Friends and Fellow Walkers: Abundance Foundation Matching Campaign a Success!
The Abundance Foundation matching campaign—updated from a 1:1 initial match ratio to $2 for every $1 pledged—has been a great success. Through your generosity and support, we quickly maxed out the Abundance Foundation’s original $15,500 commitment.
In light of that initial great success, Abundance Foundation Director, Dr. Stephen Kahn, increased the cap of the matching campaign and continued to match every donation at a 2:1 ratio. Read more in our posted Update here.
In the last week, your enthusiasm has brought us to the Abundance Foundation's new matching campaign cap and beyond! With just over 48 hours remaining, we thank you for spurring this campaign forward at great momentum to maximize the Abundance Foundation's $20,000 total matching campaign cap. Your crucial support ensures the continuation and cultivation of current and future Out of Eden Walk initiatives. We thank you not only for joining this journey, but for making it possible.
Stay tuned for an Update announcement about a new reward opportunity in celebration of this exciting achievement coming soon.
The Out of Eden Walk Team.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is retracing the footsteps of the first humans out of Africa and across the globe, telling stories all along the way.
His 21,000-mile odyssey, the Out of Eden Walk, is a nonstop, decade-long storytelling experiment in “slow journalism.” As Paul re-walks the journey of the original human discovery of the Earth, he pauses to closely engage with the major stories of our frenetic times, from climate change and technological innovation to mass migration and cultural survival, by giving voice to the people who inhabit those stories every day.
Out of Eden Walk stories delve into the lives of ordinary people around the globe, from pastoralists in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan who use biblical-era farming methods to international conservationists in Tajikistan deploying the latest satellite technology to track snow leopards. Our foot-level journalism bridges the personal and global, promoting understanding, empathy, and dialogue across cultures. It serves as an antidote to the troubling narratives of nationalism, xenophobia, and intolerance now on the rise around the globe.
Since Paul began walking in 2013, he has produced some 250,000 words in weekly online "dispatches," scores of lyric videos, thousands of photographs, seven major print stories for National Geographic magazine, and dozens of reports for other media outlets, including the New York Times, PBS, and Politico. He has walked through the outspilling of refugees from Syria to Turkey, investigated the deep cultural forgetting in Saudi Arabia, got shot at by Israeli forces in the West Bank, and had his pants freeze solid on a mountain pass in Afghanistan’s remotest border crossing to Pakistan. Most recently, he wrote about spotting three of some 11 critically endangered Indus River dolphins left in India, where we find him now.
By the time Paul takes the last step of the journey, in 2023, he will have collected a unique, ground-level multimedia portrait of humanity in the early 21st century that, with your help, will continue to advance in 2018, and ultimately be preserved for generations to come.
“Your trek and story are the most important things I can think of to contribute to humanity's healthy future, if one is still possible.” - Heath Quinn, commenting on “Walking With Animals”
In early 2018, Paul crossed the Pakistan-India border, leaving the old trails of the Silk Road behind for new horizons in South Asia. This change is reflected on Out of Eden Walk’s storytelling laboratory, www.outofedenwalk.org, in a new chapter titled “Riverlands.”
So far, Paul has covered 700 of 1,800 miles across India. Along this stretch of the trail, Paul and his local walking partners are exploring the mounting effects of dramatic environmental change, including climate woes, rapid urbanization, growing communal tensions in the world’s largest democracy, and the tenuous endurance of South Asia’s many varied cultures.
From northern India, the journey this year continues on toward Myanmar and the vastness of China. After crossing the Middle Kingdom, the plan is to continue north through Russian Siberia, cross the Bering Strait by ship, and, eventually, walk down the coastline of the Americas to Tierra del Fuego, where our Stone Age ancestors migrating out of Africa ran out of continental land masses to explore.
We invite you to take this journey with Paul, exploring the people, places, traditions, and cultures he meets through his storytelling—after all, this is a collective journey, one that is owned by every reader because some ancestor in every family tree walked pieces of this global trail.
Basic supplies and services, such as food and water, pack animals, and guiding fees, can be costly, as are higher-tech requirements associated with communications, electronic equipment, and security. Moreover, the Out of Eden Walk doesn’t begin and end “in the field.” Our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization creates and supports programming in the realms of education, digital storytelling innovation, mapping, translation, and civic engagement. Public support makes all these efforts possible.
With your help, the Out of Eden Walk will continue to tell stories that belong to all of us—tales that illuminate, surprise, educate, and move readers to action, bringing them together on this shared journey in the footsteps of the first human beings who discovered our world.
Read on to learn a bit more about what’s next, our achievements from the past year, our horizon goals, and the impact of your support. We will also be sharing related information via updates throughout the campaign, and will link to the updates on this page accordingly.
These stories, and many more, lie on the horizon:
HOLY COW WARS: Hinduism, the majority faith in India, reveres cows as sacred vessels for the gods. The animals are milked, but are never supposed to be killed, and are cared for until they die naturally. A recent crackdown on India’s informal cattle trade—stoked by rising ultra-nationalist politics—has shut down livestock exports and informal sales to slaughter houses, resulting in an overpopulation of the animals in rural zones. Some 300 million cows now roam India. This is leading to friction as farmers secretly release their unproductive herds into the landscape, causing crop losses and “cow dumping” battles among villages. A tale of how religion and narrow politics affect the environment in unexpected ways.
THE SECRET LIFE OF SAND: Illegal sand mining is widespread in India, as it is in other developing nations of the world. This lowly resource is much in demand for construction, and local mafias are stripping out riverbeds to supply India’s building boom, destroying riverine ecosystems in the process.
GREEN BRIDGES: For centuries the Khasi and Jaintia peoples of the Shillong Plateau in northeast India have woven bridges from the living roots of fig trees. Some of these living architectural masterpieces are more than 150 feet long, and last for generations. Now scientists are trying not only to save them from neglect, but to study them for clues to building better “green architecture” in cities.
WALKING TO ZERO: Nobody knows who invented the digit zero. But the round number signifying nothingness was first inscribed on a temple wall in Gwalior, India, some 1,200 years go. It revolutionized mathematics, engineering and accounting—not to mention the digital revolution, powered by ones and zeroes. Its use quickly spread across the world along the pathways of the old Silk Road. Paul is walking to Gwalior to pay homage to the symbol that brought us so much—for nothing.
Since our last fundraising campaign, in 2017, Out of Eden Walk has launched a brand-new project in the vibrant city of Chicago to bring the inspirations of a global walk home. This civic effort aims to transcend boundaries that exist in the city by asking citizens to map their own stories of "home." The walk's team has organized six National Geographic Society (NGS)-supported writing and photography workshops for journalists and young learners, four of which have been completed. Paul has published dozens of dispatches and the seventh installment in National Geographic magazine. We have also created new opportunities in carto-education; grown our translation community by leagues; and expanded the reach of our educational tools and partnerships. And there's more to come.
From significantly expanding the scope of locally-focused programming, in Chicago, to fulfilling the remainder of our trail workshops in India, from bringing innovative mapping workshops to India to adding key new languages to our translation arsenal, from crossing the next border to inviting Boy and Girl Scouts from around the world to walk along—there is no shortage of goals for how we want to grow and improve the Out of Eden Walk throughout the coming year. Read on to discover what you help make possible when you join the Out of Eden Walk Kickstarter community.
- From Global to Local: Thanks to leading GIS software company Esri, the launch of a custom, innovative, crowdsourced OOEW-C HomeStory map is planned for early next year. The HomeStory map is a platform to empower Chicago citizens with a space to share their own stories, in their own words. A long-term goal is for the OOEW-C digital community to become self-sustaining, leading to the creation of OOEW-inspired walking and storytelling clubs across the United States.
- Trail Workshops: With continuing support from NGS, four more learning engagements are scheduled in 2018. First, in Chennai, Paul and Don will convene with a group of professional local journalists to host another workshop supplying them with new “slow journalism” skills for their toolkits. Over 300 people applied for the 20 available spots. Then, Paul will pivot to a younger audience, also in Chennai, to lead the writing component of the next Storytelling Camp. The final journalism workshop and storytelling camp will be held in Kolkata in November.
- Carto-education, Custom Maps, and Visual Tools: OOEW carto-education workshops will be held in Delhi and Mumbai this autumn, hosted by chief cartographer Jeff Blossom. These free, publicly-available workshops will bring new mapping and storytelling skills to thousands of people in partnership with Harvard Business School's India Research Center. Jeff will also share new mapping skills with participants in the Kolkata slow journalism workshop. And, thanks to Esri's continued participation, we can also look forward to the creation of a Milestone Map, where existing and future milestones will be displayed on one easily-navigable base-layer.
- Translation: With support from NGS, along with continuing to provide personal assistance and communication for the amazing group of translators who make OOEW available in 25 languages, our top goal for the year is to recruit new translators who can share Paul’s dispatches in the languages spoken along his most immediate walking routes. These languages include Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, and Burmese.
- More Stories: Paul's seventh OOEW print story, "Passage to Another Time," was just published in the September issue of National Geographic magazine. Up next? The journey’s eighth installment, which will describe Paul’s transition from Central Asia and the Old Silk Road to the vast riverlands of the Far East.
- Eternal Preservation: In our quest to create an anthology of life in the early 21st century, producing all the various forms of content is only as valuable as our ability to preserve them. Only with an expanded team and sufficient financial bandwidth can we safeguard the trove of storytelling and content thus far and going forward, in a way that will keep it accessible for everyone for generations to come.
- Managing local voices: Workflow associated with organizing new storytelling and social media content from our guest curators, scientific experts, walking guides, raconteurs, educators, and other local partners.
- Cartography: Funding our map-making and training partnerships with the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis and Esri.
- Non-profit website: Maintaining and updating our nonprofit website, which houses a growing archive of all OOEW media coverage, and special content creation for our Kickstarter community, including reward fulfillment for this campaign and a monthly newsletter with special updates.
- Expanding one-off education opportunities: Creating and curating content produced from US and internationally-based student walk-alongs.
- Paul's donkeys and camels: Buying and caring for pack animals is expensive (camels are about $4,500 each, and Paul is returning to a dromedary lifestyle in some regions of China). In India, he is walking with a cargo donkey.
- Field navigators: Without the expertise of local guides, like India’s Arati Kumar Rao, Priyanka Borpujari, and Siddarth Agarwal, forward motion would be difficult if not impossible.
- It takes a city: Expanding the Chicago team to help OOEW-C serve as a replicable template for other U.S. cities to engage meaningfully with walking and storytelling.
- Eternal preservation: Making OOEW content available to the public, in an organized, curated way, to benefit readers (and scientists, educators, anthropologists, archaeologists, geographers, etc., etc.), for generations to come.
- Non-profit operational costs for 2019: Labor and equipment costs associated with content curation, educational coordination, audience outreach, fundraising, financial management, international communications, and back-end logistical support for Paul.
WALKING PARTNER - Thank you for joining Paul on the trail. Your backing helps Paul find and report the global stories of our time that are missed by conventional journalists. Your name will appear on Out of Eden Walk's digital donor wall, a feature that will remain a permanent legacy of the decade-long journey.
MILE SPONSOR - Fund a mile of the journey with a pledge of $25 or more, and your name and mile will appear on the digital donor map custom-made by Jeff Blossom, our chief cartographer at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard. The donor map is a permanent legacy of the decade-long journey.
GALLERIST - We'll email you a link to 10 previously unpublished, high-resolution photos for easy and excellent quality printing. Taken by Paul, the photos will offer you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into daily life on the Out of Eden Walk trail.
VOICEMAIL FROM THE TRAIL - Hear Paul's words, in his own words. Paul will record himself reading two new dispatches written on the trail since our last campaign (January 2017). The recordings will include a greeting and a brief description of where he is on the trail at that exact moment. We will share these along with two recorded last year, for a total of *four* special audio recordings by Paul. This reward is ideal for followers who enjoy the oldest form of human storytelling: The spoken word. We will email you the archivable audio files.
CORRESPONDENT - Back by popular demand from last year's campaign! Mail from a human snail. Receive a handwritten postcard from Paul from the Out of Eden Walk trail signed in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
NAVIGATOR - Every 100 miles across the Earth, Paul pauses to record a narrative Milestone consisting of a panorama photograph, an audio recording of ambient sound, a video clip and an interview with the nearest human being asking three existential questions. ("Who are you?" "Where do you come from?" and "Where are you going?") Become a Milestone Sponsor and we'll email you a link to your high-resolution panorama Milestone photo with GPS coordinates. Your name will appear on the Milestone on our digital donor map, a permanent online legacy of the journey.
RAJASTHANI TRAVELER - We offer our Rajasthani Traveler donors a genuine thread connecting them to the world-famous textiles of India—a hand-embroidered wall hanging made by traditional craftsman in the city of Jaipur, also known as “the Pink City,” in northern India. These traditional embroideries each feature intricate stitching patterns surrounding an elephant in the center—the tusked pachyderms symbolize good luck in India. Each wall hanging is 2.2 feet in length and 3 feet across, and is unique. The textile in the photograph may not be the actual piece shipped.
CHIEF CARTOGRAPHER - Back by popular demand from last year's campaign! We'll mail you an 8"X10" version of the custom-designed "Greatest Walk" map, created originally for the journey by Jeff Blossom at Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis. A must-have for any geographers in your life, the print will be in color on high-quality matte paper, best suited to be framed and hung on the wall. Additionally, Jeff is customizing these maps to feature Paul's up-to-date journey route (thanks Jeff)!
CHAI ON THE HORIZON - For the tea enthusiast, we offer a special gift that was donated by Paul's Mandarin teacher in Kyrgyzstan: A “Gongfu Cha” (Kung Fu Tea) set that comes with a clay and bamboo tray, a tea pot set, a tea container and four different types of tea. Sure to conjure the flavors of the eastward trail ahead, the teas are: An 11 Year Old Pu’er Tea, a Spring Iron Buddha Oolong Tea, a Ginseng Oolong Tea, and a Jasmine Tea. Gongfu Cha means "making tea with skill." We hope the set helps you experience the delicate flavors of these four unique kinds of tea. This reward will be mailed to you, and the package will include instructions from Paul's teacher for how to best brew each tea according to type.
PHOTO WORKSHOP WITH JOHN STANMEYER - Join National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer in a visual storytelling workshop. John's workshops are 8 to 9-day, immersive events that teach photographic skills as well as a deeper understanding of the world and how to capture the experience of what it means to be alive in it through the photographer's lens. Previously held in India, Armenia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Republic of Georgia, each workshop is typically comprised of about ten participants joining from all over the globe. By choosing this reward, one lucky supporter of the Out of Eden Walk will receive a personal invite from John to the first workshop of the 2019 series. Please note this reward reserves a spot in one workshop and does not cover travel or logistical expenses relating to workshop participation. For insight into previous workshops, please visit www.stanmeyerworkshops.com. Please note that locations for 2019 have not yet been announced, but are sure not to disappoint. All skill levels welcome. RECOMMENDED: For additional cost information and inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW, ONE-OF-A-KIND, SPECIAL VALUE REWARD!
NATGEO PHOTO "IRSHAD," BY MATTHIEU PALEY - National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley (@paleyphoto) accompanied Paul across the Wakhan Corridor to capture the stunning images featured in "Passage to Another Time," the latest Out of Eden Walk story in National Geographic magazine (September 2018 issue). Paley's award-winning work has been sold in galleries and exhibited in museums worldwide. We are thrilled to announce that he has generously donated a print of the image introducing that story, for one lucky backer to take home—and now, thanks to his additional generosity, at a lower price point than for his usual market sales. The image (shown at left, in story page), was taken deep in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, where Paley and Salopek crossed a 16,329-foot pass to traverse one of the remotest border crossings in the greater Himalayan world: the Irshad Pass. Shot on medium format camera for incredible quality, this 60cmx48cm photograph will be printed on Hahnemühle Archival Paper by Matthieu from his Portugal studio. It will be titled, dated and signed. Depending on location, shipping time may vary. *LIMITED TO 1.*
Risks and challenges
Reporting overseas is an intrinsically risky endeavor, with dangers both natural and man-made. For his own safety and that of his guides, most of Paul’s written material is published after a time lag. Because Paul is walking in conjunction with reporting and interacting with schools, he 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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