40+ Ideas to Inspire Your Project of Earth

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How would you explain the diversity of life and culture on Earth to someone — or something — from a far-away planet?

In 1977 Carl Sagan and his team created the Golden Record — a collection of scenes, sounds, music, and greetings representing life on Earth — and launched it into space on NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 probes. Intended as a message for other intelligent life forms who might encounter these spacecraft and wonder about their origins, the record was also an exercise in self-discovery and reflection.

Four decades later, we’re still inspired by the imagination, optimism, and curiosity that went into creating this terrestrial time capsule. So we’re asking you to contribute to making something that represents life on Earth in 2017 by putting your own imaginative idea out there for others to discover. We know, we know — representing a whole planet is a huge undertaking. That’s why we’re inviting our entire community to take part. Combined, these projects will form a portrait of the Earth today: our accomplishments, challenges, hopes, and dreams, conveyed through a diverse collection of creative projects.

What can you create to represent your little corner of the universe? 


To help get your ideas flowing, we’ve collected 40 past Kickstarter projects that touch on Projects of Earth’s key themes. Take a look and begin planning — then sign up to receive creator updates and start building your project.


Exploration

“Making the record provided us with a unique opportunity to view our planet, our species, and our civilization as a whole.”  —Carl Sagan, Murmurs of Earth

Unscrambling Africa
Four friends from Nairobi, Kenya hit the road to explore and document thirteen cities across southern Africa through art and photography.

The Great American Farm Tour
A family of six piled into a converted school bus to meet people across the United States using backyards, homesteads, and farms for sustainable food production.

Let’s Sail Around the World!
Emily Richmond embarked on a solo voyage around the world and invited backers to follow along.

OpenROV Trident
You don’t have to travel to space to discover a vast realm full of strange lifeforms. This swimming robot opens up underwater exploration to everyone.


Pictures of Earth

“I found myself increasingly playing the role of extraterrestrial… I would look at pictures and imagine I’d never seen the subject before.” —Jon Lomberg on selecting images for the Golden Record, Murmurs of Earth

Eyes as Big as Plates
Photographers Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen collaborated with over fifty seniors from ten countries on this photo series exploring modern humans’ relationship with nature.

Soviet Bus Stops
Christopher Herwig cataloged the surprisingly imaginative architecture of Soviet bus stops

A 4-Year-Old's Portrait of the American West
Cowboys, gamblers, sunsets and more, seen through the lens of National Geographic's youngest photographer, Hawkeye Huey.

The Priests and Pilgrims of Ethiopia
Photographer Chris Roche documented ceremonies at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia — part of an ongoing series exploring commonalities across different religions.

Racing Age
Portraits of master track and field athletes who are redefining the stereotypes and limitations of age.

Music of Earth

“Our previous messages [sent into space] had contained information about what we perceive and how we think. But there is much more to human beings than perceiving and thinking. We are feeling creatures. However, our emotional life is more difficult to communicate, particularly to beings of very different biological make-up. Music, it seemed to me, was at least a creditable attempt to convey human emotions.” —Carl Sagan, Murmurs of Earth

God Don't Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, and others interpret songs by delta blues pioneer Blind Willie Johnson, whose music was included on the Voyager Golden Record to represent "cosmic loneliness."

The Global Jukebox Song Tree
Alan Lomax picked many of the musical selections on the Golden Record. You can travel the Earth many times over though his expansive archive of recordings.

Landfill Harmonic
Turning garbage into musical instruments for an orchestra of Paraguayan children to play.

Ranky Tanky
This Charleston South Carolina quintet is reviving seldom-heard Gullah music from America's southeastern Sea Islands.

Madagascar: Music of Hope and Ecstasy
Afropop Worldwide traveled to Madagascar to research and produce three audio documentaries about the island’s eclectic music.

Sounds of Earth

“The process of selecting the sounds began outside of Ithaca, New York, on a bright spring day that was auspiciously abuzz with wild May country noises… We tried to think of every sound we’d ever heard, and I wrote most of them down. On the following day I returned to New York City and set about trying to locate the best examples of each.” —Ann Druyan, Murmurs of Earth

The World According to Sound
Singing sand, a cat organ, and the secret sounds giraffes make when the sun goes down are just a few things you’ll hear on this 90-second podcast for the aurally fixated.

Yosemite Soundscapes 
Saxophonist Patrick Cress performed a duet with nature, playing over a bed of sounds from alpine meadows in Yosemite National Park.

The Loneliest LP 
A record documenting the loneliest whale in the world’s unique 52 hertz song.

Field Kit - Electroacoustic Workstation
This portable device lets you capture the sounds in the world around you and remix them into electroacoustic music.

Greetings from Earth

“The greetings part of the record is a celebration of the human spirit, emphasizing our gregariousness, our joy in being the social creatures we are.” —Linda Salzman Sagan, Murmurs of Earth

Mysterious Letters
Michael Crowe and Lenka Clayton are writing a unique letter to every household in the world, one town at a time.

 

The Truth Booth
Artist Hank Willis Thomas has taken his 14-foot, speech-bubble-shaped video booth around the world, inviting members of the public to record messages completing the statement, "The truth is...."

Welcome to Our City
These screen-printed maps offer a simple but powerful message: all are welcome here.

Pen Pals
Typographer Harald Geisler is recreating letters exchanged between Freud and Einstein in 1932, discussing if and how it would be possible to save humanity from war forever.

Food

“Although the picture is somewhat comic to us, it presents a great deal of information about how our mouths work. It also tells the galaxy that we live by bread, water, and ice cream.” —Jon Lomberg on representing eating on the Golden Record, Murmurs of Earth

Recipes by People
758 backers from 51 countries contributed 866 recipes to this crowdsourced cookbook.

Foraging & Feasting
A field guide to identifying and cooking with wild edible plants.

Cosmik: Unmeltable Ice Cream for Adventure 
A gourmet update of everyone’s favorite astronaut food.

Humans, Animals, and Plants

Masters Of Anatomy 
An anatomy book like no other, featuring contributions from more than 100 celebrated animators, illustrators and comic-book artists.

A Country Divine
Two brothers used the palm lines in their hands to chart a journey across the United States.

Fire & Bone
A tiny menagerie of animal skulls, 3D-scanned from actual specimens and cast in metal.

Leafscape
Hyperrealistic watercolour paintings of leaves.

PlantSnap
An app that lets you identify plants in the wild by snapping a picture with your phone.

The Ark
When work started on this VR documentary, there were seven northern white rhinos left on Earth. Now there are just three.

Space

“We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.”
—President Jimmy Carter, Voyager Spacecraft Statement

SpaceTime Coordinates
Artistic prints depicting the alignment of the planets in our solar system on the day you were born — or any other day you’d like.

1000 Student Projects to the Edge of Space
A satellite carrying students' ping-pong-ball-sized science experiments to the edge of space.

The Universe in a Sphere
Hold our supercluster of 380,000 galaxies in your hand.

Mars on Earth
Documenting a dress rehearsal for a colony on Mars

The Future

“No one sends such a message on such a journey, to other worlds and beings, without a positive passion for the future. For all the possible vagaries of the message, they could be sure that we were a species endowed with hope and perseverance, at least a little intelligence, substantial generosity, and a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos.” —Carl Sagan, Murmurs of Earth

Mathews Mazilla Time Capsule
Students at an elementary school in Austin, Texas created a time capsule for kids of the future to discover.

Investing in Futures
A deck of cards designed to help you imagine alternative global futures.

The Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project
Lauren Halsey’s installation, constructed with the community in South Central Los Angeles, adopts the future-facing permanence of ancient hieroglyphs to create a visual archive of the neighborhood.

The Work and Ideas of Carl Sagan

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition
Forty years after it was launched into space, the Golden Record finally got a proper terrestrial release. A lot of Earthlings were excited to get their hands on a copy.

Pioneer Plaque: A Message from Earth
A meticulous recreation of the precursor to the Golden Record, launched in 1972 and 1973 aboard NASA’s Pioneer spacecraft.

Pale Blue Die: Dice That Underscore The Need For Kindness
A set of dice inspired by the Voyager 1's 1990 photograph of Earth from six billion miles away.

LightSail
The Planetary Society, now lead by Bill Nye, is realizing its founder, Carl Sagan’s vision of a spacecraft propelled by sunlight.



To take part in Projects of Earth, launch a Kickstarter project between August 20 and September 5 that creatively explores some facet of life on Earth. Sign up to receive creator updates and start building your project.

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