Deep Time Walk

Deep Time Walk allows people to experience a walking audio history of planet Earth.

Award-winning playwright Peter Oswald has worked with ecologist Stephan Harding to write an innovative script that provides an engaging conversation between 'The Scientist' and 'The Fool' as they journey through our planet's immense history.  

The big idea

Build an app that allows users to experience a walking audio history of the planet's 4.6 billion years as they are guided on a physical 4.6 kilometre walk across time.

What happened

Co-project owner Geoff Ainscow told us where the desire to create a universally accessible app came from: "The Walk Through Time exhibit has travelled the world since it was created in California in 1997. The Deep Time Walk experience was started at Schumacher College in 2008. 

"Both these experiences were limited to people located near the events. The idea of a smartphone app was stimulated by the need to get the message out to many more people."

Geoff thinks it is important that the message is accessible to as many people as possible as it could result in a serious and profound shift of perspective for listeners. 

He told us: "Our hope is that the Deep Time Walk evokes a profound shift in perspective, awakening users to our magnificent ancestry and the vitally important wisdom embedded in deep time, as we humans struggle to deal with our self-created crises of climate change, degradation of nature, and social disruption. 

"This change of perspective requires nothing less than a profound shift in worldview. A shift from seeing Earth as a dead rock, which we use as our pantry, our lumber yard and our waste dump, to seeing our planet as a self-regulating, living Earth - a beautiful planetary jewel from which all life has emerged. 

This new worldview is the fertile ground from which innovative solutions to the many crises facing humanity can grow."

In order to make this a reality, funds are required. 

Geoff contributed money to kick-start the development of the app and it also received some extra funding from friends and a few US based foundations. 

But such a big project requires serious funding. 

Geoff decided to give crowdfunding a whirl. 

He was spurred on by the project marketing manager, Rob Woodford who had successfully used Crowdfunding before to raise funds.

Geoff shared with us his reservations: "The all-or-nothing approach is daunting. 

"I did not want to fail, so lining up big donors to cover the shortfall was crucial before we started. How are we going to contact lots of people?"

Luckily, for Geoff, he learned that Schumacher had an alumni list of 16,000 past students. 

He also admitted he was ignorant of the power of social media prior to this campaign and told us: "Fortunately, Rob knew how to use Facebook and Twitter."

In the end they set a target of £21,000 only to end up raising a very impressive of total of £26,007 from 267 backers in 29 days! 

The pledge rewards

Pledges ranged from £10 and to £2,500. All of the rewards are deeply relevant to the project from a signed copy of the script, to a private walk with ecologist Stephan Harding, a dinner feast for 2, with invitations to the launch party. 

What's next?

The team is finishing the programming and editing of the content. 

The Alpha testing will start later this month, followed by Beta testing in July and August, ready for a launch in September. 

Geoff added: "Parallel to this work we'll develop a marketing and distribution plan, as well as an educational package for teachers and facilitators who want to use the app with their schools or organizations. 

"In the longer term we see different language versions and added options for users to change scale, and methods for users to share walks using social media."

Tips to project owners

Here are Geoff's top three tips for a successful Crowdfunder campaign: 

Get everything lined up before you start, eg. webpage, Facebook, twitter, lists of peopleKnow the unique contribution of the project and distinguish your product or service from all the rest.

Put everyone you know on your list. The crowd funding took off when our friends, contacted their friends and the message spread out beyond the immediate circle of friends of the project.

• Visit Geoff's project page to find out more about Deep Time Walk