December 2016 archive

Values of the New Community Church: Exposed Through Physical Attributes

As a result of my studies about rhetoric in writing 100, in this essay I am going to persuade the reader that the physical environment of the New Community Church reflects and promotes its accepting and inclusive values. I strongly believe that physical design serves a great purpose in determining and promoting the core values of a community. In the case of the New Community Church, the exterior, interior, and digital aspects of it allow for the public to understand that the church is a place for everyone despite the gentrification that has taken place over the years in the Shaw, DC area.

        Many used to know Shaw, DC as a place that was mostly populated by people of color and as a central low income neighborhood with high crime, violence, and drug use. Around the 1960’s this was true, but the rates have gradually decreased. In 1969, the rate of violence was at its all-time high of 17,038 and in 2015, it dropped down to 1,269.1. The rate of burglary in 1969 was at 22,902 and in 2015, it was at 442.0. Overtime, after much renovation, Shaw DC has improved to become one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the district. Due to the gentrification of the area, Shaw is now a place consisting of trendy stores such as Chrome Industries and Warby Parker as well as residential buildings that have attracted many people of a higher class. Nothing says “privilege” like a new installation such as Warby Parker into the community. Despite these seemingly positive attributes, many may choose to believe that this new and improved design of Shaw, DC is pushing out its original members when in actuality, they’re attempting to do just the opposite. From the increase in cost on housing to the new expensive stores that have become a permanent addition to the area, we must not forget that a large portion of original members are of a lower class and cannot afford to live in such a prestigious place. The community is intent on inviting in higher class people, but also keeping the original members in by providing them with affordable housing. Along the same lines, the New Community Church also intends on remaining a place that allows for citizens of all class, race, and religion to participate and engage in the church’s inclusive environment.   

        In the presence of the new high-end buildings, it is important that the New Community Church live up to their accepting and inclusive values and present its exterior environment in such a way that invites passing civilians. For instance, at first glance, the church did not stand out to me among the rest of the surrounding non-gentrified buildings thus leading me to believe that it was meant to blend in with the old buildings. On the one hand, this might give people the sense that the church is very accepting and that there is not a certain standard that a person needs to meet to go inside. However, on the other hand, some may be led to assume that blending in with the other buildings is another way to regulate who goes in and out. In other words, the harder the navigation process is, the more likely people won’t feel as comfortable about entering a property that is somewhat hidden. Even though some could view it this way, I stand by my belief that the New Community Church is a welcoming space. The church does so much to make themselves an open, public space and their similarity to other buildings only furthers the physical reflection of their values.

        Similarly, a civilian in passing may think the short black gate surrounding the church appears to create a barrier between the community and the church itself. In her article “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler makes a claim about physical barriers, “And cities were constructed in ways – including by erecting physical barriers – that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (Schindler, 1942). In contrast to what others may think, the easily found walkway leading up to the main entrance is wide open allowing for any civilian to enter. It feels as if the people inside the church are welcoming you without having to vocalize it to you directly. Although my view on the values of acceptance have not changed, if the church is meant to be an inclusive “all may enter” setting, why must there be a gate at all? However, because the gate is low, I don’t believe it creates much of a barrier at all and the church remains an inviting space.

        There is a small concrete road for parking directly to the left of the church. There is a sign on the side of the short black gate that reads “Temporary Parking for NEW COMMUNITY ONLY”. Although to some believe this seems to be an exclusive, almost aggressive sign, due to its wording and capitalization individuals who view it need to remember the other factors of the church that create an accepting and welcoming environment. The church might have exclusive parking, but from a logical, different perspective, anyone in the community can park there if needed because the church itself is open to everyone. Another aspect of the church is their big open windows that allow anyone in passing to look inside thus feeling included long before they actual step foot inside. Many churches are big and may have small windows at the very top of the building. That type of structure is very closed off and gives the impression that they are exclusive. Open windows make the whole experience more engaging to the public.

        It is important for not only the exterior to reflect the values of the church, but the interior as well so upon entering, people can understand that the church is helping to keep original Shaw members within the community. In exploring the main floor and basement of the inviting New Community Church, I was surprised to find that the interior structure was equally as inviting as the exterior. Its informality and small size make for a comfortable, low-standard environment that anyone in the community could feel included in. Consider your basic town house and its structure: small rooms, a kitchen with appliances, everything in a fairly close proximity to each other, warm carpets, book shelves, and the list can go on. Now imagine exactly that, but instead of somebody’s home, it is a central place of worship, a church, and a very comfortable one at that.

        While the previously mentioned features bring out the comfortability in the church’s interior, it is also somewhat difficult to navigate because there are so many rooms with no signs, as a regular home would be like. From an opposing perspective, the navigational issues could be a sign that the church does not intend to allow people to feel comfortable enough to “make themselves at home.” Some may believe that the building was structured intentionally to confuse people upon stepping inside thus making them feel unwelcomed. To access the basement would be a challenge if someone wasn’t there to direct you there. (Luckily for me, there was a man there who showed me where the basement door was and even agreed to give me a tour.) Although the lay-out is a bit confusing, it does not take away from the overall feeling of inclusiveness and acceptance. The fact is, that there was somebody who worked at the church there to help me and guide me (a total stranger) in the right direction. If this doesn’t further one’s positive opinions on the church, who knows what will.

        The basement displayed a child-friendly environment. The colors of the walls were child-friendly (pink, blue, purple, yellow.) The basement had three different rooms: pottery room, coloring room, and the play room. The colored pencils, crayons, and dollhouse made the basement particularly on inviting to children to do arts and crafts. In addition to the way one could feel when entering the children’s area, the physical location of it indicates the current population make-up of people who now live in Shaw. As stated before, the basement was not in plain sight and perhaps not highly used. This could be because not many children come to live in Shaw, DC. According to the DCInno, there are a multitude of factors that make Shaw an unsuitable area to raise children such as its proximity to Howard University, lack of food markets, and presence of liquor stores. Due to these features, I strongly believe the majority of new people in the area are young people looking for temporary housing. Assuming there will be college students looking for parties, drunks at the liquor stores, and barely any food markets, it is not a suitable environment to raise children in. Consequently, there are not many new families, especially with children, so therefore the children’s area of the church was placed in the basement.

        The official website of the New Community Church, similar to the design of the exterior and interior of the building itself, radiates the same welcoming, inclusive features. These features include the accessibility of the site and its content, the type of imagery used, and the general layout. The New Community Church continued to use their original version of the site in the hopes of maintaining their inclusive, inviting image to people not only through the building’s structure, but on the internet as well. A number of methods have been used on other websites to keep people out, or give them a hard time navigating the site such as password protection, minimal contact information that is hard to find. The New Community Church uses those methods in the opposite way and to continue to promote their accepting values. For example, finding, accessing, and navigating the website and its content took a minimal amount of effort due to how easy it was to locate. I typed “New Community Church, Shaw DC” in the search bar and immediately the official website appears as the first result. Clicking the link brought me to a page introducing the church and their values and goals. Many other websites ask that you enter a username and password which inevitably causes the feeling of exclusiveness. The NCC website is simple and did not insist on either because they are open to the public and anyone who wants to get involved with the church. Photographs that were displayed under many of the different tabs were showing what looked to be happy, diverse (in age, gender, and race) people participating in the church’s activities. The photographs could draw people who visit the website in because they will be able to visualize themselves being within a community that radiates that same happiness and inclusivity that many people may be lacking throughout the gentrification of Shaw.

        While looking through the website gave me and presumably many lower class, people of color the sense of inclusion, others may have a different opinion. Some may assume that although the church’s website is easy to access and navigate, its simplicity is a negative feature. Having a simple website could mean there is less information provided to viewers thus leading some to believe that the church does not want certain information to be publicized. This statement, while it could be true, does not outweigh the other factors that play a role in the design of the site. I believe that the lay-out is simple, yes, but in an organized way displaying everything where it needs to be. The church’s website has provided me and most likely others, with the comfort that no matter what age, race, or who we are as people, we can be accepted by this organization.

        In short, within a neighborhood such as Shaw, undergoing gentrification, it is important for the physical attributes of a place of worship such as the New Community Church to reflect its values of acceptance and inclusion. Different perspectives of ways to interpret the physical design of the church were mentioned in the hopes of giving the reader a chance to consider a wide range of possibilities. After all was considered, one should be persuaded that the New Community Church is a welcoming and inclusive haven in a gentrified neighborhood.




Works Cited

“New Community Church.” New Community Church. Word Press, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Stein, Perry. “Is Pricey Shaw a Model for Retaining Affordability amid Regentrification?” The Washington Post. WP Company, 21 May 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Meyer, Eugene L. “Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood Is Remade for Young Urbanites.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Pyle, Sophie S. “The Pros and Cons of Living in Shaw and Bloomingdale.” DC Inno. DCInno, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Khalek, Rania. “DC’s Poorest Residents Fight Displacement by Gentrification.” Truthout. Truthout, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

“District of Columbia Crime Rates 1960 – 2015.” District of Columbia Crime Rates 1960 – 2015. N.p., 1997-2016. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Schwartzman, Paul, Abigail Hauslohner, and Scott Clement. “Poll: White Residents in D.C. Think Redevelopment Helps Them. Black Residents Don’t.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Cook, Claire. “ONE DC.” ONE DC. Organizing Neighborhood Equity, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

Zippel, Claire. “DC’s Housing Affordability Crisis, in 7 Charts.” DC’s Housing Affordability Crisis, in 7 Charts – Greater Greater Washington. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.


It is important that the New Community Church, a place of accepting and inclusive values, is a physically welcoming place in order to make everyone feel more integrated with a gentrifying community like Shaw, DC. This project describes the rhetorical way in which different groups of people view the gentrification of the Shaw area and how the physical attributes of the church contribute to the inclusiveness of the area. In writing my final analysis, I paid close attention to mainly the exterior and interior built environment as well as the digital aspect of the church (its official website). Due to their inviting features such as their open gate, homelike interior, and easy to navigate website, many people can agree that the church is a welcoming place. Although this may be true for some, everybody has different perspectives and opinions. The whole point of writing about my built environment rhetorically is to examine the different arguments people made that differed from the ones that I made. This gives the readers a conversation to read and a better understanding of why the topic being argued is important.


    1. New Community Church

    This source is the website of the church and it provides us with insight on the background of what is now the New Community Church and its current missions. The Church had previously been in the center of a neighborhood (Shaw, DC) that was besieged by crime, drugs, and poverty. The area and the church itself were in clear need of improvement. Today, although there is still much work to be done, the New Community Church has made a drastic improvement and the neighborhood of Shaw has become gentrified. It’s currently diverse in membership and located in a racially, culturally, and economically mixed area.

    Purpose #1:

    This source can be useful in describing what Shaw was like pre-gentrification. This will provide readers with insight on the huge difference there was between how things used to be and how they are now. There was a huge improvement and Shaw only continues to get better with time. I can go into depth about the crime rate, drug problem, and poverty among people.

    Purpose #2:

    For my digital description, I am able to draw conclusions about the inclusive personality of the church based on the open layout of their official website. I can analyze cover photo and the easy accessible descriptions under each category: History, Membership, Sunday Mornings, etc. The contact information at the bottom of each page implies communication is important to the church and they are open to hearing from new people. I can discuss the role of the photographs in their gallery and the professionalism of the website itself like how easy or hard it is to navigate.

    “New Community Church.” New Community Church. Word Press, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    2) U.S Census Bureau

    This is an important primary source that gives 2010 census data on the presence of different race and ethnicities existing in Shaw, Washington DC (where the New Community Church is located). The data shows the neighborhood is 48.8% Black, 30.7% White, 10.6% Hispanic, 7.1% Asian, 1.9% mixed, and 0.9% other.

    With these statistics, I will be able to make my argument about how the people living in the area has caused the New Community Church to have a very diverse group of original members. The As I learned through other sources listed, the church is place of acceptance and although Shaw, DC has been gentrified, the church remains the same in the hopes of keeping their original members integrated with their organization.

    “Race and Ethnicity in Shaw, Washington, District of Columbia (Neighborhood).” Race and Ethnicity in Shaw, Washington, District of Columbia (Neighborhood) – Statistical Atlas. Cedar Lake Ventures, 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    3) Washington Post

    Shaw used to be a lower-class and historically African American neighborhood. Shaw has been gentrified and is now one of the richest places in the district. The neighborhood wanted to keep its longtime residents and because of the upgrade, they needed to make housing more affordable. This allows people with low-income to also experience the gentrification by providing them with affordable housing and private rooms. Shaw strived for a neighborhood in which expensive and inexpensive housing can stand next to each other.

    Stein, Perry. “Is Pricey Shaw a Model for Retaining Affordability amid Regentrification?” The Washington Post. WP Company, 21 May 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.


    4) The New York Times – Shaw Neighborhood

    This article provides us with a clear idea of the ways in which Shaw has been gentrified and additions to the neighborhood that have helped it improve. The gentrified version of Shaw DC is a top notch neighborhood in DC despite their rocky past in the 1960’s. Now, Shaw is a stylish area, consisting of trendy stores such as Chrome Industries and Warby Parker as well as residential buildings that have attracted people of a higher class. In addition to all of the expensive, gentrified areas, the area offers affordable housing for longtime residents. “It’s bittersweet, because new is always good, but it’s hard to accept when you miss the old.” (Stephenson)

    I will use this source to support my statement that Shaw, DC is a gentrified area. The source describes so much modern, high-end aspects about the area and adding on this information will only further the reader’s understanding about the extent to which Shaw has been gentrified. In my BED, I talk about how the goal of the church was to maintain their old members and inviting features.

    Meyer, Eugene L. “Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood Is Remade for Young Urbanites.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    5) DCinno (pros and cons of living in shaw, dc)

    This site gives pros and cons about living in the Shaw/Bloomingdale neighborhood. For example, due to all the installations of new restaurants and shops, the area has become much more lively. Some of the cons are its close proximity to Howard University. College kids roam the area and parties until late hours in the day. This would not be a recommended place for individuals trying to raise a family. There two supermarkets in the area, but mostly the neighborhood is filled with liquor stores, art galleries etc. Nothing in the area exactly screams “child friendly.”

    With this insight on the area, I will be able to expand on describing the type of people living in Shaw. I am able to draw conclusions from these pros & cons and make assumptions such as that Shaw is not the ideal place that families raising children would pick over other neighborhoods. As a result of this, I can make further conclusions about the reason for the physical location of the children’s place in the church. Although the church is inclusive, I believe that the children’s area is placed in the basement in a somewhat hard to find spot because they know the majority of people living in Shaw are not children.

    Pyle, Sophie S. “The Pros and Cons of Living in Shaw and Bloomingdale.” DC Inno. DCInno, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    6) Truth-out (White population statistics)

    This website mainly discusses the Anacostia’s neighborhood, which is similar in many ways to Shaw. There is a section in this article that gives a specific statistic about the white population in the Shaw area and the large increase from 2001-2010. In 2001, 5.6% of the population was made up of white people and in 2010 the number increased to 32.8%. This rise made a huge difference in the neighborhood and contributes to the reason the area was gentrified. A man named Moulden argues that when the neighborhood was gentrified, the white population rose causing bike lanes to finally be installed in the area.

    My purpose for choosing this source, is because it gives me the exact statistic that I need to make a convincing claim about how much the white population grew. This will help the reader understand why one might conclude that as the years go by, that statistic will only continue to rise, thus seeming to push out the people of color in the neighborhood. Although Shaw provides their original members with some affordable housing, things are still not looking up for the lower class people that lived in the gentrifying area. It is likely that the

    Khalek, Rania. “DC’s Poorest Residents Fight Displacement by Gentrification.” Truthout. Truthout, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    7) District of Columbia Crime Rates

    This page is filled with public records and rates of crime and violence in the District of Columbia. Data is shown from 1960 (when crime rates were supposedly at their worst) -2015 (when crime rates have gotten better due to the gentrification of the area. In 1969, the rate of violence was at its all time high of 17,038 and in 2015, it dropped down to 1,269.1. The rate of burglary in 1969 was at 22,902 and in 2015, it was at 442.0.

    This data will serve as evidence proving how bad the area of Shaw was before it was gentrified. Using this data in my final project will further support my claim that Shaw has been gentrified and ever since, crime and violence rates have gone down drastically. Lower class people who feel that they are being pushed out of the neighborhood may argue that the increase in white residents as well as the gentrification of the area has not been beneficial. That is a biased opinion and the numbers I found are facts that cannot be argued with. The decrease in crime and violence is a good thing.

    “District of Columbia Crime Rates 1960 – 2015.” District of Columbia Crime Rates 1960 – 2015. N.p., 1997-2016. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    8) Poll: White residents in D.C. think redevelopment helps them. Black residents don’t.

    This article in the Washington Post displays the perfect conversation between people the two groups with contradicting views on the gentrification of Shaw. The majority of the white residents are happy about the new renovations. They have the right income to shop at the new stores and are able to afford the more expensive housing that was installed. The majority of the black residents are not thrilled with this change. They don’t have a high income and were used to paying a much lower price to have a roof over their head. Many quotes from each side are given in the text as well.

    This article could be beneficial to my project because it is able to give me a better idea of the way residents in Shaw feel about the improvements. I had a general idea, but this article provides quotes directly from the source of people that I am making assumptions about. Just because the area has become more high-end, does not mean the people living there were prepared for that adjustment. Adding in a few quotes from the lower class and the more upper class would be a great supporting factor in my essay. It will help better the reader’s understanding of how it affected everyone and why it is so important to have such a welcoming place like the New Community Church in the neighborhood.

    Schwartzman, Paul, Abigail Hauslohner, and Scott Clement. “Poll: White Residents in D.C. Think Redevelopment Helps Them. Black Residents Don’t.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    9) One DC

    This is the website of an organization called “One DC” that values the equality of all people living in the community of Shaw DC. “One DC” was created during 1997 in the midst of the progressive change occurring in the neighborhood. Although they’re keen on ensuring that people of color and lower income are properly accommodated for and are not forgotten about, their main goal is to teach them how to act as leaders who can speak for themselves. This will allow them to build up power in a place that in the progress of providing them with so little.

    The purpose of this website in my final project would be to give an example of a group of people who are making the effort to keep equality for all in the community. The lower class and people of color feel that they are being pushed out of the community due to the gentrification and increase in white residents. As seen through other sources, from the perspective of the POC, the improvements to the area are not a good thing in their eyes. It just means they are becoming more unable to afford basic necessities. I believe the “One DC” organization is glimpse of hope to them and keeps them feeling less displaced. I will connect the importance of groups like “One DC” to the importance of the church and displaying its values through its physical attributions.

    Cook, Claire. “ONE DC.” ONE DC. Organizing Neighborhood Equity, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.

    10) DC Housing Affordability Crisis

    This websites provides line graphs displaying the increase in population, demand for housing, expenses of housing. It is a summary of what has been happening in a more specific way. The first graph shows that the rise in population creates a rise in housing demand. The second graph shows how the housing supply stalled during the economic decline. This led to the price increase that I believe caused many people to feel displaced and “pushed out” of Shaw. They couldn’t afford it. The third graph follows in the previous graph displaying data showing that housing is becoming less affordable. Fourth graphs shows how affordable housing stock is declining. Fifth graph shows that although rent is increasing, many can’t afford it. Sixth graph shows “Rent in DC is rising faster than income, especially for lower-income and working-class renters.” The seventh graph shows “For the District’s lower-income and working-class renters, the rent is “too * high”

    Essentially, all of these graphs give me accurate, visible evidence that housing is becoming more scarce, the prices are going up, and people are unable to afford it because they aren’t making income fast enough. These graphs give me data to refer to when describing what was happening between different years and how it affected the people living in the area. This kind of data is not arguable because it shows facts.

    Zippel, Claire. “DC’s Housing Affordability Crisis, in 7 Charts.” DC’s Housing Affordability Crisis, in 7 Charts – Greater Greater Washington. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <>.


Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’

In “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’,” Emily Bazelon argues that in order to accommodate transgender people in public restrooms, it is important that society understands that their need to belong is just the same as everyone else’s. Furthermore, this analysis is going to address the ways in which transgender people are looked at by different types of people under the circumstance of sharing a restroom, as well as how transgender people feel about it.

        In school districts, what’s tough for non-transgender people to understand and accept, is the bathroom, shower, and locker room accommodations for transgenders. At a high school in Illinois, a transgender student asked to change in the girl’s locker room even though she was born with a male anatomy, therefore some may classify her as a male regardless of surgeries and hormone therapy. The district said no due to “privacy concerns.” After complaints were made, the district agreed to her changing with the other girls as long as there was a privacy curtain. Often times society is blind to the feelings and necessary accommodations of transgender people due to their concern for those who are not transgender, as Bazelon proves to us in the previous example. This is the reason some need to be enlightened on the opposite perspective which brings me to the following example provided in the article.

        An example of a circumstance in which non-transgender people, once again, continue to have trouble grasping the fact that trans people just want to fit in. A 12-year-old transgender girl wants badly to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance from the other girls in the locker rooms. It is not hard to understand that she would want to fit in because according to Bazelon, “for transgender girls, the locker room and the bathroom are about joining all-female enclave, about fitting in.” (Bazelon) The twelve-year-old girl doesn’t want to feel as if it’s privilege that she gets to change with her fellow female peers because it should be a right. This is the point Emily is trying to get across to us. Not accommodating for transgender people shouldn’t be an option, society needs to work towards having it be a right of way. It does not need involve big adjustments, it is just small ones “for the sake of coexistence.” (Bazelon) Although this perspective may be informative, it does not stop certain women from feeling uncomfortable with the idea of sharing such a personal, vulnerable, space with someone they see as a “male.”

        The purpose for this article is not only to enlighten people on the perspective of transgender people, but also to argue that their accommodations need to be a right of way, society needs to have a better understanding of transgender people’s place in all of this. Once non-transgender people are able to see the opposing side’s view, they will be more willing to make adjustments in order to coexist.