Saturday, January 30, 2010

The World's Best Shoes

If you were to go to the average American’s home and open up their closet you’d more than likely find countless shoe boxes. Reebok’s and Nike that supposedly make you jump like Jordan or run like an Olympic sprinter, casual boat shoes for those who don’t even own boats, four inch heels, over priced flip flops, boots for the snow, rain, and even boots that serve no real weather purpose but just look good on your feet. And of all those shoes that claim a large territory in most people’s closets there are probably two or three pair that are worn consistently. Most of us will buy a pair of shoes and take into account three things; the look, the comfort, and the price; and probably in that order. It’s wasteful, it’s indulgent in one’s own superficiality; it’s shameful. A week ago I may not have thought about my shoes so thoroughly but once I learned of Tom’s shoes and their movement to change the world one pair of shoes at a time I couldn’t help but examine myself and help make a change that starts with me.

Tom’s shoes was founded in 2006 when an American travelling to Argentina observed the plight of the local children who would walk long distances and go about their everyday working to help provide for their families without a pair of shoes on their feet. Their feet were tattered by the elements, blistered, bloody, and infected or at the very least at a high risk for infection. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when the problems of the world aren’t literally staring you in your face; but when you see it right outside your front door you can no longer pretend that these people aren’t alone; and need help and that’s what this American (whose name is Blake Mycoskie) did. He made a commitment to himself and those in need to create a cost efficient shoe that for every pair of shoes he sold, he’d give a pair away to a child in Argentina. Blake Mycoskie became a social entrepreneur overnight because he like all of us had a responsibility to make a difference when we can.

The average America will probably continue to buy shoes that will see the inside of its box more than the ground outside. We are a very fortunate and blessed country, but it doesn’t mean in our fortune we can turn a blind eye to the rest of the world who we’re connected to. There are billions of people out there who can’t imagine what it’s like to have 1 good pair of shoes let alone dozens as many of us have. I think I’ll buy a pair of tom’s shoes. They’re cute, look pretty comfortable, and are reasonably priced and even if I never take them out of the box and they become another resident in my graveyard of new shoes hardly worn, at least I’ll know some kid who really needs it will benefit from my indulgent superficiality and appreciate what I too often don’t. If you’re interested in being a part of Tom’s vision and would like to buy a pair of shoes, or help start a moment in your community visit and help made a difference.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Week One- A New Perspective: The Green Collar Economy

Hi, my name is Amy Beck and I am proudly part of the "FourTitude" team. I am pretty excited to see what this class has in store, with discussion and the practical experience working with a social entrepreneur in this community! This week our class was assigned to read a couple of articles. The one that I found the most interesting was a selection from Van Jones' The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. This was from the introduction, titles "Reality Check". I found it most interesting because I never looked at "going green" as a very smart economic decision. It seems obvious to me now, but before all I could see was all of the money our country would have to spend to get everything rolling.
The reality check that Van Jones gives to the reader was that there is not an endless supply of fossil-fuels on this planet, and instead of living only for the present, the people of the world should plan far enough in advance that they are not wondering how to stay warm when the fuel runs out (Jones, 2008, p. 4). The part I especially liked, the economics lover that I am, was how Jones spoke about how this move to making our country more green would supply MUCH needed jobs. "So who will do the hard and noble work of actually building the green economy? The answer: millions of ordinary people, many of whom do not have good jobs right now."(Jones, 2008, p. 9).
I personally believe that one of the major reasons this isn't happening at this moment, as quickly as it should, is because there are certain people (those who are making all of the money off the fossil fuels) who are paying off the innovative thinkers to hold off while they make their millions. This is a huge injustice, and I believe there need to be more bold, and not easily persuaded social entrepreneurs to take up this idea and really make it happen.


Jones, V. & Conrad A. (2008). The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.