Where should we shop?From Factory Store Rack to Social ConscienceA place-based approach to the teaching of writing Dr. June Johnson-Bube & Tara Der-Yeghiayan Seattle University
Goals for Core Freshman Seminars A. To welcome students into the academic community and intellectual life of Seattle University B. To connect students to Seattle and the surrounding region C. To extend the learning of the course outside the classroom through co-curricular activities that are integrated into the academic content of the course D. To foster a spirit of community and build rapport among the students and the faculty E. To provide a rigorous and memorable learning experience
Specific Goals for our English 110: Global Exchanges Seminar Thematic Goals This course will equip students to • reflect, speak, and write on the ways that the thematic readings of the course have opened up thinking about the relationship between local and global issues • think about these issues complexly in terms of multiple views and many stakeholders • reflect, speak, and write on the contention that Americans need to be global citizens • both apply the ideas of the supporters and critics of globalization and question them by drawing on course readings, films, and individual research
Goals for English 110, continued Rhetoric/Composition Goals This course will equip students to • initiate effective writing by framing significant, complex questions and become invested in these questions • use active critical reading to analyze other writers’ arguments and respond thoughtfully to them • use writing as a way to learn and to discover ideas • use the key critical thinking and rhetorical moves of academic writing: posing questions, summarizing, critiquing, analyzing, synthesizing, and constructing reasoned arguments • direct their writing to a specific audience, with a purpose, and in a genre and style appropriate to the rhetorical situation
Rhetoric/Composition Goals for English 110, continued • learn to use the writing process---including brainstorming and drafting, revising, and editing---to produce their most effective writing • do purposeful research and “wallow in the complexity” of an issue by using the resources of the library, licensed databases and the Web and evaluate these sources • construct thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments directed toward specific audiences
Overview of the Course Units • Unit I: Introduction to Globalization and Exploration of Consumerism, Free Trade, and Sweatshops; and Introduction to Rhetorical Problems and Important Moves in Academic Writing and Civic Argument • Unit II: Exploring Outsourcing: Writing Analyses and Critiques • Unit III: Exploring Immigration and Human Trafficking; Exploratory Essay • Unit IV: Exploring Cultural Rights and Diseases in the Global Community; Researched Arguments
Questions for Workshop Participants to Ponder for Discussion • What experiences in the Seattle area have helped you discover the possibilities of alternative modes of production and marketing? • How would you expose students experientially to alternative modes of production and marketing? • How would you design an activity “to assist urbanites in understanding the larger [social justice] consequences of their consumption patterns?” (Light 46) • How would you respond to students who retrench in their comfortable, familiar consumption habits?
Assignment Sequence Co-curricular group fieldtrip (see handout) Writing Project (see handout) Informal, incremental writing assignments and class activities
Bonnie RiverA Fair Trade & World Friendly Store • A fair trade boutique where you can purchase fairly traded crafts, artwork and clothing. Bonnie River is located in the heart of Wallingford, an upscale neighborhood in Seattle known for its homey, friendly feel.
The faces behind the products • Students were asked to visit Bonnie River, an urban space offering alternative modes of production, where the owner proudly displays photographs of the craftsperson behind the product.
Students’ Responses to fieldtrip questions About Greener Lifestyles in Ballard • Items sold: Couches, foot cushions, hanging lamps, wall lamps, wall-mounted light panels, wood floor tiling, cork floor tiling, mattresses, chairs, coffee tables, push screens, stools, dining tables, rugs, baskets, benches, towels, linens, yoga mats • The store is pretty small. It’s a long rectangle with furniture lining the sides. They have their wall lights mounted on the walls. The store feels like a cool and stylish place. Their wood floors and aesthetically pleasing furniture help build this feeling. The store has a skylight so it doesn’t rely completely on electrical lighting, which makes sense because the store is supposed to be environmentally minded.
Fieldtrip response to Greener Lifestyles, continued • The immediate area didn’t have a lot of mainstream stores, and I heard one girl passing comment, “Look how much this place has changed.” The immediate area is pretty quiet, and we’re guessing that the locals favor the smaller, unique store to the larger mainstream franchises. These are probably the type of people who are also more concerned with fair trade and with how those larger corporations take advantage of cheap laborers. The population is also probably older in age. At least, the taxi cab driver told us that old people liked to visit the bars in the area and get drunk.
Greener Lifestyles, Students’ Rating • We’d give the store a 4 [out of 5]. Like Jamba Juice with its vivid colors and wooden floors, Greener Lifestyles has a stylish interior and cool lighting to set it apart from other stores and convey a sense of class. It met our expectations and its attractive products appeal to everybody, not just those who are looking for some greener fair trade items.
Incremental Writing Assignments Informal Writing Assignments Rationale • To help students process and synthesize ideas from the course readings, class discussion, and the fieldtrip • To give students warm-up writing practice • To give students practice working with argument concepts
Informal Writing Assignment I • 1. Thinking Piece: Do the Peter Elbow Believing/Doubting exercise with one of the following claims. For the first twenty minutes, believe the claim and write in support of it, adding your own reasoning and examples. Then write for twenty minutes doubting the claim, challenging and questioning it. The key to success with this thinking/writing exercise is to write in the first person (“I”) and use specific examples. Try to avoid big, general, vague statements. • A. All corporations should be required to tell consumers where and how their products are manufactured. • B. American consumers should actively pursue alternatives to free trade such as fair trade.
Informal Writing Assignment II • 2. Thinking Piece: In a one-page, single-spaced informal piece, describe your favorite store (for clothing or food) and discuss what this store wants you to focus on when you are shopping. What marketing gimmicks does this store employ?
Informal Writing Assignment III • 3. Based on the ideas you encountered in the documentary The Corporation, create an argument frame, using this claim: • Claim: The Corporation is a dangerous institution that needs to be more regulated. • Try to generate at least three reasons as because clauses and provide the unstated assumption behind each reason. In addition, list the support you would use to develop each reason (the grounds), and also anticipate objections from the business world and stockholders (conditions of rebuttal)
Sample I: “Village of Values” A whiff of old carpets and furniture splashes my face as I enter the two door entrance. The faint aroma of a new pair of shoes intertwined with the dusty tang of a thirty year old attic fills my lungs. This place is a dream, a bargain beyond riches, a place of treasures and memories. Vinyl upon vinyl: Berlioz, Mozart, Garland, and Sinatra each carry a varying amount of creamy dust on the surface. Knitted scarves revealing tedious finger work grace numerous plastic racks. Coffee-stained pages of vintage edition novels topple across bookshelves of disarray while opposite, chipped chinaware await gentle care. It is a village of values, recycled products awaiting a new owner and journey at inexpensive prices. Some people believe that purchasing these old and recyclable products at thrift stores, such as Value Village, is disgusting and impedes the global economy. I beg to differ.
Sample II: “The Power of Choice is Yours” It’s a normal Saturday afternoon down at the mall when suddenly I hear Justin Timberlake’s newest song playing loudly from a store that has bright lights coming from it with red sale signs everywhere and trendy clothes that I see the girls on MTV wearing. Immediately I walk towards the direction of the store. How could a teenage girl resist, right? Rummaging through racks and racks of cheap and stylish clothes that would go great with my new boots, I envision a girl my age, maybe even younger, sweating, in pain, struggling to reach her quota, sewing these clothes. My heart stops for a second while I recall what I just learned in class about sweatshop workers and free trade. I didn’t need another cute blouse to add to my already full closet. I put it back on the overly-stuffed rack and walked out of the store.
Sample II: “The Power of Choice is Yours,” continued We, as consumers, can make a positive change in this world by shopping at fair trade stores at least once a month, instead of only free trade stores because they are more “convenient.” Just recently I visited a fair trade store called Bonnie River. There was only one worker present at the store and to my surprise she was the owner of the store. There were no huge marketing gimmicks, loud pop music playing in the store, or sales associates walking around trying to convince you to buy something. Instead, the store felt homely and comfortable. Mrs. Riley, the owner of the store was there if I had any questions, but she wasn’t there trying to sell her things. Before entering the store, I expected
Sample II: “The Power of Choice is Yours,” continued it only to have “weird cultural things” that someone my age would care nothing about. However, there were many items that caught my eye. For example, she sold fair trade chocolate from Peru, beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, coffee, stuffed animals, cute hats, and uniquely designed blankets. The one thing that amazed me the most was when I was reading the tags on some of the clothing. These tags actually said who made the particular article of clothing and some of them were even signed by the workers themselves! I also came across handmade bags. On the shelf below the bags there was a photograph of the man who made these bags and he was holding his products with a big smile on his face. Just seeing this made me feel overwhelmed with joy. Knowing that these people are paid fair wages and work in decent conditions makes it worth paying a few extra bucks for a bar of chocolate or a cute bag for your mother’s birthday.
Sample III: “Responsible Consumption: Peace of Mind at a Student’s Price” So, if you can’t afford Italian shoes or the mark-up for fair and organic goods, what is a Seattle University student to do? On Capitol Hill there are vintage clothing retailers like Red Light, Backstage Thrift and Value Village. They are inexpensive, trendy and some are even charitable. Value Village works predominantly with the Northwest Center for the Retarded and helped raise 100 million dollars last year through its various branches. Also, Backstage Thrift donates a proportion of its profits to the Northwest Actor’s Studio. Some may not consider this in the line of responsible consumption. However, the reuse of clothing delays the time before it goes into the dumpster and saves the resources of producing a new garment. Even though most of their clothes were made by sweatshops, not a penny of the revenue rewards the manufacturer for doing so. If anything, it damages income to the majority of present producers selling clothing made in unmonitored sweatshops abroad.
Sample III: “Responsible Consumption: Peace of Mind at a Student’s Price,” continued Not into vintage? Note even new fashion? The solution is the many ethnic retailers peppered across Seattle. Their wholesome products are timeless and inexpensive. Retailers such as the non-profit Ten Thousand Villages can offer you things from soap to armchairs and show you the guy who made them. They, in particular, manage production with the workers to reach an accommodation. The workers are paid a minimum salary and half of it is given before hand to discourage rushed work and promote a sustainable lifestyle for the workers. All of Ten Thousand Village’s prices are fairly low and there is even a array of items that are more discrete about their origins, for those who aren’t into the ethnic image.
Pedagogical Reflections The Fieldtrip- What worked? • Students seemed happily surprised and encouraged by how knowledgeable the fair trade stores’ owners, workers and volunteers were and equally impressed by their enthusiasm and willingness to speak at length about their products, goods and the people who are impacted by this method of trade. • Many students noted the lasting impression they were left with after seeing photographs of workers behind the products. • Many students located products they could swap for name brand items they usually purchase- from Converse to No Sweat high tops, for example.
Pedagogical Reflections The Writing Assignment- What worked? • Most students wrote with a strong sense of audience, argumentatively communicating to their fellow students why they should or should not support a particular store. • After attending the fieldtrip, students felt more invested in the assignment and wrote with a strong sense of voice. • Their freshly acquired, firsthand knowledge of fair trade availability and experiential learning of place allowed students to build a positive ethos.
Pedagogical Reflections What we’re working on • Addressing some students’ concerns that they are being “guilt tripped” (as one student mentioned in his thesis-claim) into supporting fair trade. • Challenging students to invent a fresh and new approach to this issue that is becoming more and more familiar, especially to students in the Seattle area.