THINGS THAT MATTER: STANDING UP FOR PP

•March 27, 2017 • 1 Comment

The pro-choice vs pro-life argument has taken place long before our current political climate, and so has the fight for female reproductive rights. It wasn’t until the 1960s that birth control became available — and even then, it wasn’t always accessible due to states opposing the sales of birth control pills. Women like Margaret Sanger advocated for birth control and a better way for women to take charge of their own health, strongly supporting the use of birth control so that women could control unwanted pregnancies to have have better and healthier lives. Sanger opened her own birth control clinic, and fought for women’s reproductive rights through lobbying for the legality of birth control in the US. More famously, the Roe v Wade decision of 1973 famously declared that state bans on abortion were unconstitutional.

Despite all this progress, Trump and Congress have pushed more and more votes and bills in an effort to repeal Obamacare and, in effect, defund Planned Parenthood by stripping all federal funding for the organization.

There is a common misconception here. Federal tax dollars do not go to paying for abortions. Instead, it goes to reimburse Medicaid claims, preventative medicine, cancer screenings, HIV tests, as well as to birth control.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away access to health care from patients who depend on Medicaid (60% of all Planned Parenthood patients do!). This is especially important because the majority of Planned Parenthood patients are people of lower income groups. In many cases, there aren’t enough other medical care providers, especially for reproductive health services, to replace Planned Parenthood in the event of defunding.This is not the first time that disadvantaged people and communities are placed in an even more disadvantageous position. In “Nuclear Wasteland”, Valerie Kuletz describes nuclear waste affecting indigenous peoples, writing that although it is an issue that affects all people, this “price we pay for our freedom…is paid by those with disproportionately less power” (Kuletz 95).

Defunding Planned Parenthood matters because access to healthcare should be a universal and basic right.

Safe access to birth control and abortions protects women. In an article about repealing the 8th, Leslie Spillane, an Irish women, wrote “Abortions happen, everyday. Making them illegal doesn’t stop woman needing, or wanting them, or inflicting them on themselves — there will always be coat hangers, broken bottles, painkillers, stairs to fall down, fists to hit, medicines to swallow” (O’Shea). Ireland is one example of what shutting down Planned Parenthood would do (SHUTTING DOWN not defunding).

Planned Parenthood has an estimate of 2.5 million patients. This means that one in five women in the United States visits Planned Parenthood at least once. The sheer number of people they help requires us to stop and re-evaluate the importance of this organization.

Planned Parenthood EDUCATES. For teens and children growing up in this country, Planned Parenthood often works to educate the public on their reproductive rights as well as sexual education. This helps to decrease the risk of unplanned pregnancies and prevents the spreading of STD’s and HIV. In “Greetings From the Salton Sea”, Kim Stringfellow investigates the Salton Sea issue, writing that “perhaps a better understanding of these interconnected processes will allow us to make much more informed political decisions regarding the environmental and ecological concerns of today and those of the future” (35). Similarly, Planned Parenthood spreads accurate information to voters and potential voters and actively promotes access to health care.

Works Cited

Haberman, Maggie. “Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay If Abortion Goes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.

“How Federal Funding Works at Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood|. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Kuletz, Valerie. The Tainted Desert: Environmental Ruin in the American West. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Stringfellow, Kim. Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005. Chicago: The Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2011. Web.

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Cultural Phenomena, Geographical Transference and Affect

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sunset Park in Brooklyn did not become a “Chinatown” overnight. After decades of ongoing European immigration, the end of World War 2 marked a significant downgrade in Sunset Park’s economy. Previously reliant on jobs such as those at the “Brooklyn Army Terminal, where materials for the war were manufactured and shipped”, local manufacturers and blue collar workers thus lost a significant amount of their income. The “original residents emigrated out of Brooklyn, and Latin American and Chinese American populations immigrated into Sunset Park.” (McCallum) Nowadays, Sunset Park especially suffers from overcrowding, as it is “estimated to be about 2.25 square miles large, with a total population of 126,000 people. The population density of this region is therefore 56,000 people per square mile. [1] The population density of NYC is less than half of this number. By these numbers, Sunset Park is terrifyingly dense.” (McCallum)

Just as we aren’t “self-contained in terms of our energies”, it is impossible to isolate Leif Ericson Park from the neighborhood around it, in all its historical and cultural vibrancy. (Brennan) Yes, my project is focused on these public parks’ role in mediating a safe physical space for Chinese elders to practice their activities and its subsequent role in alleviating mental health, but it would be dishonest of me to fixate solely on the park. Just as Leif Ericson’s geographic ecology is affected by the bustling streets that border it, the people who find community and solace within it have deeply enriched lives beyond the park’s “walls”, and are undoubtedly and continuously affected by the whirlwind (or stagnancy) of everyday life, as well as the interactions that come with it. The very people who spend a few hours at these parks spend the majority of their remaining time in other places. Affect is unbounded by physical barriers, and when documenting the surrounding community of Sunset Park, this includes noting the placement of the MJHS Elderplan buildings a few blocks away, the Chinese supermarkets that fill the streets, the parlors that boast acupuncture and herbal remedies, and the configuration of the surrounding (crowded) apartment blocks. This includes noting the density of housing outlets, the atrocious amounts of landlord manipulation within Sunset Park, and the presence of Latino immigrants in Sunset Park as well. Even though it would physically impossible for me to completely ethnographically examine all the complexities that make up these areas, it is my responsibility to acknowledge these factors as simultaneously affective and illustrate these factors realistically. Of course, on the flipside, it is also important to realize that while parks such as Leif Ericson are intertwined within a larger ecology, they are also not interchangeable with other spaces. Elders deliberately seek this space out, as everywhere else is too crowded, and this is precisely why documenting its relevance is so crucial.

The phenomena of guǎngchǎng wǔ, or Chinese square dancing, is not limited to Brooklyn, NY. As expected, this originated in China – and these “dancing grannies” have made global headlines for noise disruption. In China, dissatisfied neighbors were “fed up with both the noise and the encroachment on public space”, and in 2015, this escalated into physical battles. This extreme case ended with “angry neighbors were deploying homespun artillery, like water balloons and human excrement. One gun-toting man unleashed his dogs on the dancers…in one seemingly self-defeating move, a group of residents pooled $40,000 to buy military speakers — then blasted the elderly women with the sound of car alarms.” (Hunwick) Similarly, a 2013 documented case in Sunset Park caused similar ruckus — “police were called to the park in response to multiple noise complaints. What the officers found was a group of women rehearsing the dance. And what they did was arrest the group’s choreographer and leader, a 60-year-old woman known by the surname Wang.” (Berg) Wang was arrested again, only a month later, a situation exacerbated by language barriers – “Wang said her troupe had trouble communicating in English and that no Chinese-speaking police officers were present to help, making the situation confusing.” (Berg)

While its notoriety has died down since, Chinese elders still continue to participate in these gatherings. During my last trip to Leif Ericson Park, although it was evening time, a boombox blasted Chinese tunes off to the side, a lone couple dancing together. Across the flatground, a huddle of elders (mostly Chinese) talked with one another, a few watching the couple sway against one another. While separated by a few yards, one or two nonparticipating Chinese elders swayed along to the music, moving their arms to and fro. The age difference of the people in the park was apparent – kids and teenagers ran around and played ball games, seemingly immune to the Chinese crooning leaking from the side. Evidently, these activities are staples in these residents’ lives and their wellness regimes, and serve as a much-needed cultural mode of expression. What other activities are available for Chinese elders in America to simultaneously 1) participate in their culture 2) physically exercise 3) gain mental relief and 4) socialize with like minded individuals in a mutually understood language?

In my project, I want to figuratively step into this space and flesh out the vitality that the park brings out in the community. It is easy to forget or dismiss other cultures’ traditions as being wholly separate from yourself, or to even compartmentalize your own ethnicity’s culture with a passing shrug, with the sentiment that that’s just the way life works. Non-Chinese and Chinese American youth alike have varying frequencies of attachment or investment in such issues, and I want my project to showcase why these distant Chinese elderly activities have deeper roots that affect us all. From collecting an assortment of video and audio bites to conversing directly with the residents in the area, I want to tangibly document these nuances. Images have power – they are “the conveyors of forces of emergence, as vehicles for existential potentialization and transfer.” (Massumi) Generational differences in attitudes regarding tradition and mental health can seem daunting and even fruitless, and I want to help create a bridge of empathy through this documentation .

WORKS CITED

Berg, Caroline. “Dancing in Brooklyn Leads to Noise Complaints.” China Daily USA, 14 Aug. 2013, usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-08/14/content_16892983.htm.

Brennan, Teresa. “Introduction.” The Transmission of Affect, Cornell University Press, 2004, pp. 1–22.

Hunwick, Robert Foyle. “Old Chinese Women Won’t Stop Dancing in Streets.” USA Today, 9 Apr. 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/04/09/globalpost-chinese-women-dancing-streets/25508269/.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation.

McCallum, K, et al. “Sunset Park Is Overcrowded: Housing and Education in the Neighborhood.” Shaping the Future of NYC, WordPress, 31 Mar. 2015, macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/toews15/2015/03/31/sunset-park-is-overcrowded-housing-and-education-in-the-neighborhood/.

Flushing, A Fading Fantasy: Communicate the Affect Effectively

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As we understand that there are countless websites in this world advocating for an action to be taken, we must come to the realization that for this ecology project, a major challenge is to be able to create content that is effective in communicating the message – especially the affect of our chosen site-specific issue. We now live in an age known for the overflow and even explosion of information, so that as responsible media content creators, we should learn to be thoughtful on what we put online as well as our way of presentation.

To achieve effective communication, I’ve consulted some previous course readings for inspiration. Brian Massumi’s “The Autonomy of Affect” resonates with me a lot. I particularly find the idea of “intensity” helpful in terms of making effective online content. As Massumi argues, “Intensity is asocial, but not presocial-it includes social elements but mixes them with elements belonging to other levels of functioning and combines them according to different logic.” (Massumi, 30) By saying this, Massumi suggests that intensity is a more philosophically complicated than we normally think, and in order to understand intensity, we have to think of not just the social context, but so much more. Essentially, when we present the information on the website, we are not only doing fact checking or statement making, but we have to put our own emotions as members of the human community into the making of media and let our empathy grow as the project progresses.

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Moreover, affect is a highly sensory feeling. “Affect is this two-sideness as seen from the side of the actual thing, as couched in its perceptions and cognitions. Affect is the virtual as point of view, provided the visual metaphor is used guardedly.” (Massumi, 35) By creating content on the website, there is no way to directly involve our sensory systems other than audial and visual senses. Thus, to really engage the audience with the affect, a content producer should be thinking towards using audial and visual elements to evoke other sensory systems, such as tactile sense, olfactory sense, gustatory sense, etc.

Since my project is about how over-commercialization impacts the quality of living for the community of Flushing, Chinatown, I plan to emphasize the affect of this issue on not just a documentary level, but also an emotional level. I want the readers, no matter who and where they are, to feel the dazzling storefronts of Flushing, the crowded tenement houses of Flushing, the energetic vibe of Flushing, as well as the fading cultural significance of it. For this purpose, I think it would be effective if I incorporate some photos of buildings and urban setting in Flushing and shoot videos on human interactions/interviews under the consent of people there. Since the commercialization of Flushing has made its storefronts along the commercial main street area very visually powerful, still images should be an effective media to convey that intensity; while as a busy neighborhood, human interaction is the key to understand the actual living condition of people there, video should serve as a useful medium to communicate affect with the readers.

Works Cited

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. N.p.: Duke U, 2002. N. pag. Print.

Bioswales and Why its Effects are Unbearable

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s always two sides to every story” and while that is generally true, sometimes you have to go with one of the sides and stick to it. Up until now with the research I have done on bioswales, while many articles will try and tell you that the good outweighs the bad, from going to Queens and seeing bioswales firsthand I cannot say I agree. The world works in an interesting fashion in the sense that if an issue does’t affect you directly, it is tend to be pushed off to the side so that those who don’t have a say have to be left dealing with the issues. In simple terms, in many parts of the world, and lately it seems especially true in the United States that many live by the phrase “out of sight, out of mind”. It is time to stand up for those who can’t for themselves and to offer support.

After Thursday’s class, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the reading presentations and specifically on the overall effects of affect. I believe that for my ecology, the only way to properly communicate affect and why the residents of Queens whose homes are now being surrounded bioswales are as opposed to their construction as they are. Bioswales for all of their good, concentre pollution and are poorly maintained at the expense of those who live next to them. Regardless, to the extreme pushback that residents of Northern Queens expressed towards the construction of bioswales, still three-hundred bioswales were constructed and put in place. This is another one example out of the million of citizens and communities expressing their opposition and discontent on something that very directly affects them and yet seeing no compromise or measures taken to handle their concerns. I believe that the best way possible to translate this affect is going to be by directly speaking to these residents of Queens. I find it to be my duty to continue the narrative for these residents that have been so blatantly dismissed by those in positions of power who supposedly represent them.

This circumstance is currently ongoing and there is still an opportunity to make a difference. The stories and the burden that these residents of Queens are now facing is not one that is difficult to sympathize with. However there is a difference between feeling and doing and to transmit affect there must me action taken. That action is what I will try my best to portray in my ecology.

FLUSHING — multicultural or isolated townhouse

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

New York, as one of the cities known for its diverse ethnicity coexisting — exchanging, giving, and taking each other’s culture. But we all know there is more exchange in terms of the intangible and invisible things that we as humans cannot see with our eyes. As explained in Transmission of Affect by Teresa Brennan, the transmission of affect is that “we [humans] are not self-contained in terms of our energies. There is no secure distinction between the ‘individual’ and the ‘environment’. We may influence the registration of the transmitted affect in a variety of  ways; affects are not received or registered in a vacuum” (6). Because the environment is not an enclosed space, but rather an opened space, there are millions of factors that may alter the transmitted, while it undergoes transmission.

 

Living in the one of the two major Koreatown in New York, in order to get to the other major Koreatown in Flushing, I would first have to pass by the one I live nearby. Bright lights and the busy street lights of Manhattan welcomes diverse people into the Korean culture. However, after riding the train from the Penn station to the Broadway station in Flushing, Queens, I arrive in Koreatown, but different from its atmosphere and its people. As Brenna explained in her essay, the “energetic” dimension of affect is left out in the Koreatown in Flushing(12). Less interactive, rather isolated, but more complete form of Koreatown was in Flushing.  But the group that really stands out was the “elders” of the Korean population; left out, alone and indifferent.

 

Despite Flushing’s multicultural environment, acting its role as “a vehicle connecting individuals to one another and the environment, and for that matter connecting the mind or cognition to bodily processes”, with my primary viewpoint of the environment, it definitely did not seem to play its role. Even though there a couple of adult care

Facilities, like Woori and KASCOF (Korean American Senior Center of Flushing – Senior Center in Flushing), most elders do not seem to be aware of available facilities and rather lay around or gather outdoors.

 

Through photos, videos and audio interviews bringing up the full potential to help make the issue of isolation aware throughout greater and larger audience. Regarding to bring the full potential of all interviews and interactions with the elders, by speaking in Korean, I believe that it will help to related better with the elders.

 

 

Despite the increasing population status of immigrants in Flushing in New York, and the increasing designated territories namely belonging to distinct ethnicities, such as Korean and Chinese, there still are groups that are being left out.

 

Works Cited

Brennan, Teresa. “Introduction.” The Transmission of Affect, Cornell University Press, 2004, pp. 1–22.

show, don’t tell

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Massumi and Brennan’s theories of affect, especially as compared to models of communication. In communication theory, the process typically consists of a sender, a medium, and a receiver. As people living our everyday lives, we are constantly sending and receiving messages consciously and unconsciously. In terms of affect, we are also consistently affecting and being affected, both consciously and unconsciously. What’s more, is that often the message we intend to send— in this case, the affect we intend to impose— may not be the same message that is received.

Last week, I was walking around Flushing carrying a DSLR camera and taking pictures. In my mind, I fit in. I was Chinese, I spoke Chinese, I was eating Chinese bakery treats, and I wasn’t wearing anything out of the ordinary. I was with three friends who were all Chinese part Chinese. We didn’t think we looked out of place.

I was there photographing things and people who did look out of place. One photograph I took was my friend taking pictures with his DSLR camera, and it hit me: I was him. I was just like every other outsider in Flushing— just visiting and taking pictures, and then going home to a very different environment. I had the privilege of leaving this place filled with poverty, gentrification, and cultural assimilation. I absolutely did not fit in, and in being there, I was affecting the space just as much as the actors I was attempting to make commentary on.

The affect that I have on my ecology may be different than what I assume it is, just as the affect that my website will have on viewers may be different. Different people, actants, and environments will inevitably receive affects differently, and different people may receive the same message differently. My blog post last week was received very differently than I would have assumed it to be.

I have decided that the best approach to communicate my site and issue effectively is through showing rather than telling. This will involve not only using stunning statistics, but also showing imagery and audio of things that are out of the ordinary and representative of these stats. The approach I will take will be observational and descriptive. Rather than making my own commentary, I will attempt to show people how I feel by eliciting similar emotions.

Bibliography

Brennan, Teresa. “Introduction.” Transmission of Affect.

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation.

“MODELS OF COMMUNICATION.” MODELS OF COMMUNICATION | Iacact, http://www.iacact.com/?q=models.

Gowanus Canal

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Surprisingly, not many people know about the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, even people who live in New York. It’s one of the most polluted water bodies in the United States. It has a long history that goes back to early New York in the 1600s; then during the industrial revolution in the 1900s, many started taking advantage of its position to use as a transportation system.

The canal started developing at a rapid pace and there were more factories, tanneries, and gas plants. The manufacturing that all these companies did would dump most of their waste in the canal but it was also a temporary sewage disposal site. On top of that, the slaughterhouses in Brooklyn would get rid of the blood by throwing it in the canal. As a result, the waterway became extremely polluted (also because there’s no flow-through of water). It took on a purple/lavender color so the residents around the canal started naming it “Lavender Lake”, which is ironic because it’s known to have a very pungent oder. When scientists went to investigate the condition of the water, they said that it’s most likely that it contains carcinogens including organisms that had tuberculosis, typhoid, and cholera. Thus, if someone were to fall in or drink the water, they would be in need of immediate care. Additionally, there’s an urban myth that the mafia would dump their bodies into the water.

It has taken about 50 years to make small changes that hardly ameliorate the state of the Gowanus canal. With the growing gentrification and development going around the canal in the past years, it has become overshadowed and it seems like many people have forgotten about the critical environmental state of the water. Now that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency has listed the canal as a superfund cleanup site, perhaps more will be done to finally improve the condition of it all.

The purpose of this project is to shed some light on the lack of initiative for environmental causes and how NYC hasn’t really taken this seriously until recently. In “Transmission of Affect” Brennan discusses how there’s a general ‘feeling’ one gets in certain situations and places. That strange and indescribable sensation that one gets when they arrive at the canal, smell the odor, and look at the water makes one feel immediately dirty. As she says “there is no real distinction between the individual and the environment”, it’s just the awareness or consciousness of what’s there. In order to make people care more about the canal, I’m going to use media as a resource to create affect. In Massumi’s “The Autonomy of Affect”, he sheds light on how content through imaging, documentation, sound, and video can make people feel more. Although it might be hard to illustrate the state of the canal, I will try to focus on details that can illuminate the problems that have been going.

 

 

The Intense Affect of Documentation

•October 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

For me, there are a couple themes surrounding the topic of gentrification: culture, power relationship and displacement. Different from some other precarious issues, gentrification rather happens gradually and silently, and people just start to be more of it as huge changes have already taken place. Therefore, I think what’s really powerful about the precarity of gentrification is the significant changes the gentrifiers brought to a neighborhood.

While Bushwick, with the potential of being the next Williamsburg, is already notably different from what it was like ten years ago, Maria Hernandez Park becomes one of the only few sites in Bushwick that stays almost unchanged. Today, the park is still a common for children to play after school, for the local Hispanic and Latino residents to have weekend gatherings, and for the elders in the neighborhood to sunbath in the afternoon. Therefore, I think the park is not only a precarious site where we could observe the intrusion of a new culture, but also one of the last few places where we could see the “original” culture of Bushwick that is vanishing in a constantly increasing speed.

A powerful way to transmit and deliver affects in my website, thus, is factual documentation. In Massumi’s piece “The Autonomy of Affect,” he talks about how to determine the “qualities” and “intensity” of a visual media work by conveying the psychological and neurological study of children’s reactions to three different versions of a video. Massumi concludes that plain facts, even appear as “unpleasant” for the children, would cause the highest level of psychological arousal (higher intensity), and on the other hand, even though emotional descriptions are “pleasurable” to watch, it yields less psychological arousal. In other words, while emotional advocacy might have a high quality in raising the viewers’ emotion, factual documentation has a stronger affect in yielding the emotional intensity. What I want to achieve in my website design, therefore, is the transmitting the intensity of the ecology through the factual documentation of images, videos and audios of Maria Hernandez Park. This factual and seemingly plain narrative will have the potential to cause greater affect than emotional advocacy.

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