For my College Writing Class with Professor Hoskins, I have had the unique opportunity to research a commonplace in the D.C. Metropolitan area and observe it through a rhetorical lens. I picked a coffee shop in the Shaw area called Compass Coffee. The cafe originated from an old laundromat and now has multiple locations throughout the city. I explored D.C. through newspaper articles, videos, and first-hand observations.

What makes this project even cooler is that my whole class participated. Here is a map of everyone’s commonplaces and research: Class Google Map

Looking back at my work over the semester, I never realized how exciting and impactful my work was until now. I hope you enjoy looking at my project!

Below are links to each part:

Office Hours

I visited Hoskins office hours a total of three times. One time was our first meeting to get to know each other. The next, we talked about my Essay 1 grade and how I can include more rhetorical analysis in my assignments. Another time we went over citations. Finally, we talked about my final project. Thanks for all the help professor! See you around (I figured I would match your Obama meme that shows after submitting extra credit assignments)!


Guru speaker:

On April 19th I walked into a room full of individuals without shoes on sitting on a bunch of yoga mats. I was here to see the Professional Devamrita Swami. The guru and yogi master who was supposed to teach me how to manage stress and make me “perfect”. Quick spoiler alert – obviously this didn’t end up happening.

Swami offered a few rather interesting insights on life… as a whole. First, he asked the audience what made us happy. He listened to our responses to funny stories that kids experienced from the weekend before or how the cupcake we ate at lunch made us content for the rest of the day. Swami listened and listened, then proceeded to tell us none of us had actually experienced “real happiness”. He asked if we had real happiness in the moments described then why did the feeling eventually go away. According to him, an individual needs to experience full enlightenment to gain a sense of happiness that never disappears. Perplexed with the task of becoming enlightened, the audience continued to ask questions of how we could reach this constant state of happiness. The answer was simple. Swami responded by saying, “just buy my book, then you can read and find out how”.

And my experience of becoming perfectly stress-free and relaxed turned into a stressful book-pitch and I learned that I am not ever going to be truly happy (just kidding, I strongly disagree with Swami).

However, I do not see attending this speaking event as a waste of time. In fact, it made me realize that all the small moments of happiness do matter (even though the yogi disagrees). I learned that the most important thing is to be present in the moment. I don’t think humans are meant to be constantly happy because if we were how would we move the world forward? If we never experienced the anxious feeling or urge to learn more – discoveries wouldn’t be made. Society wouldn’t progress. In fact, it is the feelings of competitiveness and curiosity (along with many other of course) that benefit the human race as a whole.

Androgynous as a Commonplace


Adj. 1. being both male and female; hermaphroditic, 2. having both masculine and feminine characteristics, 3. having an ambitious sexual identity

We have all heard our people preach about how we need to “be our own individual” and “do what we want”, which is exactly what we did. The media has such a small coverage on androgyny and understanding it, the media ends up reenforcing mainstream beauty and norms. As Suzanne Tick discusses in her article about gender and society, androgyny has stemmed form a confusion of appearance. Gender is becoming such a fluid term as society comes to term with this new concept. It is no longer just in the media but in our everyday lives. Coming here to AU, my first day I was asked to share my desired pronouns. Androgyny isn’t just a commonplace anymore but a common movement.

This article outlines the most common misconceptions and lies media tells about androgyny.

4 Harmful Lies the Media Is Telling You About Androgyny


Corporate v. Non-Corporate

Annotated Bibliography 9:


Fig.1. Starbucks logo; example of corporate coffee shop

Carman, Tim. “Starbucks is over downtown Washington. These coffee shops are so much better.” The Washington Post, 5 April 2017.

In his article “Starbucks is all over downtown Washington. These coffee shops are so much better”, Tim Carman discusses the new non-corporate coffee shops that are beginning to push Starbucks aside. Interestingly, it’s not just Compass Coffee that is over taking the downtown area but also Swing’s Coffee and La Colombe. On one hand, Compass Coffee is striving to become the “Starbucks of the East Coast”. On the other, La Colombe is becoming a “weekend destination”. Additionally, Swing’s Coffee uses favorable lease terms and the perfect space to stay in business.

However, knowing what the competition looks like between the non-corporate and corporate coffee shops can aid in understanding what the future may look like for these stores. In addition, it is helpful to know which parts of the coffee shops make them desirable. Knowing unique characteristics can offer an explanation as to why individuals are picking non-corporate shops over the bigger corporations

Annotated Bibliography 10:


Murray, Kyle B. “The effect of weather on consumer spending.” Journal of retailing and consumer services, vol. 17, no. 6, Nov. 2010, pp. 515-520. DOI: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2010.08.006

In his article “The effects of weather on consumer spending”, Kyle Murray provides a series of evidence found in studies proving that the weather does effect mood and spending. To start, studies showed that bad weather (i.e., rain or snow) tends to keep people at home. Looking at substantial research in psychology their is a positive correlation between weather and mood. For example, an individual who is exposed to sunlight will walk away in a better mood than before. This is because sun exposure produces serotonin, the calming hormone in the brain. Additionally, studies showed that artificial lights works just as well with SAD depressed patients. However, according to empirical research, consumers in positive moods evaluate products much more favorably than they would in a neutral mood. In addition, individuals in a positive mood are more likely to spend more money and self-reward themselves.

I took this picture at the Farragut location of Compass Coffee. Observe the large window allowing lots of light to enter the store. Even though it was raining at the time, the light still fills the room.

In comparison with my other sources, this article can offer more of an understanding as to why a consumer may behave the way they do. At Compass Coffee, there are giant windows letting in large amounts of natural light. When looking at the article prior, we see the shift in consumers form corporate coffee shops to non-corporate. Perhaps, this is due to the natural light in the smaller shops. In addition, I think this is a credible source.


Farragut Square Location

As I headed home from the March for Science, I passed Compass Coffee. However, not the Shaw location but the Farragut Square Location. This is what I found!

Digital Archive 1:

Walking into Compass Coffee, here is the view looking to the left. The first thing I notice is the large window letting in natural light.  Many businesses, corporations,

 Friedrich von Schmidt, Vienna Rathaus. 1872-1883. Building. Harshil Shah. Vienna - Rathaus. 2009. Digital Image. Flickr. Yahoo! Inc. Web. 14 Sept. 2012

Fig. 1. The inside of Compass Coffee; large window with natural light, food and snacks in the fridge under the spotlight

and restaurants alike, use natural light because it has a very calming and peaceful effect on our moods and emotions. Adversly, lack of light can trigger depression. The brain chemical, serotonin, that promotes calmness declines on darker days causing negative moods. Daylight, does the opposite.


Digital Archive 2:

Fig. 2. Compass Coffe store view; merchandise placed near cash register and menu, only standing benches

This is also the view (straight ahead), when you walk in. This Compass Coffee location has no seating, only standing room. Even a table at perfect standing height. This location is meant more for the “grab-and-go” coffee run rather than the “lets sit and talk” kind. Similar to the first archive, Compass Coffee uses light to draw the customer in. In addition to the natural lighting they also have spotlights on the products next to the cash register. When you walk up to order your coffee, your gaze is directed to the merchandise in the spotlight. Since you are checking out, the hope is you will purchase merchandise as an impulse buy.

Digital Archive 3:

This picture was taken right next to the place where you pick up your cup of coffee. First, you see the mural of D.C. with their slogan, “Made in D.C.” written on it. Immediately the customer feels as though they are getting authentic D.C. coffee that is made right there. It is more of a personal relationship with the store, rather than going somewhere like Starbucks, where most people aren’t sure where the coffee is made. Second, the orange and blue compass on the wall right next to the D.C. mural.

Fig. 3. Wall murals; directly in front of the door and behind the coffee pick-up station

In past digital archives I have talked about the significants of the colors in the compass. Placing it on the wall (directly in front of the door) ensures that both these paintings are the first thing that customers see. Having the coffee pick-up station directly in front ensure that this is the last thing customers see. Now, both images are branded in the customers mind with the association of Compass Coffee.

Digital Archive 4:

Fig. 4. The Kitchen; many gallons of milk, free water for customers

Here, the customer is able to see directly into the kitchen. They clearly keep the kitchen spotless. The consumer unconsciously develops a level of respect for the company – just as they would develop a more conscious level of disrespect and repulsion for companies who kitchens are a disaster.  In addition, the customer is able to see that they aren’t scarce on materials (i.e., the large number of milk cartons).  There is nothing more frustrating than ordering a drink and the company not having enough milk or coffee to make your drink.

Digital Archive 5:

Fig. 5. Coffee grinds at milk station; the logo tells people that it is special to Compass. Since it comes from Compass the consumer also knows it was made locally.

My last digital archive is a picture of the table where you can add your own milk, sugar, honey, or whatever you desire in your coffee. However, it is impossible to customize your drink without looking at the large amount of coffee grounds made by compass on the shelves above. In case you happen not to look up or relatively straight ahead, there is a mini shelf with mini coffee grounds … also for sale. In a store surrounded by merchandise (especially something as imperative as coffee) it is almost impossible to not buy.

Scott, Erica. Compass Coffee Photographs, April 2017, Compass Coffee.


George Elliot, Middlemarch

“For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.” – George Elliot, Middlemarch

This quote describes how influential surroundings actually are on an individual. I think this is a very interesting thought. Perhaps, we were raised in a different environment – how different would we actually be? All creatures bear concerns about the external environment. But how could we not? In order to do well you have to be well liked by others. Having a sense of community is vital for happiness. People say they don’t care what others think about them – but that, in itself your inward being is being determined by what is outside (and not caring about its effect).

Fig. 1. This shows how an individual’s mind is effected by those around him. In this case one is influenced by the minds surrounding but it can one can also experience influence by the environment.

Dare to be different? I wouldn’t.

In his chapter “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”, Fleming begins by rehashing his past scenes from earlier in the text. He discusses how his generation has, in a sense, “failed” in teaching the young people how to appreciate and deal with living together with people who are not like themselves. However, the only way to build a self-governing community focus on acceptance and equality is for our society to be built up of individuals with similar backgrounds and goals. Essentially it is impossible to live in complete harmony and equality.

Applying Flemings theories to college life, one can only concur with his findings. Everyone says there is no judgment in college, everyone is free to be themselves. However, there is an unbelievable amount of tension between individuals with vastly different points of view that differ from the mainstream. The community of American University consists of main liberals, making this the mainstream perspective. When a conservative individual is put into the community they are immediately attacked, hated, isolated for deviating from the norm. It becomes a topic of gossip. Intentional or not, this creates a mental barrier and a tainted view of the individual. Similarly, lower-income communities are isolated and seen as “different” from the mainstream.

Below is an article about American University. Hundred of students gather to voice their opinions. Of course, there is nothing from with exercising the First Amendment right of free speech. However, being there in person I was able to get a first-hand experience. Not only were they protesting, but also yelling and verbally attacking any conservative student. In addition, those who are conservative are very well known. For example, when students see republican individuals they point them out and say, “They voted for Trump. Can you believe that?”. Marking them as different than the rest of the students.


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