I completed a survey which questioned the advantage and disadvantage of the WordPress site and other technological applications such as Slack. I asserted that I like using both; however, I would like an introduction session which explains how to use and navigate each website. I think that would be helpful because WordPress can be difficult to use when inserting media if you don’t know how to work it. This training could also help with sites such as Zotero. Without the help of other classmates, I would not have been able to add sources to my Zotero folder. Concurrently, I like using Slack because it puts all information in one location and allows me to have online interactions with the professor and other students. Lastly, after the semester is over, I think I will continue to use m site as an outlet to express my feelings about current events and topics which interest me. Overall, I enjoyed using the websites and I think they enhance my learning experience.

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A mural in Village of Arts and Humanity

What is a community, and what does it mean to be a part of a community? These are two questions that the three panelist, Aviva Kapust, Ximena Varela, and Dr. Tom Borrup, answered at “Art and Social Justice: Tales from the Trenches”  panel in the arts center of American University. Each of the panelist presented the way in which they serve their community through art. Aviva Kapust is an Executive Director at the Village of Arts and Humanity, located in North Philadelphia. As a community member of the village, Kapust uses her art to addresses socioeconomic issues of the 1500 youth and families in North Philadelphia. She personally defines community as a place where “each individual of the community has concern for the well being of the collective equals if not surpasses concern for the well being of an individual.” She implies that it is a community member’s job to contribute to their neighborhood, otherwise why are they there? Her understanding of a community relates to the popular quote, “it takes a village to raise a child because each person in a community, or in her case a village, contributes to the well being of the other people in the community. So, how does the village contribute to each person’s life? Village of Arts and Humanity gives power to these people who face daily struggles through the ability to create. The village was initially started by Arthur Hall who believed that creating art made people powerful if they did it with others. The village has a project called People’s Paper Co-op, that allows people with a criminal record, to bring their record, shred it, take a new mugshot with a Polaroid camera, and create a clean record. The new record then gets hung with other the other “clean records.” Although their records may not officially be clean, Kapust asserts that each person feels powerful when they see a bunch of wiped, artistic records that reminds each person that they are not alone.

Each panelist followed Kapust’s idea of being a contributor to the community through their examples of what they observed in different regions. Ximena Varela is an art professor who studied the issue of food in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government decided that the majority of their funds would go to arts, therefore, Costa Rica was weak in other areas such as food. Varela observed how the people, especially mothers of Costa Rica, came together to help provide food to their community. Dr. Tom Borrup followed these ideas by explaining the purpose of the market place in his hometown, Minneapolis. The market place was an area where separate communities came together to form one big community where people indulged in art and food. The marketplace allowed people to share attributes from different cultures.

Each panelist presentation and their ideas supports David Fleming and his book The City of Rhetoric. In chapter two, Flemming proposes areas called “commonplaces,” where people of different political and cultural beliefs can come together to have scholarly conversations. Tom Borrup’s marketplace is a great real life example of Fleming’s commonplace. Flemming, Borup, and Kapust also all share this idea of “white flight” which is the migration of Caucasians out of a space where they previously populated. Fleming explores this idea in Chicago; as more African Americans started to move the city of Chicago, more Whites began to move out. The same occurred in Kapust’s hometown, Philadelphia; the introduction of the railroad to suburban areas caused Caucasians to moves out to the suburbs. Lastly, Dr. Borrup communicates that Minneapolis was 98% white in the 1950s, and now is only 60% White due to the idea of “white flight.” Like the panelist, Fleming advocates for community and addresses socioeconomic problems by trying to propose ways to terminate the poor living status of many Chicago citizens, but especially the blacks. As Kapust says, “if you are ready to respond to the community, you have to become a part of the community,” and that is something that Fleming definitely does in his observations of Chicago. Overall, the panel was very informative and it exemplified and explained the true meaning of a community.

 

 

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “The Placeness of Political Theory.” City of Rhetoric. State University of New York Public Press, 2009.

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The Village of Arts and Humanity. Philadelphia Youth Media Collaborative. 2012, http://www.phillyyouthmedia.org/2016/01/31/the-village-of-arts-and-humanities/