Mapping Commonplaces Journey

When I originally began this project, I was focusing on a Church from the book S Street Rising. The only problem was that it was nowhere to be found on google. I found one Church that google kept bringing me to. Becoming Church in the Festival Center of Adams Morgan. At first, I focused on the Chapel within the building, as well as the administrative side of the Church. I tried to do some research on the Church, but it was all very confusing. The absence of the physicality of the Church of our Saviour would later be explained by a classmate, Alejandro, in a different section. However, my research took me elsewhere.

After redirecting my focus to the entire Festival Center, I conducted research on the history of the building. I found out when it was founded, as well as where it was mentioned in old newspaper articles. I found that it was a place for the community. It was supposed to be used as a town hall at one point, a commonplace for the community. The project asked to focus on a document for our site, whether that be a menu, a poster, or something else.

I decided to analyze a flyer that was on a table in the Festival Center when you first walk through the doors. The flyer told me about the center and how to rent out spaces, when prayer groups were held, food regulations, etc. The first time I went to the center, I was welcomed. The second time, I was not. I made a parallel between this and the experience of Uzodinma Iweala. Iweala was not welcomed in Adams Morgan. Out for a walk one morning, he was greeted harshly by long time residents of the Adams Morgan community. The members thought he was there to buy the pricey houses that displaced many former residents (Iweala). I think that I ended with an over reductive conclusion.

After the first essay, my analysis and focus went to Adams Morgan as a whole. I did not know what to do at first. I decided on gentrification, but you told me to not force anything onto it. Though I still think that gentrification is something that undoubtedly needs to be acknowledged, I did more research. I realized that revitalization would be better to focus on, as this is what my new research pointed me to. I also knew that this made sense, having been to Adams Morgan quite a few times. I found a lot of information regarding which restaurants in Adams Morgan were original and which restaurants were newer. I then thought that I would try to map the longevity of restaurants. I also decided that the time that the restaurants were there equatted to support for them from the long time residents. I had planned out that I was going to find before and after pictures of them and map out where they were in Adams Morgan. I thought that these would be good ways to be multimodal and to incorporate the topoi I was focusing on. However, after Alex pointed out in a class meeting in the library that there were other factors to consider, I was lost. I did not really know what to do for my focus. I was thinking still going to try to figure out a way to do research on restaurants. I decided to go to my built environment again to see if there was anything I was missing.

On my last trip there, I noticed something new. As I walked from the metro stop, across the bridge, and through 18th Street, I noticed that there were a lot of stickers, artwork, graffiti, and posters everywhere. But, these things were especially on signs and newspaper stands: places where they would surely be noticed. I found that most of the artwork was in large murals on the sides of buildings, most of the posters were being handed out or posted in very noticable, public places, such as bulletin boards, most of the graffiti was on poles, signs, and newspaper stands, and most of the stickers were on traffic signs and newspaper stands. I was trying to think about what this meant. I did not want to oversimplify the meaning and did not want to make it out to be delinquent hipster millenials.

I took pictures, knowing that it meant something, but not sure how to articulate my findings. Coincidentally, I went to Georgetown the next day with a couple of friends. As we were walking around, I noticed that I was not noticing what I had in Adams Morgan. There was no graffiti; there were no stickers or artwork. The newspaper stands were spotless and absent of messages beyond those of the newspapers. That was when I realized what my new topoi for Adams Morgan was.

My topoi changed to the unconventional spread of news in Adams Morgan. The platform for news is the built environment itself. The spreaders of news in this area know how to target the audience they want. It is with these additions to the built environment. They know that the area of Adams Morgan frequently fills up with young, hipster, liberal types at night and especially on weekends. The news spreaders know the crowd is college aged or above, but still relatively young. They know that the crowd will take interest in the political messages this unconventional spreading of news sends. Younger people are able to connect to the graffiti and stickers by simply looking them up the internet and social media. During the creation of the instagram I made for news, I connected with many of the people behind the stickers and found out what they were about. Some of it was artists trying to get their names out in the D.C. public, some of it was to send messages about our current President and Vice President, some of it was about a product someone was trying to sell. The messengers were smart in putting stickers and graffiti on newspaper stands to target the older aged residents who still do read the newspaper.

Though it took an entire semester to figure out, I am glad that I landed on the topoi I did for my site. I was confused and frustrated with the information I was finding because I did not think it was fitting into what I wanted to say about my site. I really enjoy Adams Morgan, and so I wanted to do it justice in this project. I am satisfied with the way my project turned out and hope to continue to think critically about built environments.

Meeting with Hoskins

Example of my new topoi.

I have met with you one on one multiple times throughout the semester to check in to make sure I am doing things right in class, as well as for projects. Our meeting today had to do with the final project. I explained how my project progressed and changed and of how my topoi went from gentrification to revitalization to the spread of news. One on one meetings are very helpful!

Diversity and Location

1. Argument

Stevenson, Douglas. “Adams-Morgan Majors In Urban Diversity: Adams-Morgan Full of Diversity.” The Washington Post  (1974-Current File); Washington, D.C., 7 Feb. 1987. ProQuest, http://search.proquest.com/hnpwashingtonpost/docview/139299839/abstract/14822AB6C16F4C11PQ/3.

Mr. Henry’s Gay Bar

In “Adams-Morgan Majors In Urban Diversity: Adams-Morgan Full of Diversity”, Douglas Stevenson of The Washington Post argues that there is not a definite “good” or “bad” way to look at the changes of 1990s Adams Morgan. In other words, Stevenson reports on different perspectives on the changing of Adams Morgan. One perspective is that the area attracts people of every socio-economic background. An example being the diversity of people that go to Mr. Henry’s Gay Bar. Another perspective is that the new residents in the area are displacing poor people.

I am planning on using this source as an Argument source for how there is not an answer to whether or not this revitalization that Adams Morgan has undergone is definitively “good” or “bad”. I am putting it into the conversation with the other argument sources for Adams Morgan and how my opinion has changed. 

 

2. Background

Abrams, Amanda. “Adams Morgan: No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents.” UrbanTurf, 29 Apr. 2011, http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/adams_morgan_no_longer_dcs_hippest_neighborhood_but_still_loved/3393.

Ad Mo

In “Adams Morgan: No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents”, Amanda Abrams argues that despite its constant changing, Adams Morgan is still home to diversity and small businesses. More specifically, rather than deciding whether the changes have been beneficial to each group, she takes Adams Morgan just as it is.

I am using this source as a background source for real estate and location in Adams Morgan. Abrams writes about condos, restaurants, parks, and stores. I am using this as a background source to put it into the conversation with background sources, such as what changes have gone on in Adams Morgan and why they are good and bad. 

Gentrification in DC

  1. Method

Iweala, Uzodinma. “The Gentrification of Washington DC: How My City Changed Its Colours.” The Guardian, 12 Sept. 2016. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/sep/12/gentrification-washington-dc-how-my-city-changed-colours.

Gentrification

In “The Gentrification of Washington DC: HowMy City Changed Its Colours”, Uzodinma Iweala argues that the D.C. that he grew up in is now different through demographics and gentrification. This includes the areas of U-Street, Adam’s Morgan, and Dupont Circle. It talks about the complexity of progression. Further, the article talks about the relationship between the original residents and the gentrifiers.

I plan to use this source to add to the conversation on the complexity of gentrification and progression for society in D.C. It talks about the gentrifying of D.C., but of how that meant progress for the gay community and overall societal living standard.


This is a Method source, as I use it for the concept of gentrification and how a seemingly bad thing can be multifaceted. For example, within gentrification, displacement is obviously bad, but with gentrification came progression with gay rights.

 

  1. Background

Misra, Tanvi. “Forgotten Lessons From a 1970s Fight Against Gentrification.” CityLab,          http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/02/forgotten-lessons-from-a-1970s-fight-against-gentrification/385212/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.

 

Clip from the article

In “Forgotten Lessons From a 1970s Fight Against Gentrification”, Tanvi Misra states that gentrification reaches deeper than just class. It is also very much so based on race due to history. Further, this source gives us an example of a way to fight gentrification, even if just briefly. Additionally, this article
talks about how battles fought over the area still affect Ad Mo today. 


I will use this source as background information for the history of Adam’s Morgan. I will also use it for why and when the area was gentrified and to map the changes within Adams Morgan. I will put this source into the conversation with the background sources on the Festival Center.

Subway

Subway Food Chain Logo 

My friend, classmate, and floormate, Eryka, once said that our friend, Tom, told her that the Subway (the food chain) on campus is a commonplace for campus. I agree with this statement in certain aspects, and disagree in others. I think that it is a commonplace in the sense that every type of student goes to Subway at some point, though underclassmen probably go more than upperclassmen. Teachers and staff go to Subway, as well. I do not think that it is a commonplace for Washington, D.C. as a whole.

 

D.C. Metro Map

Looking at another meaning of the word, I think that the metro, or subway, is a commonplace. Every single type of person in D.C. uses the metro. It is a cheap and relatively quick way to travel. It is quicker than walking or biking. The young and the old use the metro; anyone can exchange ideas and talk to each other on this mode of transportation.

How the Festival Center Shapes the Community Around it and Vice Versa

Many people feel that their voices are not heard and do not carry much weight in society, and so they do not actively participate as citizens. In City of Rhetoric, David Fleming calls for the need for a commonplace. Commonplaces have been used since as far back as Ancient Greece to act as a forum for a community. Though then, Commonplaces were called polis’s. The Greeks emphasized the importance of the polis as a place where everyone could come together to voice their opinions. The polis was both an equalizer and a divider; everyone’s voice was heard who was at the polis. However, the only people who participated were men who owned property and were wealthy. Though the world has only expanded and become more global since then, one thing has not changed: the need for a commonplace (Fleming 25). I will expand upon Fleming’s argument through looking at the rhetoric of the built environment of the Festival Center in Adam’s Morgan.

Every community needs a place of congregation for one reason or another. In Adam’s Morgan, the Festival Center is that place for many different people in the community. The Center is a large building with many rooms and a large amount of space, 19,600 sq. ft to be exact (Festival Center). Within the Festival Center are a small chapel and a Church, as well as various other rooms that you can rent out for events, such as including conferences, Weddings, Birthday parties, and retreats, etc. Access to these spaces allows for communion and celebration. The rental of the space must help contribute money to the upkeep of the place, as well as pay the people who work there.

Although renting space is necessary for profit, how necessary is it? How much profit? In a way, this brings up the same problem the ancient greeks had: socioeconomic status division. People can only utilize the space in the Festival Center if they have money. At the entrance of the Festival Center exists a multitude of flyers, one of which explains the spaces within it. At first, the looks of the flyer are promising: this is a place of community for all. There are many spaces for many different types of activities and events. At a closer look, however, the building is clearly a place that looks to profit from it’s use. The only people who have access to the pricey spaces in the Festival Center are those who have expendable income. The prices of rooms depend on the people who are renting them out. Since rental is through the Church, nonprofit is an option if there is proof through an IRS 501c3 or State Tax Exemption letter. Still, a deposit of $125 is needed if the event has less than 50 people and $250 is needed for more than 50 people. Additional cost per hour for nonprofits is $50, or the 9am to 5pm rate, which is a gaping $500. Questionably, businesses must pay the same rates that nonprofits have to pay for number of people, between $125 and $250. Businesses have the option of paying a rate of $600 from 9am-5pm, which is only $100 more than a non profit has to pay. They must also pay a rate of $75 per additional hour. Weekend rental rates are even more expensive than those formerly mentioned. There are also things such as a kitchen, a microphone, a podium, tables clothes, and a boom box that can be rented for another fee between $25-$50.

The rental rates of the Festival Center are expensive; this begs the questions: how much is the Festival Center actually a place to gather for the community, and how much is the Festival Center a place of business? It seems as though establishments nowadays almost always double as whatever they claim to be, and a business. However, establishments rarely advertise the business aspect. For example, colleges are schools as well as businesses. Additionally, the flyer states that renters are not allowed to charge an entrance fee to attendees. The flyer claims: “The Festival Center has several inviting spaces for rent that can be configured to accommodate your needs”, but what it leaves out is, “but only if you’re wealthy enough to accommodate our needs.”

It seems that documents that are supposed to apply to every person within a society always leave something out in the fine print; there is always a “but.” Examples include, but are not limited to, the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. The Bible preaches love and acceptance, but not for gay people. Originally, the Constitution was written for the equality of all men, but not women or nonwhite men or non-educated men. Thankfully, the Constitution is a living document that is subject to amendments and change, and the Bible is open to interpretation. Food is normally something that is normally up for interpretation, but not at the Festival Center.

Oddly enough, the Center controls the type of food, which is a symbol of unity, that renters serve. The flyer reads: “Food served and or Eaten in the large conference room will be negotiated at the time of rental.” It seems that this could be looked at in a couple of different ways. This may be because there are certain things that may stain floors or that are too messy for the space. This may also be because the Festival Center wants to make sure the restaurants within and around the Adams Morgan area are being supported. Other reasons behind exactly why the Festival Center has a say in the food people eat at their parties remain a mystery.

Open to the community around the Center, as well as newcomers outside of the area, the Chapel within the Festival Center hosts prayer groups every weekday from 12 noon to 12:20 pm. People are encouraged by a small card to: “Come pray in person or leave a written prayer request… All are welcome.” This seems welcoming and inviting. However, what are the reasons that people are not encouraged to come at any other point in the day? The Chapel is small and serene, and a good place to go if people need to pray, but why are people only encouraged to come at a certain point for a certain amount of time? Surely, the Chapel should always be open for people to pray if they need to, for that is that job of a Chapel: to be a built space that people can use if they feel like they need to talk to God or someone else. It is a place where people should feel they are welcome at any time. In conjunction with all being welcome is a bus stop very close by outside the building. Promisingly, the placement of the bus stop, intentional or not, means that the Center is accessible to more people in a relatively easy manner. The door is unlocked in welcoming and there is a ramp outside, so that people with disabilities can access the Church without needing help from anyone else.

Link to a video that briefly shows bus and ramp access.

However, I did not exactly feel welcome as I approached the Festival Center building; I was greeted by blank stares from inside. There was no sense of welcome, there were no smiles, no hands waving me on. I was not sure whether to go inside or not, but I proceeded.

It seems as though religions claim to welcome all to join their faith until people actually want to join. There are often many hoops people need to jump through to become a member of a certain faith. There are at least 3 sacraments you must complete to become an adult member of the Catholic Church and it is extremely hard to become a member of Judaism. Scientology is a whole other story. Was this a display of protection for the community? Why are all welcome and then some met with questions. My identity was not something I thought would matter much in an instance such as this one. That was a rather daft thought, since identity plays a role in everything people do. Perhaps the people within the building sensed that I was an outsider in the community, and so they regarded me suspiciously and with scrutiny.  Perhaps the people within the building regarded me with suspicion because they only saw my age and thought I was up to something troublesome, or that I may be lying about why I was there. Perhaps they did not think that these things would play such a large factor in whether or not I could take pictures of inside the building.

When I asked the people I was first met by in the building if I could take pictures of the space, they looked at me oddly and said that I had to wait to ask the Boss. I suppose that must have been a rather strange request on my part. The Boss did not have an issue with my request and told me that he did not mind. Perhaps he thought that a little free publicity for the center and the Church could not hurt. Perhaps the other people I encountered did not want their Center to be taken over by college kids who were not actually members of their community. I stuck to taking pictures of the Chapel as there was a party in the making in one of the rooms nearby. The Chapel was what I thought I was focusing on when I went there, but I realized afterward that the whole Festival Center held more of the community.

It is important to understand a built environment and to think about how it plays a role in the community around it. Commonplaces are important in society because they are places where people can go to discuss the issues or happenings of a community that they belong to. There exists no more efficient way to fully understand the needs of a community than through discussion and the voices of the people that belong to it. No matter the time or place, a space as described above is always necessary. A built environment always affects the community around it, and so a built environment must be created and used properly in order to exercise its full potential.

Works Cited

Festival Center. https://festivalcenter.org/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. SUNY Press, 2008.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Vine is an app that was widely used and hit its popularity peak 3-4 years ago. It was a staple for pop culture and meme culture. One of my all time favorite vine phases was the somewhat ironic use of the lyrics “Hello Darkness My Old Friend” from “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. For example, the use of the edit over this vine of Elmo:

I think that meme culture has to do with the increased use of sarcasm and irony as a coping mechanism in today’s society. Meme culture takes the melancholy song and turns it into a thing to laugh at. I grew up with the original Simon & Garfunkel song, as my Dad listens to this genre/time period of music. I believe that it is nice to have either option to watch/listen to; both bring me good memories.

Coffee Shops on Nassau Street

Throughout high school, there was never a lack of options for where to get coffee near campus. Nassau Street in Princeton, NJ had Café Vienna, what you might call the boojiest coffee shop of them all on Nassau; Starbucks, still overpriced, but consistent; and Small World Coffee, a small business that also has very expensive coffee. Overtired and very stressed high school students need their coffee. And don’t tell them otherwise.

 

A picture of my friends Jenae(left) and Nicole(middle), as well as myself(right), enjoying a non-stress/exhaustion induced coffee rendezvous at Small World in Princeton, NJ. We all made it through our college interviews and attend AU. 🙂

I found that these coffee shops were often places for college interviews. The interviews that took place off campus were all conducted in shops that sold coffee in the fall. I had interviews at Panera Bread and Café Vienna. My friends had interviews in various other small restaurants and coffee shops within the bubble that is Princeton, NJ. The interviews all consisted of a college representative, and an already nervous, jittery kid, who the coffee made even more jittery. The college representative had either just graduated from their Alma Mater, or was so old that she did not know anything about her current day University. However, the kid was always nervous and jumpy.

 

I think that the reason behind these coffee meetings is the lack of commitment that coffee symbolizes. Coffee meetings, much like coffee dates, can be as long or short as you need them to be. Additionally, I think that coffee gives people that little bit of energy that they could always use, and also helps with meeting people for the first time. A study from Yale University found that a warm drink in hand actually makes people more generous and caring.
Additional Note: A Dunkin Donuts opened up on Nassau Street within the past 6 months, giving the Princetonians even more coffee options.

His and Hers? – RA 6

In “His & Hers? Designing for a Post-Gender Society,” Suzanne Tick argues that the traditional gender roles are changing and that public and private spaces need to make everyone feel comfortable. Further, this must start with the fashion industry. In other words, the work place is an important place to begin, as is school.

Symbol someone made to express their gender from a blog

It is up to the fashion industry to break gender barriers because they have one of the fastest cycles in the artistic industries. For example, fashion changes every season of every year, whereas interior design and architecture take longer to change. Fashion design, web design, and technology today are still heavily male dominant. However, change is happening.

 

Acceptance of gender fluidity is progressing. Evidence of such is that elementary school students through college students are choosing not to pick a gender of forms; schools are constructing gender neutral bathrooms. Gender neutral bathrooms are a big factor of this change that is going on in society because they are spaces that accommodate sensitive personal issues. The workplace, however, is less accepting. There have been complaints from coworkers about not wanting someone who recently had gender-reassignment surgery to use either gender’s bathroom.

 

In order to progress in society, we need to make sure we are working collectively to make sure everyone is accommodated, regardless of gender. Though gender fluidity is becoming more commonplace, discrimination based on such is still very much alive in public and private spaces. It is up to everyone to ensure that everyone can express themselves and their individuality.