Meg Donovan Alternative Research Project: The Table

For the past six months, I have volunteered at the Table, a food pantry in downtown Fredericksburg. It is run by St. George episcopal church and is open every week at 9:30 in the morning and 5 in the evening for an hour and a half each time. I try to go once a week in the evenings, where I am tasked with monitoring the types of food that each person may or may not take. This food costs $45,000 each year, money obtained from governmental, nonprofit, commercial, and public funds.

The individuals that attend the table are usually not homeless. Often, many of them have homes, and work low income jobs whose salaries do not provide enough to put food on the table week to week. Before the Table began, individuals would be given an emergency food bag if they couldn’t last the entire month on their income. This bag restricted their choice in food and had a limited quantity. Then, the food pantry began to give the church perishables, which eventually lead to the creation of the food pantry. The new system created was set up in a market style pantry where shoppers were able to select their own items with a selection of food focused on fresh produce.

There are so many aspects of power that can be seen at the Table. For example, the Table exhibits power by how it gets its money; the shoppers exhibit power by their choice in produce; the volunteers exhibit power by deciding and controlling the amount a shopper can take from one specific item. By using governmental funds partially, and instead focusing on receiving funds from charities, the public, and local commercial organizations the table takes a lot of the power out of government’s hands, placing it instead in control of the Table. This also puts more responsibility on the Table to do work for the people of the community, something traditionally meant for the government. This, in a lot of ways, mixes up the often obstructive role of power by the government onto the people of low working class.

When I worked as a volunteer, I have the power mentioned above – I say how many you can and cannot have in order to feed your family. I do this because there needs to be enough to go around for everyone. I also have an unmentioned, automatic power: I am a healthy, white female who is financially secure with many privileges, and most of these individuals are minorities with nowhere near the amount of privileges that I have. This can create tension sometimes, and it has. Sometimes, some individuals will try to take too many cabbage, or lettuce, or something, and I have to say no – often with a language difference making the power difference a lot more obvious.  This means you need to find ways to lower the power differentials. One of the ways I found to do this was to ask the names of the produce in languages of some of the shoppers. This puts me at a lower power level than originally, making the tension recede slightly.

Working at the table has been a fantastic experience for me. A lot of the power dynamics that we talked about in class are applicable to here very clearly. Its enabled me to interact with people who I normally wouldn’t interact with in my daily life, and it gives the statistics a visual reality  with what it is really like.

Reaction Paper 3: Newspaper Editorial

The riots at Missouri University over the past few weeks have divided many individuals as to whether the students, or the university were at fault. These issues began to acquire national attention when the football team began to boycott football games, backing a member who was on a hunger strike bringing attention to the racial issues African Americans faced when attending the university – problems the president refused to address. These two issues don’t mark the beginning of the situation, however. Instead, it arguably can be traced back to issues that began with the new university president coming into power.

As a former IT professional and a software executive, Tim Wolfe faced criticism from faculty due to his lack in experience of universities. (1) He acquired the position in 2012, and since then has made some policy blunders such as cutting healthcare for graduate and adjunct professors and temporarily terminating the university’s Univ. of Mo Press. After abstaining from addressing two situations of obvious racism within the university – when a feces swastika painted on a bathroom wall and when the Missouri Student Association president was called the “N-word” multiple times on campus (2) – Wolfe resigned under criticism from both students and faculty at the university, as well as lawmakers.

This relates to the course in many ways – specifically through systematic power. Many students at the University of Missouri expressed disapproval with public issues and how they were handled. Protests, hunger strikes, letters and obvious disapproval of the leadership did not bring any change, however. Instead, it was the boycott by the football team. The team pledged to not participate in any games until there was recognition and change brought about by the president and chancellor of the university, showing support for a student who went on a hunger strike. This quickly gathered a large following national media attention, as well as action from the university.

The fact that none of the prior expressions of contempt from students created a solid reaction from the university president, but the boycott from the football team quickly did, is a form of power within the university. The fact that the university officials only listened to students’ issues when a certain group of students was unhappy with the outcomes of situations is a sign that there is an unfair and unequal power within the university. This shows that unless you are somewhat of a celebrity – for example, a sports team member, you do not and will not have a say in the change that can occur within a college campus.

From governors to boards to presidents to deans, there are concrete and obvious signs of power. Certain individuals can and often will be favored over one another regardless of a greater amount of experience that the ignored may have. For this system to flood into student dynamics and mean that regardless of knowledge on issues, if you are on a sports team, you have more power than ‘the others’ is a serious issue within the distribution of power.

“What Happened at the University of Missouri? – Slate.” 2015. 30 Nov. 2015 <>

“Racial climate at MU: A timeline of incidents this fall | Higher …” 2015. 29 Nov. 2015 <>

“Should It Really Take a Football Team to Force Change on …” 2015. 1 Dec. 2015 <>

“Race Wasn’t the Only Issue at University of Missouri – WSJ.” 2015. 30 Nov. 2015 <>

Race, Riots, and Then and Now

In the first chapter of Janet L. Abu-Lughod’s book, Race, Space, and Riots, she discusses different riots that shape the structure of American societal change through the twentieth century. Immediately, she introduces an argument against the Kerner Report. Her argument is such: the authors of the Kerner report failed to take into account not only most of American civil disorder history, but also the systemic and long imbedded issues which those communities who rioted were facing. She counters this argument with her study on six riots that occurred in the three largest metropolitan regions in the United States: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

In Chicago, she studies the white-on-black race riot of  1919 and the black (and separate Latino) West Side ghetto riots of the 1960s. In New York, she studies the African American uprisings in Harlem in 1935 and 1943 as well as the Harlem/Bedford-Stuyvesant uprising of 1964. In Los Angeles, she studies the Watt riot of 1965 and the 1992 South Central riot. Within each of these cities and their corresponding riots, she discusses a spacial and a time aspect for the riots and a generalized history behind their cities’ African American socioeconomic situations. Her goals of this project is the ability to achieve the following through analyzing these six riots:

  • “illustrate the changing conditions of urban race relations over time…”
  • “explain variations in riots [through] demographic compositions, spatial distributions of racial and ethnic groups…”
  • “demonstrate […] ways [which] relevant government regimes have responded to sequential outbreaks”(page 8)

Of each city, Abu-Lughod brings up a theme of underlying history. One of the most detrimental things of a written work is a lack of prefacing explanation for the ideas discussed in said work. This book does the opposite, in that Abu-Lughod explains a generalized version of the leading up to why and how the riots came to be. She discusses briefly the systemic socio-economic problems that were at play prior to the riots, such as lack of public amenities such as transportation, quality education, jobs, and a flowing economy. She also talks about what lead up to the riots depending on the city, such as migration, economic surpluses or deficits, wars, and industrial increase or decrease.

The next apparent theme in this chapter is the sole selection of big cities as locations for the riots she will study. Her reasoning for choosing large cities is to create a substantial study group in which to gain a wide range of knowledge about the riots. She states that when “studies focus on individual riots, [their results become so muddled] with description that they fall short on analysis” (page 9). The way this study is designed is that it enables a constant: the size of the city, creating a control in the study.

Another theme within the chapter is the theme of race and the role it has played in civil disruptence. While each of the riots studied involves the African American race in some way, Abu-Lughod also studies a “white-on-black” riot, as well as riots involving a team of African Americans and Latino Americans. She discusses, briefly, that race is somewhat of a social construct, and that with that imbedded social construct lie certain occurrences allowing for inequalities to grow and solidify into the social situations which in many ways influenced the riots studied within the book.

The final major theme in this chapter is the theme of spacial commonalities and differences within each city. The first city, Chicago, is nearly completely segregated, making its spatial makeup unique against that of New York and Los Angeles. It acts within a system of one theory of racialized peace: that when two “combatants”, ie. whites and blacks, are separated, there will be peace. This has, according to Abu-Lughod, not been affected by an influx of other races into the city. Los Angeles, unlike Chicago, has been affected by incoming minorities. This has affected the spatial makeup of the Los Angeles inner city, creating a community of not only African Americans, but also Latin Americans. In New York, the boroughs of New York City are studied. In New York City, Abu-Lughod maintains, the ethnic aspects of the city make it so that there is little white dominance spatially that is unbroken by minority or neo-white (Irish, Italian, the like) inhabitants. Each of these have totally different spatial makeups enabling a differencing variable within each individual riot’s location.

By pulling the variables within this case study and analyzing current riots happening within the United States, it begs the question of what factors affected the period of time and the citizens living within the city of the riot. These spatial, racial, political, social, and historical sides to the story of a riot such as those in Baltimore or Fergeson are often inappropriately overlooked. I would argue however, that one variable that should have been touched on within each of the riots, or at least the prefacing information to the riots, would be the media’s interpretations and publications of the riots as well as the group initiating the riots.

Especially now more than ever, the media – social and professional – has such an influential say in how things are said, meaning they also have a say in how events are interpreted. For example, with the Black Lives Matter movement, social media was able to influence citizens not only in the city where riots were occurring – Baltimore, for example – but also citizens all over the country. This enabled the riots to gather faster attention from all social roles – politicians, educators, professionals, students, citizens, etc. And while there was no social media, no Facebook or Twitter, during the riots studied in this book, there was newspapers, radio reports, and television newscasts that had huge influences on the riots and their aftermaths.

Reaction Paper 1: Fredericksburg City School Plan

For my first reaction paper, I analyzed the Fredericksburg City Public School 2014-2019 Comprehensive Plan. The schools that fall within the Fredericksburg City School System are the Walker-Grant Early Childhood Center, Hugh Mercer Elementary School, Lafayette Upper Elementary School, Walker Grant Middle School, and James Monroe High School.

The plan begins by stating why the plan was revised, quoting VA code 22.1-253.13:6. It also states that each public school develops its own plan in accordance with this one. The plan then launches into expectations for the schools that fall under jurisdiction of the school board. These expectations include a school mission, expectations of the staff, the principal, and detailing of the environment created by the school and parents for the students. They also include four goals for the schools:

  • Goal #1: Student Achievement: Fredericksburg City Public Schools will develop, advance, and support academic programs which enable students to become productive citizens in a global society and to meet laudable academic, career, and personal goals.
  • Goal #2-School Environment: Fredericksburg City Public Schools will continue to provide a safe school environment that encourages students and staff to demonstrate respect for each other and to appreciate our diversity and democratic values.
  • Goal #3- Highly Qualified Staff: Fredericksburg City Public Schools will recruit, develop, and retain highly qualified staff to carry out the mission of the school division.
  • Goal #4-School and Community Relations: Fredericksburg City Public Schools will promote, facilitate, and enhance partnerships and communications between the schools, students, and the community.

One of the strengths of this plan is that it outlines an overview of how all the schools will execute in a similar fashion. The weaknesses is that the plan lacks solutions for problems that arrive, allowing the individual schools to come up with their own solutions. The plan also takes a very abridged approach to plans for the schools in general. It comes off as a very top down approach, because it seems to be authored by people who lack understanding into the differences in every school.


“Fredericksburg City Public School 2014-2019 Comprehensive Plan” City of Fredericksburg. Web. October 22, 2015

The Stone Brewery Development Project: Power and Key Players

Over the recent year, Stone Brewery has been breaking ground on a new brewery and bistro in the Fulton neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia. This is a project that will cost the city 23 million dollars, and has received a lot of scrutiny over the past year. The Richmond City Council, as well as the Richmond Economic Development Authority, exhibited different levels of power over each other, the citizens, existing businesses, and Stone Brewery. This research project examines the ways in which each party had power over another, as well as the types of power the different parties had.

Stone Brewery Co. Project

The Stone Brewery Development Project: Power and Key Players

Meg Donovan

Community Power

October 14, 2015

The Stone Brewery Development Project: Power and Key Players


In October 2014, the Richmond Economic Development Authority put its bid in to bring in Stone Brewing Company to the city of Richmond, Va. This bid included $23 million in city money and around $5 million from the state. Stone Brewery accepted their bid, denying bids from cities such as Columbus, Ohio, and began plans to create a brewery and bistro in the Historic Fulton neighborhood. This brought a backlash from local restaurants, claiming that the city, as well as the state, was unfairly dishing out tons of cash to Stone, while not dropping a dime on anyone else. This paper analyzes the level of power which the Richmond Development Board had over the citizens and business owners of the Richmond community.


During the research for this essay, I looked at multiple newspaper articles. Majority of them are from a newspaper called the Richmond Times-Dispatch, while a few were from CBS 6’s website. These articles were dated between early October of 2014 and October of 2015. These illustrated a slightly murky but overall comprehensible story of what happened during the approval and beginning of the Stone Brewing Co. project.  Any fact checking for the names of members of the EDA board was done through the EDA’s website.

Results and Backstory

After winning the bid in October, the Chairman of the Economic Development Authority and Stone Brewery signed a lease in December of 2014, amid local criticism. Many restaurant owners spoke out against the deal, as well as the lack of transparency accompanying it, at a local meeting to discuss it during December, but the city council still approved the lease. The lease came with a rent of $148,545 a month if the project hits it $23 million dollar mark. This business deal was estimated to bring “300 jobs and be a $74 million investment” into the East End.

The problem is that the EDA board lacked significant transparency with the City Council. In January and February of 2015, when the lease needed to be reworked, the EDA went into closed sessions that ended in a rescinding of the original lease and instead allowed the Chairman of the Board to sign a modified lease. This lease, which was released in March, stated that the EDA knew that the initial cost estimate of 23 was too low. The EDA, in the new lease, laid out each party’s responsibilities. According to the Times-Dispatch article, “if the costs were to rise by $4.6 million […] Stone could potentially provide up to $3.5 million to cover any overruns, but the authority would have to pay back the money with interest”. Several members of City Council was not made aware of this until the lease was released almost a month later.


There are five key players in this situation: the Richmond EDA, Stone Brewing Company, the City Council, business owners, and taxpayers.

The EDA board possesses the most power, even over City Council. The EDA seem to have ultimate convert power, stating that the lease could not be viewed because of exceptions to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act for contract negotiations. The reason given for this withholding is that all documents are under negotiation until signed by both parties, and public view of the documents could give one party “a competitive advantage” according to Lee Downey, the Director of the EDA8. According the article explaining the EDA’s process,

“In its public votes, the EDA often votes only to authorize its chairman to negotiate and sign documents at an undetermined point after the meeting. Because the documents themselves are not available at the time of the vote, it’s difficult to know exactly what the authority’s board is approving.”

The EDA is also the ‘landlord’ for Stone Brewing Co. The lease states that the EDA will fund the building of the new brewery, and that Stone will rent it from them for 25 years, at which point, Stone will purchase the brewery for a certain price. As the landlord, the EDA will most likely have overt power over Stone Brewing.

Stone Brewing Co. seems to have the second most amount of power. They have latent power over the EDA, as they have influenced them with the promise of new jobs and a large amount of revenue with the location of their brewery and bistro. City Council as a whole did not seem to have much power, however certain members seemed to exhibit convert power over citizens. Business owners had no power in the decisions, as well as citizens.


Although there are no readily available specifics, it seems as though the EDA, who ended up making all of the decisions in this case, was not elected by the people, but instead appointed by the mayor. With a decision such as this, which is supposed to help the citizens of Richmond, it seems shady to have people who were not chosen by the citizens making this decision. This is probably the most blatant example of the amount of latent power that the mayor has over the decisions made regarding economic development about the city.

Work Cited

ECD Staff Directory. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Hipolet, M. (2014, December 8). Richmond restaurant owners speak out against city funding for Stone Brewing. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2014, February 23). Stone official says action is “imperative” as council delays vote. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2014, March 14). In brewery deal, documents stay secret while awaiting signatures. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2014, March 18). Council wasn’t notified of higher costs for Stone project, members say. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2014, December 18). EDA approves lease with Stone Brewing. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2015, February 10). Authority votes to change Stone Brewery lease. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Moomaw, G. (2015, March 17). Stone brewery costs will exceed $23 million estimate. Retrieved October 14, 2015.

Rolett, B. (2014, October 9). City makes pricey promises to land Stone Brewing. Retrieved October 14, 2015.