Mapping Commonplaces: My Journey to Gonzaga College High School

On the first day of class when my professor explained we were going to create our own website, centered around a location in Washington, D.C., with menu bars, embedded maps, annotated bibliographies, digital archives and more, I never thought it was possible. Quite frankly, when my professor started to throw out words such as rhetoric, topoi and commonplace, it all sounded like a foreign language to me. Now, four months later here we are! I have my own webspace available for anyone to see. It is something that is associated with my identity.

It all starts with my Complex Local System (CLS). Gonzaga College High School presents this principle dichotomy of the wealth and race disparity in Washington, D.C. Gonzaga College High School is located in the Swampoodle neighborhood, now rebranded as NoMa. In recent years, there has been massive new development, which, in turn, has shifted relationships between the location and the people who inhabit the area.

For the final project, in which we had to deeply, rhetorically analyze our CLS via associative ways of research, I thought it was necessary to take a look around the larger area. Gonzaga College High School is located just down the road from Union Station. Union Station is particularly interesting because it is a crossroads for interstate travel via Amtrak or busses, and there are a variety of stores and restaurants within the building. Being that it’s so close to Gonzaga College High School many students take the Metro to and from school. Also in the neighborhood is Central Union Mission, a men’s homeless shelter, which incorporates religion and God to uplift those in need. Located at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, it is extremely close to the back entrance of Gonzaga College High School. In addition to Central Union Mission, a new mixed-use commercial and residential development is situated on H Street NW overlooking the multi-use sports field. Each location contributes something unique to the community to build upon a larger idea of unified places.

By getting the perspective of all different types of people who inhabit the area, including the homeless, workers and donors at the homeless shelter, shoppers and residents of the new development, and alumni and current students of Gonzaga College High School, I was able to better understand how they influence each other. I asked participants questions and compiled them into a documentary titled “My Journey to Gonzaga College High School.” In the documentary, I begin my trip at Union Station, travel down Massachusetts Ave. to H St., then make my way to Gonzaga College High School, up North Capitol St. and close it out by getting on the Metrorail to head back to American University.

A lot of my final observations can be connected to those of Derek Hyra’s, professor at American University and author of Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City. In his book, Hyra analogized the shifting dynamics in Washington, D.C. to a cappuccino. The white millennial are the milk and when the foam gets poured on top and spills over, it’s just like the people that have been displaced from the neighborhood. This is the case with 77H apartments just next to Gonzaga College High School. When I interviewed Wissam Itani, a resident at 77H luxury apartments, he mentioned that over time he’s noticed “a greater police presence slowly cleaning out the homeless.” In connection to Central Union Mission, the shelter was originally located on 14th and R Street, but was forced to move to a new location on Massachusetts Ave. When I interviewed Charles Purcell III, a homeless man outside of Union Station, he discussed the possibility of knocking down a shelter in the area to build a new high-rise apartment building. Sadly, this is exactly what Hyra described: where the excess is spilled over and forced to find a new home. It was particularly interesting to hear from Candice Santomauro that she was aware of the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty. She said when “leaving the shopping center coming to grab my $5 coffee, I passed a bunch of homeless people on the way.” Everyone in the community is aware of the changes, but some, such as the homeless in the area, now have to fear that their shelter may move again.

Through this process of interviewing and exploring the area around my CLS, I was able to develop critical thinking and work through the rhetorical situation regarding Gonzaga College High School and its location. Lastly, I want to end with the words of Ibe Crawley, a donor at Central Union Mission. When I asked how she felt about the changes in the city, she responded, “I am grateful for all of the changes that have occurred. Where there are people and where there are buildings we come together and we work together to make this a city where everyone is welcomed, can feel comfortable and can live together.”

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy the documentary!

Continue Reading

Gonzaga College High School from H Street NW (Exterior/Political #5)

(Photo by Justin Maron)

This is a picture of an open parking lot located on H Street NW. To the left of the parking lot is the new development with Walmart, Starbucks, Capital One Bank and luxury rental apartments. To the right is 800 N. Capitol Street home to Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). In the distance of the photo is Gonzaga College High School. Each time I’ve visited, this parking lot has been roped off with no cars. I wanted to include this picture since it shows the new construction on the left with Gonzaga’s old, historic buildings in the background, contrasting with the run-down parking lot in the foreground.

Continue Reading

Looking Out on Collins Courtyard (Exterior/Political #4)

(Photo taken by Justin Maron)

While in the library I made my way over to a window facing the Collins Courtyard. Before I continue, take a look at this map to get a feel for the location. Collins Courtyard is an open air brick space in the center of campus. It is located in between Ruesch/Cantwell Halls and the main buildings which are internconnected. As you can see in the picture, there are large trees and plants which take away from the city-feel. While I was visiting there were some students in the courtyard doing work and others were simply chatting. In the distance of the photo there are taller buildings on North Capitol St. Interestingly, Ruesch/Cantwell Halls are only two stories high. There is an old story at Gonzaga that when you are in the center of Collins Courtyard and clap your hands, you hear a faint squeaking noise. Some people say its due to sound waves, global warming, pesticides, Megabus parking lot nearby and even moles. However, nothing has been proven. Simply, the Gonzaga students perpetuate this old myth for fun. Check out this funny article on page 3 of the school newspaper here.

 

Continue Reading

The “G” Outside of Dooley Hall (Exterior/Political #3)

(Photo taken by Justin Maron)

Going off of the previous picture titled “Finally Past the Gates,” which could be found here, I continued to walk along the brick pathway. Just outside of Dooley Hall, I came across a huge letter “G” surrounded by bricks in a circular pattern. In order to get a feel for the location on campus, take a look at this map. The location of the “G” is particularly interesting because Dooley Hall is a very important building. It is the main entrance to the school, has all of the administrative offices, but most of all, the chapel. From an outsider the “G” is definitely overwhelming and large. It is seemingly impossible to miss this huge “G” when you visit Gonzaga College High School.

Continue Reading

Finally Past the Gates (Exterior/Political #2)

(Photo taken by Justin Maron)

I was finally able to get passed the gates during my most recent visit! My two prior trips to Gonzaga were on the weekend and there weren’t many people around. This time, I decided to visit during the week. This picture was taken just passed the large black gates which you can check out here. I spoke with a parent waiting to pick up their child on the other side of this walkway. Interestingly, she told me that this used to be a road open to the public which connected I Street. Recently, Gonzaga installed the black gates and added fancy brick pavers. Now, people are forced to drive around Gonzaga’s campus. While it keeps the campus safe and looks nice, it is definitely a burden for those that have to go from N. Capitol Street to 1st Street.

Continue Reading

Annotated Bibliographies 7 & 8

Cohn, V. “D.C. Gap in Wealth Growing; Uneducated Suffer most, Study Shows.” The Washington Post, Jul 22, 2004, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In The Washington Post article titled “D.C. Gap in Wealth Growing; Uneducated Suffer most, Study Shows,” author V. Cohn addresses the increasing wealth disparity between the rich and poor in Washington, D.C. Cohn begins by stating, “the gap has grown more here [Washington D.C.] than in most places.” Next, Cohn goes on to inform the reader about a recently published study by by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. The study shows, “the top 20 percent of the city’s households have 31 times the average income of the 20 percent at the bottom. The gap in the District is fed by extremes at both ends: The poor have less average income than in most of the country’s 40 largest cities, and the rich have more.” This issue presents a striking contrast between two social classes. Washington, D.C. is a particularly interesting case since in recent years, “the poor have gotten poorer and the rich have gotten richer,” says Stephen Fuller, a regional economist at George Mason University in Fairfax. Next, Cohn incorporates Tony Bullock’s opinion. Bullock is a spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams. According to Bullock, “the gap is the product of complex forces, including poor city services and poor schooling, that have persisted for decades and cannot be fixed overnight.” It is very smart of Cohn to include Bullocks perspective, since it adds validity to his arguments. Politicians typically only discuss topics of importance which shows this issue is no joke. Cohn concludes the article by discussing a new bill to increase the minimum wage and gives his input that the government should focus their efforts on education and proper training for employees.

In Conversation

This article is crucial to my final project since it is all about the wealth disparity in Washington, D.C. The main goal of my project is to address the poor-rich dichotomy in the area around Gonzaga College High School. On one hand, there are ultra-luxurious apartments, but on the other hand, there are homeless shelters right across the street.

 

Brown, Emma. “Jesuit Priest Led Gonzaga College High for 16 Years.” The Washington Post, Oct 30, 2010, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In The Washington Post article titled “Jesuit Priest Led Gonzaga College High for 16 Years,” written by Emma Brown, she discusses the death of Rev. Allen P. Novotny and the way in which the Gonzaga College High School community united. Rev. Allen P. Novotny was a Jesuit priest who overlooked a huge fundraising campaign and renovation at Gonzaga College High School. Brown begins the article by providing some background information. She explains, “Father Novotny arrived in 1994 at Gonzaga, a private Catholic high school that was founded in 1821 and has been at its current location at I and North Capitol St. since 1871.” Next, Brown goes on to address the enormous impact Rev. Allen P. Novotny had on the community while president. His most prominent accomplishment was raising over $30 million to renovate Gonzaga. After this, Brown inserts a quote from Stuart Long, a graduate from the class of 1960. Long remembers Rev. Allen P. Novotny and says, “He was a priest with an MBA, so he had a good handle on the business realities of life…he knew that the future of Gonzaga depended on it getting a much better physical plant.” Finally, Brown concludes the article by incorporating some politics. She writes, “when Martin O’Malley was inaugurated four years ago as Maryland governor, he invited the priest to officiate at a prayer breakfast preceding the ceremony.” Most people are familiar with Martin O’Malley, so bringing him into the article helps the reader make connections.

In Conversation

Part of my documentary, I want to interview an alumni from Gonzaga College High School to hear about their overall experience and what they did with the surrounding community. I will use the article to craft questions for alumni. I am interested if any of the students I encounter have ever met Rev. Allen P. Novotny or heard stories about him. If so, I will compare the facts in the article to what the students know or feel about the past president of their school.

Continue Reading

Our Time for Change…Look Around You

Reading Analysis 5

In David Fleming’s final chapter of City of Rhetoric, he summarizes the main points made throughout the book, and argues that the only way to overcome adversity within cities is to find a new interest and work as one unit. Furthermore, Fleming suggests “to bring us closer physically and discursively, we will need to devote ourselves much more vigorously to building healthy, strong, diverse publics”(214). Therefore, from this we can see that Fleming still has hope for unified places in which all people work towards building a strong community. More specifically, Fleming brings this concept up by preaching “we need to learn a language of civic life…conflict over harmony”(205).

Fleming begins the final chapter titled “City of Rhetoric” by outlining what exactly a conclusion should do. Fleming says that conclusions “should leave us in an attitude of profound humility toward the built world”(195). Therefore, in this chapter, Fleming aims to tie all of the pieces of his book together and leave the reader with a final closing idea. For Fleming, this broad, conclusory idea is that “we need new designs and policies that bring us together without assimilating us together”(203). In other words, re-shaping society to be more inclusive and welcoming is not easy, however, with new legislation and a common goal it is possible. In addition, Fleming points out that it is crucial to not lose our unique characteristics, but rather join them together; cohabit.

To close out his book, City of Rhetoric, David Fleming leaves readers with complete optimism that united places are possible. In his final words he asks the reader to consider a few questions. These include: “What lessons do we learn from our cities today? Can they be refashioned to impart better lessons to our children and our children’s children? Now, as citizens in a complex society it is our duty to think about these things. Take a look around you.

Continue Reading

Annotated Bibliographies 5 & 6

Lazo, Luz. “As Metro Struggles, Capital Bikeshare Takes Bigger Role in Region’s Transit Network.” ProQuest Central, Nov 12, 2016, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In The Washington Post article titled “As Metro Struggles, Capital Bikeshare Takes Bigger Role in Region’s Transit Network,” written by Luz Lazo, she addresses the increased use of Capital Bikeshare as the Metro is becoming more and more unreliable. Lazo begins the article by quoting Allie Toomey, a resident of Pentagon City. Toomey particularly likes Capital Bikeshare over the Metro because, “It is a lot less hassle…I am in control of my commute. There is no traffic and no major incidents…you never know with Metro anymore.” It is very smart of Lazo to include this quote right off the bat because it proves this is a significant issue. Next, Lazo goes on to discuss Metro’s year-long maintenance program and its implications. These include single-tracking, partial shutdowns and massive delays. To validate her argument even further, Lazo quotes Jim Sebastian, a Washington D.C. transportation planner. Sebastian states that “People are discovering these other modes besides Metrorail during SafeTrack, and Capital Bikeshare is one of them.” After, Lazo pulls out numbers to back up her point. In line with the rapid growth Lazo previously described, she says, “Capital Bikeshare has expanded from the original 114 stations six years ago to 426 this month. Membership in the past two years has grown to 31,600 from 24,000. This month, the system reached nearly 15 million trips.” The statistics emphasize Lazos main argument and is proof. Lastly, the article concludes with another quote from Toomey proving how much easier Capital Bikeshare really is. Toomey says, “You can just grab a bike and drop it off somewhere. I don’t have to worry about storing a bike or having a bike stolen.” Putting this quote at the end of the article reinforces Lazo’s main intention: educate the reader on the increased use of Capital Bikeshare.

In Conversation

This article can be useful for my project since there is a Capital Bikeshare docking station right near Gonzaga College High School. When I interview students at Gonzaga College High School, I plan to ask them how they get to and from school everyday. I am curious if they ever use Capital Bikeshare as it is very close to their school. Also, I want to observe the Capital Bikeshare docking station near Gonzaga to find out what type of people are renting bikes from that location.

Djurdjic, Milena. “Washington DC Facing Family Homelessness Crisis.” Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc, Lanham, 2013, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In The Federal Information & News Dispatch Inc. (VOA News) article titled “Washington DC Facing Family Homelessness Crisis,” written by Milena Djurdic, she addresses the increase of homeless families in Washington, D.C. Djurdic begins the article by stating that “more than a thousand families are homeless, including at least 1,800 children, a number that has risen almost 75 percent since the recession started in 2008.” By beginning with these harsh statistics, it catches the reader’s attention and shows this is a serious matter. Next, Djurdic goes on to give the example of Marcaus Scales, a disabled single father that has been homeless for a year. Djurdic then includes a quote from Scales in which he says, “I just got to constantly reassure her that things will get better, that it is only for a little bit.” Scales and his daughter live in a shelter which used to be a hospital. After introducing Marcaus Scales, Djurdic brings in Amber Harding, an attorney for the clinic. According to Harding, “the streets of Washington are home to anywhere between 1,200 and 3,000 homeless children. Too often, she says, these families are forced to move from place to place on an almost daily basis in order to find a safe place to stay.” These issues are real and frightening. Djurdic concludes the article where she started by quoting Scales. He says, “When you lose hope, you lose everything, and that is the only thing I have right now.” These touching words leave the reader with a lot of emotions. From Dijurdic’s standpoint, it is a very interesting placement of the quote.

In Conversation

This article contributes to my final project because I plan to talk with homeless people at the shelter around the corner from Gonzaga College High School. I want to get the perspective from both single people living at a shelter and also families. Also, I am interesting in finding out what the Gonzaga College High School student’s know about the increase in homeless families.

Continue Reading

Arriving at Union Station (Exterior/Political #1)

(Photo taken by Justin Maron)

I took this picture when I arrived at Union Station. I rode the Metro to Gonzaga College High School because it is just a short 1/2 mile walk down the road. Find the Google Maps directions here. Even though I’ve been to Union Station many times, I am still amazed every time I emerge from the underground rail system. Coming up from the dark Metro to the bright open-air with carefully crafted arches and soaring dome ceilings, I don’t know where to look. The people, the sounds and the extraordinary view of our nation’s capital. Union Station is the epitome of an amalgam. People from all over walk through Union Station, many of which live in other states. However, people don’t just go to Union Station for transportation purposes. There are sit-down restaurants and high-end fashion stores. Check-out the directory of stores here. Many of the Gonzaga students take the Metro to and from school. On Gonzaga’s website they even have a “Directions” tab which you can look at here.

 

Continue Reading

Annotated Bibliographies 3 & 4

Wang, Yanan. “Massive Mural an Ephemeral Reminder of NoMa’s Past.” The Washington Post, Jun 25, 2015, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In the The Washington Times article titled “Massive Mural an Ephemeral Reminder of NoMa’s Past,” written by Yanan Wang, she writes about the evolution of the NoMa district and how one of the largest murals in Washington, D.C. is being torn down due to new development. She begins by addressing Cita Sadeli as the main artist of the mural. Sadeli along with 51 other artists worked together to create a colorful ground mural in an empty lot in NoMa. Nestled behind Union Station, the mural provides vibrant scenery for those driving by or looking out on the Metrorail Red Line. Next, Wang points out that the mural was commissioned by the NoMa Business Improvement District in partnership with Words Beats & Life, a nonprofit promoting hip-hop and art education in the city. Then Wang addresses the sad part that the large mural will soon vanish due to a multi-use development named Storey Park. This brings Wang into discussion with Dan Silverman, publisher of the PoPville blog. Wang includes a quote from Silverman in which he explains how many years ago, “…you went there to catch the bus or a cab to where you were actually going.” Unlike many authors, Wang gives the perspective of how people feel with this new development. She explains that “Not everyone is happy with where the neighborhood is going. On the corner of First and K streets NE, a handful of government workers sat outside Sandwiches by Philip on their lunch hour, gazing halfheartedly at the banners advertising Storey Park leases.” The article concludes with a quote from Sadeli. The artist says “I’m just hankering for the old NoMa.” Wang does an excellent job educating the audience on the NoMa area. She provides the proper amount of background knowledge to help the reader grasp the monumental impact of this mural being torn down.

In Conversation

This article is vital to my project since Gonzaga College High School is located in the NoMa district of Washington, D.C. All around the school, buildings are going up and the dynamic within the area are shifting. Just like the artist uses a mural to show the original NoMa, I plan to create a documentary to highlight the changes in recent year. While the area around Gonzaga is changing, Gonzaga has remained true to its original traditions.

 

Alexander, Keith. “Outsourcing the Picket Line; Carpenters Union Hires Homeless to Stage Protests.” The Washington Post, Jul 24, 2007, ProQuest Central, http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login

Summary/Analysis

In The Washington Post article titled “Outsourcing the Picket Line; Carpenters Union Hires Homeless to Stage Protests,” written by Keith Alexander, he writes about the use of homeless people in a staged protest. Alexander begins by setting the scene for the rest of the article. He says, “The picketers marching in a circle in front of a downtown Washington office building chanting about low wages do not seem fully focused on their message.” Next, Alexander addresses the issue that the people engaging in protest for better union rights are not actually part of The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters. Instead, they were paid $8 an hour. The Union hired people unemployed from homeless shelters. Then Alexander includes a quote from one of the protestors Tina Shaw, who lives in a women’s shelter. She simply says, “I’m here for the cash.” The most interesting part of the article is when Alexander writes about William R. Strange. Strange began “working as a for-hire picket two years ago when he lived in a homeless shelter on New York Avenue. He is now paid $12 an hour because he plays the buckets during the demonstrations.” Alexander continues and gives an update that Strange now owns an apartment. The article concludes with a quote from Strange where he says, “Every day I turn that key to my apartment, I feel great. I owe that to the picketing.” Alexander does a great job at addressing both sides of the argument. On one hand it is corrupt that people fighting for better union rights don’t actually work for the union, but on the other hand, it provides a source of income to those in need.

In Conversation

This article will play a role in my final project because the protest took place near Gonzaga College High School. In my final project I will address the homelessness in the area by talking with homeless people on the streets. I plan to compile my interviews into a documentary which will highlight the poor-rich dichotomy. During my conversations, I am interested to find out if any of the homeless people I talk with have engaged in picketing.

Continue Reading