Steve Rockwood: Memories Around the Kitchen Table
Have you ever considered how food brings families together? Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, explored that question in his Thursday morning keynote at RootsTech.
Rockwood said that he can’t even look at a bottle of root beer without thinking of his grandmother and grandfather, because as a kid that was something they always enjoyed together. Rockwood also fondly reflected on some of his Christmas memories, noting that the holiday season wasn’t the same without mom’s fudge.
“When my mom would make rocky road, that’s when Christmas became Christmas,” he said.
Rockwood then asked the audience, “What is your A&W root beer? What is your rocky road fudge?”
Every family has a certain food that helps foster feelings of connection. Perhaps it’s grandmother’s sweet rolls or your uncle’s spicy taco soup. Whatever it may be, it’s clear that food can play an important part in family associations.
Rockwood announced a new FamilySearch initiative aimed to help patrons preserve and share family recipes and the memories associated with them. If you have a favorite family recipe, visit familysearch.org/recipes and upload the recipe and the memories associated with it. It’s the perfect way to preserve important family heritage recipes.
But food is only one of the many ways to connect with your family, said Rockwood. It’s important to discover other family traits that we have in common. Perhaps a certain profession is prevalent in your family, or an affinity for art, science, sports, patriotism, or even religion. The potential connections we have with our family members is exciting to think about.
Building Our Connections
Rockwood went on to discuss how technology is allowing us to connect with our past and with one another in ways never before possible; we’re building a global network. Rockwood likened this network to an ancient clone of aspen trees located in Utah called “Pando,” which is actually a single organism connected by roots that cover one hundred and six acres.
“Every single family tree, no matter how unique it is, is ultimately connected,” he said. “Like any single aspen tree, a family tree is only a small part of a much, much larger organism.”
Pando is much like the collaborative tree created by FamilySearch, a massive shared family tree that allows anyone to add and clarify information. The FamilySearch tree now has over one billion names; there are over seven hundred million sources attached to it, and its accuracy is growing every day.
Rockwood encouraged FamilySearch users to contribute to the tree, while assuring them that they can preserve their own hard work—research they prefer not to have changed by others—in the genealogy section of FamilySearch.
“Here in Utah at RootsTech, we are cultivating, in a sense, a family history pando. The need to become one work with interconnected efforts and trees has driven how we approach serving you.”