Common Ground is a shoe company whose mission is to find a path for progress on important social issues through empathy and authentic, constructive conversations between real people.
We exist to provide those who seek such progress the tools they need to spark productive discussions. We do this through thought-provoking product design, graphically presenting different viewpoints of an issue on each foot - reinforcing the message that people, just like two feet, must work together to make progress.
We believe committed individuals can come together and make real progress through honest dialogue rooted in empathy, open-mindedness, and a desire to move beyond our differences.
We believe in a universal desire to create beneficial change in the world.
We believe we all have the ability to empathize - an inherent capacity for stepping into the shoes of others and understanding their feelings and viewpoints.
We believe the steps we take as individuals matter.
We believe deep social change happens as a result of how we treat each other as individuals.
We believe that when individuals join with other individuals, working together based on a shared belief that they can make change, remarkable things DO happen.
We recognize that progress comes as a result of the steps YOU take, and not the products we sell.
We believe wearing the Common Ground badge is a symbol of your commitment to progress, and of your willingness to engage in respectful and thoughtful conversation.
We celebrate the passion, patience, respect, and courage you exhibit to make those conversations productive.
We focus on social issues with a strong human component, issues in which you can imagine yourself in the other shoe. For any issue, please "humanize" your thoughts, recognizing that "other person" as a family member, friend, neighbor, or fellow citizen. They might be different or hold different views, but what we share is far more powerful than what divides us.
EQUALITY ISSUES. These are not issues of right or wrong. These are issues that ask us to look beyond prejudice or bias and to recognize and appreciate our differences. Imagine the viewpoints and feelings of the person in other shoe, and work to understand how that person would like to be treated. Use that understanding to take positive and productive steps (no matter how small) for progress.
GRIDLOCK ISSUES. Our differences have become divisive, resulting in conflict and paralysis that is destructive in the face of significant challenges. We seek a different path, one in which people commit to working together, seeking out mutual understanding, and identifying common ground that results in lasting progress. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a vital path to move us beyond the gridlock that grips our world.
Empathy motivates us to build something better together and helps us do so with imagination and respect — guided by a deep understanding for the people and the world around us.
We proudly donate 2.5% of sales to Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, (the largest network of social entrepreneurs) dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.
Visit Start Empathy to learn more about the importance of mastering empathy, and their efforts to make empathy a priority skill for all children.
John Tawney founded COMMON GROUND® in 2015 to encourage empathy, conversations, and steps that contribute to progress on challenging social issues. He is forever thankful to his parents and family for demonstrating the power of empathy, and for their encouragement to follow one's dreams.
As a 15-year NIKE veteran, he co-founded NIKEiD, NIKE’s pioneering customization service, and led innovation efforts on the revolutionary NIKE SHOX and NIKE FOAMPOSITE footwear platforms. His design approach is grounded in empathy, seeing challenges and problems from different perspectives and then using that understanding to create solutions that incite authentic connections with consumers. That same principle, combined with a desire to contribute to lasting social change, is at the core of COMMON GROUND. He is deeply committed to fostering dialogue and conversation about the issues that shape our society today, believing that how we interact as individuals will drive lasting social change.
He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and four Generation (P)rogress children.