The logistics of the Project

Posted March 25

A few of you have looked at the logistics of The Human, Earth Project, and have been curious to know how it's even possible.

I've given myself 180 days to find one hundred people - that is, I have an average of 1.8 days to find each one, which really isn't a lot of time. More than that, I'll be spending as much time as I can with each of those people, to get to know them.

I also have 20,000 kilometres (12,400 miles) to cover, as near as I can calculate using the tools available on Google Maps. Each day I'll need to travel an average of 110 kilometres (70 miles) - a distance that might only be an hour's drive in the West, but can often take much longer in Asia, where nothing is quite as simple as it seems.

It's even more complicated than that: I've allowed myself forty-five days - that is, one-quarter of the total time - to search for M. By the end of six weeks, I will either have found her, know that I never will, or be imprisoned or deported for trying.

Which means I really have only 135 days to travel those 20,000 kilometres, and find all of the people in the other photographs... Which allows me less than a day and a half to find each one, while travelling an average of 150 kilometres (90 miles) per day, for four-and-a-half relentless months...

I said I'd do it: I didn't say it would be easy. It's sure to be an amazing journey, but it's not going to be a holiday.

The project will become even more complicated if I need to make detours to find particular people. Of my one hundred portrait subjects, more than two-thirds are children or elderly people, whom I don't expect to have moved far at all. Another twenty are adults of working age, and I'm quite confident that the vast majority of them will also still be living in the same small, rural villages where I first found them. If any of them have died in the intervening years, I'll give their portrait to their families.

The ten people I expect to be the most difficult to find - apart from M herself - are the man with the bicycle in image 3 and the little girl in image 15 (who both live in major cities), the two children in images 21 and 78 (both of whom I met in transit, at a boat landing), and the six young men in images 95 and 96 (for reasons I'll explain at a later date).

On the other hand, as I've said, a small number of the people in the photographs are people I've known well. Only five minutes ago, I spoke with one of them on Skype - with his entire family, in fact, who were all excited to hear from me, and are looking forward to having me visit again - especially if I bring them chocolate!

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