Common Ground: Travel shoes that provoke conversation (contest ended)

November 4, 2016 | By | 134 Replies More (screenshot) (screenshot)

Congratulations to Pamela, winner of the Common Ground Travel Shoes Giveaway!

Common Ground travel shoes are designed to spark conversation. Enter the giveaway to win a pair of your own.

People who are privileged to have the means and opportunity to travel often feel the urge to give back to others in socially responsible ways. This may take place through volunteer work, charitable contributions or other actions such as socially responsible buying (also called ethical buying), both at home and when traveling.

About the company

Common Ground is an unconventional Portland-based shoe company founded by John Tawney. Prior to launching his own company, Tawney worked with Nike for some 15 years and was a co-founder of NIKEiD personalized customization.

Expanding his creativity to new dimensions, Tawney came up with the idea of designing unique footwear that would deliver a social message and promote change. (Yes, reading about this did, at first, make me think about Fred Armisen’s TV show Portlandia that pokes fun at the progressive denizens of that city.)

N.B. Toms Footwear and Warby Parker are other examples of successful business ventures based on the premise that ethical companies should extend their work beyond profits alone.

The shoes

The quirky, conversation-sparking unisex shoes marketed by Common Ground are printed in an array of designs that highlight different points of view on social issues such as marriage equality, gender equality, immigration, and gun violence. The graphics are intended to inspire dialogue to help people place themselves in “each other’s shoes.” The slip-on sneaker-like shoes have a rubber sole and rubber tips, and are available in a range of colors in both men’s and women’s sizes.

In short, the broader message of the shoes is to inspire users to take the time to listen, understand and respect other points of view with empathy. The brand firmly believes that travelers, like you and me, can play a unique role as ambassadors of empathy through our actions. In addition, the company donates 2.5% of all sales to Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, (the largest network of social entrepreneurs) dedicated to building a future in which every child develops the capacity for empathy.

Here are a few examples of the shoe styles that are available:

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If you don’t want to provoke too much conversation or consternation, the message of the more subtle Progress style is less explicit. It emphasizes a cautious yet realistic approach to progress.


To spread the word about the shoes to travelers, Common Ground is willing to give away one pair to a randomly selected reader of More Time To Travel. The shoes retail for $70 a pair.

The Rules:

  • To enter, just leave a comment below with the shoe style and color of the pair you would like to win, selecting them from those on the Common Ground website.
  • Limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.
  • The contest ends on midnight 11/30/16. The winner will be announced here.

Disclosure: Common Ground sent me a pair of the shoes for consideration and possible review. They really are a neat idea! Any opinions expressed In this post are my own. (screenshot) (screenshot)

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Comments (134)

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  1. Amy F says:

    Progress Bright White Size 5.5

  2. Nancy Monson says:

    Cool post, Irene! The right shoes are essential for a happy vacation. I like the Immigration Jet Black Style–I love the mix of patterns and how the design represents cultures coming together.

    Size 7.5

  3. Laura Kelly says:

    Very cool shoes and messages! I would love Gun Violence (that sounds weird), size 8.

  4. I’d like to wear Progress in Military_Olive w8.5

  5. Susan Christy says:

    Gender Equality – Strong Blue – Size 9

  6. Fran says:

    Progress – cabernet in women’s 8.5 thanks!

  7. Brittney House says:

    I like the immigration, promised land in jet black.

  8. Ashley C says:

    I like the Progress in Military Olive

  9. Kelly D says:

    I like the GENDER EQUALITY, PIECES OF SAME in goldfinch.

  10. Sharon says:

    The Progress Military_Olive size 8.5.

  11. Amy says:

    Gun violence – jet black

    These shoes are a great idea and look super comfortable for travel!

  12. Alice says:

    Marriage Equality: Between Two

    White/ 9

  13. Hideliza Quane says:

    Will be making an 18 hour flight to the Philippines in January.

    Would like to win:

    Marriage Equlity White
    Women’s size 6

  14. Sandy Klocinski says:

    I would like to win Progress in Military Olive size W-8.5

  15. I like Progress Cabernet, women size 8. Thank you!

  16. Tracy Shafer says:

    I like the Progress, in Bright White…size 6.5

  17. Amy G says:

    I would love the Marriage Equality Between Two in White!

  18. Denise L says:

    I’d pick Progress in jet black. They look stylish and comfy.

  19. nickie says:

    I like the Immigration: Promised Land size 7.5

  20. Denisse says:

    Marriage Equality: Between Two in Goldfinch

  21. marilou t says:

    i like gun violence in a 8.0

  22. trinity Wilkins says:

    I would like the Progress in jet black, size 8 1/2 they look really nice.

  23. Paige says:

    Progress in Military Olive, size 5.5

  24. Amanda Patterson says:

    I really like the Marriage Equality: Between Two Bleached_Apricot !

  25. Jeanne M Rousseau says:

    Great shoes, I love to see companies for causes. I like the Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces in Deep_Forest.

  26. doddie d says:

    Progress in Jet Black. Size 7. 🙂

  27. pat lambert says:

    Immigration promised land 9.5

  28. McKim says:

    I like the Project Jet Black shoes.

  29. Laurie W. says:

    I would love the Progress shoes in Jet Black.

  30. paige chandler says:

    I like gun violence in jet black. Great message!

  31. Michelle Donovan says:

    MARRIAGE EQUALITY in White (11W) – super cool!

  32. Mary Cloud says:

    I like the Gun Violence Black design

  33. edq143 says:

    I like the style Gun Violence size 6

  34. Pamela says:

    Thanks so much for the grat review. I had never heard of Common Ground Footwear before, and I just love both the idea behind the shoes and the great styles themselves. I would love to have a pair of Immigration: Promised Land style shoes in Jet Black. I would wear them proudly!

  35. Nadine Stacy says:

    I’d like progress in black to go with everything.

  36. Chrystal D says:

    I\’d love to be wearing the Immigration : Promised Land in Jet Black in a size 6.5

  37. Angela Saver says:

    I would choose the Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces in Jet Black!

  38. Sandy Bonesteel says:

    I want the Progress style, in Jet Black.

  39. Kathy Borgen says:

    I love the Progress in Cabernet. These shoes look amazingly comfortable!

  40. ron schnell says:

    Gun Violence size 7

  41. ron frampton says:


  42. Vera P. says:

    Progress in Jet Black Women’s 7

    Looking for shoes for trip in 2017 to Asia, these look perfect!

  43. Bridget Combs says:

    I like the deep forest Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces/ size 8

  44. Edward Tarver says:

    Marriage equality size 6.5

  45. betty league says:

    women’s 8.5size Progress Jet_Black – is the shoes I would like to have if I win. thanks

  46. Debby Kulchar says:

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Bleached_Apricot would look great on me! thanks for great giveaway

  47. Kristi C says:

    I would like the Progress in military olive.

  48. Barb C says:

    Progress Bright White Size size 6.5

  49. Crystal Quibell says:

    I’d like Gun Violence, Strong_Blue in a 7.5′ thanks!

  50. Jana Liu says:

    I would go with the Marriage Equality: Between Two

  51. ruth curtin says:


  52. Suzette Ward says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE these. I’d choose Progress in jet black, size 10.

  53. Jan Koontz says:

    just to cool

  54. Jen F says:

    Progress Military Olive…my favorite color.

  55. M. L. says:


    So…you can guess what sizes I’m looking at, right??? 😉

    If I won, I would order the Progress size in a women’s size 12.

  56. Kathy Pease says:

    I would love the Progress
    Jet_Black in size 9…Thanks so much for the chance 🙂

  57. Julie Davies says:

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same
    Strong_Blue size 8 women
    They look very comfortable!

  58. clynsg says:

    Gender Equality, Strong Blue, W-6

  59. Kathy Hanley says:

    I like the Jet Black in size 8.5 and would love to try them out!

  60. Christina O says:

    Like the black and white promised land shoes.

  61. Irma Sh says:

    Thank you for your website. The shoes look comfortable, easy to slip on and good for walking.
    I really like the Gender Equality,Pieces of Same,Strong Blue in Size 8 Womens

  62. Helen Horvat says:

    gun violence in black. great idea

  63. MARIA SIMON says:

    Progress in Military Olive SIZE 8 THANK YOU

  64. Anne Davis says:

    WHat a good idea. I vote for progress in black size 7/1/2

  65. Steve Stone says:

    mens or womens progress. id like some for me but think my foot is too big.

  66. latanya says:

    I like Progress in black

  67. Susan Chester says:

    I like the Gender Equality, Pieces of Same in Goldfinch

  68. Kristen says:

    I like the Forest Green Gun Violence shoe.

  69. Danielle says:

    I really like the Progress Jet_Black

  70. Carol G says:


  71. jberry says:

    My preferred option is GUN VIOLENCE, 1000 PIECES,in Deep Forest.

  72. Pat says:

    I like Progress Jet Black

  73. Rhonda Struthers says:

    My preference is Immigration: Promised Land jet black

  74. susansmoaks says:

    i would like the Marriage Equality: Between Two Bleached_Apricot in women’s size 10

  75. Deb E says:

    Really cool idea. I would like Gun Violence in Black & White – Size 8

  76. Bobbie Smith says:

    I really like the Progress in Jet Black. 7 1/2

  77. Erica B. says:

    I like immigration in deep forest.

  78. Melissa says:

    i love the Progress shoe in Jet Black. i really like what the company stands for! thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  79. Donna says:

    Like Gun Violence in Blue size 9 1/2 – thanks.

  80. Kathy Tracey says:

    Jet_Black would be for me. They look so comfy.

  81. LauraSL says:

    I love this unique line of shoes! I would love Progress in Gray_Violet.

  82. elaine fisher says:

    peach 8.5

    cool love all the styles

  83. Jane McGregor says:

    Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces
    Jet_Black size 11



  85. Christine G says:

    Hello Everyone,

    When I first saw these shoes and read the review I thought I would really like to have the grey violet progressive style. However after surfing the Common Ground site and reading all the reasons why the artists created each design I have decided to take a bolder approach to my selection. My choice of Gun Violence-1000 pieces in Strong Blue size w-8 is apt to bring on more attention and therefore more conversation which I now understand to be the whole point of creating this line of shoes. What a fabulous way to open eyes and helping change points of view Common Ground and definitely a great review More Time to Travel.


  86. Caralea Page says:

    A really good cause and great shoes! I like the Progress Jet-Black, W-10.5

  87. Teresa A Thompson says:

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same Goldfinch, size 8.

  88. Jessica Whitehouse says:

    I’m not really a fan of the “mismatched” look, So I would choose the Progress line pd solid colors. My favorite is the basic black, in women size 11-12.

  89. Barb says:

    I love the idea and these shoes: gender equality, pieces of same, strong blue, W 7.5

  90. Serena Powell says:

    I would love the Progress shoes in Military Olive.

  91. Ed says:

    Gun Violence Jet_Black is my item of choice.

  92. Tricha Leary says:

    love Promised land in Deep Forest size 9

  93. Lisa V. says:

    I like the Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces Jet_Black .

  94. eva andrew says:

    I like the Cabernet in Progress…size 10

  95. shawna says:

    I would like the Gender Equality, Pieces of Same
    Bright_White in 8.5

  96. Laurie Emerson says:

    I love the Immigration Promised Land in Deep Forest.

  97. Shannon says:

    I love the GENDER EQUALITY, PIECES OF SAME in blue!

  98. denise april says:

    I like the Progress

  99. Jenny Scheldberg says:

    These are great! I love the Marriage Equality in gray/white.

  100. Mark Marville says:

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same
    Strong_Blue Size 9.5

  101. Joy Venters says:

    Gender Equality – Bright White – size 10

    These are really good looking shoes

  102. Carolyn Daley says:

    I like the Progress shoes in Jet Black in size 8.


    I like the Progress in Military Olive in 8

  104. Lisa Varner says:

    I’d love the Progress, Jet Black (size 7).

  105. Dawn J says:

    Marriage Equality: Between Two, Bright White, Size W 9.5

    Thank you!

  106. DeeAnn S says:

    I like Gun Violence, Deep Forrest. Size 8 would be great! Thanks.

  107. Trent Zinser says:

    Progress Jet_Black size 10.5

  108. Buddy Garrett says:

    I would like to win Progress Bright-White in 81/2.

  109. amy smeltzer says:

    I like the Progress Military Olive ones in women’s size 8 1/2

  110. Amy Moore says:

    Gender Equality Bright White Sz 9.5

  111. Peggy Rydzewski says:

    I could wear the jet black to the office and be comfortable.

  112. Jerry Marquardt says:

    I like the Progress style in the Jet Black color the most of all of the fine choices on the Common Ground web site.

  113. Tracey Byram says:

    Marriage Equality: Between Two
    Bright_White Womens size 6

  114. Marc says:

    Hi. I’d like the Progress style in the Bright_White color…(because I’m a non-provocative, subtle-type guy who takes a cautious yet realistic approach to progress).

  115. jules m. says:

    i like the PROGRESS in jet black.women’s size 10

  116. Jennifer H. says:

    I like the IMMIGRATION: PROMISED LAND in the color black and white in women’s size 11.

  117. Lorena Keech says:

    Gun Violence in Strong Blue, womens, size 10

  118. Carol says:

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Deep_Forest in woman size 11

  119. John H. says:

    I would like to win this for my wife

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Jet_Black women\’s 11

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Deep_Forest women\’s 11

  120. Kimberly Snyder says:

    size 9.5

  121. Janice Gabriel says:

    Gun violence size 8. Very cool shoes

  122. MARSHA C says:

    Marriage Equality: Between TwoBright_White
    size 8 1/2 please

  123. I Love Progress in Jet Black.

  124. rich bar says:

    gun violence strong blue 9.5

  125. Eugenia Taylor says:

    Immigration bleached apricot

  126. Leslie Davis says:

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same

  127. Joseph Fleming says:

    These are interesting shoes. They would make a nice gift for a lady in my life.

  128. Richard Hicks says:

    I like the Progress in gray violet

  129. DanV says:

    I like Progress Jet_Black

  130. AEKZ2 says:

    I really like the Progress shoes in jet black

  131. S. Carer says:

    I would choose the Progress in Jet_Black.

  132. Aaron says:

    I like the IMMIGRATION: PROMISED LAND in Deep Forest in size W – 10.5.

  133. Bridgette Mahmood says:

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Jet_Black women size 8

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