Project: Mapping Commonplaces


Through the journey that guided me to this specific location, “Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant” on 1415 14th Street NW Washington, D.C. near Logan Circle, I was in search for something to differentiate, something that could allow a profound rhetorical analysis, a location that would stand out by itself and give another argument besides change, placement, and historical background. It was clear that what i was looking for was hidden within the new “14th Street”, I derived to this conclusion after a rhetorical analysis on an article published by,, a website dedicated to promote tourism and the service industry in Washington D.C.( ). There is a lot of talk about the new environment and crowd that was taking over this up and rising neighborhood. However, when I took it upon myself to discover and visit the different restaurants and bars mentioned in the article, I came to the conclusion that besides the many different variances in plates, drinks, menus, ambiences, and music all these new, hip, and “must go” places all felt much the same and part of a homogenous crowd that was succumbing to the pressures of Gentrification.


Nothing stood apart, at first I was thinking on basing my project on a new luxury apartment building erected in an unsure are of the city, or a public space that had demonstrated significant attention due to its change of scenery/purpose. As I looked for a place to eat around the neighborhood, and after being rejected by almost every restaurant recommended in the article, we decided to give the not to so flashy, “chic” place we had overlooked our first time walking by the restaurant. After having an enjoyable, welcoming, and delicious service at “Lalibela” for a very reasonable price it became evident to me that this was the perfect place. A mixed clientele of both, young-businessmen and women, and a strong presence of Ethiopian Immigrants, locals and what seemed to be regular clients of the the establishment.( Lalibela took me by surprise, as it thrived in the midst of strong change of crowed that might not be so to the liking of a cheap, traditional sit down restaurant, that is willing to try new foods, but are leveraged towards menu’s with fancy french dishes, fusion plates, and quite an abundant amount of different food reductions. This question kept lingering in my mind, and as I tried to justify the survival through its hosting of the Ethiopian community, it still came to my attention that the people now seen walking on 14th Street are highly educated and expect good quality for their hard earned money, along with the rising rent prices in the area promoted by luxury apartment complexes and pricey bars, restaurants, and shops ( So after arguing whether or not the secret to the restaurant success was the strong presence of ethiopian immigrants/descendants at the bar, i went into some deeper research about Ethiopians in D.C. to see whether they had something in common with the new faces showing up on the buzzling street.

To understand, the reason of Lalibela, goes beyond any attempt by the restaurant to fully stalk there bar, promote happy-hour, and promote exotic foreign food. The weapon, which I have come to learn the Ethiopians posses, is education, amongst many other events, programs, and circumstances that led them to gather in this specific location on the map, Education is the reason behind the restaurant’s survival in a neighborhood undergoing through gentrification. It would take an eternal research paper to conclude to the same idea, specifying how exactly this freak accident in the Street occurred, however to simplify matter I decided to present evidence and let the the viewer conclude by themselves, the circumstances of this unique spot in D.C., through the use of Images, recordings, bust most importantly with a Prezi. The prezi allows for the use of images along with small cuts of evidence supported through-out the website, with deeper research/description in each independent mater. The format in which the information is laid out allows for the viewer to play around the thought process that developed into further investigation which can derive to the same overall conclusion ( The presentation allows for a perfect demonstration of the journey I underwent, creating this project. Not so much a physical or cultural journey but an intellectual journey that led to further knowledge about a specific culture in D.C. that in other circumstances i would have never researched.
The opportunity to go out and analyze location in a different matter, in the rhetorical aspect that drives them, the rhetoric behind the settlement of new destinations, attractions, and housing. I would have never thought that sitting down at a restaurant, and simply questioning, “how is this misfit”, in its circumstances, “still alive in this area”, could lead me to a further understanding of a time when the city experienced a strong immigration from Ethiopia and other politically and economically troubled African states, that the circumstances, for which this place stands is a massive Ethiopian “Brain Drain”. Or getting to understand how education, gentrification, immigrant assimilation, physical-boundaries, and rhetorical arguments/displays can shape cities, neighborhoods, streets, and even a single restaurant. The multi-mode approach required for the project, pushed me to discover new ways to reach an audience, assimilate with a broader audience, and that the same conclusion can be derived independently if the information is presented in an efficient and manageable manner, such as the Prezi, for the viewer to go back and forth through evidence, digital images and recordings, even exploring through hyperlinks, where the audience can conduct their own investigation. The multi mode aspect gives means to start a conversation with the audience which is stronger and more assimilating to the viewer, differently than guiding a reader through an extended essay in which an established thesis or conclusion attempts to seal the lid of argument.

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