Posts Tagged ‘WRTGs17’

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. 


9 and 10

annotated bibliography 9 and 10:


Steadman, Philip. Hodgkinson, Simon. “Nuclear Disasters and the Built Environment” Butterworth & Co.1990

Philip Steadman and Simon Hodgkinson discuss in their book the effects that the nuclear disasters, specifically Hiroshima (1945), and Chernobyl (1986), had on our man-made places, that is, our built environment. They explain that there has been various books and scholarly articles about the medical and social consequences of nuclear war, but never the effect nuclear war has on places that our lives are conducted. Steadman and Hodgkinson argue a good point, that our built environment represents so much more than just our workplace, or home, but our history, our generations and countless lives, our achievements and cultural identity. The book goes into detailed consequences about what would happen to our built environment in two different situations: a nuclear accident leading to radioactivity and a nuclear attack.

This article is useful because it explains what a real built environment is, besides the buildings and man made places, the authors prove that it represents so much more. And they show that through what would change about our environment through nuclear attacks.


Perdue, Wendy,Collins. Stone, Lesley, A. Gostin, Lawrence, O.”The Built Environment and Its Relationship to the Public’s Health: The Legal Framework” American Public Health Association. 2003 September; 93(9): 1390–1394.

Wendy Collins Perdue, Lesley A. Stone, and Lawrence O. Gostin all argue in their scholarly article that public health still greatly effects the built environment. They begin with the industrial revolution that lead to diseases and many deaths because of the governments leinent laws on working conditions and over population in urban cities. Perdue, Stone, and Gostin also directly link health issues to the design of a city. Solutions for today include the public health advocates that can help design cities better suited for a healthy lifestyle but figuring out the legal ways to do so. To change the built environment one must understand the legal pathways to begin.

This article is useful because it shows that the built environment not only effects behavior, but also a persons health. This article also shows how much effort,time, and money goes into creating a built environment because of all the factors that builders/designers must take into account in order to create a successful city.

7 and 8

Annotated bibliography 7 and 8:

Parson, Don. “The Decline of Public Housing and the Politics of the Red Scare: The Significance of the Los Angeles Public Housing War.” Journal of Urban History, 33, 3, Mar.2007: 400-417. EBSCOhost.


Don Parson argues that 1950’s public housing decline was linked directly to the role of the Red Scare. This is shown through the Los Angeles pubic housing war, although, however, there was public housing in major cities all over the country at this time. Public housing int he United States in general peaked during the 1950’s and then suddenly decreased. Parson explains how the Red Scare tactic was used to diminish a huge public housing unit, and take out the mayoral regime which was pro-public housing at the time.

Although this article is based in Los Angeles, it still supports my argument because it is about public housing and more importantly that not everyone agrees with it. This article shows the power of the federal government.

Husock, Howard. “Moving out of Public Housing.” Public Interest, no. 150, Winter2003, p. 89. EBSCOhost,


Howard Husock discusses the goals of public housing, how it was once a great success, and then what went wrong. Husock says that as more Americans were moving to the suburbs, public housing became the worst housing in America because crime and drug rates had risen tremendously due to the dominant low-income single parent families that were occupying the space (90). He then goes on to say how much money and time the federal government but into fixing public housing in order to re establish the American dream. The government had spent $4.5 billion on renovations and Husock believes it is necessary to demolish all public housing.

This article is very useful because it tells me exactly what was wrong with pubic housing from the beginning and why, in Husock’s eyes, this establishment was never going to work.



5 and 6

Annotated bibliography 5 and 6:


How the Mall Means:

Evans, Jocelyn J., York Kirsten B. “An Analysis of the National Mall as a Cohesively Built Environment” Perspectives on Political Science. 42, 3, July 2013: 117-130. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10457097.2013.793515.

In this scholarly article, Jocelyn J. Evans and Kirsten B. York examine the three different plans the National Mall used in the past in order to develop it for the future, and to further understand the civic space and  social meaning of the National Mall. Evans and York also argue that American’s National Identity lies within the National Mall and its rhetorical meaning.

This article will further help my argument because it shows how important architecture and design is in a public space, and the different people it may draw in. Washington D.C. is not only the nations capital, but it represents our country in so many ways, and the National Mall is the most important tourist attraction where people from all  over come to a space, a political space, despite their difference in beliefs.


Bader, Aya Peri. “A model for everyday experience of the built environment: the embodied perception of architecture” The Journal Of Architecture. 20, 2, 2015: 233-267. Taylor & Francis Online. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Aya Peri Bader, author of “A model for everyday experience of the built environment: the embodied perception of architecture”, she explores the way architecture is viewed by people when they are distracted. She believes that humans are and will always be preoccupied with their own lives and the impact of architecture has nothing to do with how concentrated or attentive we may be. In this five part scholarly article, Bader takes us through a very detailed structure of her stand on this issue as well as her credible and feasible model called LEBEN, which stands for Lived Experience of the Built Environment. Bader also considers the urban surroundings that contribute to the daily experience of architecture.

This article is very useful because the author applies her own method and model to an issue that is related to my argument and overall theme of my essay.




annotated bibliography 1:

Tyrrell, Mark. “How Your Environment Influences You.” How Your Environment Influences You        Uncommon Knowledge. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017. <http://www.uncommon->.


Mark Tyrrell is the author of article “How your environment influences you” and explains that our environment affects us more than one may think. It is the stem of all our behaviors and reactions to things around us. Terrell gives us examples such as language, and how a person can “build up an environment of words” that the other person might begin to respond to.

This source will be useful in my essay because it explains how we are highly susceptible to environmental triggers, which helps support my argument of the demographics of people living in Shaw 30 years ago, to the people living there today. The environment of Shaw 30 years ago wasn’t healthy, it was drug-ridden, poor, and uneducated because the environment was run down. But reconstruction of Shaw brought in new people.

Annotated Bibliography 2:



Deirdre Oakley and Keri Burchfield, authors of article “Out of the Projects, still in the hood”, explain Chicago’s efforts in 1992 to change public housing for the better by relocating the residents living there in order to redevelop the community and create a mixed-income neighborhood. However, only a small portion of the people who were forced out of their homes in public housing will be able to move back into the new and updated public housing. There are also spatial constraints on the relocated individuals because they were mostly moved into poor African-American neighborhoods.

This article will be helpful in my essay because it goes further helps me understand the book we are reading, City of Rhetoric, which talks specifically about the different public housing in Chicago.

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.


The Final Words

Reading Analysis 5:

In the last chapter of the book City of Rhetoric, author David Fleming wraps up his final words  by explaining what his overall point of this book is; to consider and better understand our metropolitan lives together as well as our civic responsibilities. He mentions1990’s urban poverty and how it was lower because those years had an especially good economy as well as a liberal federal government and compares it to the first couple of years in the 2000’s. Rising unemployment rate, fewer individuals with health insurance, high rates of poverty, inadequate housing, and a harsh national government.

Housing projects were supposed to be way stations on the road to a better life, but they quickly became dead ends for most residents. Robert Taylor Homes was America’s largest public-housing project and evolved into an emblem of failure. (Chicago Tribune photo by Ovie Carter)

Our society isn’t perfect, but then again no one’s is. Fleming mentions how we lack public life and concrete places meaning there are some grey areas where citizens still feel separated and there is no middle ground. The ever changing political activity in our society is why there is an “impoverished, ‘middle-range'” (212) of public activity. There are connections that still need to be made whether it’s between a neighborhood and society, a city and the country.

Capitol Building, Washington D.C.
(photo from house

The solutions to these problems remain “individualistic and private” (212). Basically, the government is telling you you’re on your own. There are no publics that will help the people, so therefore there needs to be more private enterprise.

And in the end, all the public housing projects in Chicago were eventually torn down or failed. Areas like this remain racially and economically segregated, but not only in Chicago. All over the United States this problem remains constant and keeps growing because more suburbs keep developing. However David Fleming remains optimistic on this issue and the future because he understands that design counteracts economics and politics, hopes that people will understand we need to save our natural environment, and he is a teacher and feels obligated to be hopeful for his students.

Photo of writer David Fleming (photo from

Work Cited

Fleming, David. “City of Rhetoric” SUNY Press. 2009.


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