Ignite Media visits Berlin for first overseas One Spark

Morgan Purvis

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Zur Letzten Instanz, the oldest functioning restaurant in Berlin.
Photo courtesy Zünden Media

Elaborate street art, ancient museums and the oldest restaurant in Berlin. These are some of the things five UNF students experienced as they explored Germany this past September.

Dr. Paula Horvath, one of the senior instructors in the Communication Department, taught a class last spring where students created their own independent news bureau to cover One Spark Jacksonville. They called it Ignite Media.

Some of the students from the Social Media for Journalism class did not want this experience to end. They reached out to Horvath about traveling to Berlin to cover the first One Spark event overseas. The group decided to name the new news bureau Zünden Media, zünden being the German word for ignite.

Jayme Mobley, electronic media production senior, multimedia journalism seniors Jomaris Rodriguez, Carter Roush and Lindsey Kilbride, and Sarah Williams, recent multimedia production graduate student, worked alongside Dr. Horvath to make this dream become a reality. The group worked hundreds of hours over the summer to market their crowdfunding efforts and raised $9,000 toward their trip. The group raised the money they needed from their crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub. Some of their major supporters were The Florida Times-Union, donating $2,000, Private Investor Peter Rummel, donating $1,000, and Jim Bailey, publisher of the Jax Daily Record, donating $2,150. In addition to this, they received a $2,500 grant from the university.

One Spark Berlin officially ignited on Sept. 12 and 13 at the Platoon Kunsthalle in Berlin. The event raised 10,066.62 euros and had 639 registered voters from the 5,000 attendees. There were fifty creators at One Spark Berlin. Some of the top creators included Karmanoia’s Mind-Altering Maze, N#mmer, a magazine created by an autistic journalist, and Talkitt, a communication device for those with disabilities.

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Nagual Dance
Photo courtesy beonespark.com/berlin

Zünden Media live-tweeted during the event with constant updates on event details and creators. They posted about their trip and experiences on a variety of media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and WordPress.

One of the most memorable creators for Rodriguez was Matthias Strobel. Strobel and his team of seven created a program called Nagual Dance, which allows users to turn their bodies into an orchestra with a Kinect and a few dance moves, no musical experience necessary.

“For people who might not know how to play an instrument and still want to make music, they can just dance in front of that and make really cool music, so I thought that was really cool,“ Rodriguez said.

The Zünden Media team arrived in Berlin a few days before the One Spark event started. They took this time to dive into the culture of Berlin and learn all they could about the history of the city.

The team created a “travel advisory” type blog. They divided up local historical museums and monuments between the group of students and blogged about the exhibits they had seen. The blog included sites like the Reichstag, which was and is still used for German government meetings. The Reichstag was opened in 1894, but closed in 1933 when it was burned in a fire. It was restored in 1990 after the German reunification. 

The team also wrote news stories about Germany and its history. Rodriguez wrote a story while in Berlin about how Germans have memorialized their past through museums and exhibitions. She visited and wrote about the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and its history of the victims that were trapped in it.

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Senior Jomaris Rodriguez working on her story at the team’s living space in Berlin
Photo courtesy Zünden Media

Rodriguez explained what she saw and felt as she walked through the gates of the concentration camp:

“Imagine walking through the very grounds where thousands met their fate in the most brutal way. Legs shaking, perspiration everywhere and unsure if you could ever make it out. ‘Work will set you free’ reads the sign on the wrought-iron gate.

Some 30,000 of the 200,000 prisoners who passed through the gate, located at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp just north of Berlin, never made it out. For years after the war, the camp, built as a model for others by the Nazis, sat derelict and empty.”

Rodriguez also visited the “Topographie Des Terrors” or Topography of Terror exhibition. This museum offers guests the ability to walk through the halls where the Nazis plotted during the war. Also featured is the portion of the Berlin Wall that was never demolished. Rodriguez notes that the new generation has the opportunity to visit the museums and exhibitions to learn about the consequences of Germany’s past.

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Ralph-Herbert Uphoff
Photo courtesy Zünden Media

The team blogged about people, dogs, fashion and restaurants; “People of Berlin” was one of the featured items on the blog. The students would post profile pictures of people they met on the streets of Berlin.

One of the people they met was Ralph-Herbert Uphoff, who lives on the streets of Berlin. Uphoff only works two days a week and cannot gain another job due to him missing a finger from a chainsaw accident. He lives day-to-day on the streets of Berlin.

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Berlin street art
Photo courtesy Zünden Media

The Zünden Media team also took photos and videos of the art and performances they encountered as art and performances are common sights on the streets of Berlin.

Students were required to take a one-credit course for the fall to qualify for the September trip as part of the university. One of the students, Sarah Williams, graduated last spring with a Bachelors of Science in Multimedia Production, wanted to go with the team to Berlin. She then took one credit on a post-baccalaureate status.

“Throughout the summer they learned entrepreneurial skills, marketing skills, they learned crowdfunding skills, so it was a marvelous experience,” Horvath said.

Dr. Horvath will be teaching the Social Media for Journalism class again for the spring semester, creating a news bureau for One Spark. The program was so successful and well-received that Dr. Horvath would like to continue with it for future classes.

Gallery photos courtesy Zünden Media

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Email Lacey Wyndham at [email protected]