Walking India: Year 6 of a Global Journalism Journey
By Paul Salopek
A storytelling walk across the planet that bridges continents, languages, nationalities and creeds.
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.
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.
Mumbai Press Club
Article posted on 20/09/2018
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