Tag: Union Station

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 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


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


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.

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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.


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