Tag: homeless

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!

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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


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


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.

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