Now, I’m not really a big shoe person – in fact, I hate most high heels, and I always go for comfort first – so I at first wasn’t sure why shoe ads were appearing on my Facebook feed, but these ads turned out to be relevant, because they were for the new Toms Haiti Artist Collection.

I actually don’t own any Toms shoes…but after hearing about these ones, I just might start. (I promise, this IS relevant to art and to inspiration!)

All of the designs on these shoes were designed and handpainted by Haitian artists, so you’re literally wearing works of art on your feet.  And they have a definite tropical, Haiti-like feel to the designs too…

How cool is that?  Some of these are so pretty I would be afraid to wear them and mess them up…
Why is this inspiring to me, you ask?  Because I just love when art and helping others intersects, and especially art and empowering people.  It’s not what people typically first think of when they’re thinking of charities to give to that help poor countries, or ways to help people in third-world countries to help themselves.  
But when I’ve traveled in Central and South America in the past, I saw this in action: local artists, creating all kinds of handmade things (paintings, textiles, sculpture, whatever their specialty was), would turn around and sell these to tourists and create a great business for themselves.  So yes, of course people need food and medicine too, but they can’t get those things unless they have a means of earning their own money and supporting themselves, and that’s where arts and handicrafts come in.  Arts really do directly help people, the economy, and whole countries.  Tell someone THAT next time they ask, “what good is arts funding anyway?”
Courtesy of the Toms Facebook page
Reading the bios on the Toms website, it’s clear that the artists benefit greatly from this, it’s not just a company’s PR stunt.  I think the use of the arts to benefit people in poorer countries (and any country, really) is a fantastic cause to support – in fact, when I got a gift certificate for a Kiva loan for my birthday last year, that’s what I used it for, to fund an arts collective in Guatemala.
This is totally preaching to the choir, I know. 😉 I hope someone else finds this as inspiring as I do, however.  And seriously, those are really cool shoes.