Written by Julia Brunette and Grace Wride
Apartment complex theater rooms usually function for date nights or watch parties. On Thursday, Oct. 21, The Gates’ theater room branched off from its typical use and became a place of shared vulnerability and inspiring messages among peers. Treehouse Talks occurs every Thursday night at 8 p.m. and offers the community a place to learn from one another.
Treehouse Talks Rexburg spurred off the original organization that Hollis Hunt, a BYU student, started in Provo.
According to Treehouse Talks’ Instagram, its theme is, “Connect with peers. Learn diverse ideas. Leave more aware.”
This goal has traveled around the country as Treehouse Talks is now hosted in Hawaii, Arizona and Idaho.
Tyler Christensen, a junior studying biomedical science, and Aubrey Christiansen, a junior studying communication, manage Rexburg’s unit of Treehouse Talks. This involves finding the venue, gathering the speakers and promoting the events through social media.
The responsibility might sound overwhelming — especially on nights when there are last-minute venue changes due to unexpected holes in ceilings — but Aubrey and Tyler believe the nights of vulnerability and connection are worth the effort.
“What I’ve liked most is how much I’ve learned from people I thought I knew really well,” Aubrey Christiansen said. “Obviously, I’ve had a lot of friends speak. It’s been unique to see a part of them that they don’t allow everyone to see on a daily basis. It allows you to become more aware of them as a person and what they value.”
The speakers on the night of Oct. 21 unintentionally shared similar values and ideologies. Themes of finding light and peace during trials fluttered through each message.
Amanda Reis, a senior studying FCS apparel entrepreneurship, spoke on her experience with scoliosis. She spent 2 1/2 years wearing a brace around her back. Her doctor encouraged her to invest in a new wardrobe.This inspired Reis to think more about what she wore, which eventually developed into a love for fashion.
The following speaker, BYU-Idaho alumnus Seth Harper, talked about the importance of vulnerability and making memories. Harper explained what inspired him to sign up to speak.
“Public speaking is hard, but it gives you a lot of confidence when you do it,” Harper said. “I was like, ‘Hey, I need a confidence boost.’ So, I signed up for one.”
Jamis Mulholland split up the evening by performing three songs. During his second musical number, his friend and girlfriend joined him in the front of the room — a tambourine and maracas, respectively, in their hands. When the most intense part of his song started, the entire room transformed to become active in the performance.
As his friend hit the tambourine, many people clapped along. The second he finished his final song, everyone in the audience clapped, and whoops bounced through the theater room.
Abbie Burns stood to speak after Mulholland sat down. She stood in front of the 50-person audience and asked them to reflect on their insecurities. She walked them through the process of acknowledging one’s insecurities and fighting to look past them. Burns shared that a way to do this is to find confidence outside of physical appearances.
“Focus on the patterns of what puts you in a confident, positive mood,” Burns said.
Jensen Riley finished the evening with a talk about the power of positive thinking. He explained that the worst-case scenario is statistically more likely to happen when we think about it. He delved into personal stories of times he chose positivity, which brought him joy and peace.
The audience cheered for the final time then stuck around to chat for a while.
Many students, like Ty Cannon, a junior studying software engineering, enjoyed the intimate setting that was created during the event. Although most students were there to watch a specific friend speak, the night allowed for students to connect and meet new peers.
“I thought the tree talks were very inspiring, very raw, and kind of presented itself in an intimate setting where you could take what you want to apply it to your own life,” Cannon said. “It also unified a group of people in a better way that we see nowhere else on campus and with social events. It was a more intimate and unifying experience for students.”
Cannon feels that Treehouse Talks can influence BYU-I students to be more understanding and open to the unique attributes that every student has. More information about Treehouse Talks can be found on its Instagram page.