Fleming and understanding the rhetorical influence of the city and suburbs
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In part three of David Fleming‘s City of Rhetoric, he seeks to remind us why he has provided a “tour” of the built environment and finally gets into the whole reason this information matters. He returns to why he feels the built environment ‘says ‘ something and how it has affected society’s behavior. He especially wants to bring home the point of diversity. Both urban design and housing choice have been especially influential on how poor, often African Americans, have been treated; and says a whole lot about what kinds of people are able to live where. He finally goes to explain why some do better in some situations and than others, and why having a diverse situation will allow for this to improve.
The first example he returns to is the idea of “commonplaces”. He believes that diversity is driven by centralized places of meeting, and without them the landscape by nature will be divided He then argues that he does not necessarily mean that every area must be metropolitan in order to influence diversity, but he does assert that areas that are spread-out or physically decentralized; should have a “middle” ground for a heterogeneous society. Referring to the area of Chicago states that “our contemporary landscape” does not always meet his demands of an effectively unifying city. He then explains that he feels our even our most progressive ideas to bring about diversity have not worked because they have been: based on public philosophies with an impulse to separate or a false idea of what is necessary to unify. In addition, because of this, there has not been a healthy relationship with “conflict” which is crucial to social progress.
He provides the example of the Cabrini Green housing project and how it had become a ghetto concentrated with poor African Americans for so long; to explain an example of how an idea of centralization had failed. He believes though the effort, in theory, should have worked; it failed because of three rhetorical problems: fear, isolation, and silence. Not only were the individuals being marginalized by this fallacy of unity, many them remained silent about the situation. He then reminds us that suburbia as a whole has become very good for jobs, and financial security. However the suburban design from a public unity perspective; is absolutely detrimental; because many of those who live in a suburban situation are not always driven to see diversity. Suburbs are usually rather homogenous.
He finally goes on to describe why homogenous places have become such an issue for the success of everyone, and how this has perpetuated fear, silence, and isolation. He believes that though humans do naturally converge in places among those like themselves, he emphasizes that “place matters”. Part of the reason why some groups have not been as well off, and also why they may have been put there in the first place; is that the place may be simply a terrible place to live.Those needing public housing, for example, may have been discriminated against, by the understanding that the area would not be very healthy for success and therefore diversity.Though globalization has provided more opportunity for many individuals to get out of their place of homogeny and isolation; many places do not provide the resources to do so. Some of the important issues he addresses are the condition of the school systems, the quality of housing, and the availability of jobs centered even within a community itself. In addition, there is an issue with silence and complacency. Groups need to feel as though they are able to improve their community. His proposal in order to improve diversity and allow for healthy public discourse; seems to be the investment in local resources in order to allow everyone the resources in order to branch out. In addition, a lot of times based on where a group lives the way an area is seen can have an even worse impact on diversity, through fear.
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