Project Presentation Blog Post

Monday May 8th, 2017 was a day of celebration to me. It was the day that I celebrated the hard work and dedication that went into my Writing 101 Mapping Commonplaces Project. This project required for me to do multiple things that pushed my boundaries, but in the end, it was all for the better.

Firstly, the mapping commonplaces project gave me an opportunity to explore and analyze an area of the District of Columbia to a new level. I only knew a portion of Northeast D.C., and would have never known about the Edgewood neighborhood had I not done research and made this presentation on it. It was an honor and a privilege to work with this area to truly make it my own and appreciate the Edgewood neighborhood and Edgewood Terrace Apartments for what they were, and what they are today. To go from being known as “Little Beirut” to being a thriving area with much to offer and see was vital in my comprehension to take pride and care for the Edgewood neighborhood.

I went first out of 3 students that presented their projects, and through the other two students and with Professor Hoskins’s suggestions for my project, I was able to make changes that would enhance my website and overall improve my project. It is here that I also feel that one of the boundaries I faced was first met. I had to create my own website, and I had no experience with website creation and maintenance prior to going into this class. Designing a website that had multimodal aspects that a person could truly interact with and “walk through Edgewood” was astonishing to me when the project was complete. The feedback I received from this presentation was only a method I used to enhance this fascination that I had with my project.

This presentation session closed with Professor Hoskins wishing us well in our future endeavours, but there was one thing that really stood out to me from what he said. It was the advice to never doubt yourself in what you are doing. It was Jessica that day that admitted that she used a video making software for her presentation, and also said that she was not technologically savvy. Professor Hoskins said to not doubt yourself, and to keep in mind that every opportunity is a new adventure, especially for things you are not too familiar with. I thought that was very meaningful and powerful, especially in my case because I knew slim to none about website creation. I left the presentation feeling good, because not only was the semester coming to a close, but I learned something that I knew would be pertinent to the rest of my life.

Rhetorical Choices Explanation

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.

Mapping Commonplaces Project

For Professor Hoskins’s Writing 101 Section 27 class, I spent my time collecting data on and researching the Edgewood Terrace Apartments and Edgewood neighborhood. This area was mentioned in Ruben Castaneda’s S Street Rising as “Little Beirut” in reference to the Siege of Beirut in the Lebanese Civil War because of how violent it was. This area was once an open air drug market that was right off of the Rhode Island Metro Station. Looking at demographics, visiting the neighborhood, and truly exploring the interior and exterior of the neighborhood and apartment building have allowed me to take in such an important area of Washington D.C. I hope that people enjoy my research and take something away from it just like I have after all that was said and done.

The links to each part of the project are below. Walk with me into Edgewood!

Annotated Bibliography

Rhetorical Choices Explanation

Prezi Presentation

Digital Archives

Madison Shuler


Professor Hyra’s Talk on Race, Class and Politics in the Cappuccino City

Bus Boys and Poets had the honor of hosting a panel for a prestigious professor’s new book Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City on Thursday, April 27th, 2017. Professor Derek Hyra of American University discussed the backstory of writing his book and his perspectives on the book itself. A former New York resident, Professor Hyra grew up in a city and has seen and studied the effects of gentrification across the country, especially right here in the District of Columbia. His research and journey that made his book possible is a story that was a pleasure to listen to, and a story that is hard to forget.

Professor Hyra originally did research in Bronxville and Harlem in New York City. Having this background, he was then able to apply his research methods to the District and thus, he selected the gentrified area of Shaw and U Street to write his book on. This research started when D.C. was still predominantly African American, even more so than it is today. Because of this fact, D.C. earned the nickname, “Chocolate City,” and this is where Professor Hyra derived the name for his book.

Map of U Street: Professor Hyra wrote his book on this area

Due to the introduction of whites into the Shaw and U Street area and many others, Professor Hyra reinvented this nickname to “Cappuccino City.” Professor Hyra explains this with the metaphor of a cappuccino. Whites are being mixed with the blacks in these areas, and pushing them out of the areas with the process of gentrification. Just like in a cappuccino, the dark espresso is pushed to the sides when the white milk is poured into the cup. That is what Professor Hyra argued is happening in his area of study, in D.C., and across the country. This “milk” in the U Street and Shaw area is not only whites, but it is predominantly white millennials. They are coming because the opportunity is here as Professor Hyra argued, and this brings a certain atmosphere to the area. These millennials seek opportunity, and many of them come in with loads of cash that their parents have. Thus, this makes the area have a wealthy atmosphere when these white millennials come into the area. Because the atmosphere changes, property values go up because wealth and white power is in the neighborhood. This drives long term residents out of the area, the majority of these residents being black.

The process of gentrification is quite universal when one puts it into perspective. An area that was crime ridden and broken gets renovated, new people come in, drive out the old people that were associated with the problems, and the neighborhood is reinvented. Shaw and U Street follows this example, as does the Edgewood neighborhood in D.C., Harlem in New York, the south side of Chicago, and even in Austin, Texas. When one ponders about it, Professor Hyra’s book is a message not only for our nation’s capital, but for many towns across America that gentrification is happening in. That is why I considered his book to be so special, in addition to the fact that I have developed a personal passion for this topic.

I grew up in a small suburban town in New Jersey. When deciding where I wanted to go to college, I decided based on one major aspect; what was the best school for my major that was in a city? I knew I wanted a school in a city because city life attracts me, and I wanted a change from what I had grown up with. The constant activity of a city is right up my alley, and it is why I feel that this topic in the city that I have fallen in love with over the past year has made a mark on me. When sitting at the panel listening to Professor Hyra, I thought about all I had done, all I had seen, and all I will be doing over my next 3 years here at American. I bought Professor Hyra’s book at the event, and it is my intention to read it over the summer. To be honest, I can hardly wait to start.

Extra Points Course Concepts Blog Post

What we have done in this class has given much opportunity to reflect and show what is important for the course concepts. The first explained that writing is a recursive series of choices that required us as students to make sophisticated choices in their own writing. This was done in several ways, so being the reading analyses, the annotated bibliographies, or even revising and updating our websites so that our work is neatly organized. In doing this, we were able to formulate an original, increasingly complex thesis in their writing projects and develop that thesis into a well-supported argument. This was done with our writing most obviously, but the method in which this was done is the key concern here. The use of Graff and Berkenstein’s They Say I Say and its various templates, the single author template, and the BEAM analysis all gave the opportunity to form our own thesis on our projects and assignments.

The third part of the course concepts required that we give critical feedback to our peers’ writing and apply critical feedback. This was done using comma patterns, commenting on other’s websites, but the most influential and coolest way this was done was with the use of hypothesis. Hypothesis was an interactive way to conduct and give important feedback on papers and have a conversation with not only ourselves, but for many others that also use hypothesis. This was also done through  Slack, and because it is growing in popularity, Slack is important for this class and most likely will appear again in a student’s career. The next part of the course concepts required that students use a range of research methods and incorporate source material into their writing so that it develops and supports their ideas. This was done through annotated bibliographies, the digital archives, and most especially with the work and research behind the first paper.

In doing so with regards to research, we were required to develop effective and appropriate organizational strategies for our writing. Multiple drafts and rewrites were given for this reason, so that we could know how to better organize our writing so that it made more sense and had a stronger system. This paved the way for us to practice critical thinking and reading skills so that original ideas can be devised, rather than simply echoing the ideas of others. This was done by the reading that were done and the comments and questions they respectively raised. In doing so, our own original ideas could be formed based on what we read. Lastly, this course required that we evaluate the credibility of sources, use academic/scholarly resources, and incorporate sources effectively and ethically. This was done for a majority of the assignments, especially the annotated bibliographies. Finding sources to go along with what would represent our projects was important, and in doing so, reliable sources were ascertained.

5. Digital Archives: Interior and Cultural

The last archive is a YouTube video that features a resident of the Edgewood Terrace Apartments making a “rap documentary” about his neighborhood. Something that he repeats is the “Northeast side.” The Edgewood Terrace Apartments are in Northeast D.C., which is why he keeps saying that in the video. It is also a showing of pride that these residents feel for their neighborhood. Also, this video gives an inside view of what the residents themselves are like, as there are many residents in the video.

4. Digital Archives: Interior and Cultural

The fourth archive is a Big Lots that is in the shopping center right outside of the Edgewood Terrace Apartments. The shopping center outside of the apartments is host to many merchandise stores, including Big Lots, a discount store, and a Popeyes fried chicken restaurant. Thus, it is a gathering place for many of the residents. It is a simple place to hang out and blast music and socialize with friends. The day I went to the site, it was very warm, and therefore, many people were outside in the parking lot hanging out. This was the first thing I saw, and made me understand the neighborhood from an inside perspective

3. Digital Archives: Interior and Cultural

The third picture is the actual logo of the Beacon House Community Ministry. This program not only has an after school football team at its disposal, but it also offers tutoring to students, and fun activities such as arts and crafts and  playground hours. Again, the main objective of this ministry is to keep the youth off the streets and away from drugs and the violence that is associated with it. This area was once called Little Beirut, and this program’s goal is to reverse that image and give its younger residents a fresh start.

2. Digital Archives: Interior and Cultural

The second picture is the view from the Rhode Island Metro station looking at the Capitol Building. All of D.C.’s quadrants and streets meet at the Capitol Building, therefore, one can look outside the Edgewood Terrace Apartments to the center. It gives an outside look from an inside perspective of the area beyond the apartments, which is important. Understanding this picture gives the geography of this location a better comprehension to someone that is unfamiliar with the area.