“MAY YOU WALK GENTLY THROUGH THE WORLD AND KNOW ITS BEAUTY” – APACHE BLESSING
The idea of ‘Think Footprint’ was inspired by a trace fossil reptile footprint on display in Sidmouth Museum, that was found beneath cliffs close to Sidmouth in recent years. The footprint was left by a pre-dinosaur reptile, called a rauisuchian, 240 million years ago. It’s all the remains of the creature’s time on earth, but still a link to it having walked in the geographic area that is now the famous Regency resort with its stunning coastline, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
“Trace fossils are in many ways more exciting than bones because they were produced by living, breathing animals and so are tiny snapshots into their lives,” said Dr Rob Coram, geologist, and finder of the footprint.
Local children’s author Jo Earlam is writing a story based on the footprint that imagines the character of the reptile that left it, doing so as a deliberate message about treating the environment with care and for whoever saw it, to “think” about their own footprint they will leave.
“I was looking around the museum seeking inspiration for a children’s story connected to the exhibits,” said Jo. “The footprint kept calling to me, a momentary step upon the earth’s surface all that remained of this sentient being and its place in the world, yet still a connection. “I began to reflect on this and the ‘footprint’ that our modern society leaves, and the inescapable truth that however lightly we tread, individually we will all leave more than one tiny print, and collectively mankind is making a massive dent that we’re only now realising the true significance of.”
Think Footprint became the name for the project. Illustrator Mark Hannon, who’s worked with Jo on her previous children’s books, designed the logo of a reptile and a child’s footprint on the earth, and is working on artwork to accompany the story, which is expected to be published in 2020. Meanwhile, the project will involve school children writing their own stories about the footprint and how they interpret its message. Sidmouth Science Festival will help children learn about the geological timeframe and location when the footprint was left and how it came to be found in Sidmouth in the present day.
Businesses, organisations and the wider community will also be encouraged to participate with their own reflections on the Think Footprint message. The project launch is at the Sidmouth Museum geology day at Kennaway House on Saturday 20th July, coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Fifty years since man left the first footprint on the moon seemed an appropriate moment to look back at a reptile footprint left on earth 240 million years ago and ask people to Think Footprint.