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Rob Lawrence. The right choice.
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Seth Samuels of Franklin is gathering video stories about the London
U-M student collects stories to
create video Web collage.
Life long resident of Oakland County, Michigan, married
with two children that attend Birmingham Pubic Schools.
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August 2 • 2012
Special to the Jewish News
'm writing to you from my min-
iature hostel room in downtown
London (picture a twin bed in
the corner with a generous 2-foot
margin around the other three sides).
My partner Kristen Zelenka and I are
going around the city filming a series
of candid conversations with fans, ath-
letes, coaches — whoever I run into
— gathering their memorable stories
from the Olympic Games.
I'll be compiling the stories into a
digital collage on the Web. The vision
is to create a "public square" on the
Web for anyone to read the stories
there, but also to submit a photo- or
video-based story of their own from
The project emerged late last fall.
After organizing TEDxUofM — a
multidisciplinary conference intended
to highlight U-M's "Ideas Worth
Spreading" in TED-like fashion (see
www.ted.com for more on TED) — I
began to notice a pattern. Quite sim-
ply, people would come to the event,
have a great experience meeting new
people and exchanging new ideas, and
creating an ambiance fundamentally
different from most everyone's daily
lives. Then, as soon as the conference
concluded, this energy seemed to
evaporate almost instantly as we all
return to those daily lives.
The pattern emerged when I began
to think about the other places where
I experienced this, including High
Holiday services, concerts and sport-
After speaking with decorated
Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno
at an event on U-M's campus last
fall, he pointed out how, during the
Olympics, athletes are incredibly
dialed in because of how long they've
been training; but for fans, there
could be two people from countries
at war with each other and, at least
temporarily, sport becomes the pre-
Yet, as Ohno suggested, this is really
only the case for a couple of weeks.
That's when I realized that this event
energy — whether it's from our con-
ference or the Olympics — is too pre-
cious to let evaporate entirely.
For TEDxUofM, I went around film-
ing an interview series with students,
faculty and other campus community
members, eager to hear their percep-
tions of the conference and what
they gathered from it. What I ended
up hearing were memorable stories
about new goals set and relationships
I thought, if I could combine these
stories into one place, the collective
act of storytelling might carry on the
event experience, which is really why
so many of us seek out these events in
the first place — to witness and expe-
rience the recounting of others' stories.
Fast-forward four months, and here
I am in London. I'd love to share the
Olympics collage with you. Visit www.
survivethespike.com to see the stories
we have compiled to date, and leave
your email in the form at the top of
the site to start sharing stories of your
own — can't wait to read them!
Seth Samuels, 21, of Frankin will be a
senior at the University of Michigan this
fall. He has written for the JN's Teen2Teen
and jewish@edu sections.