About this project
The Out of Eden Walk will continue from the Middle East into Central Asia, and the people and stories Paul will encounter and write about will be a direct result of your help in keeping him on the trail. We want to convey our deepest gratitude and happiness for your support.
Thanks to your generosity, we can now set our sights on the next goal: translation.
With 12 days to go, we are happy to introduce our stretch campaign, with a goal of $10,000 to go toward translation!
Where will $10,000 take us?
For the project to become truly global, and for its educational potential to be realized, publishing Paul's writing from the trail multilingually is a must. All further support to this campaign will go directly toward hiring professional, experienced translators who will begin translating the tens of thousands of words written to date, and all future content, into Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese.
In the future, with enough funding, we hope to extend this effort to other languages—honoring the global nature of the project and making Walk-related learning material accessible to more non-English speaking learners.
Between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago, our ancestors walked out of Africa and within a few thousand lifetimes populated the Earth. Using the latest fossil and genetic evidence as guideposts, two time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is re-walking those ancient pathways in an unprecedented and continuous seven-year trek whose goal is to document the most compelling stories of our time at boot level.
Now, at the beginning of the second year of this historic undertaking, we need your support to keep Out of Eden Walk alive and Paul on the trail. Your backing will help him complete the next leg of the journey, from the Middle East through Turkey and onward via the Silk Road to Central Asia, a walking distance of 3,700 miles.
This epic journey doesn't belong to Paul. It belongs to everyone. If you go far enough back in your family tree, one of your ancestors walked a stretch of this dawn path out of Africa. Likewise, every story Paul shares from the trail requires your help. Field expenses include guides, pack mules and camels, shelter, food, water and the wear and tear on solar-powered equipment used to transmit print stories, photos and videos—all freely available online—about our shared humanity, cultural survival, war, urbanism, climate change, mass migration, local innovations to solve global problems and many other topics.
Check out some of the dispatches collected so far:
- The Wells of Memory (National Geographic)
- Walking Jerusalem (Out of Eden Walk)
- Car brain: the true cost of internal combustion (The New York Times)
- Walk Highlights: Year One (Out of Eden Walk)
In addition, every 100 miles Paul records a Milestone. Each Milestone consists of 4 things: a digital panoramic photograph, a recording of ambient sound, a video clip and an interview with the nearest person (if there is one) asking 3 existential questions: "Who are you?" "Where do you come from?" and "Where are you going?"
Check out some of our favorite Milestones on the inaugural 2,400-mile stretch already walked from Ethiopia to Israel:
Why is this walk important?
The Out of Eden Walk was born of an idea to hold peoples’ attention spans in an age of atomized information. What better way to examine the great issues of our day than through one of the oldest storytelling genres in history: a foot quest. And what better quest to stitch together all these global issues then the original human settlement of the Earth? It’s the greatest travel story of them all.
This experiment in “slow journalism” hopes to inform our roles as good global citizens. In an age where social interconnectedness should be easier than ever, there persists a lack of useful communication and/or cross-cultural understanding.The stories told from the deep immersion of a walked world cut across geographic borders, age, faith, race, economics and cultures.
In a nutshell, Out of Eden Walk is a 7-year voyage of learning, a way of traveling without leaving your home. It provides a lens through which an international community of followers can discover voices that are unheard and places that are usually unseen because we're too fast to notice.
A distinguished foreign correspondentwhose work has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, National Geographic, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy and many other publications, Paul Salopek earned two Pulitzer Prizes for his stories about conflict, culture, health, the environment and science in more than 60 countries around the globe. More than 200 schools and universities across the world are using his walk’s storytelling as a learning tool.
Our partner organizations have generously provided partial funding for the Out of Eden Walk's first two years.
But the Walk's total costs are unsustainable. So our future remains uncertain. A successful Kickstarter campaign will help keep the project operational as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization through the second phase of the trek to Central Asia. All money raised through Kickstarter will go towards covering field expenses and keeping our many free channels of storytelling active.
If the Walk continues, thousands of stories, photographs and dispatches will be generated for public enjoyment and education over the course of the next six years. Paul plans to wrap up his long foot journey in 2020 in Tierra del Fuego, Chile, the last virgin horizon discovered by our ancestors. In the interim, your contributions will keep him rambling—in your web browsers and classrooms—through the summer of 2015.
What will the end project be? Besides helping walk and report, is there a future goal?
Over the course of 7 years, the Out of Eden Walk’s storytelling will build a unique public legacy: a record of what life on Earth was like, at the turn of the millennium, along the original pathway of our species’ journey across our global home.
This rich trove of written journalism, photography, video and audio will endure as an innovative narrative that mixes hi-tech digital storytelling with walking. All Walk-related material, print and digital, will be archived so that future generations can enjoy the fruits of this original undertaking for years to come.
How can I learn more about the Out of Eden Walk?
Glad you asked. To get a feel for our project, please read one of Paul's dispatches at National Geographic Magazine and to check out one of the Milestones. Click on the images below to further explore Out of Eden Walk.
Risks and challenges
Reporting overseas is an intrinsically risky endeavor. Both natural and human-related challenges are always a possibility. For his own safety and that of his guides, Paul’s written material is published after a time lag.
Given the unpredictability of walking, reporting, and scheduling talks with schools, Paul has had to make longer stops than anticipated in "wired" urban centers. So the Walk's pacing has to be flexible, as does the routing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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