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Boise State Powers the Engine and Talent of Treefort

Boise State is one of the premier sponsors of Treefort Music Fest, a five-day festival of discovery happening during Spring Break, March 22-26. Treefort Music Fest offers 400+ bands, amazing panel discussions, hands-on learning, films, comedy, locally-sourced feasts and more.

The campus community is tied to Treefort by more than just sponsorship and concertgoers; over the past six years, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and Boise State alumni have performed on its stages, taken on leadership and planning roles, and otherwise helped grow the festival from a three-day music-centric event to a five-day celebration of local culture featuring more than 400 bands as well as other themed “forts.”

“As one of our largest sponsors, Boise State is helping to support macro efforts, Storyfort, Filmfort and of course Hackfort, which they essentially helped found,” said Eric Gilbert, one of the festival’s founders.

On Thursday, Storyfort hosted a panel called Bury the Lead: Fake News, Real News and Journalism, featuring Boise State Public Radio’s Frankie Barnhill, former Statesman reporter and current Boise State Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing Greg Hahn, and Arbiter editor Patty Bowen.

While social media is a source of much fake news, “A lot more, I think social media is holding the media accountable,” said Bowen. “On Facebook, we’re seeing what’s going on, who’s organizing what, and seeing the public get in involved in a way they haven’t gotten involved before.”

“I didn’t realize how much was unknowable until I left journalism,” Hahn said, when discussing the difficulty of paring the vast complexities of the world down to 300- or 800-word articles. While journalists attempt to put things in a way that is simple, clear and understandable, the world is anything but. In summation, if you’re a journalist “and your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Meaning, always double check what you think you know to be true.

Barnhill noted that since the advent of the internet and social media, “the audience has changed in many ways. The explosion of podcasts has challenged public radio in a new way, in that audiences can bypass their local stations and listen to This American Life or any other podcast. The challenge of local member stations is real and is bigger than at any time before… that we’re vital to the community and we can report and reflect stories happening in the community rapidly.”

Barnhill also hosted Marketplace Weekend’s Lizzie O’Leary during an afternoon Storyfort session called Rise of the Podcast. O’Leary delved into the popularity of podcasting and why so many listeners gravitate towards this form of storytelling: “To me, the best stories are the ones where you as a listener are incredibly invested in it,” she said. “When we look around at this explosion of podcasts, these places are all having their best years ever. That tells me there’s a hunger for informed, respectful long form content and conversation with a listener that allows you to become part of the arc of this story in whatever form.”

This year, Boise State students have taken on planning roles as music and Storyfort interns; Boise State students hosted a “prefort” undergraduate literary contest and reading; a group of students will be participating in “alternative spring break” at Treefort, complete with volunteer opportunities and a culturally curated tour of the festival; and 14 COBE students are volunteering their time to re-certifying Treefort as a B-Corp, which applies to for-profit companies that seek to “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.”

“Students are very civically minded but they don’t necessarily know how to develop those skills, so that’s part of the program as well,” said Erin Mahn, assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership, who helps develop the alternative spring break trips.

In 2015, Treefort was named the 2015 City of Boise’s Cultural Ambassador for its ability to harness and broadcast the city’s cultural beacons to a northwest, national and international audience. For these reasons and many more, Boise State is proud to be a Treefort Architect this year – the highest level of festival sponsorship. You can read more about the specific Boise State connections to the festival here. Photos used on this page courtesy of the Treefort Music Festival photo pool