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

Published on: November 4, 2016 | Last Updated on December 6, 2018 (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)

  • Reply
    Amy F
    November 4, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Progress Bright White Size 5.5

  • Reply
    Nancy Monson
    November 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

    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

  • Reply
    Laura Kelly
    November 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm

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

  • Reply
    Nancy D. Brown
    November 4, 2016 at 6:01 pm

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

  • Reply
    Susan Christy
    November 4, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Gender Equality – Strong Blue – Size 9

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Progress – cabernet in women’s 8.5 thanks!

  • Reply
    Brittney House
    November 5, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I like the immigration, promised land in jet black.

  • Reply
    Ashley C
    November 5, 2016 at 7:15 am

    I like the Progress in Military Olive

  • Reply
    Kelly D
    November 5, 2016 at 9:43 am

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

  • Reply
    November 5, 2016 at 9:50 am

    The Progress Military_Olive size 8.5.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Gun violence – jet black

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

  • Reply
    November 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Marriage Equality: Between Two

    White/ 9

  • Reply
    Hideliza Quane
    November 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

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

    Would like to win:

    Marriage Equlity White
    Women’s size 6

  • Reply
    Sandy Klocinski
    November 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

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

  • Reply
    Lisa Weidknecht
    November 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm

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

  • Reply
    Tracy Shafer
    November 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I like the Progress, in Bright White…size 6.5

  • Reply
    Amy G
    November 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    I would love the Marriage Equality Between Two in White!

  • Reply
    Denise L
    November 5, 2016 at 10:29 pm

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

  • Reply
    November 5, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    I like the Immigration: Promised Land size 7.5

  • Reply
    November 6, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Marriage Equality: Between Two in Goldfinch

  • Reply
    marilou t
    November 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    i like gun violence in a 8.0

  • Reply
    trinity Wilkins
    November 6, 2016 at 9:52 pm

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

  • Reply
    November 6, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Progress in Military Olive, size 5.5

  • Reply
    Amanda Patterson
    November 6, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    I really like the Marriage Equality: Between Two Bleached_Apricot !

  • Reply
    Jeanne M Rousseau
    November 7, 2016 at 1:23 am

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

  • Reply
    doddie d
    November 7, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Progress in Jet Black. Size 7. 🙂

  • Reply
    pat lambert
    November 7, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Immigration promised land 9.5

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I like the Project Jet Black shoes.

  • Reply
    Laurie W.
    November 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I would love the Progress shoes in Jet Black.

  • Reply
    paige chandler
    November 7, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I like gun violence in jet black. Great message!

  • Reply
    Michelle Donovan
    November 7, 2016 at 2:58 pm

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

  • Reply
    Mary Cloud
    November 7, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I like the Gun Violence Black design

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    I like the style Gun Violence size 6

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Nadine Stacy
    November 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

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

  • Reply
    Chrystal D
    November 7, 2016 at 8:29 pm

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

  • Reply
    Angela Saver
    November 8, 2016 at 12:50 am

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

    [email protected]

  • Reply
    Sandy Bonesteel
    November 8, 2016 at 5:07 am

    I want the Progress style, in Jet Black.

  • Reply
    Kathy Borgen
    November 8, 2016 at 6:12 pm

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

  • Reply
    ron schnell
    November 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Gun Violence size 7

  • Reply
    ron frampton
    November 9, 2016 at 2:10 pm


  • Reply
    Vera P.
    November 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Progress in Jet Black Women’s 7

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

  • Reply
    Bridget Combs
    November 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm

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

  • Reply
    Edward Tarver
    November 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Marriage equality size 6.5

  • Reply
    betty league
    November 10, 2016 at 8:18 pm

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

  • Reply
    Debby Kulchar
    November 11, 2016 at 10:19 am

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

  • Reply
    Kristi C
    November 11, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I would like the Progress in military olive.

  • Reply
    Barb C
    November 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Progress Bright White Size size 6.5

  • Reply
    Crystal Quibell
    November 12, 2016 at 7:04 am

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

  • Reply
    Jana Liu
    November 12, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I would go with the Marriage Equality: Between Two

  • Reply
    ruth curtin
    November 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm


  • Reply
    Suzette Ward
    November 12, 2016 at 4:36 pm

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

  • Reply
    Jan Koontz
    November 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    just to cool

  • Reply
    Jen F
    November 13, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Progress Military Olive…my favorite color.

  • Reply
    M. L.
    November 15, 2016 at 1:39 am


    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.

  • Reply
    Kathy Pease
    November 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm

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

  • Reply
    Julie Davies
    November 17, 2016 at 10:09 pm

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

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Gender Equality, Strong Blue, W-6

  • Reply
    Kathy Hanley
    November 20, 2016 at 2:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    Christina O
    November 20, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Like the black and white promised land shoes.

  • Reply
    Irma Sh
    November 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Helen Horvat
    November 22, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    gun violence in black. great idea

  • Reply
    November 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Progress in Military Olive SIZE 8 THANK YOU

  • Reply
    Anne Davis
    November 23, 2016 at 7:48 pm

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

  • Reply
    Steve Stone
    November 23, 2016 at 11:38 pm

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

  • Reply
    November 24, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I like Progress in black

  • Reply
    Susan Chester
    November 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    I like the Gender Equality, Pieces of Same in Goldfinch

  • Reply
    November 26, 2016 at 2:09 am

    I like the Forest Green Gun Violence shoe.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I really like the Progress Jet_Black

  • Reply
    Carol G
    November 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm


  • Reply
    November 26, 2016 at 3:56 pm

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

  • Reply
    November 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    I like Progress Jet Black

  • Reply
    Rhonda Struthers
    November 27, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    My preference is Immigration: Promised Land jet black

  • Reply
    November 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

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

  • Reply
    Deb E
    November 27, 2016 at 7:42 pm

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

  • Reply
    Bobbie Smith
    November 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm

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

  • Reply
    Erica B.
    November 28, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I like immigration in deep forest.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2016 at 9:02 am

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

  • Reply
    November 28, 2016 at 1:26 pm

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

  • Reply
    Kathy Tracey
    November 28, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Jet_Black would be for me. They look so comfy.

    • Reply
      Kathy Tracey
      November 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Progress style

  • Reply
    November 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

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

  • Reply
    elaine fisher
    November 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    peach 8.5

    cool love all the styles

  • Reply
    Jane McGregor
    November 28, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces
    Jet_Black size 11

  • Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 10:10 am


  • Reply
    Christine G
    November 29, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    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.


  • Reply
    Caralea Page
    November 29, 2016 at 1:43 pm

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

  • Reply
    Teresa A Thompson
    November 29, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same Goldfinch, size 8.

  • Reply
    Jessica Whitehouse
    November 29, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm

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

  • Reply
    Serena Powell
    November 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I would love the Progress shoes in Military Olive.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Gun Violence Jet_Black is my item of choice.

  • Reply
    Tricha Leary
    November 29, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    love Promised land in Deep Forest size 9

  • Reply
    Lisa V.
    November 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I like the Gun Violence, 1000 Pieces Jet_Black .

  • Reply
    eva andrew
    November 29, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    I like the Cabernet in Progress…size 10

  • Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 8:48 pm

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

  • Reply
    Laurie Emerson
    November 29, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I love the Immigration Promised Land in Deep Forest.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2016 at 10:11 pm

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

  • Reply
    denise april
    November 29, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I like the Progress

  • Reply
    Jenny Scheldberg
    November 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm

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

  • Reply
    Mark Marville
    November 29, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same
    Strong_Blue Size 9.5

  • Reply
    Joy Venters
    November 30, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Gender Equality – Bright White – size 10

    These are really good looking shoes

  • Reply
    Carolyn Daley
    November 30, 2016 at 2:00 am

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

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 4:42 am

    I like the Progress in Military Olive in 8

  • Reply
    Lisa Varner
    November 30, 2016 at 10:05 am

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

  • Reply
    Dawn J
    November 30, 2016 at 10:15 am

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

    Thank you!

  • Reply
    DeeAnn S
    November 30, 2016 at 11:36 am

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

  • Reply
    Trent Zinser
    November 30, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Progress Jet_Black size 10.5

  • Reply
    Buddy Garrett
    November 30, 2016 at 11:53 am

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

  • Reply
    amy smeltzer
    November 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

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

  • Reply
    Amy Moore
    November 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Gender Equality Bright White Sz 9.5

  • Reply
    Peggy Rydzewski
    November 30, 2016 at 1:31 pm

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

  • Reply
    Jerry Marquardt
    November 30, 2016 at 2:24 pm

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

  • Reply
    Tracey Byram
    November 30, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Marriage Equality: Between Two
    Bright_White Womens size 6

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    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).

  • Reply
    jules m.
    November 30, 2016 at 3:55 pm

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

  • Reply
    Jennifer H.
    November 30, 2016 at 4:19 pm

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

  • Reply
    Lorena Keech
    November 30, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Gun Violence in Strong Blue, womens, size 10

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Deep_Forest in woman size 11

  • Reply
    John H.
    November 30, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Kimberly Snyder
    November 30, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    size 9.5

  • Reply
    Janice Gabriel
    November 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Gun violence size 8. Very cool shoes

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Marriage Equality: Between TwoBright_White
    size 8 1/2 please

  • Reply
    victoria williams
    November 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I Love Progress in Jet Black.

  • Reply
    rich bar
    November 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    gun violence strong blue 9.5

  • Reply
    Eugenia Taylor
    November 30, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Immigration bleached apricot

  • Reply
    Leslie Davis
    November 30, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Gender Equality, Pieces of Same

  • Reply
    Joseph Fleming
    November 30, 2016 at 9:47 pm

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

  • Reply
    Richard Hicks
    November 30, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I like the Progress in gray violet

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I like Progress Jet_Black

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I really like the Progress shoes in jet black

  • Reply
    S. Carer
    November 30, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I would choose the Progress in Jet_Black.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2016 at 11:37 pm

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

  • Reply
    Bridgette Mahmood
    December 1, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Immigration: Promised Land
    Jet_Black women size 8

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