Archive of ‘Commonplace’ category

Project 2: Mapping Commonplaces

For my final project in my Spring college writing class, I have chosen to reflect upon the cultural, demographic, and socio economic changes in Shaw. Through Le Diplomate, a French bistro located on 14th Street, I discover the true gentrification that is taking over the Shaw area and beyond. But is it for the worse or better?

My complex local system, CLS for short, is the building where the drugs were hidden in S Street Rising by Ruben Castaneda. My site is located at 1340 S Street NW, located in Shaw, Washington D.C. When I first travelled to Shaw, I was quite lost and unaware of my surroundings, as I only came for one job, to take pictures and videos of my site. But as I stepped out of the car and began to walk around, not only did I notice things, I realized them too. I realized I had been to Shaw before. I had come here multiple days and nights to eat at the fun restaurants and shop at the boutique stores. Little did I know that it was the same neighborhood I would spend all semester uncovering and discovering. 

The gentrification of this neighborhood, in this case, is not necessarily a bad thing because of the new demographics it brought, the revenue, and beautiful construction.

 One of my favorite places to eat in Shaw is a cafe called Le Diplomate, which is located a few blocks south of my site. 14th Street has really taken over and revitalized the Shaw area, and in my opinion, in a great way. 14th street has become popular for millennials to eat at new cafes sand shop at the chic furniture stores to the speciality stores. The new stores and restaurants are placed in areas in which the owners believe their store will thrive. The places that have recently come about in the Shaw area show the extreme gentrification of the neighborhood. Besides restaurants, shopping such as West Elm, a higher end furniture store, Lulu Lemon, an elite workout clothing store, grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and various trendy bars prove that Shaw’s demographics are changing. However, there is tension between the young higher class citizens moving into this area and the older, lower class residents who want to keep their ground, and not have the area change.

Le Diplomate is a french cafe serving brunch, mid-day, dinner, and drinks. The European design and quality food attract elite people to this restaurant. From what I’ve observed the times I have been there, the place was flooded with millennials. The aesthetic of the food made the diners eager to take pictures of everything they ordered. Not only does this restaurant have very “instagram worthy”, artistic food but the experience of dining here is what brings the customers back. The authentic french cuisine, the tasteful decoration, refined music, and the professional waiters make customers forget they’re in D.C., and escape from reality. The elegant appearance of the restaurant and fresh, warm loaves of bread at the entry way satisfies every customer who walks in.


However, Le Diplomate is not the only bistro in Shaw that has mastered this skill. Up and down 14th Street lies individual, unique, and creative restaurants. Le Diplomate is a great success story, only opening about 4 years ago, it attract millennials, hipsters, and socialists, as well as Michelle Obama and other politicians.

(Above is an interesting article about Stephen Starr, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the creator of Le Diplomate bistro.)

While Shaw is being gentrified, my site remains untouched. It’s a very private house, even with intensive internet search, I couldn’t find all the details of my site. The last time it was sold was 15 years ago and now, it is worth over a million dollars, because of it’s location. Shaw is drawing in a newer crowd because of its demolition and reconstruction and it is now home to higher income residents who are demanding more from this neighborhood and in return, getting exactly what they want. 1401 S Street is a 5 star apartment building located directly diagonal from my site.

Jack Evans, now mayor of D.C., launched his campaign in front of the Bistro in June 2013. Evan says, “’what better place to showcase the change on 14th Street and the city than with the transformation from a vacant laundry to a fancy restaurant?’ he says. ‘It represented everything I was running for.’” Although not everyone, mostly the residents who have been living in Shaw for decades now, agree with the gentrification of their neighborhood, it seems that everyone else is for it. Gentrification in the Shaw area is growing their economy. With Le Diplomate opening only 4 years ago, Starr admits that his restaurant isn’t what made 14th Street “hot”, as it was already booming with restaurants and stores before his. However, he has deeply contributed to the changed perception of Shaw. 


Lulu Lemon

Commonplace 10:

Lulu Lemon is an elite work out clothing store. Specifically inspired by yoga, Lulu leggings are very comfortable and stretchy. Although they are great for yoga because they are all sweat absorbent, many people also wear them for leisure. They start at about $88 for crop leggings and can go up to $118, depending on the style and material used. Lulu Lemon was founded

photo of Chip Wilson. Net worth = 2 Billion (photo from

by Chip Wilson in 1998 in Vancouver, Canada. The store officially opened in 2000 and has been a huge success since. Lulu Lemon has come a long way, it was first designed for women to wear during yoga and then expanded to both men and women and opened the categories to running, cycling, and other exercise methods. I also think the way Lulu Lemon advertises the company by giving their customers reusable bag with their designs on it is great free marketing.

free lulu lemon bag at checkout. ( photo from

They have even become so popular that amazon now sells them. What was once a free bag you received when purchasing something at the store has turned into a huge market for Lulu Lemon. Everyone loves the bags! I see them all over D.C. and where I’m from in Los Angeles.

Voss Water

Commonplace 9:


The other day I was on Facebook and came across a video where a woman was testing different bottled waters for their PH levels to see if they were true to their company. To my surprise, smart water and Voss water were yellow which meant they were on the more acidity side of the spectrum. Voss water is very expensive, high-end, and comes in a glass bottle so I was extremely shocked by this. Voss is the type of water I would typically drink at a nice restaurant with my parents so it’s even more surprising that restaurants still carry it. I think a lot of people are unaware of bottled waters and believe that they are better for you then tap. But this video proves that tap water beats almost every bottled water company. Of course, it depends on where you live but most cities in the United States have clean running water, and safe to drink. Plus it will save you a ton of money in the end!

Voss water ( photo from

Notice the way the water is set up and presented on this website. It’s strange to me that water can look that classy. On this website, 1 bottle is selling for $9.99.

Failure & Success

Commonplace 7:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

(photo from

Samuel Beckett believes that failure is a good thing, like a stepping stone to success. It’s almost a life lesson, one cannot succeed unless they have failed a few times. Failing means you are trying and you are learning and that is the most important thing. Very few times do you hear a success story where the person made it to the top without any obstacles. “Fail better” shows that you are one step closer to the outcome you want, each new time you fail, you are failing closer to your goal. The simple form Beckett uses makes the sentences clear, crisp, and sound the same. Sometimes simple is better. Although Beckett is a highly advanced poet, he understands sentences and knows which form is best to get his message across to his audience. They are short and to the point, if they were long, exaggerated sentences there would have a different feeling. If I broke up the sentence I just wrote with periods it would sound much different. (They are short. They are to the point. They are long. Sentences are exaggerated.)

A visual showing how success and failure go together. (photo from


Commonplace 13:

This summer I wanted to give back at volunteer at Los Angeles’ No Kill Animal Shelter, also known as NKLA. I’ve been to this shelter many times before and tried to volunteer in the past but was too young. Now, being 19 years old, the sky is my limit, I can even run as a front desk position. When applying to volunteer, I found the process very easy to navigate. You fill out a form, confirm your email, set up an account, and sign up for a volunteer orientation that is 2 hours long. The volunteer orientation ensures that you know exactly what you’re signing up for and how to do it. If you are volunteering to play with the dogs and take them on walks you must know which ones get along and how to properly walk and handle a dog outside of the shelter. If you are volunteering at the front desk you must have excellent communication skills and be as informative as possible when visitors come.

I also wanted to mention the website and persuasive it is. When you open the link the first thing you see is a cute, sad dog, his eyes begging and his heart heavy. The picture then slides to the left and a kitten appears, so innocent and vulnerable. The website is very well organized and easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.


Acai Bowls

Commonplace 12:

Today I walked to Georgetown with my friends and we ended up getting acai bowls because it was such a hot day out. They were delicious and refreshing but quite empty for a wednesday afternoon. SouthBlock is located right off of M street on a street called grace street. It shares a building with Grace Street Coffee and Sundevich Sandwich place. The 3 restaurants all have a common sitting area and trendy music playing. I was curious as to what SouthBlock’s menu looked like and how they advertise themselves on social media. They’re acai bowls are very photogenic and all over instagram, but I wondered if they ever took it a step further. So after I googled their website I found that it was a very accessible and easy website. In seconds I figured out how to navigate the various locations around Washington D.C. as well as Virginia, and what their menu was. However, at the top of the website they call themselves a “micro juicery” which could throw their audience off because cold pressed juice is different from fresh smoothies and smoothie bowls. But as you scroll down they advertise all their acai bowls. The website is very well put together. It’s organized, interesting, and fun.


Commonplace 11:

I think this ad is very interesting. When analyzing just the image, I noticed that the bear faded into a wolf which faded into a human. But as I looked more closely, I realized that one could interpret it differently. The bear’s mouth is so open and wide it almost looks like it’s eating the wolf, a significantly smaller mammal. The wolf, has a closed mouth but looks angry and mean, to intimidate the audience. The sentence “if you’re not fast you’re food” encourages the viewer to look at what the company is trying to sell. The images draw the reader in, but the words keep the audience focused. Below the sentence are the timberland running shoes in bright orange, mostly to stand out from the black background and still get some acknowledgement compared to the aggressive bear at the top. This advertisement would not have the same effect without the sentence, the words are not only frightening and menace but also memorable. The audience will now remember timberland running shoes because of this ad. It’s very important to have a bold advertisement like this especially when competing with top brands such as Nike and Adidas.


Commonplace 8:

I went home for spring break, but before I reached what I call ‘home’ in Los Angeles, I made a pit stop in Boulder, Colorado to visit my friends who go to University of Colorado, Boulder. Excess travel time means excess music played. I just recently joined apple music because I realized in the end it would save me money instead of individually buying every song that I heard and liked for 99 cents. Also with the student discount they offer, it was almost irresistible. As I was shuffling through music in the charting now section, I instantly looked at my lock screen when a certain song came on. It’s called Slide by Calvin Harris. Calvin Harris is the DJ and the person singing it is Frank Ocean and Migos. The reason the song caught was ‘ear’ was being of the sound of it, well before Frank Ocean started singing, I knew this song was going to be amazing. However, the interesting thing about this song is that no matter how many times I’ve listened to it, I still can’t understand the lyrics or the overall meaning of the song. I just really enjoy the sound of it and it’s mostly because Calvin Harris is one of my oldest favorite artists. And the coolest thing is that Calvin Harris released how he created the song and I never realized how much time and effort goes into making one single tune.

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