RA #4

In chapter 5 of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming argues that the North American suburbia is unable to function in the public sphere, as he describes its very form as unfavorable to public life.  He describes research conducted within the suburbs of Chicago, and notes that it was found to be remarkably safer. The research also demonstrated that children living in the suburbs would also be better educated and had higher rates of employment. However, Fleming notes that many studies conducted regarding the suburbs downplays many of the negative findings, which he describes in detail.  He cites Baltimore as an example, and writes that, “Rates of grade retention and placement in special education actually increased among the suburban moving children; and effects on older children were similarly mixed: suburban moving teenagers reported higher rates of grade retention expulsion, and dropping out than those who stayed in the city” (Fleming 116). Fleming furthers his point by referencing additional suburban studies that also offered mixed results.  For example, he mentions that though there was less physical violence taking place in the suburbs, there were nonetheless several instances of intimidating letters, racial epithets, vicious threats, car chases, name-calling, eviction petitions, and overall general verbal mistreatment.  Fleming also refers to the negative social interactions that were reported, such as suburban residents giving accounts of distant relationships and racially discriminatory social rejection.  He uses downplayed findings from research and studies and uses it to describe what he refers to as “silent racism.” Fleming notes prominent examples of silent racism as suburban parents refusing to allow their children play with children who had lived in public housing.  Additionally, accounts of mistreatment in suburban schools from peers and even teachers were detailed, including humiliation and isolation during lunch and on buses.  Overall, Fleming argues that the suburbs were created because groups wanted to decentralize themselves and get out of the city, but describes them as a “collective attempt to live a private life” and a “private corporation designed to protect property values and keep taxes in check.” (Fleming 119) He ends the chapter by suggesting we all return to the city.

Annotated Bibliography 3 and 4

Recovery Housing Efficacy: An Annotated Bibliography

Jason, Leonard A., et al. “Communal housing settings enhance substance abuse recovery.” American Journal of Public Health 96.10 (2006): 1727-1729.

This piece by Leonard A Jason and his associates outlines a study conducted within Oxford Houses to test their efficacy.  This study tracked 150 individuals who sought recovery in Oxford Houses, and predicted that those seeking treatment in this venue would return higher results than those seeking usual after-care services.  The article found that this was overwhelmingly true, and offers exact details and numbers as evidence of the effectiveness of the Oxford House model. This piece also offers a good description of Oxford Houses and suggests that potential next steps based on the results of this study.  Furthermore, this article is significant because it notes that the study described was financially supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The only potential drawback of this article is its length. Nonetheless, it still provides a great deal of information in a succinct fashion.  Overall, this piece will be very helpful when discussing the Oxford House operations, in describing exactly how it works and what it provides.  This article outlines statistically significant results of a well conducted study regarding Oxford Houses, which will truly be very useful for me.

 

Reif, Sharon, et al. “Recovery housing: assessing the evidence.” Psychiatric Services 65.3 (2014): 295-300.

This article is another piece that outlines a study conducted within Oxford Houses. Like the first article, this one also presents positive results from its study on Oxford Houses. However, this study’s results were far less statistically significant than the first one’s, likely due to the vastly different strategy used in this study.  This study was conducted by compiling a massive survey of many different vessels, such as databases, research reviews, and individual studies.

 

While this article did cite positive results of this study, it may be insubstantial as it concludes, “Recovery housing appears to be an important component in the continuum of care for some individuals. However, replication of study findings with greater specificity and in more settings is needed.” Regardless, these positive results are consistent with positives results found in other studies I have come across, so an additional source of positive findings can still be helpful.

 

Overall, this piece describes an exhaustive survey done to test the efficacy of Oxford Houses. It uses a unique search strategy that ends up yielding positive results for the program. The more studies and articles I can cite the better, so this will be very useful

 

RA #3

In chapter 4 of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming argues that the areas referred to as ghettos are used to segregate society and hamper the advancement of certain groups.  Fleming examines the ghetto of Chicago, from its inception until present day. He notes that the ghetto was not initially very large and racial tensions were not initially very strained.  He goes on to state that this all changed following the outbreak of World War I, and the Great Migration.  During this great migration, the black population of Chicago saw an increase of 148%. Fleming argues that this caused whites living in Chicago to grow nervous, and explains that these rising tensions are what lead to an increase in segregated schools, parks, beaches, playgrounds, and especially residential incursions. He continues by citing what is referred to as the “most potent weapon yet devised for defending the residential color line: racially restrictive real estate covenants.” (Fleming 71) Fleming notes that this tool is what created distinct borders for what would become future ghettos.  He goes on to describe multiple projects and efforts designed to reintegrate the community, and resulting riots and conflicts that arose.  He also explains the deterioration of the Chicago inner city that took place during the 1960’s by using various local factors, but cites racism  as the greatest overall factor.  Ultimately, Fleming’s main point is that “from a rhetorical perspective, the ghetto silences its inhabitants.” (90) He argues that this is designed intentionally keeps specific groups at bay, and depicts a terrifying portrait of how difficult life can be in these projects.

Commonplace #8

“Hackers threaten to wipe 200 million iCloud accounts unless Apple pays ransom” – title of a news story

The subject of this sentence is the ‘hackers’, and the main action verb they are performing is ‘threaten’.  However, the word threaten precedes the infinitive version of the verb to wipe.  The direct object of this sentence is the 200 million iCloud accounts.  There are two phrases connected by the subordinate conjunction unless, which is used to indicate that the subject (hackers) will only succeed in their plans if the phrase following the conjunction is completed.  In this case, Apple must pay a ransom in order to prevent these iCloud accounts from being wiped.  Writing this sentence in this way draws the attention of the reader by beginning with the prospect of a frightening cyber attack, followed by the demands made by the Turkish Crime Family.

 

Essay I

Oxford House, Inc: Analyzing The Form Of an Annual Report

In 2015, Oxford House, Inc. released an annual report commemorating 40 years as an organization, and providing a great deal of information about its organization, as well as its program.  One of this organization’s Oxford Houses is operational at 4312 Garrison Street, NW, Washington DC.  This specific location was featured in S Street Rising by Ruben Castaneda; it is where Theodore “Teddy” Fulwood lived upon his return from his one-year prison sentence for attempting to sell cocaine.  In this book, the author describes Oxford Houses as being “…similar to group homes, except everyone living in them is in recovery.  Housemates are expected to help one another stay sober and hold one another accountable” (Castaneda 98). This 2015 document provides in-depth details about the development, management, and sustenance of Oxford Houses.  The link to this report is at the center of the homepage for the Oxford House website. The website for Oxford House, Inc. can be found here, and the report this essay examines can be found here.  Specifically, this essay will be examining how and what one can glean about Oxford Houses, and their overarching corporation, from performing a rhetorical analysis on this report.  This report is a 32-page document, and features an exhaustive description of the organization.  It contains 11 separate sections that are listed in the table of contents on page 3, including “National Profile”, “Management Report”, “Meredith Vieira and Oxford House”, “Defining Recovery”, “How Oxford Houses Work”, “Scaling Up to Meet the Need”, “Contributions Support Expansion”, “The Oxford House Family”, “Self-reliance Chart”, “The 2015 Oxford House Convention”, and “FY2015 Financials”.  Therefore, an in depth look at this report can certainly reveal a tremendous amount of information regarding the topic.  Upon breaking down this text, one can take away a great deal of knowledge with respect to the targeted audience of this program, and about the purpose of this piece as well as the notion of Oxford Houses™ as a whole.

This report is the first thing I noticed when I visited the Oxford House website, so it is certainly something that the organization wants the visitors to be viewing.  This organization’s website is far from flashy, as it merely serves to provide information as to its purpose.  For the most part, calming colors such as blue and light grey are utilized throughout the page. Furthermore, pictures of what appear to be healthy Oxford homes, as well as a set of links to navigate the website, run along the top of the page.  The home page on this website also offers a brief description of this report, and encourages the audience to view it.  Just by seeing this, it is clear that this report commemorating 40 years of Oxford House, Inc. is very important to the organization, and is thus presented first and foremost on the website’s home page.

On the cover page of this report, the name of the organization, “Oxford House, Inc.” is printed at the top left corner of the page, below which it informs us that this is the annual report for the fiscal year of 2015.  At the center of the page, where the eyes are immediately drawn, it says ‘celebrating 40 years’ in large letters.  The number 40 is stylized in such a way that the characters are filled with pictures of various different Oxford Houses across the country.  The images of these houses are colorful and vibrant and elicit an uplifting feeling from the reader, as this is clearly the first thing the audience notices from this report.  At the bottom center of this cover page “Oxford House, Inc.” is printed in smaller type, followed by the address of its headquarters and a link to the organization’s main website.  This cover page serves as an excellent means of demonstrating the professionalism of this organization, which encourages the reader to continue through the report.

Immediately following the cover page are a page titled “About Oxford House, Inc.”, and then the table of contents for the report.  The 2nd page supplies the audience with a basic and comprehensive description of the program, as well as a list of the board members.  By including this, one can infer that this report is not solely aimed at those who already have an understanding of the organization.  Rather, however, this is more likely included because it is aiming to spread awareness for the organization, so that more people can learn about the many benefits it provides, the success it has enjoyed, and to hopefully earn the support and contributions of the audience.  Essentially, this report strives to boast the accomplishments of the organization and demonstrate how and why it has secured the achievements it describes.  This is also made clear under the “Management Report”, where the organization outlines its main focus as “expanding our program to provide more opportunities for individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction to achieve long-term sobriety without relapse and become fully integrated into the broader society” (p. 5). Thus, this report is another method used by the organization in attempt to expand the program.  In addition, it notes the steady growth of the program, and the recognition it has already earned.  On page 6, it provides a brief description of the financial arrangements, including that it is extremely cost efficient.  A pair of pie charts is incorporated as well to indicate with clarity the organization’s income and expenses of the fiscal year to which the report is referring.  This further explains its success, and it also informs us that more detailed financials can be found at the end of the report.  This is likely done because the target audience is not financial experts, but rather individuals who will be impressed by a concise account of the structure and outcome of the organization’s financial framework.

Additionally, a good portion of this report is dedicated to the work that talk show host Meredith Vieira has done with Oxford House, Inc. In this part, the report describes a “60 Minutes” broadcast on the organization, and all of the support that Vieira has provided.  This section of the report is used to demonstrate to readers that the program is indeed a big deal.  Meredith Vieira is a widely known figure, so readers who were initially unaware of this program will see the strong connection she has with it and will therefore be able to relate more keenly to it.  By situating the organization in pop culture in this way, the report is able to forge a new connection between the audience and Oxford House, Inc.  This new connection that the reader feels to the program will ultimately end up earning the support of said reader.

The report goes on to provide an extensive description of how these homes foster the recovery of their residents.  It describes the unique success that is seen in Oxford Houses by citing numerous statistics and commendations the program has received from highly esteemed individuals.  One statistic that stood out to me in particular came from a study conducted years ago by William Spillane, Ph.D of Catholic University.  This study found in mid-1987 that 80% of those who had stayed in Oxford Houses between 1975 and 1987 remained entirely sober.  Since this study was done, the efficacy of Oxford Houses has only improved, making this statistic all the more impressive.  In addition, one quote that stuck out to me came from the Editor of the Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery, Jeffrey Roth in 2010.  Roth wrote that, “While research on AA has been limited by the role of anonymity in recovery, the willingness of Oxford Houses to open their doors to academic research gives us an opportunity to see recovery from addiction in action” (p. 10) Empirical evidence such as statistics and quotes from respected figures is another excellent way for the organization to gain the support of readers.

After this, the report goes on to depict how exactly it is that Oxford Houses work, both logistically and developmentally.  The report describes what is known as The Oxford House Manual©, which has largely been the same since its conception in 1975.  It outlines the guidelines for living in the house, and the rules that residents must follow.  The precise methodology of this program that is explained here shows the reader how meticulous the organization is, and truly explains to the audience why the organization is so successful.  It also includes the organization’s ‘blueprint for success’, which basically sums up the essence of the manual. Once the report has thoroughly impressed the reader with statistics, quotes and ample details regarding its functionality, it notes the urgency for the development of more Oxford Houses.  It cites the recent opioid epidemic faced by the country, and explains what it takes for a house to begin operating.  By this point, the report has done an excellent job of showing the reader why the organization is so important. Thus, the next part is entitled “Contributions Support Expansion”, and shows where the organization gets a great deal of its support, and asks the audience for donations.  It notes that it is a non-profit corporation, and includes that donations can be made on its website, and provides the address to which contributions can be sent directly. The report then utilizes another excellent method of appealing to the reader, by providing numerous lengthy quotes from residents of Oxford Houses across the country.

Overall, this report is written in a way that ultimately aims to gain the support and contributions of the reader.  This is done by illustrating the many ways in which the organization has been successful, from including statistics, quotes and in depth descriptions. The report certainly grabbed my attention from the start, and held it by using these various devices.  The emotional appeal worked excellently here, and I am certain that it earned OHI a great deal of contributions from those who read it. When compared with annual reports of other related organizations (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous), this report largely seemed to depend on the same principles that guided the annual reports from these other entities.  Namely, this report relies heavily on the ethos aspect to draw in and impress its audience. Ultimately, this annual report depicts a very specific perception of Oxford House Inc., which was heavily influenced by its goal to demonstrate its efficacy and earn the support of its audience.  In this sense, it is no surprise that an organization founded on the notion of recovery and self help concentrated on applying the ethos mode of persuasion.

 

Works Cited:

Castaneda, Ruben. S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C. New York:    Bloomsbury USA, 2014. Print.

Oxford House, Inc., Annual Report FY 2015, Celebrating 40 Years

Commonplace #7

When Samuel Beckett writes, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” he is indirectly advising the reader to learn  from his or her mistakes. This is important because it is a valuable trait to able to continue to strive to succeed despite obstacles and setbacks, and improve oneself throughout an arduous process.  It is critical to note the simplistic structure of Beckett’s great quote, as it provides an easy to understand explanation of an excellent piece of advise.  In addition, this manor or writing is far from formal, so it stands out for its lack of compliance with proper sentence structure.  The use of the simple period (‘.’) as opposed to other forms of punctuation such as an exclamation point or question mark denotes the plainness with which this quote is composed.  A question mark would imply uncertainty, whereas an exclamation point would suggest excessive enthusiasm that is not intended with this quote.

 

“Robots are going to take our jobs and make us look like fools while doing it” – title of a Medium essay

The form of this sentence is very interesting and works well as an attention grabbing title to an essay.  In this sentence, the subject is ‘robots’, who – as the title informs us – are both ‘going to take our jobs and ‘make us look like fools.’   The robots are performing two main verbs here, the first being ‘going’ (which is followed by the infinitive verb ‘to take’), and the second being ‘make’. The last part of the sentence (the phrase ‘while doing it’) demonstrates the simultaneity of these two events, and thereby shows us a terrifying though intriguing prospect to any human reader.

Oxford House

This is the view of the front of the Oxford House.  It appeared dimly lit and almost as if it were uninhabited.  Across many of the windows there was cardboard and wood, and it was difficult to see much inside of the house.  The house itself stands out somewhat because it appears to be in slightly worse condition than the other suburban homes surrounding it.  From the front, it does not appear to be very large, but the house goes back a good amount, and the property goes surprisingly far back giving them a spacious backyard.

Oxford House

This is the view down the street of Garrison looking at Wisconsin Avenue from just in front of the Oxford House.  The classic enormous Tenleytown tower stands out from the view of the street.  The view of this brings to mind the proximity of the Oxford House to the heart of Tenleytown, which rests a mere 15 minute walk away.  Just out of frame to the right of this photo, and directly next to the Oxford House is the Tenley Study Center at 4300 Garrison Ave NW.  It is a beautiful old building that serves as an excellent spot to get work done, which is quite advantageous to have for the residents of the Oxford House to have so close.

Oxford House

Directly across the street from the Oxford House is a parking lot for a number of shops that are close by.  Right near the house are a gym, a Rodman’s, a dentistry, a bank, as well as a boutique.  Also located within a few blocks of the house is a real estate agency. Also surrounding the Oxford House are additional nice suburban homes, which all add to the nice atmosphere that hides this home well.  The proximity of these shops to this house is a great advantage for those who live there.

Oxford House

In this image, you can see just how far back the yard of the house extends.  Furthermore, you can see the driveway of the house that eventually leads up to where all of the (presently hidden) cars are parked.  This backyard has a lot to offer and is a surprise when you just see the house from the street.  The area is nice and this is clearly a very nice spot for the residents of the Oxford House to spend their free time, while at the same time being hidden from view.