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A Day Without Dignity: A Counter Campaign

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Each year, TOMS Shoes holds an event called "One Day Without Shoes." An advertising campaign masked by awareness raising, the event generally sees groups of young people and celebrities going about their day without wearing shoes, to bring attention to the millions of people around the world who are without shoes and, because of it, susceptible to numerous health problems. At the end of the day, with lots of back-patting and hugs, TOMS hopes that more people will buy more of their shoes to be sent to countries around the world.

It makes people feel great, but is it effective? Better yet, does TOMS provide lasting assistance to the people who get the shoes? Or, have they found a way to make money off of good intentions and a poorly informed public?

Saundra, who writes at Good Intentions are Not Enough, has proposed a counter-campaign called "A Day Without Dignity." Read below to learn more about how to participate in the event. Those of you who do not blog are welcome to use the comments section here to share your thoughts, reflections and stories. A few posts have already come in which you can read here.

Will you join us?

On or around April 5, 2011 -- the same date as One Day Without Shoes -- we're asking aid workers, the diaspora and people from areas that receive shoe drops and other forms of charity to speak up in blogs, on Twitter or at school.

We're accepting blog posts, videos and photos for A Day Without Dignity. Possible topics could include:

  • People's memories of childhood and what their actual needs were
  • The dignity and control that come from work and not from receiving handouts
  • The glut of unnecessary donated goods
  • Whites in Shining Armor swooping in to "save" people
  • What it really takes to raise awareness -- more than just walking barefoot
  • The problems created by handing out shoes or other goods
  • The issue of dignity and how we portray people in our advertising campaigns
  • How doing something because it feels good and is popular doesn't mean it's the right thing to do
At the end of every post, please try to tell your reader about one thing they could do on April 5 that would have more impact than just walking around barefoot. Send links for your posts to saundra@goodintents.org. Please link to the A Day Without Dignity post.

Along with the posts, I'd love to receive photos or videos from around the world of people wearing shoes, shoes in the market place, shoes lined up in front of houses, or people talking about what their real needs and wants are. I encourage anyone that submits a post to also submit a photo or video. Please include a one or two sentence description of where it was taken and what it shows. I'll link to all the posts and photos on this blog.

I encourage everyone to make some noise about this. Let's use our collective voices to speak out. On Twitter use the hashtag #dignity so anyone interested can follow along.

April 5: A Day Without Dignity