Category Archives: English & History

English & History

Crossing The Food Desert: A Hoop Dreams Production

May 29, 2013, by

For my final project in Policy we created a documentary about food deserts in urban areas of Chicago.  I created this documentary with SM, HP, and LN.  For this video we focussed a lot on Link Up Chicago, a program that tries to get farmers market vendors to allow LINK to be used, in exchange for a lower cost on products. This involved us going to a farmers market and interviewing the people working.  We had some great footage, great interviews, and we had a blast- you can see our video below.  

LN made a poem capturing the sense of our experience, you can read it below.

People walking on the ground, a ground full of seeds and weeds a ground desperate for trees. Trees where wind echoes like a curious hungry dog, that only becomes more hungry when a man bites an apple.  An unforgettable smell like garlic melting through my nose.  Making it difficult for me to smell anything else in the atmosphere, this is the farmers market.



Holes the GCE Adventure

May 14, 2013, by

For my Policy (English & History) class we were tasked with doing three hours of service to an  organization of our choice.  This project was inspired by a field experience we did to Lincoln Park Community Center (LPCS).  I had a great time doing my service, and you can read about it below!

After going to TedEx myself and my Policy class were tasked with doing three hours of service, and it couldn’t have worked any better. Durring TedEx we watched a speaker who advocated for public gardens with his slogan Grow Some Shit (see the Ted Talk here!).  Meanwhile at GCE there was word of us starting a public garden outside the school so we could have access to fresh produce, and flowers.  If this garden continues as planned I would hope we would be able to feed those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to healthy food, a human right that I think everyone should have.

To make this whole experience possible we were tasked with tilling the hard, trash-covered soil outside of our school in order to make it usable for summer when planting would begin.  I’m happy that I was able to be outside with my friends working on a project that will impact many people in the future.  I think I’ve got a new-found gratitude for where my food comes from and what people do to prepare and farm it.  I also have a new sense of awareness that not everyone has access to fruits and vegetables, and that many low income residents in Chicago are located in a Food Desert. I would hope with more awareness on public gardens the amount of food deserts around Chicago (and all of the US) could continue to decrease until everyone has access to healthy produce.

I’ve noticed that there were a ton of different options of community service to pick from in Chicago: from tilling a soon-to-be garden, to serving at a soup kitchen.  I’m hoping that what I did can have as big of an impact if not a larger one.  This project has inspired me to want to do more help and I will definitely continue working on the garden at school.  I’ve noticed that most kids tend to run away from the idea of community service (myself included) and I think that could change as I had fun with friends while helping!

I believe that being able to eat healthy food cheap (or even free!) is such a simple idea that could be solved for simply.  Everyone should have access to such basic rights like water, shelter, and food!  It makes me happy that what I am working on will one day help out many others, or even make other people want to do the same somewhere else.



The War on Private Prisons

April 29, 2013, by

For my second milestone in Policy (English & History) we created an infographic about a monopoly that exists today in the US.  I did mine about the Private Prison system and how terrible of a system it is.  This was a extremely eye opening source and I learned why we hold  %25 of the world’s prisoners, yet only %5 of the world’s population.  If you would like to check out my narrative of my infographic about it, check it our below!

 

Right now in America one of the most lucrative businesses is making more people go to jail than ever before, and it’s legal.  What I’m talking about is the Private Prison market, which is a 70 billion dollar market.  It has grown by %350 in the past 15 years, and this isn’t a coincidence.  This industry is extremely corrupt, and is emptying the pockets of taxpayers, and imprisoning those for longer than is deserved.  Many Private Prison companies require that states keep the capacity of prisons at above %90 full for 20 years.

This puts pressure on the justice system to increase sentencing length, and increase the frequency at which people are incarcerated.  Over 2.27 million US citizens are in jail, that’s about 1 out of 100 people.  The US hold %25 of the world’s prisoners, while only having %5 of the world’s population.  Roughly 51.5% of prisoners are there for drug related offenses.  Roughly %81.9 of prisoners are in jail for possession of a controlled substance.  The US government spent over 15 billion dollars, equaling to $500 every second.

I’ve noticed from doing this report that Private Prisons are becoming much more lucrative and profitable over time.  While profitability has gone up, so has the amount of prisoners in the US.  There has been a %700 jump in US prison population, which is outpacing general population growth and crime rates (%44 population growth).

The amount of spending on prisons has been skyrocketing over the past thirty years, and private prisons have not been the only reason for them to jump so high.  State-ran prisons supply more than 800,000 jobs, so it is at the best interest of the government to keep prisons full as well.  I think that the private prison system is absolutely terrible, and terrifying.  I believe that prisons should be ran at who has the people’s best interest in mind.  Not a company who has themselves to worry about.

InfographicFINALtwo
Works Cited
“American Civil Liberties Union.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://www.aclu.org/>.
“BRIEFING: For-Profit Prisons.” WhoWhatWhy RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://whowhatwhy.com/2012/05/01/briefing-for-profit-prisons/>.
“How Extensive Are Private Prisoners in Our Country? plus a Report on Private Prison Lobbying | Rortybomb.” Rortybomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/how-extensive-are-private-prisoners-in-our-country-plus-a-report-on-private-prison-lobbying/>.
“International Centre for Prison Studies.” International Centre for Prison Studies. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://prisonstudies.org/info/worldbrief/wpb_stats.php?area=all>.
“Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA.” Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://rt.com/usa/cca-corrections-prison-profit-433/>.
“PolicyMic.” PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://www.policymic.com/articles/24142/the-number-of-people-in-private-prisons-has-grown-by-1-664-in-the-last-19-years>.
“Private Prisons Have Public Benefits: Newsroom: The Independent Institute.” The Independent Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1411>.
Staff, NPR.
“How Louisiana Became The World’s ‘Prison Capital'” NPR. NPR, 05 June 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <https://www.npr.org/2012/06/05/154352977/how-louisiana-became-the-worlds-prison-capital>.


Dear Mr. Mayor!

April 15, 2013, by

For my first milestone for my Policy class our goal was to request a change in our neighborhood.  This was a difficult, yet rewarding milestone because we got to do something that matters.  I did something which I find very important: adding a basketball court to my neighborhood.  If you live in bucktown, or are interested in change, see what I sent to my alderman below!

Scott Waguespack
32nd Ward Alderman
2657 N Clybourn Ave Chicago, IL 60614

Dear Mr. Waguespack:

As you may or may not know, Holstein park is in disrepair: specifically the corner of the park along Shakespeare & Oakley.  I suggest that a basketball court be installed in that area.  This is because there is not a single basketball court in the Bucktown area.  The closest basketball court is at Le Moyne & Damen (Wicker Park).  This court is five blocks away from the outskirts of Bucktown, and is (roughly) twelve blocks away from my house.  I suggest the court be put in Holstein Park because it is near the middle of Bucktown, and is only four blocks from Pulaski International School of Chicago.  Having a basketball court in this area would be an excellent idea because: It would raise land value of nearby buildings, would allow nearby children to be active and promote a healthy lifestyle to the people of Bucktown, and would allow my friends and I to have a safe area to play basketball over summer.  Unlike other proposals you get, I am not only submitting an idea, but I would also like to donate my time (and money) to helping raise money to fund the basketball court.  If you agree that this is a good idea and would like to follow through I would be more than happy to meet with you so we can plan how much money I would need to raise.  This way we wouldn’t have to use the city’s money, and would have a great basketball court in our great neighborhood.  I hope you find this to be as great of an ideas as I do.

Sincerely,

JH



Can you have your cake and eat it too?

April 10, 2013, by

For my final milestone in Art of Rhetoric I created a topic to discuss, that being how can someone be fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. I was extremely interested in this project because it’s something I personally am interested in. I had the opportunity to talk to an amazingly smart entrepreneur about this topic, check it out below!
Introduction
For my final Action Project in A Nation’s Argument I studied dialectics as a method of argument. In dialectics one side forms a thesis on an issue. The other side forms a antithesis which combats the thesis. Out of this debate these two arguments create a new synthesis. I interviewed Chicago-based members of the Entrepreneurs Organization. I wanted to see how someone could be fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. Thesis How can someone say they want to do good while not paying for the good? To test and support my thesis, which began as an interest in hearing that Warren Buffett gets taxed at a lower rate than his assistant, I listened to an interview with him. In it I found out 337 million dollars go uncollected every year in the U.S. because the top 1% use other means to avoid paying taxes. This thinking became the question, “How can you advocate and want good, without wanting to pay for it? Many entrepreneurs and upper-class businessmen declare themselves fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. Meaning more conservative on topics including money and spending, but being more liberal on subjects like giving public goods to others. I’m interested in how people can justify wanting good without paying for good.
Antithesis
You can want to make the US a better place while wanting to keep your money. The government does a terrible job of using our tax dollars. If there were other ways to help the public good (not taxes) I would be willing to do that. I talked to an entrepreneur BB on the topic, and below is my email exchange with him:

To me, being socially liberal and fiscally conservative means wanting the greater good for society, while not wanting to pay for it.
It will be interesting to see if you still think this way after additional education and life experience.

If this isn’t what it means to you, how would you define it?
Socially liberal = freedom of gender/sexual/racial/drug preferences Fiscally conservative = believe free market principals promote the most freedom and highest economic benefits for a society Socially moderate/liberal, fiscally liberal = Democrat Socially moderate/conservative, fiscally liberal = Republican Socially liberal, fiscally conservative = Libertarian

Do you think there is a contradiction being socially liberal and fiscally conservative?
No, I think socially liberalism and fiscally conservatism produces maximum liberty. I think any other variant is a contradiction because it would produce less freedom and reduce liberty. Social conservatism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of human rights. Fiscal liberalism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of property rights.

Would you be willing to pay more in taxes if it was going directly towards a cause you supported, rather than toward the government to spend?
The nature of this question posits an inconsistent premise on the role of the government. The role of the government, as I see it, is four fold: 1) to protect individual rights (provide rule of law, enforce freely entered contracts, protect individuals from monopoly coercion) 2) to manage neighborhood effects (manage common resources like air and water, commission highways, basic education) 3) to provide a defense (a military to protect individual rights from other societies) 4) paternalism to advance freedom (manage members of society which are not capable – i.e. madmen, violent criminals)

How would those social goods be funded?
Social goods should be funded directly by individuals using their free will. Any other method reduces the overall impact of social goods and distorts the intention of the people (deadweight loss, coercion, corruption).

What “socially liberal” public goods are worth paying for with your taxes?
Examples from four roles of government – education through adulthood, EPA, road systems, insane asylums, prisons, courts.
Many articles nowadays talk about how being fiscally conservative and socially liberal is the new way to be, but many are against this idea.

Synthesis

After talking to BB I wouldn’t say my opinion is changed, but I now understand it. Before the interview I thought it was selfish to advocate for good and want it, but not want to pay for it. I think I now understand what it actually means, and to some extent I agree. Once extremely convincing point for me was when BB said:

I think socially liberalism and fiscally conservatism produces maximum liberty. I think any other variant is a contradiction because it would produce less freedom and reduce liberty. Social conservatism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of human rights. Fiscal liberalism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of property rights.

Which I thought was very well put. I think from the interview I’ve had with BB I could agree that being socially liberal and fiscally conservative is a viable option. I think that this has opened my eyes to a lot of other political views, such as the views Ron Paul has.

 

~draw picture of obama on one side, romney on other with ron paul in the middle.~



An amendment to the school

February 22, 2013, by

For our English/History class (A Nations Argument) we worked on making an amendment,  specifically, something we wanted to change in our school.  This was one of my favorite, yet difficult, assignments because we had to think of something wrong in our school and provide a solution.  If you want to see what I did, read below!

If you are late the amount of time you are late is added to a tally, once the tally reaches fifteen minutes, you owe fifteen minutes of community service and must pay it back in one week.  For example. if you are five minutes late on monday, you don’t owe any time, but if you are ten minutes late the next day, your tally has reached fifteen minutes and you have one week from (in this case) tuesday to pay back your time (fifteen minutes in this case). see my full report here!

I was just one piece in the puzzle for this Action Project.  My whole group also produced amendments and then we voted on which ones we would like to go in our own GCE constitution.  You can see our compiled constitution below!  My argument didn’t make it in our final constitution because an amendment like mine was more popular.  I think the reason the other amendment was picked over mine is that it had more leeway, and allowed students to be less accountable.