses, creating a methodology called the ‘CIRCLE’, which supported businesses to become more confident in their environmental sustainability and promote activity in business clusters, like the one we work in.


Andrew: I’d found myself having the same sort of conversations and hearing the same things for a few weeks. ‘We need to make a compelling case for businesses to get involved in sustainability,’ and ‘with a looming cost-of-living crisis, will sustainability take a back seat for a while?’ I find these arguments frustrating, but also kind of understandable. But it’s not enough to just be dismissive, either. As an optimist, I think everybody and every business would make a contribution to the quality of life of people and the planet if they were empowered to do so. But I also suspect many people feel so overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges facing communities and the planet that they ultimately don’t do much but fret. Me included. 

So, what’s the solution to that? Doing something. Doing what you can. Taking action.


Fiona: Turns out, we were largely talking about the same thing… a dawning realisation that supporting businesses – particularly microbusinesses – means supporting people. Lots of the actions we’d talked about are the things you’d do at home (because microbusinesses often don’t have a lot of control over their gas and electricity suppliers, or waste management, because they tend to rent, rather than own, their offices or space.) And because taking small actions helps us all become more confident in this conversation. But, when you multiply it amongst communities of people, it adds up to quite an impact.


Andrew: Fiona and I left for Oslo Innovation Week in September and left Eve and Denis from our team with an idea – A Year of Action – that we thought felt like a good campaign and collaboration opportunity – something we can instigate but take part in, and bring our friends along with us. I spoke to other organisations we know and admire, and shared it with our friends and partners at Today Do This, Pentameter, The Better Business Network, TMMRW Co. and others. It began to take shape. 12 months and 12 themes; 52 weeks and 52 actions. 

Over the next 12 months you’ll hear from many of them as they share their ideas for action. In addition to sharing the actions and pulling it together, we’ll be taking part too. That’s what excites us about this thing. It’s not a do as we say thing. It’s us taking action, playing our part, doing what we can, doing our ‘something’. 


Fiona: And that’s what led us here. Ethos has had a ‘Small Change’ feature for several years now, because we’ve always believed in the power of sharing insights and action, however small. And now we’re excited to see what 2023 brings. To see how many people get involved and take action.

Because all things are made of small things.


Join us at #2023YearofAction and via the website

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