Are you curious about what the International Dark Skies designation would mean for a community like Moab? Would you like to know more about nightly rentals in Moab and their relationship to affordable housing here?
If so, consider attending the Grand County League of Women Voters meeting on Monday, Nov. 13. The Grand County High School Speech and Debate Team will give an informational speech about Dark Skies, followed by a debate discussing a proposed ordinance regarding short-term rentals. The meeting will be held at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North.
For the second consecutive year, the league has invited the GCHS speech and debate team to one of its monthly meetings where LWV members present to the public information about a topic of community interest.
A group of students will deliver a speech about the Dark Skies movement, in which various communities, including national parks and cities, preserve and protect natural dark skies by enacting lighting practices that cut down on “light pollution.”
Following that speech, students will move on to a different topic when they perform a “Mock Congress” – where students divide into two groups to debate the issue of public financing for affordable housing.
Grand County Community Development Director Zacharia Levine has been working with the students, and suggested they debate an actual ordinance being proposed regarding nightly rentals.
“They will discuss the pros and cons of using different funding for affordable housing,” Grand County League of Women Voters co-president Darcey Brown said.
Like the actual U.S. Congress, students receive the bill ahead of time, research the issue, and prepare their arguments pro and con. Then, they stand up and give a speech explaining why they are for or against a bill.
“They get to learn about legislation and what policy looks like and who implements laws in the real world,” debate team head coach Carrie Strecker said.
Strecker has found that participation in debates and the research that goes with that often help lead students to a career path.
Approximately 15 students will take part in the Mock Congress; eight of those students will deliver the Dark Sky speech.
The debate club hopes to make this an annual event with the league, Strecker said.
“I appreciate the League of Women Voters reaching out to me,” she said. “We had a great turnout last year – around 75 people, and we raised a great amount of money for our team.”
The event is also a fundraiser for the speech and debate team through the sale of baked goods, a silent auction, and ticket sales to win prizes. Last year, students debated the issue of a living wage.
The League of Women Voters meets on the second Monday of each month, from September through May.
“We try and pick a topic of community interest,” Brown said.
At its December meeting, the league plans to introduce Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder.
“He couldn’t have been more gracious when we asked him to come,” Brown said. “Everybody’s really positive about him.”
League meetings typically take place at the Grand County Public Library, 257 E Center St. The student debate and speech presentation is expected to attract a larger audience; thus, this upcoming meeting will happen at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.
“It’s our intention to engage the community in (topical) issues to have a civil discourse and dialogue about issues,” said Strecker, who also teaches English at the high school, as well as elective courses in beginning and advanced debate.
Students to discuss Dark Skies, overnight rentals
“It’s our intention to engage the community in (topical) issues to have a civil discourse and dialogue about issues.”
When: Monday, Nov. 13, at 5:15 p.m.
Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North
Information: 435-259-6118; firstname.lastname@example.org