Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This is a pitch...

Last week I helped launch something that turned out to be much more than I had imagined.

“It” is Ashland Audiowalks' pilot test of its first audio tour and what it consists of takes a little explaining.

I can best liken it to when you were a little kid, sitting next to someone reading from a book you loved. Pretty soon you weren’t in the room any more but somewhere else, vividly experiencing what was happening before your eyes, all conjured up by the story.

So visualize this: You go down to the Ashland Springs Hotel (having called first to make sure a tourplayer’s available - 488 1700) and pick up your tour map and the magic wand that will open windows into Ashland’s past. (This is the tourplayer - it’s like a tv remote that you listen to on the tour.) Then find the starting point on the map, down by the Plaza, and press number 1 on your player. A voice starts talking to you, revealing a secret that happened on that very spot a hundred years ago.

It sets the scene and the story unfolds. At every point on the map - and there are over 20 - you get another glimpse into the Ashland that came before. You start to feel you’re living back then and you realize that you’re recovering your own history, that is to say the history of where you now live. It’s quite amazing.

Ashland Audiowalks* is the work of Paul Christensen, who conceived of and created the walk I sampled. It’s the first of a planned set of three that cover old downtown. He’s formed a nonprofit to produce these tours. (The player and map cost $7.50 to rent.) He and his collaborators want us to try it out and give them feedback.

I invite you to join in the project. It’s a real gift to the community and a boost for local businesses as well because it helps visitors feel more at home in our town. The website is:


After you try it please tell me about your experience.

* Ashland Audiowalks is a community service of the Imagine Project, a non-profit 501 c 3 corporation.