Author: fs2051a

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.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Chacko, Elizabeth. “Identity And Assimilation Among Young Ethiopian Immigrants In Metropolitan Washington*.” Geographical Review, vol. 93, no. 4, 2010, pp. 491-506.,


Elizabeth Chacko, published in 2005 a study examining the effects and specifics of second generation African Immigrants in the United States, focusing on Ethiopians (Chacko pp.491). In the article, “Identity and Assimilation Among Young Ethiopian  Immigrants in Metropolitan Washington”, Chacko looks to identify the differences among second generation Ethiopians that migrated to the U.S. before the age of 12, born in the U.S., or at least have on parent that immigrated to the U.S. (Chacko pp.491-492). Washington D.C. holds 22 percent of the Ethiopian immigrants in the United States, of which the majority migrated during the 80’s and 90’s before Ethiopia experienced a military coup by the Democratic Party established in Ethiopia and who took over in 1991 (Chacko pp.491). The author goes in depth describing what takes for an immigrant to attain success in the united states to which, “the ability to identify with and feel at home in the host society has long been considered a necessary ingredient for immigrant success (Chacko pp.493). The article explains the history of African Immigrants, and the distribution of such in the Washington Metropolitan area of D.C. Maryland, Virginia, and its surrounding areas.

Understanding the displacement of the Ethiopian community and its history of migration not only to the United States but to its capital city specifically. This article explains how african immigrants successfully established themselves in the late decades of the 20th century, which is important to understand the 1st and second generations of Ethiopians that gather at “Lalibela” restaurant regularly. The following article can be helpful to understand why and where african immigrants decided to settle where they settled. It also brings to light the different nationalities that also sent many refugees and immigrants to the United States like Eritrea. The history behind the displacement and mobilization of African Immigrants in the United States, is important because it brings up questions to why different nationalities settled in different cities, states, and locations across the U.S. The article by Chacko helps the reader understand that besides migration caused through word of mouth, there are other factors that determine where a specific nationality of refugees or immigrants settle, environment, feeling of home, and welcomeness buy the local population are all factors to which affect the settlements of many immigrants. Having knowledge of how settlements arise, this article may help explaining why the specific location of Lalibela, has provided good grounds for its long time success, popularity, and respect in the neighborhood.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Shinn, David H. “Ethiopia: The ‘ Exit Generation’ and Future Leaders.” International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 1 July 2003, pp. 21-32. JSTOR Accessesed 27 Apr. 2017.


In, “Ethiopia: The “Exit Generation” and Future Leaders” by David H Shinn argues a concluded study understanding the increase in Ethiopia’s brain drain to more developed countries, such as the United States, and Western European Nations. The article states that since the Derg Government, which was toppled in 1991, Ethiopians with higher levels of education such as secondary college education tended to leave the country in search for better opportunities elsewhere (Shinn pp.21). “This analysis looks at the impact of the Brain Drain, key demographic data, the importance of democratization, and several economic and social issues that will help determine Ethiopia’s future” (Shinn pp.22). One of the main factors in establishing the future leaders of the country is the effects of the national Brain Drain, how highly educated individuals that leave the country leave for less educated and violent leaders to rise up to power. The article was first published in 2003, providing a more in depth understanding of how the strong immigration of Ethiopian nationals to the western developed world has had negative effects and stagnated development for the country.

This journal article is very useful for my research, specifically with understanding the culture and history of what pushed the strong presence of Ethiopian communities in D.C. To further understand the culture and the initial causes of the creation of the small restaurant, “Lalibela” is safe to assume to share a similar history to the one studied in this article. Through political influence, and limited opportunities the analysis within the article makes sure to explain why ethiopian immigrants tend to be highly educated and close knit communities. This is key when describing and understand a local ethnic place in the heart of Washington D.C. The same culture that is being kept alive today at this small restaurant, and in one of the new up-coming neighborhoods of the city has definitely been affected by the Brain Drain described by Shinn. When i first was attended by the owner at Lalibela i noticed the highly mannered and educated man that was not only our waiter but the owner of the restaurant. It is not hard to notice that the level of education and reason held by the owner of the small local restaurant is not of a common individual but a man of higher secondary education. Perhaps this small Ethiopian corner in 14th st D.C. is a haven to those who took education to its last level in their country but were forced, because of political instability and corruption to seek opportunities in the other side of the world.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. F., Farah, et al. “Lalibela Restaurant – Logan Circle – Washington, DC.” Yelp, Yelp, 14 Apr. 2017, Accessed 27 Apr. 2017


“My favorite Ethiopian restaurant that had great food and staff…” is the last review that was given to “lalibela” Ethiopian restaurant on the Yelp app. Out of 215 reviews Lalibela has earned itself a 3.5 star rating. The list of weekly opening hours, menu, customer, review, location, and overall experiences are all laid out in one simple page. Yelp, aims to make the best user based rating app on restaurants, shops, and most of the cities service industry not only in DC but in many cities around the world. Many tourists, locals, and experienced reviewers can all come together and give an over ruling rating on a specific location like Lalibela. The ratings aim to provide potential customers on giving them nearby locations and destinations, Yelp looks to inform its user as much as it can about its surroundings so that the user can take a conscious decision on where to spend their money and cast their dollar vote.

The following resource is helpful when looking to understand the overall people consensus about a specific place, more common to restaurants and shops. The availability for a fast and easy rating on a location makes it easy for a regular consumer to make the decision whether to visit the place or not. Being able to attain an overall understanding and rating by a destinations typical consumer or client allows for more informed consumers. This site helps us understand the specific location, in this case Lalibela’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Besides professional and academic methods of analyzing a complex local system Yelp allows consumers to take a more casual, quick, and less in depth understanding about the service a place is offering, how well it offers it, and how they are doing compared to nearby competition. Magazine articles can be biased and over all studies of a location creates and displays averages which are more like trends, Yelp is a fast and reliable source to rely one when wanting to understand the true workings and services of a specific location, like a restaurant. Having a simple 5 star rating system allows for simple reviews that are created by regular people, so it provides good evidence for when understanding what is said about a location outside the professional and experienced sectors of advertisement and reviews. Anyone can rate a place with Yelp which makes it a useful tool to understand what people are noticing when visiting the site.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Friedman, Samantha, et al. “Race, Immigrants, And Residence: A new Racial Geography of Washington, D.c.*.” Geographical Review, vol. 95, no. 2, 2010, pp. 210-230. JSTOR [JSTOR].

In an article published by the American Geographical Society, Samantha Friedman, Audrey Singer, Marie Price and Ivan Cheung demonstrate that since the 1980’s Washington D.C.’s racial geography has changed and settled immigrants in a very unique manner unlike other close cities like NY. The article is trying to examine how gentrification has affected independent races as immigrants, and how it affected the local minorities. The authors seek to explain further cases of, “if, for example, immigrant newcomers of African origin exhibit the same residential patterns as do Asian and European newcomers, it may be the case that African immigrants are being treated more equally by whites that are their African American counterparts” (p.215). The authors demonstrate with detail the specifics of races, religions, and nationalities (“24 percent are from Ethiopia and 14 percent are from Nigeria…)  of the immigrants that entered the city of Washington, D.C. The city tends to push its immigrants to the suburbs. Unlike other major cities like Chicago, that inhabit their less fortunate and minorities at city centers.


The specific evidence and information provided within the article that describe and map the immigrant placement and movement, between the 1980’s – 2005, within and in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Focusing on 14th Street for my research this resource can be helpful in order to explain the vast amount of cultures, races, and nationalities that collide at the busy street. Furthermore the specifics of Ethiopian Immigrants, and their increasing migration to the city, can be better explained with the previous history of how this culture has set its foot mark not only in Washington D.C., but more specifically, at the corner of 14th Street and Rhode Island, “Lalibela: Ethiopian Restaurant”. Which is truly more like a gathering point for the Ethiopian community of the city, the place felt homey and the owner, which was waiting tables, seemed very local and at home, not like a typical immigrant. The resource explains the constant relocation that is caused through gentrification or immigration to the city, helpful to understand all aspect of the culture and historic culture that is kept at 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 

Common Place Book

As i was walking through 14th Street and its surroundings its impossible not to notice the amount of homes for sale, new apartment complexes, and the vast amount of different realty companies. This is an example of what new industry is picking up the neighborhood. A new economy built on service and real estate, 14th Street is sure to keep up its pull on the young  and successful individuals. The aim to gentrify the area is clearer than ever with realty advertising “Luxurious” and “Fine” properties for sale in the “new” 14th St.

Built Environment Description 6 “Interior & Cultural”

“Lalibela” Ethiopian Restaurant

14th Street NW has become a hot spot for new Chic and expensive restaurants. As i was walking down 14th Street at its intersection with Rhode Island Ave. I came across the one and only place that wasn’t closed, or at least that I could find serving,  between the hours of 3:00pm and 4:00pm. Not only was it an hour wait, having arrived at Le Diplomat at 3:15pm, until 4:00pm for the happy hour to start, but they wouldn’t serve food until 5:00pm. My growling stomach overpowered m

“Mixture dish for two, combination of: lamb, poultry, vegetables, beef, chicken, and quail eggs.”

y greed for high priced dishes. “Lalibela” sketch me out the first time i walked by and read the menu. However, out of desperation, we gave it a shot.

We walked into a beautiful aroma of spices and a 14th Street scene unknown to my previous experiences. This was a popular spot for local Ethiopians, specifically what we witnessed was a large group of Ethiopian men watching the Champions League game. I started to think about the restaurant’s surroundings, how the street was changing, and how this would affect these local Ethiopians that seemed like blue collar, hard working, normal men. It got me thinking about how the clear push for renovation and gentrification taking over the neighborhood, was going to affect these happy and welcoming local Ethiopian community. 

The meal was wonderful and the change of dishes was a unique experience unexpected after searching in restaurant like, “Black Whiskey” and “Le Diplomat. Not only was the service available, welcoming, fast, and professional but incredibly cheap considering that I later progressed to a near by bar that two draft pints came close to matching my filling and delicious meal. “Lalibela” truly feels like entering a small corner restaurant/bar in Ethiopia, rare to the new boom in high end dinning to the Street.


Built Environment Description 5

Walking around 14th Street NW and the neighborhood that surrounds it, its impossible to notice the amount of expensive-furniture stores, antique boutiques, flees market style shops, and the loads of trucks related to flooring companies, tile suppliers, and U-hauls. There is a clear movement on refurbishing and modernizing the city, for the more wealthier classes. The furniture stores I entered has sofas of up to $5,000, made by Italian Designers. Not your usual “Bob’s Furniture”; there is clearly a specific crowd being targeted and the consumer seems to be hip, modern, but most of all willing to spend big bucks.

Annotated Bibliography 1

  1. Schindler, S. (2015). Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. The Yale Law Journal, 124(1934), 2015th ser.


Comment: Sarah Schindler does a great job describing how architecture both unconsciously and consciously creates social and economic discrimination. For example she states that in Atlanta, “the lack of public-transit connections to areas North of the city makes it difficult for those who rely on transit – primarily the poor and people of color – to access job opportunities located in those suburbs”. Understanding how our built environment affects our social interactions and how it creates burrows of different races and economic conditions is the focus of Schindler’s journal. She stresses that from original plans, “cities were constructed in ways – including by erecting physical barriers – that made it very difficult for people to get from one side of town to access the other”.

This journal is important because it helps us understand how humans unconsciously/consciously build or play with housing market prices to discriminate social classes. Is it embezzled in our nature to create physical barriers to surround ourselves by people of our same social class and race? Sarah Schindler’s article is useful for my research because it explains how the actual physical barriers and distinctive locations are built and why. This helps explain the process of change through the years in , “14th and Ust. NW, Washington, D.C.” because using another city we can apply the same form of thought to this specific location. This article will help tie in all other resources that mention new restaurants or new meeting centers, from a bar, to a government building or apartment complex, schindler helps us understand the physical environment of any site.