Reading Analysis #1

Jeremy Kramer

Reading Analysis 1

City of Rhetoric Chapter 9 Reading Analysis

In chapter nine of his book City of Rhetoric, David Fleming counters the idea which states that simply manipulating one’s surroundings is the only thing which is needed to change the way a city interacts with itself. Fleming says that while placing community services (such as schools, restaurants, and libraries) within walking distance is beneficial, what creates change is public spaces which allow people to come together as equals (p.197). However, this ideal city cannot just be created through a single set of criteria. Fleming argues, that instead, what is needed is an entirely new way of how we think about cities and how residents interact with each other.

        Fleming believes that the older way of thinking does not work. It fails to bring people together. A new way of thinking which promotes a “new public philosophy,” instead, is needed. “Public philosophy,” Fleming believes at its core, pays attention to “our plurality and our unity,” “our undeniable bonds and our inevitable conflicts” and allows people to appreciate “our commonalities even as we confront our differences.” Combined these core pillars come together to create a new city which is not only diverse but is so diverse that the mere idea of such a thing is utterly natural. (p.202)

        Fleming states the obstacles which hinder the general adoption of this ideal way of thinking are the result of three points. The first is that we need to stop placing social mobility over stability. Fleming believes, that while this way of thinking is good for economic, it is not suitable for creating an overall sense of community as it promotes a social detachment from the local community. The second point is that we must stop associating political position with self-interest, but instead political stance should represent a “large number of diverse people unified by a single commonality despite their differences.” (pg. 204). The final obstacle is that there lacks a language which deals with conflict but does not involve assimilation and separation “which privileged depth over mobility, and publicity over self-interest and conflict over harmony. (pg. 204).

        Finally, Fleming concludes that it is possible to overcome these obstacles. Specifically by starting at the school level, because according to him schools can produce a “great deal in democratic community-building” (pg. 206) which can give children a new way to view their community and change the overall rhetoric. These lessons teach via four distinct projects, each designed to tackle one of the four obstacles. The first is a memory; Before any change in their community or learn about the city’s present makeup, people must first learn about their past, this project focuses on teaching their past, and the past of their community. The second is mapping; By encouraging students to map their local communities, we are helping them to uncover what usually goes on unseen and then they can develop a hypothesis on it and account for what they see and hear. The third project deals with judgment.  In this project, students receive the ability to judge and debate real cases in the classroom, and then after doing so, they can create a collaborative judgment and then reflect on how they reached that point and their practices. Through this method, we are teaching our young generations/students how to have effective rhetoric. The final project which Fleming proposes involves design. Students should work together to discover problems and produce feasible, and creative solutions to them, which they then as a community would implement.

        In short, Fleming states that if one wishes to change a city for the better, they must change how people think, and to do that, one must start at the schools. Emphasizing the idea that students are the easiest to influence as their minds are still malleable they have not been exposed to other ways of thought and the public schools provide an excellent location to provide students the political skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary for this “new public philosophy”


Works Cited:

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany: SUNY, 2008. Print.

Built Environment exterior French Street

Jeremy Kramer

Built Environment Exterior


The first thing one sees when they approach French street are the colors. Vibrant, and unique each house is painted a different pallet. Although the houses are beautiful, an unknowing eye could easily miss the turbulent history of the location. French Street is located in the Washington DC neighborhood known as Shaw. Shaw, a historically black neighborhood was once known as the epicenter of African American culture in the United States during the turn of the century. But by the mid ‘80s Shaw was no longer the cultural capital it once was but a shadow of its former self. It had turned from an area known for its arts and music into an area known for crack, prostitution and burnt out buildings. Today, forty years later the area has greatly changed, many of the older buildings have been renovated and turned into luxury condos, only to be neighbored by empty foundations and oddly located parks- scars of the past standing as reminder that the area still hasn’t changed all that much from what it once was to what it is becoming.

At the end of the block sits a park, it isn’t that odd, parks are commonplace in Washington DC. However, what makes this park peculiar isn’t so much the place where it is located, but what it once was. This park was once the location of a row house, which capped off the end of the block. This house, which most likely burnt down during the riots following the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, is now the site of a park. The proof of what this park once was, is easily seen because the neighboring apartment just cuts off. Lacking any windows, the only thing looking over the park is a simple mural of flowers. A serine image for the turbulent past this block once held.

Going down the block from the park, you see that the change occurring in French Street hasn’t finished. Houses are still getting restored and re-painted, some are still gutted while others look as though they were just built. But this is only superficial; French Street still is recovering. For example, when I visited French Street a few weeks back, I wasn’t paying too much attention to where I was walking and I stepped on some glass which happened to be littering the sidewalk. At first, I thought that I had merely stepped on a broken beer bottle that someone had thrown there (French street is located right around the block from a small cluster of trendy bars so this was not a crazy idea), but as I look closer I realize that what I had, in fact, stepped on was automobile glass. The clear sign that some person had their car broken into fairly recently.

This shows the perfect dichotomy of this block, on one hand, you have young Yuppie couples walking their children down the street on a brisk fall evening, between well-manicured lawns and luxury automobiles, while on the other hand, you have a car being broken into and gutted buildings who haven’t seen a proper owner in at least 25 years let alone a proper coat of paint.

This dichotomy is only a short lived phenomenon. As more wealthy residents move in and push out the older inhabits, these empty lots and decrepit homes will become luxury condos and dog parks. Despite all the renovation which has and will occur, it can never cover up the past, as it the rhetoric of the city is seared into the block.

Commonplace 2

The Problem with an Operationally Nuclear North Korea by: Gregory J. Moore:

Miss Sasaki went back to her office and sat down at her desk. She was quite far from the windows, which were off to her left, and behind her were a couple of tall bookcases containing all the books of the factory library, which the personnel department had organized. She settled herself at her desk, put some things in a drawer, and shifted papers. She though that before she began to make entries in her lists of new employees, discharges, and departures for the Army, she would chat for a moment with the girl at her right. Just as she turned her head away from the windows, the room was filled with a blinding light. She was paralyzed by fear, fixed still in her chair for a long moment…Everything fell, and Miss Sasaki lost consciousness. The ceiling dropped suddenly and the wooden floor above collapsed in splinters and the people up there came down and the roof above them gave way; but principally and first of all, the bookcases right behind her swooped forward and the contents threw her down, with her left leg horrible twisted and breaking underneath her. There, in the tin factor, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

They say I say: This passage reflects Graff’s they say I say because Moore is using Miss Sasaki’s firsthand experience to show the power of nuclear weapons on a human scale.



The Harlem Renaissance by: Marie E. Rodgers

In 1919, soldiers returned home from the Great War, World War 1. Many Black and White Veterans became disillusioned by the lack of economic opportunity. However, unrest had been brewing among African American soldiers even before then.

They say I say: This passage reflects Graff’s they say I say because Rodgers uses the African American experience post-war to show how other people reacted before Rodgers goes into the history of the Harlem Renaissance.

Commonplace 4

This sign, which is located in front of a number of bathrooms on AUs campus, begin by stating what its purpose it exactly, that being an indicator that the bathroom it marks is gender inclusive. It explains in few short and concise words, what its purpose is and why it is important that it exists in the first place. The sign concludes with presenting a possible solution which might help all people relieve themselves of potential uneasiness which they might feel from using such a designated (or undesignated) spot.

What I find peculiar is that if t offers the solution to just lock the doors. I find this particularity odd is that why would a common action for anyone using the bathroom (i.e.: locking the door after they enter), be considered the best course of action? Why was this considered the best course as opposed to potentially many others?commonplace_book_assignment_1024-225x300