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.

Cocoa Butter Kisses

In this version of “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” Chance the Rapper sings about the following: “Cigarettes on cigarettes, my mama think I stank
I got burn holes in my hoodies, all my homies think it’s dank, I miss my cocoa butter kisses, I miss my cocoa butter kisses”. I interpret this to me that all of his friends do drugs and think that drugs are cool. Because of his drug usage, Chance’s Mom won’t give him kisses anymore.

This could also be a reference to a fashion statement. Nowadays, many trendy clothing lines are putting burns and holes in clothing, such as jeans and sweaters.

As the song goes on, the lyrics change to the following: “Cigarettes on cigarettes, my momma think I stank, I got burn holes in my memories, my homies think it’s dank, I miss my cocoa butter kisses, I think we all addicted”.  I interpret this to mean that all of the drugs contribute to memory loss, but he still remembers cocoa butter kisses from his mom. He knows that him and his friends are all addicted now. The song ends up switching back to the first version mentioned at the end.

Mama Ayesha’s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mama_Ayesha%27s_Restaurant_Presidential_Mural

A thing that I think represents my site is the mural of Mama Ayesha standing with 11 passed presidents of the United States in Adams Morgan. It also ties into the topoi circulating through my site. I believe that a big part of the topos in Adams Morgan has to do with gentrification.

Mama Ayesha’s is one of the restaurants that has been in Adams Morgan for the longest, so it has witnessed a lot of change within the community. It has witnessed change since its founding in the 1960s. These changes include, but are not limited to, the Civil Rights Movement and the gentrification of Adams Morgan. Mama Ayesha’s has been and continues to be in the same spot since Eisenhower’s presidency, the first president shown in the mural. 

This leads me to question whether or not Adams Morgan is carefully crafted to hipsters and trendy gentrifiers or if some places, like Mama Ayesha’s, are truly the essence of the area? Was it diverse and does it now try too hard to be so? Is it vice versa? Both? There may not be a definitive answer.

Side Note: There has been some debate over whether or not to add Trump to the mural.

Housing and Dining Programs

This sign shows that the Housing and Dining Program is trying to help our already liberal campus to take steps toward being all inclusive. Though some people view this as a micro-factor of fixing non-inclusiveness, I think it is a step in the right direction.

I think that the fact that the sign says that you can lock the restroom if you feel the need to is counterintuitive to what the university is trying to do.

 

 

Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”

Root: Shall property be exempt?

Key Words: owned by, utilized by, from taxation

The question asks whether or not property owned by Georgia’s own Housing and Dining programs should be taxable. I think that this is an interesting question, but ultimately, the property should remain untaxed. Education is already expensive enough and the added tax could create systemic problems for the University. Tuition may go up to help cover the cost of the already expensive University. Costs can range from $26,000 to $45,000 dollars a year and the tax could be the difference of whether or not someone can attend.

https://www.admissions.uga.edu/prospective-students/tuition-fees

Potter’s House

http://pottershousedc.org/

Photo taken of Potter’s House by my good friend Israel Herrera 

The Potter’s House in Adam’s Morgan is a cool place I stumbled upon when I first visited the site for my built environment. I passed it on my journey and stopped in on the way back. It has a cool vibe to it, being both a cafe and a book store. Another really awesome component of the Potter’s House is that they have a pay it forward initiative that was actually mentioned in the pamphlet that was handed out for Mindy Fullilove’s speech on “Promoting a Culture of Health in American Cities”. The idea behind pay it forward is you can pay for someone’s future meal if someone were to come in and ask for one. When I went, it was evident that the Potter’s House welcomed homeless people. Though D.C. has turned into what Derek S. Hyra (mentioned in the pamphlet) would call a Cappuccino City, meaning a gentrified city, the Potter’s House, originally founded it 1960, closed in 2013 for renovations, and reopened in 2015, seems to be trying to remain true to its roots. The “About Us” page of the Potter’s House website reads as follows: “In our rapidly changing city – one in which development so often means displacement – The Potter’s House is a deeply rooted space where we can build relationships across our differences, envision just alternatives, and grow the movements that will make them possible”. I believe that the Potter’s House is onto what Fleming was getting at in Chapters 9 and 10 of City of Rhetoric. It is a place where people can congregate despite their differences in background in order to converse and interact with each other. It is a commonplace D.C. needs.

Potter’s House Book Selection

 

Activewear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYRENWT8lz8

This video was first brought to my attention on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. It has since become more prevalent. I think that it does an excellent job of using satirical humor. Nowadays, women, myself included, wear “activewear” to do just about anything. From what I have seen, leggings have become as prevalent, if not, more prevalent, than jeans. This is especially true with younger generations.

I think that many females find this video funny because of the simply mundane activities that the women in the video partake in. I believe that they find it very relatable.

Failure

In Worstward Ho!, Samuel Beckett writes the following:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Trying again and again after failing

How does the sentence structure perhaps affect how we read this? Would the impact be different if it were written in a DC, IC form?  How so? How would it change if he used question marks after the first two sentences? And exclamation points afterward?

Beckett says that failure in inevitable, and that you’re going to fail even worse in the future than you have already, but that you must continue to try again and again. This is an extremely important lesson to be learned because often times people give up too easily.

One of the world’s most great writers would use such “simple” structures to add emphasis to the lesson he is teaching. This quote is structured this way for a reason. The pattern adds to the point that you must try again. The sentence structure affects how we read this because it makes each sentence’s meaning more deliberate.

The impact of the quote would be different had Beckett used different punctuation. If he had used a DC, IC form because it would have connected the phrases differently and therefore changed the relationship between the words. If he had used two question marks at the end of the first two sentences, it would have made the quote more conversational and less definite. If he had used exclamation marks afterward, it would have sounded like an ad, or commercial.

Michael Jordan, one of the most successful basketball players of all time comments on failure in the following videos: