When I first started this project, I had no idea what or where the Edgewood neighborhood was. To be honest, I chose the area because it was separated from all of the other pins on the Google Map and I did not want to pick a site that was too jumbled in with the others. As time went on though, and I started to do my research on the site, I actually realized that I chose a site that I knew I would develop a passion for. I have always taken a liking to urban areas for study and interaction, and when realizing that the Edgewood neighborhood was no exception to this, I became excited to do so.
The first method I did in mapping out the rhetoric of the Edgewood neighborhood was by completing the Annotated Bibliographies required for the Writing 101 class. This helped me to understand some of the background that would go into my site. While I will admit, it was difficult to find information on something that I knew very little about, it was rewarding nonetheless. It would be my first taste of the rich flavor that Edgewood offers. After realizing that I needed more information on the site and what I was studying, I decided to go and visit it.
After the aid of Google Maps, I realized how I would be getting to the Edgewood neighborhood. I learned that it was right off of the Rhode Island Metro Station on the Red Line. This was further than I had ever travelled in my short time in Washington D.C. I was eager to learn of what went past Union Station, because this was the furthest I had ever gone on the Red Line. I was surprised to learn that the Metro goes above ground, and was even more surprised to learn that my site was literally right next to a Metro stop. This made me make my first connection to my site that I would have not gotten had I not visited my site. After realizing the proximity to the Metro, it made sense to me as to why this area became such an open air drug market and nicknamed “Little Beirut”. Anyone could have just gotten off the inexpensive Metro ride, walked a quarter mile, and been in one of the best markets for illicit drugs in 1990’s Washington D.C. It made the area seem eerie, and I knew that I was walking into an area that had been a prime scene for crime not too long ago.
The neighborhood seemed to be tranquil when I walked into it. I definitely could feel that I was an outsider, and did not want to do anything that would make me stick out. So, I furiously typed notes on what my senses picked up on, and what the vibe of the area was in my opinion. I then proceeded to take pictures of whatever I thought was important. Some examples included a playground on the Edgewood Terrace Apartments property, signs of apartment numbers, the building beyond the neighborhood, the view of the Capitol Building from the area, and many more. I got back on the Metro to go back to Tenleytown, and it is here that I finalized my notes and began to really think critically about my site.
I now knew what it felt like to be in Edgewood. The people that I saw indirectly told me about some of the people that live there, and what I smelled, saw, and heard gave me an interior view of my site that no website or database could tell. I cannot discredit what I was learning through the databases, because after my visit, I went back to researching online. But now, my research took a new turn. Never before had I read the articles I was reading with the eye that someone that lives in Edgewood might. This gave me a whole new perspective on my project, and it was this pivotal moment in my research that I knew what I was going to base the project on.
Someone that lives in Edgewood knows of the area that they live in. They breath in the same atmosphere that I did for my hour and a half visit daily, and know the area inside and out. Even more, a long time resident of the area knows this area better than anyone else. I asked why though? The answer lies in the rhetoric that I realized that this area has, and that rhetoric involves one word; viewpoints. Viewpoints are what give the residents of the Edgewood neighborhood a sense of unity amongst them, and it is what allows for neighborhood pride. I was only there for a short time, but I got the vibe that everyone in Edgewood watches out for each other and truly takes the time to get to know each other and do so well. In other words, the first rhetorical viewpoint that I discovered was the unity of the interior of Edgewood.
This realization of the sense of unity in Edgewood is also how i realized my topos and commonplace. The vibe that the area has to an an unbiased outsider can pick up on almost immediately when visiting the site. The topos is expressed in the unity that the neighborhood unity has. In complete honesty, it is really summed up in the word Edgewood. That word gives rise to the unity to Edgewood’s residents to show that they have unified pride in their neighborhood and that once an Edgewood resident, one is always an Edgewood resident.
After developing and refining my research and what I learned from my visit, I developed the second part of the rhetorical viewpoint that I knew tied my project together. Close to all of the databases and articles that I had used to conduct my research took another viewpoint that conflicted with the interior viewpoint on Edgewood. The outside views of Edgewood only reflected on the negatives of the neighborhood and what it used to be. While it is true that the area at one time was nothing but a crime ridden slum that was responsible for the murder of hundreds, most outside sources still treated the area as so. The media had changed little from what the area has become in the last 20 years in other words, and only made the area seem to just be a market where people came and went for their “fix.” There was only some regard for the current residents, and it is here that the complete topos and commonplace is developed. The conflicting views of the interior compared to the exterior over time is what gives this area its topos and uniqueness. The exterior, or people that do not really know the area well or only see it for what it is or was, only want to gentrify the area and change it to erase its history. The interior wants no change because they have pride in their current neighborhood. Thus, it is at this point that we can explore Edgewood and see how these viewpoints have taken their marks over time.