Guest editorial: Park City Councilor says Parkites must explore how they align with community values
Park City Council
One of the things that drew me to and keeps me in Park City after 27 years is our commitment to creating shared goals which define the character and identity of the community. I find myself wondering if we need to do more today in order to share a clear and understandable expression of our community values by further defining, articulating and presenting them in a way that allows residents, visitors and observers to understand how Park City self identifies. Two recent events illustrate my concern.
Welcoming Schools, a project of the Human Rights Campaign that provides training and resources to elementary school educators to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ and gender inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying, and support transgender and non-binary students, was the target of anonymous critics within the Trailside Elementary School parent community. Their accusations describe a teacher professional development program as sex education and LGBTQ indoctrination of kindergartners. Dissent is an essential component of process and leads to better outcomes, but there is a fundamental difference between fact based dissent and an attempt to sow and amplify distrust by presenting a specious narrative, then calling it dissent.
At a September meeting of a subcommittee of Utah Associations of Counties (UAC), a commissioner was allowed to use the forum to promote partisan political rhetoric and lobby for counties to sign onto an op-ed he was sponsoring opposing the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. This is in and of itself unacceptable as UAC is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical, voluntary, statewide organization that advocates for all of Utah’s 29 counties at state and federal levels. To make matters worse, during the course of this appeal, Summit County Council person Kim Carson was singled out, ostracized, humiliated and essentially bullied in front of 100 committee members for her perceived political affiliation.
I believe a significant majority of Park City residents see these actions (as I do) as affronts to our community values. I hope these actions will provide the needed spark to energize citizens to actively participate in initiatives like the Social Equity convening at the Park City Community Foundation, ongoing Vision 2020, and the Council election on Nov. 5, all of which result in accurate and factual information about the values, character and identity of Park City.
This is not to say “Park City, Love it or Leave it.” It is to say in order to make the best choice a person needs all the available information, and that information needs go beyond the traditional. Rather than deciding to move to, or live in, Park City based simply on the ability to purchase a beautiful house and have tremendous recreational opportunities, a more complex exploration of community values should be undertaken. Understanding how one aligns with spending taxpayer money to encourage and celebrate diversity, be actively inclusive, promote social equity, subsidize deed restricted housing, promote alternate modes of transportation, achieve a community net zero carbon footprint, protect open space, build trails, and nurture a more robust and connected community is required, because these are the values shared and actively supported by the majority of the citizens, voters and taxpayers in Park City.
In order to be able to know where one stands in relation to Park City community values requires those values be clear, accessible and easily understood. Only then is it possible for people who hold differing positions, perspectives and beliefs to determine whether or not meaningful, civil and respectful relationships can be built and maintained with each other.
For a very long time we’ve been a community of odd balls, misfits, ski bums, artists, visionaries, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, athletes, millionaires, dreamers and immigrants. We are untied in our relationships and connections to one another across those differences. These very connections and relationships are what’s at stake and risk being lost if we do not intentionally reject and disavow divisiveness, clearly state, and live into our collective values.
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“I am concerned with reliance on the information coming from the ‘professional consultants’ without challenging or exploring the critical underlying assumptions driving their analyses,” writes Old Town resident David Gordon about the proposed PCMR project.