Could commonplaces be the solution?
Reading Analysis 4
In chapter 8, “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic,” of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, he argues that the built environment such as public space influences the type of work and people that derive from the particular area. In other words, for Fleming, where you come from shapes what possibilities you have. Therefore, location makes it increasingly difficult for those living in areas lacking resources. Fleming continues to analyze his proposed ideas of communities such as the perfect self-governed group of people around 50,000-100,00. Through interaction, by bringing people together “toward a new sociospatial dialectic,” there is a possibility to overcome the divides amongst a community.
Fleming brings to question, in my opinion his most influential notion that there is a close relationship between physical location and an individual. Furthermore, each town or city has a unique feel to it with both positive and negative attributes. Some places are able to succeed better than others when there is a common goal which everyone shares. This leads to Fleming’s conclusion that place and rhetorical well-being are linked as well (184). Fleming describes that “the only way to build a self-governing community in our society…is to make sure that they are all relatively similar in background and goals” (183). When people come from similar backgrounds it is easier to understand one another right off the bat. Unfortunately, it is difficult for two groups of widely different backgrounds to come and settle in one place. A good example is regarding the Cabrini Green housing projects. Some of the local residents living near the housing project are not fond of the apartment building. They don’t want massive amounts of people moving into their community and look down upon the Cabrini Green residents. This is simply the root of all tension in the community.
Fleming concludes this section by proposing the concept that poverty is not caused by the “poor people themselves but rather the poor quality of their environments”(194). Some factors of the environments can include the public schools, crime rates, the number of accessible jobs, and racial and economic segregation in the area. In most circumstances it is hard for those born into poverty to escape due to the lack of support from their communities. Simply put…”place matters.” So what’s the solution? Commonplaces. Fleming feels that commonplaces will bring the entire community together and give the residents a common ground to which they can build a relationship (191). However, commonplaces aren’t just physical. Commonplaces can foster a sense of well-being amongst the residents and improve the general atmosphere of a given area.