Reading Response 2 / Ariel Swift

Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? by Metahaven provided a unique insight to the power of jokes that I had not see before. The reading looks at how jokes have a much deeper nature than making people laugh such as extending opinions on society and government and allowing people to reflect on the some of the almost dark hilarities of our nations current state. Metahaven even calls a joke “The highest form of power” that unites perspectives from those that are activist and those that are theorists. Jokes have evolved in a new kind of way with the advances of the Internet allowing for their viral and rapid spread. This article is incredibly relevant in relation to our country’s divides.

I feel like it’s almost a safer and easier way to share a message. You can express an opinion (perhaps one that many may oppose) in a way that is more likely to make someone laugh then to piss them off. It also get’s to the point…no long politically charged Facebook rants here! Anyone can make a meme with a simple download of a meme generator app. With the Internet at these jokes aid they take off with millions of shares and views. In all honesty I spend more time scrolling though Facebook, reddit, and twitter than I do watching news outlets so in my world I feel more likely to encounter political exposure from these memes. I almost prefer them in a way. I would rather laugh at what is happening than feel any other way.

I am not one to talk politics because of its divisive nature but one can’t reflect on the relevancy of this reading without relating it to Trump. In all honesty some of what he does is just so ridiculous all you can do is laugh. No matter what side you are on you can’t help but laugh at the Internets reaction to some of Trumps antics such as the cofveve situation. It’s examples like these that removed the divide and made everyone laugh.

I feel like memes as well as trolling has made people feel like they have gained back some of the power they feel they have lost. When our countries problems feel like one big tangles mess outside of the hands of an individual, is helps people to feel like they can at least make a statement that will reach others. It’s a movement designed by the people for the people. At first when Metahaven brought up that these meme makers were a form of designers I was hesitant to agree (perhaps even a little insulted at the notion that anyone with Photoshop is equally a designer as someone who has put intensive effort into a design degree) but perhaps they are…maybe on a unique level. Design is about communication and these memes sure are accomplishing that! An interesting perspective, combined with powerful visuals, making people feel an emotion are the building blocks of design.

Here is an interesting article detailing the role of memes in politics I like how the author of the article puts memes as “…appropriating the culture around us and short-circuiting meanings” Some times our politics can be nasty but at least I’m laughing. 🙂


Secondary Research: Individual / Ariel Swift (OTR)

Over The Rhine History (Over The Rhine Foundation) 

“OTR History.” Over The Rhine Foundation,

-Germans settled in Over The Rhine in 1848

-At OTR’s peak pop it was home to 45,000 with 75% being second gen Germans

-In depression era Applicahains left poor farms to look for industrial work in Cincinci settled in OTR

-Effects of WWII his US with ant-Germans hysteria as well as prohibitions

– At the turn of the century, there were over a dozen breweries in OTR (some very large) so Prohibition was a big hit (eliminated thousands of jobs and destroyed family business

– With the construction of interstates I-75 and I-71, the demographics began to change in OTR when displaces African Americans families settled

-poor black families filled OTR vacancies among poor and working-class Appalachians. Living conditions were cramped, often unsanitary and unsafe. Turf wars resulted between the young men of both races, leading to residents’ and officials’ worries about a possible race riot

-By the1980s, a vast number of the neighborhood’s housing units were Section 8. Crime rose. Poverty increased. Over-the-Rhine became Cincinnati’s most notorious neighborhood

-In the late 1980s and early1990s, small groups of concerned OTR citizens started to band together to improve the neighborhood, founding the Over-the-Rhine Foundation in 1992

Thesis: The Over The Rhine Foundation History site gives look at how the area has evolved over time changing from heavily Germans settlers, to Appalachian community, to African American community up the mid 90’s and how these race/cultural shift happened.

How Some Cities Reverse Segregation

“How Some Cities Reverse Segregation.” Governing Magazine: State and Local Government News for America’s Leaders,

-OTR lost 44 percent of its white residents in the decade before 2000, according to city estimates.

– Mayor John Cranle, pushed for a plan to renovate buildings in the area with a mix of public and private investment since he was a city councilman in the wake of riots that devastated the area around the park in 2001

-The Cincinnati project used $100 million in federal funds combined with $750 million from local investors.

-The nonprofit public-private partnership, which is called Cincinnati Center Development Corporation, or 3CDC, has bought 200 vacant buildings and 170 vacant lots. So far, it has renovated 125 buildings and built 50 new ones with 1,100 housing units, including 320 shelter beds to house the homeless who once slept in the park,

-City estimates show that Over-the-Rhine reversed decades of white flight between 2000 and 2010, when some of the units were being completed. White population rebounded, its share of the total population going from 19 to 26 percent.

-Over the last 10 years, the city has worked to relocate low-income families with government-subsidized Section 8 housing vouchers from areas of concentrated poverty into areas with low poverty, with the goal of having more mixed-income neighborhoods

-Over-the-Rhine are often cited as the most visible successes in bringing new economic and racial diversity to a downtrodden area.

-since 2001, the city and the county have worked through the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority to transform public housing projects in the poverty-stricken West End into the mixed-income City West development. The $73 million project has so far produced 700 units of subsidized and market-rate housing.

Thesis: In the Article “How Some Cities Reverse Segregation” they touch on how through Mayor John Cranle initiative, backed by nonprofit public-private partnership (3CDC), and federal funds reversed the years of “white flight” in the OTR area turning it into a more diverse neighborhood.

Gentrification in Over The Rhine: Revitalization efforts intensify class divide downtown

Editor, Madison Schmidt The News Record “Gentrification in Over-the-Rine: Revitalization Efforts Intensify Class Divide Downtown.” The News Record,

-A panel of scholars at the University of Cincinnati’s Fall Poverty Lecture series presented an alternative view that challenges the traditional picture of gentrification

– Dr. Andrew Leong, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston: “Gentrification’s main goal is to fulfill a tourist mentality, but instead of renovations happening over the course of several years, we are beginning to experience a hyper-gentrification that’s focusing on corporate welfare…The city then turns a blind eye on its duty to protect the area’s already-existing communities.”

– Renovation of OTR is portrayed as an urban renaissance, which carries the positive connotation of bringing life to once dark city

-“… kick people out of the city and directly or indirectly create policy that makes people into economic others rather than citizens in a community”

-People who live in the community have no say on what is happening to it

– What happened in OTR could easily be replicated in Clifton

-Public and private forces created a narrative to make OTR appear hopeless, a dangerous gathering point for criminals, drug addicts and the homeless… those stereotypes swayed public opinion and decreased property values, allowing speculators to control the renovation process

– Buildings that were once the homes of families are now the glitzy bars, coffee shops and restaurants

-Public decisions were turned over to private corporations while hundreds of hard-working people were evicted from their homes

Thesis: The article “Gentrification in Over The Rhine: Revitalization efforts intensify class divide downtown” it reports on a A panel/lecture series on poverty specifically the gentrification of OTR and how it is made out to be a sort of renaissance but in reality it is hurting the communities that had already existed there by making them feel like “economic others” and giving them little say on what is happening to their communities.






Reading Response 1/Ariel Swift

In the report, “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse” created by the U.S Senate Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations they believe the 2008 crisis was mainly due to high risk lending, poor regulations on questionable bank practices, credit loans that supported investments with inflated risks and investment banks that sold and created poor quality financial products.

This article draws on a series of case studies, which comes off as more or factual and neutral statements rather than opinions. They place much of the blame on the Office of Thrift Supervision.

In the “2008 Housing Crisis” by The Center for American Progress they give the argument that the true cause of the of crisis was the lack of the government involvement, predatory private mortgage lending, unregulated markets, a corrupt wall street, and minimal oversight as apposed to government programs like CRA, GSE, and FHA.

In The Center for American Progress’s argument they believe that “lack of sufficient government oversight” was a major cause. They also defend many government programs exempting them from blame and in some cases stating that they could have even helped prevent the recession from worsening. They build their argument by time lining the creation and effects of government programs built as a result of the 1930’s depression. Programs like the Community Reinvestment Act, and the Fair Housing Act decrease gaps for Americas pillar; the home owning middle class. Housing programs such as the FHA, CRA, and GSE are individually examined for success and protected from blame. The authors are very critical of Wall Street practices resulting in this risk lending and minimal oversight mentioned in the thesis above.

To me it seems as though The Center for American Progress argument is more opinionated and persuasive of that opinion. They want people to agree that government lending was not cause and that it was the Wall Street’s seedy practices that caused the crash. Both the first and second article do seem to be in agreement though that Wall street was the root cause. The article created by the U.S Senate Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations seems to be more fact based than opinion and gives a more holistic approach instead of a more narrow focus. In my opinion the government and institutions like Wall Street and private banks should be to blame. It seems like a connection of many sources whether knowingly or not engaged in harmful practices that ultimately resulted in the crash. The government’s lack of regulatory practices let these institutions have more freedom in their own decisions, which basically screwed over the homeowner in the end.

I was hesitant to use this video (liked below) considering that I’m sure many others have used it (it’s the first thing that pops up on YouTube when you type in recession) but I honestly found it very helpful for a variety of reasons. For starters its visual content which is a useful learning tool for those in a visual field and they condensed key information for someone like me who has little understanding of these events. It really helped me a get core grasp on this concept in a way that is more digestible for my mind than dense reports (no offense to the reports you chose J). There is also another video by the same creator detailing the events of the great depression, which was really interesting to watch in succession so that I could compare both events and combine it with my knowledge of the Great depression from the second article. It also gave me a better understanding of how complex the whole web it. When one thing went wrong everything crashed with it because of how connected it all is. Government, investors and banks are certainly to blame but it also interests me how the homeowner took mortgages they really could not pay because of how sugar coated the deals were. None of the articles spoke to this issue so in my future research I would like to look into this.

Recession Video

Depression Video