I started Grow Ensemble in late 2018.
I launched the podcast (then named The Grow Ensemble Podcast) in January 2019. We launched the Social Good Blog in October 2019. This newsletter, The Better World Weekly Newsletter, started that same month.
This is the 137th edition of this newsletter, we just published episode #227 of the podcast, and we’ve written well over 100+ long-form articles for the blog.
There are over 6,200 of you getting this email in your inbox every Monday and in the next couple months, we’ll surpass 2 million total views to the blog and 100,000 all-time downloads for the podcast.
Whew! What a ride!
All this content we’ve created, traffic, and listens we’ve received, I keep coming back to the question—for what?
What’s the point of it all?
The simplest goal with Grow Ensemble when we started was to write on things and talk to people that interested us. AND, get people to see/listen to those articles and interviews we created.
After a while though, that purpose has worn out its welcome. The occasional burnout and now the arrival of Annie and I’s first baby, Owen, I’ve been thinking on where to take things from here.
As I’m sure many of you parents who happen to read my newsletter know, having kids has a way of focusing how it is that you spend your time. Mainly because you have less of it 😜, also, because time applied to other things can mean small, but meaningful moments missed.
For Annie and I right now, that’s just a new Owen wiggle, but soon enough, things will look much different.
All this to say, this incredible life milestone has reminded me of how important it is to spend time on things that matter.
Life is finite: every day ends, our babies get older and so do we.
As for work, I’ve long since made a commitment to pursue what feels most meaningful and purposeful to me. If things feel dry, mechanical, or otherwise stagnant, I tweak, change, and adjust to re-ignite my motivation.
So, while I’m incredibly grateful for what work I get to do, I’m excited to make some changes. As a reader of this newsletter, this will affect you (I hope in a positive way).
Here we go:
This Newsletter—What’s Happening?
I started The Better World Weekly Newsletter as a traditional round-up newsletter. I link up some latest sustainability news, talk trends, share new content, etc.
It was great to get in the habit of it, but I’ve since become bored with the style.
- After I publish, the newsletter is soon irrelevant. As it’s been news-based and timely, it’s almost by definition, a flash in the pan. I spend hours on the newsletter each week only for it to not be something that’s worth sharing a week or month later.
In the spirit of doing things that matter, I want to make things that last. And ideally, those hours I’m putting into this newsletter are directed that way.
I want that time to be as meaningfully spent as possible. Both for you as a reader and me as the writer.
- I don’t like tracking the news! I don’t think I’m the greatest curator of news, either. Others do it way better.
Keeping up with the “latest” means that you have to filter through a lot of crap. Not everything reported on is worth paying attention to.
Time has a way of revealing what’s timeless. 24-hour news cycles do not.
So for this newsletter, I’m instead going to be seeking greater depth.
Still, in the arena of exploring what it means to build a better world, but from the perspective of the principles at play, human nature and character, as well as the ways that the planet has been/and will continue to be an awe-inspiring place.
This might mean elements of news and recent happenings here and there, but we also might touch on various aspects of history, philosophy, and individuals’ stories.
This is because I don’t believe that living more sustainably, socially or environmentally, is just a matter of tactical change, but rather, it feels like it’s a different way of being.
It’s living within and looking at the world with a different set of values. This, we will start to explore together—every single Monday, as we have been for the last 136 weeks.
Except for that week Annie and I had a baby.
Book: Ideas to Change the World [Title TBD]
Since I left the CEO post of a marketing agency in my early 20s, I’ve been sitting on a book idea.
I’ve even written a really shitty first draft.
While I’ll be sharing more about this project next week, tentatively, the book will be a distillation of principles that I’ve come to believe are a recipe for finding meaning and purpose in work and life.
I find that most career and life advice is outdated and worse, constructed to encourage us to become contributors to an economic engine, versus meaningful contributors to the world.
There are crises abound, but we encourage others to think about how they can make sure to earn their keep, become “valuable to the marketplace,” and contribute to the GDP versus how they might affect positive change.
I think my experiences of dropping out of college, becoming a CEO at 22, never working in an office, and now interviewing 200+ social entrepreneurs and exploring sustainability in business/life might add a unique perspective.
My hopes are to encourage others to think in a different way, consider valuing different things, and ideally to approach work and life in a way that’s more sustainable, impactful, and purposeful.
I’ll be working on this book through the next year and plan to share early chapter/idea drafts through the newsletter and blog.
I’ll be looking forward to hearing what you think.
The Learn Ensemble Project
It hasn’t always been clear to me, but Grow Ensemble is a lifetime research project into the who, what, why, and how of all things building a better world.
Since launching in 2019, through the podcast, blog, and newsletter, we’ve conducted hours and hours of research and compiled hours and hours of interviews.
Understandably, not everybody has the time to do that themselves.
And so, in efforts to best organize our findings and share what we’ve learned with you, we’re launching The Learn Ensemble Project.
The Learn Ensemble Project will be a digital library of our written materials, videos, and podcasts to quickly get you up to speed on the people, important discussions & questions, and best resources for any particular field.
Whether that’s regenerative agriculture, social entrepreneurship, or sustainable fashion, we’ll have a centralized location for you to effectively get caught up and become an active participant in the impact areas that interest you.
You’ll have selected interview clips, reading material, videos, and even action items to help familiarize yourself with a specific field quickly and substantively.
In the future, we’ll bring all these resources into books, interactive resource libraries, and invite users into discussion forums to further the conversation.
It’s not always easy to understand who/what to pay attention to, what books to read, or what information is important—our goal with The Learn Ensemble Project will be to democratize the conversation around what it means and what it looks like to build a better world together.
I’m very excited to update you as it takes shape.
And, as a lifetime research project, it’ll be a never-ending work in progress.
And finally, we have our Buy Ensemble Product & Company Reviews.
We create our Buy Ensemble content to make it easier for you (and us!) to make planet-and-people-friendly purchases.
It’s been exciting to see the number of companies who have come onto the scene to make sustainable alternatives in any/every product category.
While it’s long been believed that the “sustainable product” is in some way a compromise on the conventional alternative, gratefully, I don’t think that’s the case anymore.
Sometimes the difficulty in finding the right alternative is just learning that it exists!
In comes our work with Buy Ensemble.
There are plenty of other sites that offer up lists of “Sustainable [Product]” or “Zero Waste [Product]” but I’ve yet to find one that does the substantive reviews I’ve wanted.
Most of these sites:
- Don’t ever touch the products and gather first-hand information.
- Don’t do a serious analysis to the degree to which these products (and the businesses behind them) are in fact sustainable.
So, with our Buy Ensemble Reviews, we see we’ll be offering a level of value other reviews don’t in the following ways:
Curation—Behind each and every list or review will come a detailed and honest analysis of the product and company attached to it.
This will be based on our own evolving definition of “What Makes a Sustainable Product,” a manual which I’m working on publishing right now.
This will take into consideration the performance of the product (does it serve its intended purpose?), the effects on the people behind the product, and the effects on the planet.
First-Hand Experience—While getting our hands on every single product might be difficult, that’s our horizon line goal for anything and everything we write about at Grow Ensemble.
We want to both make buying decisions easier on you and as well, encourage the business community to continue raising the bar on the degree of social and environmental sustainability.
We’ve recently put together a list of the most sustainable & ethical running shoes.
Anything you’re interested in us reviewing? Let me know! Just hit “reply.”
All these “new” projects don’t really change where you should expect to keep up with our work.
As always, thanks so much for continuing to follow along with our work here at Grow Ensemble.
It’s been such a pleasure to hear from y’all in little bits and pieces over the last few years and hope to continue to do so.
Questions, comments, or just wanting to say “hello,” I encourage you to hit reply and send them along.
I’m Cory Ames. I’m a writer, podcaster, social entrepreneur, and the Founder of Grow Ensemble.
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