The Top 5: A Look Back At Our Most Popular Stories Of 2018

Jan 1, 2019

As 2019 gets underway, let’s take one last opportunity to revisit stories and interviews from 2018 that made a mark on you, our listeners and readers. 

Here are the top five local and regional stories that drew the most website traffic in 2018:

5. Treaty Of Guadalupe Hidalgo Has Lasting Effects On Southern Colorado

This map accompanied President James K. Polk's annual message to Congress in December 1848. It represents Polk's conception as a Southern Democrat of how to divide up the new territory acquired through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
Credit National Archives and Records Administration

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought an official end to the Mexican-American War in 1848. Among other things, it moved the southern boundary of the U.S. to the Rio Grande River, instead of the Arkansas River. The history of the treaty is complex, and includes drastic changes to the lives of the people living in the southern Colorado region.

This year, part of the original document was on display at the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, Colorado. This interview with Colorado State University-Pueblo History professor Dr. Fawn Amber Montoya touches on the continuing impact of the treaty today.

Revisit the interview here.

4. What Will Become Of Venetucci Farm?

A water tank and tractor at Venetucci farm, April 2018. Water contamination in the Widefield aquifer prompted the farm to suspend a water lease with the Security and Widefield water districts in 2017, leading to the suspension of operations at the farm.
Credit Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

This story came to us by way of Peak Curiosity, our listener-driven reporting project. Listener Erin Finkle of Florissant asked us to find out what we could about the fate of Venetucci Farm, a beloved and historic local farm that ceased production in 2017 following revelations of water contamination in the Widefield Aquifer. 

For this story, 91.5 KRCC’s Jake Brownell explored the history of the farm, the reasons for its closure, and some of the ideas on the table to revive the property. Since this story was published, the Quad Innovation Partnership -- a joint venture of Colorado College, UCCS, The Air Force Academy, and Pikes Peak Community College -- has started work on a research project aimed at identifying new uses for the farm. You can see some the ideas under consideration and offer your own feedback at the Quad Innovation Project’s website.

Revisit the story here.

3. The Mountain West Brings Native Lessons To The Classroom 

LaTitia Taylor, Education Director from the Southern Ute tribe and members of the tribe holding Colorado's new native curriculum, called "Nuu-ciu Strong." "Nuu-ciu" means the Ute people.
Credit Georgina Owen / Colorado Department of Education

For the first time, the Colorado Department of Education teamed up with Colorado’s Ute tribes to develop a curriculum on Native American history and culture in the state. The result was a set of lessons geared toward 4th graders that covers topics from boarding schools to Ute tribal arts and languages to the controversy over sports team mascots.

Some indigenous parents in the state feel it doesn’t go far enough in teaching about the atrocities native people have experienced in this country, but those who developed it say the lessons have to be age-appropriate. And, if Colorado follows in the footsteps of other states like Montana and Utah, we could eventually see native curricula expanded to a wider span of grades.

Revisit the story here.

2. Growing Up Gay In Focus On The Family - One Woman Shares Her Story

Book cover - Refocusing My Family
Credit Fortress Press

Amber Cantorna was raised in a devout Christian family in Colorado Springs -- the daughter of an executive at the powerful Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian ministry, Focus on the Family. She was homeschooled, deeply involved with the church, and a firm believer in the religious values espoused by the organization. 

However, over the course of her teens and early twenties, she began to feel that the values she’d been raised with didn’t align with her emerging sense of who she was. In 2012, at the age of 27, after years of struggling with severe depression, she came to terms with a fact she’d known for some time but was afraid to admit — she’s gay.

In this interview, she spoke with 91.5 KRCC’s Jake Brownell about her memoir, Refocusing My Family, in which she chronicled her experience coming out, leaving the evangelical community she’d been raised in, and redefining her Christian faith.

Revisit the interview here.

1. Colorado Springs Considering New Rules For Airbnb-Type Vacation Rentals

Tayari Appiah rents out a few homes in Colorado Springs through Airbnb. He says he aims to create positive experiences for visitors, and to help them "feel like a local" when they come to town.
Credit Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Our most popular story of 2018 concerned an effort by the city of Colorado Springs to regulate short term rentals -- the technical term for vacation properties like Airbnbs and VRBOs that are rented for less than 30 days at a time. The proposed ordinance generated intense interest (and some ire) from renters, short term rental owners, and neighborhood groups concerned about the proliferation of these types of properties, which straddle the line between residences and businesses. In fact, Colorado Springs city council president Richard Skorman said that this issue, "generated more emails and phone calls" than anything he could remember during his council tenure.

In this story, which aired as the ordinance was making its way out of the city’s planning commission and into the hands of city council for final consideration, 91.5 KRCC’s Jake Brownell spoke with people on all sides of the issue in an effort to understand what was at stake in the debate.

Since we published this story, City Council voted to pass the short term rental ordinance with minor adjustments to the language as described in the piece.

Revisit the story here.

Thank you for listening to 91.5 KRCC and visiting our website in 2018. Stay tuned for more stories about Colorado Springs and Southern Colorado in the year ahead!