The @RelativeRace is On … @BYUtv

In case you missed it, Relative Race is a new show that premiered last Sunday, February 28th at 6pm MT on BYUtv. With 9 more episodes to go, the good news is that there is time to catch up by watching the first episode on BYUtv.org. If you like Amazing Race and family history, you’ll love Relative Race!

What is Relative Race? Those who attended RootsTech were the first to see the premier episode and the response was one of enthusiasm and anticipation!

I had the opportunity to visit with the Relative Race production team at RootsTech who explained the details. It began last year with an audition call for couples to submit an approximate 2-minute video introducing themselves and explaining why they would want to be on the show. Not all audition videos are available, but here is one example:

Four couples were finally chosen:

  • Anthony and Brooke Brown from Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Doug and Margo Engberg from Seattle, Washington
  • Bradley and Heather Randall from Phoenix, Arizona
  • Patrick and Janice Wright from Anchorage, Alaska

Each couple took AncestryDNA tests that discovered DNA matches throughout the United States and then the matches were verified by a researched paper trail. These findings defined the Relative Race route for each couple that spans from San Francisco to New York.

In Relative Race, each couple is given a team-colored rental car, a paper map, a $25 per diem, and a flip phone. No GPS here. No advantage to the technological native born; a possible advantage to the technological immigrants of today. Each couple must stay at the home of the newly acquainted relatives along the way!

Dan Debenham is passionate about Relative Race!

Dan Debenham is passionate about Relative Race!

Each team’s route is unique. Relative Race ensures fairness by estimating how long each team may need to complete a challenge and arrive at their destination each day. At the end of each leg, teams are ranked by subtracting their estimated completion time from the actual completion time or vice versa. It’s the difference that matters. The couple in last place for each leg receives a strike. If a team receives three strikes, they’re eliminated from the race. The couple ranked first at the end of the race wins $25,000.

At RootsTech the Relative Race production team discussed the adventure, the challenges, and the long hours spent making this show a reality. Some tough decisions were required in editing to allow the audience to actually feel like they are a part of Relative Race. It’s exciting. It’s emotional. It’s heart-warming. It’s funny. It can bring out a bit of road rage at times, but in the end these couples are introduced to family they have never met. At the end of the season, Relative Race will culminate with a “Where Are They Now” episode. I’m looking forward to it. I know from experience that these types of road trips are game-changing. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll catch the first episode before Sunday 6pm MT. I have it on good word that this show gets better and better. For all of us watching, let’s enjoy Relative Race!

Follow @RelativeRace, @BYUtv, and @thesingleleaf on Twitter.

©2016 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

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Storytelling Opens Thursday’s Session @RootsTechConf

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Rockwood Ties 2016-The Single LeafSteve Rockwood opened Thursday’s session of RootsTech with a few of his family stories. One story he told was when he was a young boy who, although he need heart surgery, didn’t want anyone “messing with [his] heart.” The doctor didn’t gain Steve’s trust by his medical degrees and training. He gained his trust by wearing cool and funny ties. Although the doctor’s expertise was essential to young Steve’s care, it was the ties that won Steve’s confidence. And subsequently, Steve’s doctor did not try to turn him into a heart doctor.

The same is true with family history. A family member may need the outcomes of family history: love, peace, joy, happiness, belonging, etc., but may not need to become a genealogist. Steve encouraged conference attendees to consider someone in their family who would benefit from sharing a family story. He suggested that a different approach may be necessary and encouraged everyone to make it fun, in small doses, to build trust and relationship.

Rockwood introduced his neighbor, Kathy Tarullo, a stay-at-home mom who recently graduated with a bachelor of general studies degree with an emphasis in family history and genealogy. Rockwood and his wife Jill were invited to Kathy’s graduation party where she served refreshments associated with her ancestors decoratively arranged with a story behind each one. Kathy also mentioned another project she is working on where she is taking an ancestor’s story and turning it into a children’s book written in poetic form. These are some of the ideas shared to inspire attendees to consider ways of making family history part of everyday life.

RootsTech began to trend #4 on @Twitter during the opening session of RootsTech Photo credit: Wendy Smedley

RootsTech began to trend #4 on @Twitter during the opening session of RootsTech Photo credit: Wendy Smedley

Next up was the host of BYUtv’s American Ride Stan Ellsworth. He surprised the crowd by entering the hall on his classic Harley-Davidson. I’ve been to RootsTech, even before it was known by its new name, and I have NEVER seen anything like it! Ellsworth shared his passion for the American story that is our collective story. Nevertheless, “every American family has its own unique heritage, traditions, its own roots ’cause all of us came from somewhere before we came here,” Ellsworth said. He continued, “every American family has its own story to tell … These people want their stories remembered; they want their stories to be celebrated. You can begin your own journey. You can start your own exploration. You can find your heroes. You can find your heritage. You can find your roots. So kick a leg over and begin to discover your family’s own unique American ride.”

After his impassioned speech, Ellsworth was delighted to introduce Paula Williams Madison, a successful businesswoman who retired in 2011 to pursue the story of her maternal grandfather Samuel Lowe. Madison thanked FamilySearch for helping her find her Chinese family. She credits FamilySearch and the individuals who index for solving this mystery in her family. If you are a volunteer and ever wondered if what you do makes a difference, Paula Williams Madison wants you to know that you do.

Before RootsTech I listened to her memoir, Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem. I chose the audio book so that I could listen to Madison’s story in her own voice. It made a difference to me. I encourage you to watch her keynote address, read or listen to her book, and watch the documentary. It is an amazing family journey.

Regrettably, Paula Williams Madison’s uncle, the youngest son of Samuel Lowe, passed away in China the Sunday before RootsTech. As her American family members returned to China to gather and attend the funeral, Paula determined that she would give her keynote address at RootsTech. It’s the way her uncle would have wanted it. After briefly meeting with the media, Paula began the long journey to China arriving with 4 hours to spare before her uncle’s funeral. My personal condolences to Paula Williams Madison and her extended family in Harlem, Jamaica, and China at the loss of such a wonderful patriarch. I am so grateful that Paula found her family and reconnected with them during the last few years.

Next, Bruce Feiler took center stage. He began his remarks by saying that he felt like RootsTech is the “Super Bowl of storytelling.” [This may be true but just an FYI, “Super Bowl” is a registered trademark of the NFL.] He told stories of his adventures in his keynote address:

Feiler says that the “secret sauce” of a happy family is that they TALK, they talk a lot, about what it means to be a family. He recommends 3 things that families can do to be happier:

  1. Write a family mission statement.
  2. Do storytelling games in your family.
  3. Tell your family history; use pictures.

Feiler said that the single most effective idea for a happy family is to tell your family’s story. It is the same for biological and/or adopted families. It is the family narrative that is critical for the resilience of its individuals. He recommends that a person grounds their story in the oldest stories ever told, find a way to make it part of everyday, and don’t keep the story to one’s self, but share it! He mentioned that his New York Times article, The Stories That Bind Us, was the most emailed article for an entire month and, out of the 850,000,000 articles saved to the Pocket app, it was the second most saved article on the entire planet for the entire year. It’s worth the read.

He also encourages seniors to tell their story. He is working on another book and made a request that attendees write to him and tell him their experiences of how they accomplished this in their own families.

Feiler was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago. On the one year anniversary of that fateful day, he asked his doctor what advice the doctor would give Feiler’s daughters if they came to him. The doctor replied, “I would tell them what I learned. I would tell them that everybody dies, but not everybody lives. I want you to live.” As a family historian I would add, “and set aside time to record it.”

Bruce Feiler closed his keynote address with great counsel for all of us: “Every now and then find a friend, take a walk, and share a story.” I witnessed a lot of this as I went about my day at RootsTech.

RootsTech is a massive conference with many opportunities throughout each day, including the event organized to index the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau. These records were created when the bureau was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. Although RootsTech is an unique experience to each person, it is almost universally a very long, engaging, and exhausting day for all!

Copyright ©2016 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Studio C: Putting Down Roots in the Field of Entertainment

The lobby of the BYU Broadcasting Building with the Studio C cast to greet us :)

The lobby of BYU Broadcasting with the Studio C cast to greet us :)

Love to laugh? Well, RootsTech 2014* has invited the popular sketch comedy group Studio C to entertain youth on Saturday, February 8th at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. These actors have entertained the university sector for quite some time and have evolved into a tight-knit group of friends producing a quality 30-minute show on BYUtv.

Gina, a production assistant, is busy backstage making sure all the paperwork is in order.

Gina, a production assistant, is busy backstage making sure all the paperwork is in order.

Studio C is in the process of taping their fourth season, which will premiere on Monday, April 7, 2014. I had the opportunity to visit the crew backstage and speak with cast members about their upcoming appearance at RootsTech and I assure you that these authentic personalities are just as delightful off-screen.

The cast consists of Adam Berg, Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Jason Gray, Stacey Harkey, Natalie Madsen, Stephen Meek, Matt Meese, James Perry, and Jeremy Warner. Off-screen, six of the cast members are married, two to each other. As Whitney says, “… I eat, sleep, breathe (and even marry) comedy.”[1]  She and Stephen Meek were married last spring. In addition, the next generation is being produced; currently there is one adorable toddler named Jack and two more babies on the way. Jason Gray announced that he and his wife are expecting a daughter to arrive this spring, an exciting time for a man who grew up with five brothers. Indeed, this troupe is living the family history of their future.

Backstage in Studio A (and no this isn't a typo)

Backstage in Studio A (not to be confused with Studio C :)

As it relates to genealogy, their stories vary. Some have been involved in FamilySearch Indexing. At least one cast member took a class at the university. James mentioned that his favorite Christmas gifts since his marriage are books from his wife chronicling their adventures for each year. RootsTech will be a new experience for them, yet their passion is to bring laughter into our lives and provide humor that will bring families together. And, they are succeeding. Families are even dressing up as their favorite Studio C characters. Truly, Studio C is leaving a legacy of laughter!

Tera-Lynne of Kraft Services keep cast and crew happy with an array of snacks :) Her dinosaur nuggets were featured in the Season 3 Opener!

Tera-Lynne of Kraft Services keeps cast and crew happy with an array of snacks :) Her dinosaur nuggets were featured in the Season 3 Opener!

Although Studio C’s performance will be a youth-only activity at RootsTech 2014, everyone is invited to watch the show on Mondays 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT on BYUtv or subscribe to their YouTube channel. You may also find them on Twitter #studioc and/or facebook.com/studioctv. In addition, Studio C recently released a DVD containing the sketches of seasons 1 and 2 that may be available for sale at RootTech and can be purchased from a number of distributors.

[1] Call, W. [@Whitney_Call]. [ca. 2013] Whitney Call Profile (https://twitter.com/Whitney_Call). Accessed January 15, 2014.

[*Every venue has its limits and there is now a wait list for Youth Activity Day; LDS Family Discovery Day passes are still available at no cost. FamilySearch has notified me that seating for the Studio C event and the devotional with Elder Neil L. Andersen will be made available to Family Discovery Day registrants on a first come, first serve basis in Hall D. Early Bird registration prices for all other passes ends on January 27, 2014.]

Copyright ©2014 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.