Ethical Action

As ethical humanists, we all strive to make both ourselves and the world better. At the Ethical Society of Austin (ESOA) we acknowledge that progress towards these goals may sometimes be incremental, but should always be ethical. We pledge ourselves to act so as to elicit the best in others and, thereby, ourselves.

Issues of concern for our community include homelessness, food insecurity, access to health care, sustainable farming, protecting the environment, education, and others. A primary means to address these issues is Ethical Action. ESOA acts in at least the following ways:

ESOA pursues Ethical Action locally in and around Central Texas, as well as participating in national and international programs.


Call to Ethical Action!

Ethical humanists are called to give blood at their local blood bank to demonstrate the need for more blood donors and to promote blood donations as a humanitarian act. This act is in support of Sustainable Development Goals 3 (Good Health and Well Being) and 13 (Climate Action). The Central Texas Blood Bank is now We Are Blood. #EthicalAustin #Ethical Action


Planning for Ethical Action in 2017

Save the date:  October 9.  We will devote our Sunday Meeting to setting our Ethical Action priorities for 2017.  Prepare to participate by reviewing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set up by the UN, choose your top three priority areas, and attend the meeting to vote on the areas for our Ethical Action focus in 2017.


Ethical Action Committee Report (April 24, 2016) (PDF file)


ESOA members give money as well as in-kind donations to a variety of organizations.

  • Capital Area Food Bank (weekly)
    • Shop for the Basket. Members of ESOA add “shopping for the food bank” to their grocery list and bring what they buy for the green basket.
    • Feed Me (container). Some members prefer to give cash donations, which can be converted by the CAFB even more effectively. One dollar can provide four meals.
  • Month of Giving (annual)
    • During ESOA’s Month of Giving in February each year, members are asked to contribute over and above their usual donations to the support of the Society with the understanding that the Society will match the total of those special donations. Members are then asked to help decide how those funds will be allocated to other charitable organizations. Among the organizations supported are:
  • Care for the Homeless
    • In March, 2016, ESOA members contributed enough personal care items to fill more than 20 care bags for homeless residents in Kerr County.


ESOA members give their time, effort, and skills in service to various communities and organizations in Central Texas.

  • Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (monthly). Each second Tuesday, ESOA members participate in the evening kitchen service at ARCH, providing up to 120 clients with meal service.
  • Service Sunday:  Let’s Make Our Backyard More Beautiful (April 17, 2016).  ESOA members will clean up and improve the back yard and playground at 5604 Manor, home of the Worker’s Defense Project and space used by the children in our SEEK program.
The power of SEEK
  • Service Sunday:  Lucy Read Clean Up and Improvement (March 6, 2016).  ESOA members joined with the staff of the Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten Demonstration School to clean up the garden for spring.


  • Service Sunday:  Pease Park Clean Up and Improvement (November 15, 2015).   ESOA members joined with the Pease Park Conservancy to clean up and improve this important part of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt.


  • Service Sunday:  Planting Party at 5604 (September 27, 2015).  ESOA members joined members of the 5604 Manor Community Garden for a Planting Party and Potluck.



A founding principle of Ethical Culture is that we are called to act.  Sometimes that action calls others to action.  We advocate for changes in our society and in public policy in order to make the world better for all of us.

  • Refugee Fear (December, 2015):  In response to public rhetoric and actions by state and federal officials who called for the rejection of refugees from violence and oppression in Syria, John and Susan Thiess hosted a letter writing event.  Participants wrote letters to their elected leaders, calling for a more humane response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
  • Elections (May, 2016):  Members were reminded to update their voter registration if needed and to vote in local elections in May. Sample ballots were placed on the Ethical Action Table for reference. Members were encouraged to study the issues and to vote their conscience in what are typically low turnout elections.


  • Democracy Spring (April, 2016):  Members were invited to attend this national event, held in Washington, D. C., to call for a reduction of the influence of money in US elections and public policy.  Members followed media coverage of the march to Washington and (planned) Capitol arrests.  When 100 members of Congress responded to the march and mass arrests by signing a letter to call for hearings on five important voting rights bills, ESOA members were encouraged to thank the Texas congresspersons who signed the letter (The Honorable Gene Green, Lloyd Doggett, and Sheila Jackson Lee) for their response.
Bart Worden, AEU Executive Director, marches for democracy
Bart Worden, AEU Executive Director, stands up for democracy
  • Reason Rally 2016 (June 2-4, 2016):  ESOA created its own local version of this national event for those who could not go to Washington, DC.  Working with the American Ethical Union and the Secular Coalition for America, ESOA set up district office visits to the Travis County Congressional Delegation so that members could express their support for Real Education for Healthy Youth Acts of 2015 and 2016.



ESOA members seek to address the important ethical and social issues that we face as citizens of the planet. Doing so includes not only development of one’s thoughts and attitudes in ethical pathways, but walking those pathways.

  • Sustainable potluck (monthly). ESOA members gather for a communal meal on first Sundays. In 2015, ESOA began changing its traditional practices of recycling and composting the remains of the meal to include reusable serving and eating supplies: cloth napkins in place of paper, reusable plates and cups instead of paper and plastic, and so on. Members experience not only the joy of sharing a meal but the satisfaction of sharing the time honored ritual of washing and drying dishes together.


“Deed Before Creed”
A fundamental tenet of ethical culture