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walk through time

Introduction

The Walk Through time...from Stardust to Us (the Walk) is an experiential presentation of the 4.5 billion-year evolutionary history of Earth. The Walk presents a current, scientifically-based understanding of the history of life. Exhibit panels tell Earth’s story with vivid images and text describing important evolutionary developments at dates measured in “mya”—millions of years ago.

The Walk was created by volunteer scientists at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, in collaboration with internationally recognized experts in the life sciences. The Walk grew from a life-long dream of HP employee Dr. Sidney Liebes. It premiered concurrently on Earthday, April 22, 1997, at HP Labs in Bristol, England; Palo Alto, CA; and Tokyo, Japan. The Walk was part of an HP Labs Celebration of Creativity and used to set the context for an organization-level discussion about what sorts of contributions the HP Company can make to the future.

Subsequently, other HP-Palo Alto employees, guests from non-profit organizations, and family and friends of HP employees experienced the Walk at HP Labs. In July, 1997, the City of Corvallis, OR, hosted the exhibit.

Walkers at two U.S. sites were invited to comment on the impact of the experience via a gigantic “Conversation Canvas” set up just a few feet away from the exhibit’s completion. Four thought-provoking questions were posed, to which people responded on multicolored hexagonal Post-It Notes™ and added to a growing honeycomb. Overwhelmingly positive, the comments are more than a little thought-provoking themselves. The most common adjective on the hexagons is “awe.” Many assessed the experience as “transformational.” Comments include: “The Walk changed my life” and “The Walk gave me a sense of peace and connectedness with the Universe.”

HP Lab's Conversation Canvas
HP Labs Visitors Conversation Canvas
Corvallis Conversation Canvas

Purpose

The purpose of the Walk is to provide participants with an experience of Earth’s history to serve as a context for future personal, organizational and community decisions. The premise of the Walk is that better decisions will be made from a richer context. By considering the development of Earth and life, walkers can better consider—as individuals and organizations—the unique opportunities available precisely now to make choices that can steer HP into the future. We intend for the Walk to enhance respect for Earth and for the diversity of life within people, companies and communities all over the world.

Long Term Objectives

Plans for long term development of the Walk to include some or all of the following:

  • The Basic Walk Through Time
    Long-term maintenance of the Walk will include incorporating new scientific discoveries regarding Earth’s story by continuously updating and improving the exhibit’s text, so that it becomes a living knowledge base. This will involve obtaining necessary permissions for public use of the artwork and text, maintaining proper credits on the panels, and the production of several robust, portable, weather-proof versions of the panels.
  • Permanent Placements of the Walk
    Siting the Walk in museums, parks and other public venues will be pursued as an important way to achieve maximal exposure.
  • The Walk Conversation/Seminar
    A facilitated version of the Walk is planned, followed by a workshop or seminar, focusing upon particular themes and issues such as enhancing creativity and innovation, long-term sustainability of Earth, collaboration, scenario planning, strategic planning, leadership development, diversity, and ecological responsibility and leadership.
  • The Walk in a Box
    A do-it-yourself-kit form of the Walk will be sold or rented to organizations and communities. It contains panels (~2 ft.x3 ft.), together with instructions and shared best-practices for setting up the exhibit over varying distances, as well as materials describing other activities to be held in conjunction with the Walk.
  • Walk Through Time Book
    We plan a handsome “coffee-table” book of the panels that can be marketed at Walk sites or through groups hosting the Walk.
  • Walk Through Time CD ROM
    Options for producing a marketable CD ROM version of the exhibit are under consideration. Interactive multimedia would add depth to Earth’s story and offer expanded educational applications, a format for scenario-planning exercises, and a means for internationally distributed organizations to share the Walk experience.
  • Walk Through Time Comprehensive Website
    A consortia-maintained website would feature data similar to that of the CD ROM. In addition, the website might host upcoming event information, product-marketing information, real-time environmental data and on-line discussion groups.
  • Walk Through Time Video/Television Documentary
    We are exploring ideas for a broadcast-quality video of the Walk, with text narration and graphic motion/animation. One option is a PBS-quality documentary, airing in 12-13 episodes. Supplementary educational materials could be produced in conjunction.
  • Walk Through Time Printed Memorabilia
    Selling calendars, postcards, posters, etc. offers one possibility for the Walk becoming self-sustaining.

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