Category Archives: Reading Analysis

The Afterword

The final chapter in David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, is entitled “The Afterword”. In this chapter, Fleming puts together his last few thoughts by explaining that although public and low-income housing has lost importance in the public sphere as of late, he still believes it to be a major topic of concern. Throughout Fleming’s book, he discusses many ways in which we have inaccurately come up with solutions to the problems which come along with common areas and low-income housing, such as decentralization, fragmentation, sand polarization. However, he doesn’t want the reader to leave with a sense of defeat. Fleming believes that although the separation of the classes in America may contribute to the lack of discussion around cohabitation of space, the youth of today keep him hopeful. That being said, issues such as urban poverty, suburban sprawl, residential racial segregation, and geographically based income inequality need to again be brought to the forefront of public conversation. Fleming also wants to reiterate in this chapter, that he does not want these public conversations to be centered around only America, but rather around the whole world. He believes that its very important to consider America’s relationship with the rest of the world. Social and economic inequality is an issue which people face all over the world, and the “solutions” which are being suggested remain “individualistic and private” (212). In other words, the solutions are often said to lie in the involvement of private enterprises and companies rather than the public as a whole, or even the government. Yet, as seen in places such as the North Town Village in Chicago, these projects rarely change anything, “metropolitan inequality in Chicago, and elsewhere in the United States, persists and even grows” (213). David Fleming’s hope with this book is to start a dialog around these issues, which will hopefully raise awareness as well as generate ideas to begin to solve these issues.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.

 

The New Urbanism

In David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, there is a specific chapter entitled “The New Urbanism”. In “The New Urbanism”, Fleming discusses the ways in which urban areas are changing, and by doing so he also argues that these changes are not all positive. To illustrate his point, Fleming begins the chapter around the specific example of North Town Village, which is a “private real estate development… on North Halsted Street in Chicago” (121). This development was set to cost around $70 million, and contain over 200 housing units. However, what was interesting about this construction project was not the magnitude of it, but rather the location and desired clientele. North Town Village was built right next to an area which contained a significant amount of public housing. The contrast between the income levels of those individuals coming into the community and of those already living in there was substantial. Although not everyone coming in was of substantially higher income, prior to the North Town Village, there had been little differences in income at all. North Town Village is a perfect example of the mixed-income urban townhouse community, which has become increasing popular in recent years. Fleming goes on to explain that these areas of mixed income individuals may not actually be bad in idea, however they tend to be bad in practice. To him, this idea of creating a commonplace for people of different backgrounds, races, genders, religions, incomes, etc. to get together and share their ideas is great. In fact, he encourages it. But what he believes to happen more often than not, is even in these situations like North Town Village, where lots of different people are in a shared space, these people still do not mingle and learn from each other. Instead, they find others like themselves within the community, and only spend time with them. To Fleming, social progress is not possible of only like-minded people assimilate amongst themselves. He ends the chapter by explaining that it is possible to from truly inclusive commonplaces, we just have ot figure out the best way to do so.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY,          SUNY Press, 2009.

Gender Representation

In Suzanne Tick’s article “His & Hers? Designing for a Post-Gender Society”, she argues that designers should focus a critical eye on society’s issues, particularly by promoting acceptance and change through their work. In her opinion, this is the opportune time for designers to start questioning how they incorporate gender sensitivity into their projects. Historically, society is predominantly male-based, so the ideology surrounding many aspects of modern culture is also shaped by masculinity. A good example of this would be men’s domination of the workforce, particularly in upper-level roles. These societal norms are beginning to be challenged, however, by a new wave of feminism. Celebrity speeches, legal adjustments, and increased LGBTQ awareness has helped push society towards a level of higher gender equality and representation. And with this new wave of feminism, comes a blurring of typical gender and sexuality identifying characteristics. Schools and business around the country are beginning to take steps towards greater gender inclusion, regardless of people’s preferences or self-identification. According to Tick, the industry that can take the greatest advantage of these changes, is the design industry. Since styles change so rapidly, the design industry is constantly evolving and adapting in order to match these pressures. Suzanna feels that a lot of social advancement lies on the shoulders of these designers, since they’re one of the first industries to react to societal and structural changes. The design industry needs to create with different human beings in mind, by creating pieces and designs that are respectful to individual needs. By doing this, designers can help create environments in which people can have their own individuality and identify however they feel most comfortable.

Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers? Designing for a Post-Gender Society.” Metropolis, 15 Feb.                             2017,via.hypothes.is/http://www.metropolismag.com/ideas/his-hers-designing-for-a-post-           gender-society/. Accessed 27 Apr. 2017.

City of Rhetoric

City of Rhetoric

In chapter 3.8 of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Mr. Fleming argues that society benefits from critically examining what usually appears innocent to us and then applying that to organize the world in a certain way to increase or decrease citizens’ opportunities. The chapter, entitled “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”, begins with Fleming quickly reviewing his previous seven chapters. He considers it important to note that we have neglected to fully assimilate the youth of today with people who are unlike themselves, due to the extreme alienation of classes and races within our housing complexes. The author continues to say that this can be fixed, in part, by creating “commonplaces” for people of all classes, races, religions, etc. to come together. However, this problem persists due to the creation and separation between the urban ghettos and suburbia. These places in of themselves are often seen as opposites, yet there is also a great deal of separation within these communities, as smaller groups of like-minded people tend to come together. Attempts have been made to fix this issue, with communities such as North Town Village in Chicago. But in the end, these communities are either not large enough, filled with too many like-minded people, and/ or too far removed from the rest of America to be a true success. Here David Fleming switches to discuss how important “place” actually is upon the individual. According to him, the importance of place on one’s life has lost ground in recent years, since this material framework is looked down upon. However, Fleming argues that one’s built environment is of extreme importance and cannot be overlooked. The fact that those who are in areas of better education and social involvement have advantages that others do not is the framework for American poverty. These advantages greatly affect how successful these people turn out to be, and these advantages can be directly related to where one lives. One’s physical place of residence effects school, proximity to jobs, one’s neighbors, and one’s peers, amongst many other things. It is for this reason that Fleming feels that “over and above race, ethnicity, income, education, religion, and culture, place matters” (189). Since North America is segregated primarily by race and class, it’s important to realize that enduring poverty is caused not by the poor themselves or the culture of society, but by the very environments in which they live- yet all hope is not lost. Mr. Fleming does believe that here are ways to structure the built environment to evade this cycle of poverty, and he gets into this possibility in later chapters.

Work Cited

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.