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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
Features Writer

The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

A conversation with Frank Warren of “Post Secret”

Frank Warren, creator of the popular “Post Secret” Web site and book series, will give a presentation at Northern on Monday, Feb. 11 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center. Before stopping by to discuss the benefits of releasing secrets to strangers, Warren spoke with North Wind assistant news editor Cassandra Sturos about postcards, secrets and his unconventional career path.

North Wind: What first gave you the idea to do “Post Secret?”
Frank Warren: Growing up, I had secrets in my own life and I think our family had secrets, some that I knew about and some that I didn’t know about, and I always had this curiosity about the rich creative interior lives that I don’t think people get to express.

NW: What did you do before “Post Secret?”
FW: I didn’t have any artistic training; I was a small business owner until this project found me and turned me completely upside down.

NW: How did you start getting people to send you secrets?
FW: I didn’t know if people really would or not, it was quite an act of fate. I printed out postcards and passed them out to strangers on the streets of Washington D.C., and then I just waited and slowly secrets started arriving on my doorstep. I stopped passing out the postcards and secrets kept on coming. And soon they were coming through different states and different countries. I feel like I accidentally tapped into something full of wonder that I don’t fully understand.

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NW: How many secrets did you receive at first?
FW: I would get one or two everyday, and now I receive 100 or 200 everyday.

NW: Do you have a favorite?
FW: I like the funny ones and the hopeful ones and the sorrowful ones. One of my favorites arrived on a Starbucks cup, it said “I serve decaf to customers that are rude to me,” I also like the ones that are haunting. I got one with a picture of the twin towers on it, and it said “everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I’m dead.”

NW: Were you surprised by how big “Post Secret” has gotten?
FW: Yeah, when I started the project and the secrets started coming in, I got really excited and set a goal, saying I wanted 365 secrets in the first year. Before the year was over I received 10,000, and now I’ve received over 200,000. I always knew it would be special and meaningful to me, but I have really been shocked at how it has resonated with so many people around the world.

NW: What do you think motivates people to share their secrets with the world?
FW: I think some people just want to tell a story or share a sexual taboo, but I think other people, judging by the detail and the painstaking process in the cards, maybe for them the secret has more gravity. It’s an act of searching for grace.

NW: How has “Post Secret” changed your life?
FW: I think I feel a greater connection to people; I kind of feel less lonely in my life. It’s great getting a ton of mail everyday. That never gets old.

NW: Do you have any stories about “Post Secret” changing someone else’s life?
FW: Last night, I was speaking at Northeastern (University). During my talks, part of the event is about sharing secrets. One girl got up and said they did a “Post Secret” exercise in an activity group. One of the girls who participated got in an accident and died the next day. They mailed the secret to “Post Secret,” not knowing what it was. They told me how this affected them, and it affected me. It’s amazing how these stories are like ripples from a stone in a lake. They have amazing lives of their own.

NW: What can people do to help with this project?
FW: I like the idea of how the project can help people. If people visit the Web site and feel inspired to share their own secret, or e-mail their friends or family, those are all ways that the project can help people. That helps the project and the community grow.

NW: Anything else you want to add?
FW: Through this project I’ve learned that sometimes when we think we’re keeping a secret, that secret’s actually keeping us. It could be undermining our relationships, impacting our behavior with other people, all until we face that part of our lives that we’re hiding from. This project is partly about me and an exploration of things that happened to me as a child, and the courage of strangers sharing their secrets with me. In fact, one of my secrets is in every book. It has helped me come to terms with some of my own secrets.

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