Photo courtesy of Nora Clougherty Members of the TOMS club at Saint Mary’s Skyped with TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie during his TED talk Thursday.The TOMS company, through its “One for One” model, donates a pair of shoes to the poor in third-world countries every time someone buys a pair of its shoes. When someone purchases TOMS eyewear, a part of the profit goes to help restore sight to those who are poor. A new addition to the One for One organization is TOMS tote bags. Every time one is sold, a new bag, along with a safe home birth kit, is given to a pregnant mother in need of one.“For a long time, TOMS just provided shoes,” Mycoskie said. “We now have factories in Haiti and Kenya. We try to continually stretch the boundary of our company to create jobs.”Martin Burt, the founder and CEO of Fundacion Paraguaya (FP), which receives and distributes donated shoes, also Skyped in with Mycoskie and the Saint Mary’s club.“We are using TOMS not as charity but as self-help,” he said. “It is self-help and self-reliance that gets people out of poverty.”Burt, who founded FP in 1985, works to provide education in entrepreneurship and microcredit to students in Paraguay. At the moment, he is creating schools specifically for rural youth who are chronically unemployed, as well as developing the “Poverty Stoplight,” which uses technology to help poor families understand their economic position and work to improve it.“Our bottom line is impact, not poverty,” he said. “We try to design ways to diminish poverty.”TOMS club president Nora Clougherty said it was rewarding to speak to both Mycoskie and Burt, whose foundation, as a TOMS giving partner, directly uses the shoes.“We were not only able to witness how the shoes are being put to use, but we also got to talk to someone who was directly impacting TOMS,” she said.In response to a question from the Saint Mary’s club, Mycoskie said the biggest challenge was just making the shoes while keeping one question in mind.“How do you preserve a culture of giving as you scale a big business?” he said.Mycoskie said another major obstacle was keeping in mind the purpose of TOMS creation.“The challenge was in keeping the whole organization excited and focused on why we do what we do,” Mycoskie said. “More important is the mindset that we’re changing.”Burt said a partial obstacle to eliminating poverty is that people sometimes forget that poverty exists.“It’s not that the poor are invisible — we do not see,” Burt said. “We can transform the world and end poverty in one generation just with the TOMS shoe example, but it is impossible for people to see the solutions that are right under our nose.”Burt said TOMS is a good model because it can be applied beyond just shoes.“This is about social innovation, taking what works in one industry and applying it to another industry,” he said.Clougherty said the conversation inspired the club to continue to spread its message.“My goal is to one day see everyone on campus wearing TOMS so that we can see the change a simple purchase can have,” she said.Another club member, Delaney Hunt, said talking to Mycoskie helped her to consider the service aspect of business.“Talking to somebody that has that reputation and is so well-known makes it more real,” she said. “It makes me believe in their mission even more — it makes it more personal. The business model itself is interesting in that you could apply it to anything. It gives me ideas on what you can do with a normal business major.”Club member Tori Wilbraham said Mycoskie’s talk was particularly impactful as she prepares to graduate.“He inspired me to follow my passions rather than pursue a career for money,” Wilbraham said.
Batesville, In. — Indiana Department of Transportation officials anticipate construction activities along Interstate 74 between the New Point exit in Decatur County and State Road 101 in Ripley County will continue for another week.According to project supervisor Gary Williams, a winter hiatus for the $61 million Next Level reconstruction project should begin on or before Friday, December 8.Milestone, the state’s contractor, plans to shift eastbound I-74 traffic several times from one lane to the other near the S.R. 101/Sunman exit this Saturday, December 2—weather permitting—so crews can paint lane lines.Westbound I-74 traffic will experience similar lane shifts at the S.R. 101/Sunman exit on Monday, December 4.Meanwhile, inside lanes on I-74 are closed on either side of Exit 143/New Point where operations focus on the median area.
On Thursday afternoon, USC students and faculty gathered to hear Leon Aron, resident scholar and director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, discuss the political, security and climate problems surrounding the Winter Olympics during a talk entitled “Sochi 2014: The Most Dangerous Olympics in History?”Skype’n in · American Enterprise Institute director of Russian studies Leon Aron spoke on his worries about the Sochi Olympics via Skype. – Macaul Hodge | Daily Trojan The American Enterprise Institute is a think tank which many consider to be conservative.“The list of things that could go wrong is huge, especially for the Winter Olympics,” Aron said.Aron, who spoke via Skype from Washington D.C., pointed out that every year the Olympics is plagued by four distinct risks: weather, public protests, venue malfunctions and terrorism.“Each of these four factors has been magnified in Sochi,” he said.Aron said that Sochi is one of the warmest places in Russia. He mentioned that sports events have been canceled in this area in previous years due to rain and weather constraints. Aron said the “slushy” snow conditions provided by Sochi could cause a higher number of Olympic injuries to participants than usual.“Putting your Olympics in the subtropics is clearly one [danger],” Aron said. “It’s the doubling of the poker bet.”Aron also addressed the possibility of structural issues and construction defects due to Russia’s labor conditions and the “mad rush to finish” on time for the games.“I’m willing to bet that there has not been a Winter Olympics game in history where the gap between what was there and what was needed was so huge,” he said.In preparation for the games, Aron said that Sochi built a new airport, seaport, 70 bridges, 12 tunnels and hundreds of miles of roads and railroad tracks.“Hence the enormous price tag,” Aron said. “It’s estimated that it cost over $50 billion.”Due to political corruption and negative labor conditions, Aron believes that many of the new buildings might not be structurally safe.“So far, thank God, nothing collapsed, nothing happened,” he said. “However, we shall see.”Aron also mentioned the danger of public protests that turn violent. He identified two groups — LGBT and Circassians — as potential protestors. He said, however, that not many protests have happened so far because of the permits required to get close to the games.“But, perhaps the greatest gamble that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin took is the gamble of terrorism,” Aron said.“Sochi is not only the warmest place in Russia, it’s literally over the mountain from the most dangerous zone in Russia, actually the fourth most dangerous place in the world … [for] terrorism,” Aron said.Aron noted the current bombings and terrorist actions that are currently taking place in response to this topic as proof for the danger Sochi poses to the Olympic Games. He also added that he believes Putin chose a location so close to the dangers of terrorism to show Russia’s strength.“To him, putting the Olympics next door to the troubles north [of the] Caucasian area, to the center of terrorism, was very important, because that signified his personal triumph,” Aron said. “As it turned out, de facto, he did not succeed because there is increasing terrorist activity there.”Throughout his speech, Aron underlined the role that the Russian president and Russian autocrats had in placing the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.“Make no mistakes about this,” Aron said. “There is only one person who makes decisions of this scale in Russia. And that is the president.”Kyron Jacques, a sophomore majoring in public relations, thought that Aron brought up thought-provoking political points about the Olympics that many media outlets ignore.“It will be interesting to see what Russia and Putin’s reputations are after the games, and if something does happen, what it will mean for future games,” he said.The event was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute at USC and the USC Russian Culture Club.Aron is the author of three books, and more than 300 articles and essays. He has been a contributing writer for The New York Times and The Washington Post and researches U.S. and Russian relations, Russian foreign policy and Russia in the post-Soviet era.