Victoria Sheil IDIS400: Section 2 Global Climate March

In order to engage with my community, I decided to participate in collective action. I find that when large groups of people gather and directly face power dynamics, there is a large chance of being heard. This is in comparison to individual effort or a single organization. So, on Sunday November 29th, I made my way to D.C in front of the White House and joined the Global Climate March. Meeting up with 300- 500 people, we chanted and listened to speakers in front of the White House. Then, we walked around the white house on the street, stopping traffic and smiling to people recording from the sidewalk. Our goal was to gather before the U.N conference met in Paris and make sure that the leaders knew the United States supports strong climate action. Our gathering at the White House was only one of over 2,000 events worldwide. The march supports renewable, clean energy and the reduced use of fossil fuels. I enjoyed participating in the march because I like to see how a large city like D.C can organize. Living in Rockville, events of similar nature are small scale and I do not feel they have a large impact on power dynamics. Participating in a larger collective action allowed me to see if size can make an impact on power relations.

In order to organize an event this big there were two main actors. Avaaz and 360 are large internet based organizations that allow people from all over the world connect and organize action. Avaaz allows its members to focus its objectives through online polls, ensuring how time and resources are used is based on the members themselves. 360, whose goals are divestment in fossil fuel, relies on grassroots effort by allowing branches of the organization to have control over regional efforts. Both have a very large amount of people associated with the organizations due to their easy access and internet presence. These groups were essential in the Global Climate March due to the communication needed to organize a collective action. Since this march was directed towards a global meeting, collective action of similar scale was important. The internet has opened communication to connect people everywhere giving collective action the opportunity to become a larger effort than ever thought before. International problems no longer have to be individually address or solved in small meeting with a few country representatives. It is now possible for average people to be involved as well. Pictures of the events were posted throughout the internet and delegates in the conference were presented with these powerful images showing collective action throughout the world asking for stronger climate action against fossil fuels and country emissions. When the international community comes together looking for similar solutions, it is hard not to be considered in the decision making process. The large participation in the Global Climate March will pressure governments to take the conference seriously and commit to action plans in order to combat climate change.

Even though climate change should be considered a serious issue, there is still a struggle to get governments to seriously commit to cutting emissions and investing in alternative energies, in some countries more than others. Industries still have the money and lobbying to keep politicians from fighting climate change aggressively. However, an international effort could change that. The industry’s influence in United States politics do not hold as much power in international negotiations, especially when the community fighting for climate action is far more organized on the larger scale. Events such as the Global Climate March and further efforts from multiple international organizations working together can change the power dynamics so that emission policy will reflect what the people want instead of industry. This will especially come true when these large organizations can get enough people to out resource these companies invested in fossil fuels. I am glad to be part of such an event and hope that when the conference concludes next week, there will be plans to protect the future generation and reduce the dangerous consequences of climate change.

Kelsey Holdway, Research Project #2, Section 1

Power of the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank!

I decided for my community engagement to volunteer with Kam at the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank! We weighed items, stocked shelves, and talked to many kind people. We learned a lot about where the Regional Food Bank is on the level of power; we also saw how vital this food bank is for the surrounding areas due to these food insecure regions. If you want to read more about what the Regional Food Bank does and the levels of power, check below!

Research Paper #2

Petrina Thomas, Research #2, SOCG 371M

In 2012, the Commonwealth of Virginia moved its Department of Aging into the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) making it Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).  In 2014, the Agency on Community Living (ACL), the federal overseeing and funding agency, was created and encompasses a wide range of previously separate disability agencies and aging.  The first research project focused on the federal agency, ACL, and its distribution of power via its funding opportunities (or what we call grants).  Owing to work experience, I was able to understand what these federal funding opportunities (grants) look like at the local and state levels.  The first research project looked at the division of funding opportunities with regards to access to funds between disability and aging groups.  Of the 24 funding opportunities, 22 are accessible to the aging population, 12 can be accessed by people with disabilities who are not over 60 years of age and two are disability specific.  This distribution of funds makes some sense with the growing aging population but does not take into account that existing disability agencies who have access to half of the funds (or less) are also serving the same growing aging population with half of the funds because they were not created as a designated “aging” agency and provide services to individuals in the community based on need rather than label or age.  This local and state competition for funding is the basis for the second research paper where the first gave an introduction to how power can be handed out in the form of funds from a federal agency (ACL).

Please see Research Paper at following link:



Making Decorations for the Homeless Shelter Christmas Tree Auction

Whenever I think of bettering my community, I think of working with those less fortunate in the area that I live in. Before leaving for Thanksgiving break, I called my mom to see if she knew of any volunteer opportunities I could engage in over the break. She got back to me and told me that her friend that volunteers at the homeless shelter could use some help. I accepted, assuming that I would be helping distribute food or something along those lines since it was Thanksgiving. Upon arriving at home, my mom told me that I would be making decorations. I figured I was now stuck making these decorations and then would have to find another opportunity that I could actually talk about for this paper, but I was completely wrong.

The decorations I made are going to be used to decorate Christmas trees, which will then be auctioned off at the homeless shelter fundraiser later in the month. I made many different origami decorations and some chains made out of paper. After making the decorations, I talked to my mom’s friend who gave me more information about the homeless shelter in Falls Church. I was very surprised by what she told me.

The Friends of Falls Church Homeless Shelter has been operating for 20 years. It was created to address the critical need for emergency housing in the community, and only operates during the winter months of November through March. Although the shelter is only open during the winter, there is counseling provided year round. The shelter also works closely with these individuals to help them find permanent affordable housing, providing case management services, and education classes and presentations that help them make wise financial, medical, and personal choices. After the individual exists the program, the shelter works with them for up to 2 years if needed. The main power struggle for this shelter is that the city only provides 20% of needed funds for operation.

To date, 80% of the shelter’s funds have been raised by the community through fundraising events. After hearing this statistic, I realized how important it was that I volunteered and made the decorations. The Christmas tree fundraiser is one of their most profitable fundraisers for the shelter. Although my part was very small, somebody had to make the decorations so that people would be willing to buy them at the auction. This made the power dynamic really interesting. The city has a lot of power, as 20% of the shelter’s money comes from the City of Falls Church, but then the other 80% is dependent on fundraising. Within this 80%, people such as the Board of Directors, which is comprised of volunteers, and other short-term volunteers, like me, have power. Then there are the individuals being served by the homeless shelter, who are at the bottom of the power chain. They are at the bottom because they are dependent on the funds from the city and fundraising to be able to have a place to stay.

“Late” reaction 3 papers???

Hey y’all – I talked to a couple of people after class on Wednesday who were surprised to see I’d marked your papers “late.” But WAIT! You said, you’d posted on 11/23. But blog showed 11/24.

Stupid blog didn’t fall back when the time changed.

So if you submitted ON TIME but I marked you late, come show me your rubric, and I’ll add your points back.



Thanks for raising the issue, y’all!



From Harlem to Baltimore: The Cycle of Race Riots in American Ghettos

For much of American history, race-related rioting has been a common occurrence in large cities around the country, and especially in Northern cities. In “Race, Space, and Riots,” author Janet T. Abu-Lughod covers six different race-related riots that occurred between the 1960s and the 1990s, examining them in-depth to discuss possible causes and results of the riots, as well as to compare and contrast them. Unsurprisingly, many of her findings can be found in more recent race-related riots, and in particular, in the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. Both in the cases presented by Abu-Lughod and the more recent cases in Ferguson and Baltimore, the riots, while often triggered by instances of police violence against African-Americans, often had underlying causes that societal and governmental parties have seemingly failed to address, therefore resulting in the circular trend that made Ferguson and Baltimore possible so many decades after Watts or Bed-Stuyvesant.

At first glance, the cause of nearly all race-related riots seems to be a simple variation of Breakdown Theory, in which police violence is perpetrated against an African-American (usually male, as incidents involving African-American women tend to receive less attention), usually resulting in death, and in response, the nearby community retaliates in anger and frustration. This appeared to be the case in then Harlem riots in 1964, where the “trigger was an altercation . . . that escalated . . . after an off-duty white policeman shot and killed the youth” (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 24). However, an entire riot cannot be summed up so easily, and in truth, 1960s riots “were not just about police brutality,” usually occurring “in the context of an economic recession whose effects appeared first in black areas” (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 25). In this, the riots of the 60s, while perhaps set off by police violence, were often a culmination of poor conditions, with goals larger than mere accountability and police reform.

In the incidents explored in Abu-Lughod’s book, all of the riots took place in “’ghettos’” that “exploded in anger and frustration in the 1960s,” with the ghettos of course being impoverished and usually overpopulated city areas of segregated African-American communities (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 23). This statement touches upon the fact that each of these incidents of non-routine collective action occurred not within a vacuum, but within a situation of decades upon decades of inequality, segregation, and poor economic standing, wherein attempts to peacefully resolve these issues were often met with excuses and assertations of impossibility. While Abu-Lughod does not necessarily claim that the main cause of the riots in the 60s and 90s was segregation and economic inequality, it is made clear that they were major contributing factors.

Despite this, responses to the riots in both understanding their causes and attempting to prevent further violence mostly failed to consider these aspects. Even when the federally funded Kerner Report recommended housing reform, these recommendations went “unfunded until concern receded, along with the violence, lapsing into . . . neglect until the problem resurfaced a generation later” (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 7). Then, of course, it resurfaced the generation after that, with the potential to continue on in a cycle unless these larger issues are resolved. In the case of Chicago, the city “remained as residentially segregated as it had been before the 1968 riot,” even despite attempts to address the segregation (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 28). Again and again, the response to race related riots was the same, with onlookers and media outlets asking “not why African Americans were confined to “ghettos” but why “they” were burning down their own communities,” entirely ignoring the factors that led to the riots, as if seeing them as simple examples of Breakdown Theory (Abu-Lughod, 2007, 3). Just as issues of segregation and economic inequality have persisted alongside police brutality, this type of viewpoint of riots has carried on to more recent events.

Often when today’s media talks about the events of Ferguson and Baltimore, it focuses both on the killings of Mike Brown and Freddie Gray that preceded these riots, as well as the issue of African-Americans in each place destroying property in their own communities, treating the riots as sudden outbursts of anger, and usually ignoring the long, ongoing histories of racial inequalities in each location. In the Washington Post article “From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Consequences of government-sponsored segregation, Valerie Strauss focuses on these inequalities and how they have built up to the riots seen in these places.

Strauss even brings the discussion back to the 60s, wherein “following hundreds of riots in black neighborhoods nationwide, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson concluded that ‘[o]ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal’ and that ‘[s]egregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans’” (Strauss, 2015). This statement speaks to what Abu-Lughod was discussing, and Strauss goes even further to discuss that lower class African-Americans “are more segregated now than they were in 1968” (Strauss, 2015). In Baltimore, for example, the city “is now 64 percent black while the suburban counties surrounding it . . . are only 23 percent black” (Strauss, 2015). As such, in this same city where racially-charged riots broke out earlier this year, there were segregated conditions similar to those in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City in the 1960s. Furthermore, Strauss discusses similar persisting economic equality in which “the African-American unemployment rate is 18 percent, more than twice the white rate of 7 percent,” and in which “nationwide, black family incomes are now about 60 percent of white family incomes,” and “black household wealth is only about 5 percent of white household wealth” (Strauss, 2015). The conditions in Baltimore leading up the riots then, were deplorable for African-Americans, and much was the same in Ferguson.

According the Strauss, “virtually every one of the racially explicit federal, state, and local policies of segregation pursued in St. Louis has a parallel in policies pursued by government in Baltimore,” meaning that, as Abu-Lughod suggested, little has changed in US cities regarding segregation and economic equality, therefore leading to a continuation of those riots which occurred decades ago. Even while Abu-Lughod and Strauss each acknowledge the not unimportant role played by violent and lethal incidents of police brutality, Strauss sums up the argument by explaining “the obvious reality that the protests are not really (or primarily) about policing,” but about addressing systematically produced inequality in wealth, income, and housing (Strauss, 2015). They each then discuss the true fear, which is that “without suburban integration, something barely on today’s public policy agenda, ghetto conditions will persist, giving rise to aggressive policing and the riots that inevitably ensue,” and will inevitably never stop until the country addresses the underlying, systematic institutions of inequality that create these conditions (Strauss, 2015). While there is no doubt for either author that racially-charged riots have made some achievements and have well-thought out goals, it is clear that the reaction of media and those in power to the riots have resulted in reactions which fail to truly address what is occurring. If the pattern continues, then, so will the riots.


Works Cited

  1. Lughod, Janet L. Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.
  1. Strauss, Valerie. “From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Consequences of Government-sponsored Segregation.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 3 May 2015. Web. 2 Dec. 2015. <>.



Research Project #2

Our “community” is the homeless population in Fredericksburg. We contributed by volunteering with Micah Ministries by helping out with one of their many Thanksgiving dinners at the Presbyterian Church. Micah Ministries’ vision is to end homelessness in Fredericksburg area. Multiple congregations coming together to help the homeless by providing services for those who need them. The services that are provided are hospitality, recovery/rehabilitation programs, daily meals. cold weather shelter, transportation (to meals, medical appointments, etc.), helping with transitions into housing and employment, etc. All of these services are funded by donation. These dinners usually serve about 80-100 people per dinner.

Our specific type of community engagement is related to personal power. There is a difference of social/power level between volunteers and the people who are receiving the free dinner. When we first came to the church, we all felt a little tension and awkwardness between us and the people receiving the free dinner. The homeless people felt that the volunteers had bad motives and were volunteering for the wrong reasons. This led to them not fully trusting us and barely speaking to us at all. We were constantly asked why we were really there; if we were required to volunteer there; that this volunteering opportunity was mandatory for a class. They didn’t want to feel like a charity case. Once they learned our true intentions, they opened up and became more welcoming and comfortable. So comfortable in fact that they shared their biographies and life experiences about how they became homeless. These homeless men and women let their guard down when common ground was established. For example, one man and I bonded over our different ethnicities and how we are perceived. Another man and I bonded over our different religions. I am Hindu and he is Christian. There is also an imbalance of social/power levels between the authorities and the homeless men and women. When the officers walked in the church basement, almost every one of the individuals had their head down as if trying to seem like they didn’t wanna be accused or caught for doing something illegal. The authorities have a higher social/power level compared to the homeless individuals. They feel threatened by the authorities.

The dinner is served by the volunteers to the people, rather than self-serve, to give a restful atmosphere and create community among those attending. Dinners like these provide extra food to be taken home, such as the 100 pies were donated to the church and provides food to people who can’t afford it or people who would spend the money on food for others necessities. A majority of the people we talked with weren’t homeless, but still below the poverty line, which includes 11.7% of the population in VA. 16.1% of people in the city of Fredericksburg are food insecure. The shelter didn’t have to spend money on food due to the large donation by the churches which gives more options.

The organization as a whole doesn’t trouble the waters of inequality in the community. It contributes to end homelessness locally in the Fredericksburg community as well and statewide. Since the organization is a nonprofit and they completely rely on donations, it takes the place of the government is overlooking. The homeless population in Fredericksburg is often overlooked but there are still power inequalities  I didn’t engage on my own. The organization expands to multiple churches and they have multiple services that are provided to the homeless individuals to have more variety and more options for them to become stable financially, physically and mentally. Our individual work shapes the issues of inequality and power inequities by indirectly recognizing the issues of the imbalance of power relations between the authorities/volunteers and the individuals receiving the free dinner.

Tierra Dongieux, Section 2, Research Project #2

For the alternative research project I went to help out at Micah. More specifically, I helped out at one of the many dinners they put on every single evening for the homeless. I didn’t really know much about Micah or anything about the homeless population within Fredericksburg so it was very much a learning experience for me. Just about the experience in general, each dinner is ran differently by each church that puts them on each night. It can either be buffet style or the folks who show up get served while they sit down. The atmosphere of the dinner is to make the people who go feel relaxed and just be more of a social setting. It seemed that a lot of people knew each other. One thing that was interesting were the interactions between those at the dinner. There were clear lines of who sat where and who knew who. I observed and socialized and just helped out at the dinner. One thing I noticed is that I have never felt more like an outsider than when I walked into the dinner at first. It felt like there was this social stigma that I was extremely privileged and that I didn’t belong there. However, since I stood near the pastor and trash can and helped people throw away their trash they opened up more to the idea of talking to me and I got to hear a lot of stories and learn a lot more.

The pastor was also very helpful on giving facts that I would’ve never really thought of such as how not everyone that attends is homeless. There are regulars and then there are people who the workers never see again so that was interesting. The people who attend may not own their own home but they have a shelter to go to for the night. Most are more on the margins and go just for the food, they don’t necessarily utilize the programs Micah provides which can be seen as a sense of independence. Also a decent amount of those who I talked to had jobs so not all are jobless as well. Also another thing I noticed was how many people utilize public transportation which just shows that Fredericksburg tax dollars are going to use.

How this relates to class is that I was, clearly, active in my community and I could see how power was at play. We had the ability to give our services to people who needed them. I know in class we related money to power and I could see that is how people viewed me. I just felt like me being able to college meant that I had the money and people who didn’t know really know who I was made them uncomfortable. I do hope that by me interacting and socializing that those interactions do resonate with the people I talk to. That hopefully just because I “have money” that they don’t feel uncomfortable by college students or anyone who may be hire on the socioeconomic ladder. I also know that the interactions I had with the people I met will definitely resonate with me.

Research Project #2 DivestUMW

Something that I have been doing for my community this year is engaging with the fossil fuel divestment campaign on our campus. We are one of almost 300 campaigns around the nation all working towards a similar goal. Divestment in itself is a very simple act: take investments out of the fossil fuel industry. This can be done on any level, whether it be personal investments, city investments, a church’s investments, or even a country (Norway in recent news). The idea of divestment is essentially a devolution of power. It seeks to fix the current status, which is structured in a way that corporations control our universities (in this case fossil fuel corporations) through their economic power. Divestment campaigns work to shift that power from the hands of the fossil fuel industry and into the hands of the hands of students. There are several methods and way which we use to achieve that goal.

One major function of DivestUMW is to do direct actions, which is using alternative methods outside of the established channels. In our campaign, we have reached many blocks when trying to achieve our goal, so we need to use other methods. Direct action can be used in many different ways, but it tends to be something of a very visual display, or something that disrupts the ordinary routine in order to  Our university’s governance structure and process is one that tends to be hidden from the immediate eye of the public. By highlighting certain aspects of the process with action, the public will be more likely to be in tune with the process.

But these actions by themselves are not enough. Doing an action in the middle of the day will only catch at most 40 to 50 people on its own. The action does not matter unless it hits media. This can either be on social media or traditional media, or a variation. Our campaign has found it necessary to use social media to get our messages at times when traditional media is unresponsive. Local traditional media sources have tendencies to shy away from administrative decisions and social justice issues here on campus for the sake of being more digestible, so they usually only cover us when we do something big and they would risk losing their reputation if they ignore it.

There are benefits to cons to both. With social media you have more control over the messaging and can have a narrative that directly serves your purpose. With traditional media, you lose some control over the narrative and but gain more legitimacy in the public eye.

Actions and media work together to draw attention to a target: that is a decision maker or a decision making body that is either an obstacle for our campaign or can give us what we want. For us last year, a serious block was the Rector of the board, Rector Cuellar. Cuellar continuously tried to reject our voice and presence at the meetings, whether it was direct or through more passive means by neglecting to address us despite wide shown support. This target changes depending on different stages of the campaign. With all of these combined methods, the campaign hopes to bring power into the hands of students and open up channels for more causes to go through, some being debt free education, private prison divestment, and better sexual assault policy.