March 03, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bucknell Student Lectureship will present "The Buried Life" on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is sponsored by the Bucknell Student Lectureship Committee, is free and open to the public as seating permits

"The Buried Life" originated in 2006 when four Canadian friends — Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn and Jonnie Penn — set out with a two-fold goal: They wanted to accomplish as many of the 100 things they wanted to do before they died, and they wanted to help strangers along the way accomplish something on their own lists.

"'The Buried Life' refers to a poem written in 1852 by British poet Matthew Arnold in which he says our daily life becomes so cumbersome that our real life becomes buried — and we each have a longing to live our buried life," said Jonnie Penn.

The foursome pulled a borrowed '57 Dodge Coachman RV out of a field, bought a secondhand camera for $100 on eBay and hit the road for two weeks to see how many items they could check off their list. The RV lost five of its six tires on the road.

By 2008, the team had built an online community and funded it through sponsorship and working extra jobs. They had people from more than 139 countries participating on their website without any promotion or marketing.

In mid-2008, MTV's Reveille's Howard T. Owens helped the team check off No. 53: Make a TV show by capturing the four in a reality show in real time with no manipulation and no assistance from MTV, except for rolling cameras.

Over an eight-week period, a grassroots movement grew to more than 400,000 Facebook fans, 50,000 Twitter followers, a following from people in 220 countries and 2 million views per month on their website.

"TBL" receives 500 to 800 messages daily during the season, most of which acknowledge that "TBL" and the creators' mission has changed — and in many cases saved — the person's life.

Co-executive producers of the TV series, the friends are involved in every aspect of the show's creation. They said they work to keep it authentic to their original vision: Simple and practical things demonstrate that, with creativity and the help of others, a person can accomplish anything.

Contact: Division of Communications