Give Me Money – Gentrification

Changing cities and changing demographics are two related issues that lie at the forefront of challenges we face as American’s today. As a politically polarized generation, today’s young people have opinions on what ought to be done politically, but do not necessarily understand the implications of choices they make regarding policy which affects other people. In regards to changing cities, gentrification reflects our societies’ conflicting attitudes towards preservation of culture, urban renewal, and social inequality. While everyone seemingly has an opinion that they stand ready to defend – either in support of or in opposition to gentrification – one thing is for certain: paying attention to, monitoring, and influencing our public sector can have a dramatic impact on the ways in which urban renewal can be a force for good. It is of critical importance for a wider array of people to understand gentrification, and to realize the ways in which they can get involved to make cities better places for all Americans. In addition, as a generation that is so much more politically involved and opinionated, it will be important for projects like mine to set a precedent to better informing people with voting powers, so they can make proper, unobstructed, unbiased decisions that impact our people. I believe that this project will empower people to make better decisions, which reflect their values, and hopefully, will help us to hold our public institutions more accountable for serving our most vulnerable people.

Thoughts

After I submitted my final portfolio, I started thinking about all that I had done to prepare my projects.  It sort of feels like I didn’t have anything done until the very end of the course.  I think all the drafts, revisions, and planning to produce one big, elegant portfolio made me feel less like I was working on assignment after assignment like it feels for other classes.  Instead, I think I felt like I was putting in lots of legwork throughout the semester, so that when it finally came time to turn everything in, I had a lot to show.

In addition, I noticed that my portfolio felt a lot greater than the sum of its parts.  Especially because I spent a lot of time working on the aesthetic components, I put a lot more work into the semester than just writing papers, like I’m used to doing in writing based classes.  As I’ve said before, I think the format of the Gateway class was super engaging and provided a fun platform to work with.  As stressful and difficult as the class was, it was quite refreshing to work on cumulative projects rather than separate, distinct assignments.  I think it was this element that got me thinking so much about all the projects and really allowed me to step up and produce what I thought was some of my best work in college.

Does anyone else have any brief thoughts on how this class was different than others and perhaps on how that motivated you to work differently?

I enjoyed meeting all of you, and hope to interact with you guys on campus next year!

Three Lists

In class today, we discussed what academic disciplines have contributed to the skills we’ve used and will need to complete our assignments for the semester. In the case of my re-purposing essay, and my remediation process, those skills have varied. Equally important is the fact that there are missing elements that I can’t simply “sum up” or quantify. So:

What academic disciplines contribute to or inform the repurposing:

-In order to think from a variety of conflicting standpoints on my repurposing assignment, I’ve thought about the collision of academic disciplines I’ve studied as a whole – 35%
-Logical reasoning from discussion based classes like Writing – 20%
-Economics – 15%
-Sociology and Psychology together – 10%
-Gray area – 20%

What academic disciplines contribute to or inform the remediation:

-Taking all of my ideas, taking them as assumptions, and transforming them: Economics classes – 30%
-Employing creativity – Writing and English – 20%
-Using different format to appeal to difference perspectives: Sociology and Art – 15%
-Gray area – 35%

Still to learn/Gray area composition:

-How to specifically be vague. Talking only in terms of subject content and words I’ve learned in class creates boilerplate; being vague creates vagueness. I need to be able to articulate in a unique way what I can do and what my experiences are. I need to talk about forces that connect different components of my mind without talking about the actual things in my mind.
-I need to learn how to find better outlets to describe the things I want to describe: metaphors, concepts, and remediation tools.
-I need to become more comfortable with being in a mental limbo!
-I still don’t know.

Remediation Thoughts

Through working with my re-purposed assignment, I realized that my topic can only be talked about in a really awkward and preachy kind of way. It got me thinking that the only way to remediate it would result in an even more preachy and annoying approach, and at this point I don’t think that it is something I want to work with.

Its pretty clear to me that the way in which I approached the re-purposing directly exposed the problems I could have with my topic. I think if I were to re-mediate it, I would try and do anything I could to make it less preachy. I don’t know if its possible, but perhaps I could create an interview, or even a conversation between two different people involved with my topic. That way, the topic could be exposed to the outside – instead of having to preach about it.

I don’t think that the remediating process for my re-purposed paper would necessarily result in a bad finished product, however, I just don’t know if it is a subject I want to pursue.

Who I’m Talking To, At, and About

For my repurposing essay I want to address the issue of hazing on college campuses in the United states.  I originally wrote a paper that was a suggestion to school governance boards to propose a new system to combat the problem.  I want to repurpose it to talk to the students that are doing the hazing, talk at school governance boards that make decisions and punish student organizations, and talk about the group of people being hazed.

My decisions about how to address each of these different groups of audience is strategic.  I want to talk to the students that are doing the hazing to start an open conversation with the goal of creating a mutual understanding that can hopefully lead to a reduced dependence on hazing methods to initiate members of groups into organizations.  Ultimately, condescendingly talking at this group or generalizing and talking about them could alienate them.  In effect, these kinds of groups like Greek life are so often talked about and talked at that they rarely are given a chance to take part in the conversations that go on about them.  This does no good for helping to prevent the problems they cause.

I want to talk at school governance boards because they so often set the tone for the conversations that occur about these types of organizations.  They also do a whole lot of punishing the groups that just drives the hazing underground and makes it worse.  Creating a system where student organizations resent the school governance boards is no effective way to enact any sort of change that results in better welfare for students looking to take part in student organizations.  As a member of student organizations like Greek life, I know exactly what it feels like to be talked at and about by institutions.  I think that it will help to appeal to the students that are in the position to haze by talking at these institutions.

I want to talk about the students that are in the position of being hazed because the people that are doing the hazing were once in that group of students, and I plan on talking about very general characteristics because the focus is more on how hazing affects them and I can afford to be general here.  I can also speak about characteristics that the group has and use those interests to nail in my points when talking about the other groups.

 

Directly Addressing vs. Implicitly Addressing Audience

The great thing about addressing an audience using the first and second person is that one can literally tell the audience their position and how it applies to them.  In the case of my repurposing project, where I will be suggesting the audience takes action on an issue, addressing them in the first and second person is quite useful.  I can explicitly use “I” and “You” to ask pointed rhetorical questions, to reference specific values shared by the audience, and to ultimately benefit from the possibilities to engage the audience.  It also affords me the opportunity to get right to the point; If I know the audience, I can speak to them in ways they will understand and focus on the issue, rather than drowning out my points in a sea of general and weak language.

Attempting to write two paragraphs – one paragraph of each style – showed me quite clearly that these distinctions exist.  When I tried to write a paragraph in the third person with the same content as a paragraph with the first and second, I was struggling.  How could I generalize claims and make them still appeal to a general audience?  I had to weaken them.  How could I talk about the same topic and hit the same points?  By swerving around the exact people whose behavior I am describing so as not to alienate my readers and be consistent with the third person style.

But after working and refining the two paragraphs I realized something important: while its hard to address a group of people in the third person, there is an art to doing it well.  This assignment made me very interested in the ways I can practice hitting the nail on the head even in the third person, and I look forward to working more towards appealing to a pointed audience in a general context.  After all, that is a necessary skill.

Burning Down the House?

I think that comparing the attack on the twin towers to climate destruction is a bit far fetched. It isn’t because I don’t believe the earth is endangered – instead it’s because the contexts are different. On 9/11, if you had any chance of surviving, it is because of the decisions you made in the span of an hour or so. In other words, if you were in a position where you could have made it out of the building, you only survived if you did make it out of the building. Choosing to listen to building management or not was a quick decision made with little time to consider how the actions would affect your livelihood. In addition, damage control was poorly applied because people in charge couldn’t really comprehend the situation.

In the case of the environment, people in charge are well aware of the effects they have on the environment. Indeed, scientists have been advising the population for years about their habits. In this case, it isn’t that damage control is being poorly applied because people don’t comprehend what’s going on – it’s because applying it effectively is inconvenient and costly. The effect is less resemblant of failing to escape from a burning building because of bad decisions, and far more consistent with ignoring the hazards that could set it on fire in the first place.

But the building isn’t really going to burn down either – instead, it will just become an unpleasant place to live.  Regardless, scrambling to react properly when tragedy strikes is different than choosing to ignore what could cause tragedy in the first place. One response is reactionary, the other careless.

Investors who pump billions of dollars into companies that harm the environment do so because it is profitable. That doesn’t mean they do so blindly. They understand the industry just as well as the scientists do – but they approach it with a different goal: making money. Few successful investors would ever put money into something they didn’t understand. While they likely won’t have an answer as to how to react to the deteriorating environment, they likely will have a financial exit strategy. The reason their investment behavior is careless to people who care about the environment is because it ignores the possibility of environmental destruction – but it doesn’t ignore the possibility of how profitability will change when oil dependence is no longer possible.

I think there is a mismatch of incentives that results in careless environmental behavior by people who make investment decisions regarding the environment. I don’t think its because they used the old tactics to make new decisions.  I think divestment will be driven by economic conditions, and I am not convinced the same types of behavior preventing divestment are at play.  It’s way more complicated and manipulative, and that’s why I don’t find the metaphor 100% useful.

 

A Range of Necessary Arguments

I consider change to be a necessary force in society. With the pretense that change has to exist in order for people and life to evolve, I believe certain types of arguments exist that are necessary.  An argument represents any sort of discourse about a subject of interest or a way of convincing a group of people.  To me, there are two kinds of them.  Ones that have the potential to do that, and ones that don’t.  The necessary kind of argument is an argument that welcomes the possibilities of other ideas and incorporates their merits. It acknowledges the complexity of a situation before it dismisses elements of it. For the condition of change, the best possible (and “most” necessary) argument convinces the maximum number of people that can be convinced. It is an argument executed with judgment, with knowledge, and with an understanding for the delicate balance of what people or populations need and what they actually value having. At a minimum, an argument has to have some sort of potential to alter an opposing stance, or the potential to convince a neutral party not to be unbiased.

Arguing can absolutely be a mistake, and in my opinion, very often is. The other type of argument is any that states one’s opposed beliefs or stance without qualification and due consideration towards the issue at large. Arguing is simply a mistake when it doesn’t do anything. Clashing heads over an issue doesn’t get anything done. Political debates are so often useless because they prohibit people from working together. Necessary arguments encourage people to collaborate, and by nature suggest an ideal path that both parties can at least consider. An argument is a mistake when the stance is overbearing and lacks any amount of potential for uniting opposed forces. In my opinion, an argument that is a mistake simply helps to better define a necessary argument.

Considering the case of my qualification for considering the merit of arguing – whether or not it has the potential to exact necessary change – necessary arguments and ones that are mistakes are mutually exclusive. They can’t coexist. It is important to consider a range of arguments to be accepted as necessary. The threshold where an argument becomes a mistake is at the point where it generates no potential. At that point, arguments perpetuate stagnation and hostility.