I was compelled to volunteer at Hazelwild Farm in the therapeutic horseback riding program for children with disabilities. The activities the program offers assists in improving the children’s motor skills, flexibility, strength and many other physical and emotional attributes. With the help of friendly volunteers and the director of the program, these children look forward to their lessons and form a touching bond with the horses. The farm is run by local community members which allows some power to be used in a way that makes a difference in these children’s lives.
Janet Abu-Lughod compares riots that take place in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles in her book, “Race, Space, and Riots.” She looks at the race riots in these cities from the locally political standpoint and considers factors such as demography, economics, and community relationships. When Abu-Lughod speaks about the riots in Chicago, she discusses the race riot in 1919, which was initiated when a white rock thrower hit and drowned an African American boy who was swimming in Lake Michigan named Eugene Williams. As with the other riots examined, deeper issues stemmed from this. The main issue was the power struggle between ethnic whites and African Americans over housing, politics, and most certainly unemployment.
Boundaries between white and black were hardened in Chicago following the riots. The city pursued the “Atlanta Solution” where spatial segregation was the goal; to protect white areas from black intrusion. Residential areas as well as workplaces and social institutions were made separate for the races. The Black Belt was expanded and the border was made more firm in its boundaries. Throughout this civil rights struggle to change the segregation in Chicago, a second riot was sparked after Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. This riot occurred in the poorer West side of Chicago and resulted in expansion of the ghetto to the outskirts of the city.
In comparison to riots in areas such as Ferguson and Baltimore, the underlying dynamic is racial discrimination. In these cities, riots broke out due to the death of African American men who were in police custody. Not only were they in the hands of police, but they were victims of police brutality due to their race. Similar to the riots in Chicago, Baltimore created a white society through federal, state, and local government. Racial laws and policies kept blacks living separately from whites. As we’ve seen in class in the movie, “Crips and Bloods,” the individuals described their absence of identity in their community. With unequal treatment and racial profiling by the police, they formed groups for a sense of belonging, which were labeled as “gangs.” Experiencing this racial discrimination creates a barrier of tension and loss of community. Riots occur because of this built-up anger and tension. In result, innocent people’s homes, businesses and properties are destroyed.
The placement of power in a community is crucial for making local decisions that affect its members. It is especially important that elected officials are representative of their community and are making decisions with the people’s best interests in mind. As we see in riots, many times, members of a community feel powerless and resort to unnecessary extremes in order to get their message across. If communities and people in power could acknowledge and address the deeper issues at hand, there could be better progress towards ending racial discrimination.
Strauss, Valerie. “From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Consequences of Government-sponsored Segregation.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 3 May 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/05/03/from-ferguson-to-baltimore-the-consequences-of-government-sponsored-segregation/>.
Abu-Lughod, Janet L. Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.
Protests, social movements, and riots have been methods for people not in power to project their voice and opinion. Although not all of these events yield positive results, people continue to find ways to gather in numbers in order to make a change in society. One of the biggest current issues is police brutality against blacks. According to Bert Useem, breakdown theory explains the forms of the collective actions in riots and rebellious civil violence. The two types of collective action are routine and non-routine. Routine collective actions follow established patterns of organization in structural societies. This typically consists of groups of people who bind together in order to non-violently protest their opinions and desire for change. Non-routine includes violent acts seen in riots or lynch mobs. These may still be organized, but the behavior is unacceptable and harmful to the community.
In a society where racism, poverty, discrimination, and several other social issues exist, there will be those who yearn to see a change and are determined to take action in making a positive impact on society. Routine collective action is clearly the most efficient and non-harmful way to voice the people’s opinions. When it is nonviolent through petitions, campaigns or other social movements, it promotes a specific goal with good intentions. Although both routine and non-routine collective actions may be organized, routine is more structured with definite tasks and clear-cut objectives. It is also not meant to be harmful, but beneficial for the betterment of society.
In reference to the Baltimore riots, Freddie Gray was severely injured while in Baltimore police custody and resulted in his death. Instead of taking a stand by peaceful protest, Baltimore broke out in riots. It is understandable how angered and disappointed people would be with our police force, especially due to other instances of white police brutality against blacks. However, do the riots change what happened? Do they assist in correcting this poor act of our law enforcement? If anything, rioting only increases the racial tension and is a step toward repeating the negative parts of history. Police officials continue to risk their lives to bring the riots to a halt and innocent people and their businesses or homes suffer as a result. After the rioting, Baltimore was left with major destruction to the city and neighborhoods and the initial issue still exists. Non-routine collective action includes irrational chaotic violence and it is never the answer to resolving these occurrences. Not only does it fail to make a positive impact on the community, but it delivers a major setback to the city.
Any time the people need to make a stand for what is right, our historical civil rights movement leaders would encourage routine collective action to make a change. Even if it may not persuade the people in power to consider modification to the system, it is always more promising than non-routine collective action.
In cities with a continuously growing population, there is bound to be traffic congestion in areas and intersections of high travel. For this research study, the VDOT improvement project for the Falmouth intersection strives to ease the flow of traffic for travelers passing between Fredericksburg and Stafford. This intersection includes route 1, 17 and 218. The public hearing and community meetings were first held in winter of 2011 which gained input from community members. Eventually, the construction began in 2013 and was expected to be an 18-month project. Originally, the intersection combined a straight lane and left turning lane, which caused great delay and build up. The $25 million dollar intersection project is now complete and includes several other benefits. The purpose, benefits and layout of the plan will be displayed and discussed in detail in the following photo narrative. SOCG 371M Research 1 PDF
Stafford County in Virginia has plans for Interstate 95 interchange on Courthouse Road. The current interchange was originally built in 1963 and may not be able to handle the increased flow of traffic and use according to VDOT. This interchange project is the intended solution, but funding has been cut significantly due to the state’s new prioritization program. The new program has several other projects on the list to improve transportation. Not only does Stafford County plan to advance I-95, but expanding VRE platforms at a couple stations, building a new commuter lot and improving intersections on U.S. 1 are a few of the top priorities. With these projects added to the list, the funding needs to be dispersed appropriately. The interchange plan originally had $185.4 million to work with and is now cut down to $149.9 million. Stafford elected officials were not pleased with the budget cut.
Due to the significant decrease in funds, the original design for the interchange had to be modified to a less expensive one. The concept is called a divergent diamond interchange which will be an unusual layout to Stafford County. According to VDOT, the adjusted layout will work just as well as the original design for much less cost. VDOT says there will be fewer congestion points, smoother flow of traffic and less time at red lights. Courthouse Road will also be realigned to accommodate the changes to the interstate and building new bridges has also been added to the plan. The tentative completion date is Spring of 2020.
The combination of these transportation projects certainly has some strengths and weaknesses. Interstate 95 in this area is known for the rush hour traffic jams and weekend congestion. People who commute to work experience the frustration of highway traffic daily. Realizing the difficulty in transportation and proactively creating this project to ease the flow of travel is a good move on the part of the Stafford officials. If the interchange pans out the way VDOT predicts, it’ll be beneficial for everyone in the area who travels to work or other obligations daily. Smoothing out the flow of traffic also helps prevent accidents. As part of what we’ve studied in class, both of the renovation projects in Brooklyn and Buffalo acknowledged that there was a problem in the community and action needed to be taken to revitalize those areas. Of course, this is the first step to any action plan, but identifying the issues at hand helps the plan move forward. Although the budget cut for the plan angered the officials, it turns out it may have been for the best. They are still able to use a design that satisfies the original goal without spending as much. The budget cut allows for other road and transportation projects to have to some leeway.
In the Brooklyn re-development plan, we saw that one person was in power and made many promises of benefits to the residents in that community. However, there was an underlying agenda and the people did not have much of a voice or opportunity to contribute their thoughts and opinions. In this transportation development plan, it seems that the people in Stafford County may not have been given the chance to speak of their reaction to the plan. Perhaps they may have other ideas for transportation projects or have noticed other areas that need a new design. In this case, the Stafford Board of Supervisors is in charge of making these decisions and voting on what projects to include in this prioritization program. There was no mention of a community meeting. There was only a gathering at Colonial Forge High School where residents could view details of the new plan only after the decisions were made by officials.
In any kind of community project, we’ve seen in class how detrimental it can be when residents are not included in the decisions of their town. Also, when the person in power is not truly representative or caring of the people, drastic decisions may be implemented that do not benefit the people. In the Stafford County interchange project, the new concept design definitely strives to aid the community in smooth travel, but giving the residents in the community a chance to address their concerns and even contribute their ideas is always a promising method.
Bartley, A. (2011). Building a “Community Growth Machine”. Social Policy, pp. 9-20.
Shenk, Scott. “Hearing Set for I-95 Interchange Project in Stafford.”Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
Shenk, Scott. “Residents Get a Chance to See Updated Plans for I-95 Interchange Design on Courthouse Road.” Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.
Shenk, Scott. “Stafford Picks Projects for Statewide Prioritization Program.” Fredericksburg.com. N.p., 19 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.