Month: January 2016

The Reality of Homelessness: A Summary of Nersessova’s Article

From Margaret Morton's "The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City"

From Margaret Morton’s “The Tunnel”

This article discusses Margaret Morton’s book “The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City” and the photographs of the homes built by the homeless people in the city. Nersessova does this using the views of the Situationalist International theory from Karl Marx.

In the beginning of the article Neressova defines homelessness as being without a stable home. The term stable is important because she explains that the people we call homeless have built homes for themselves, but they are not stable. She also talks about the designs of some of these homes they have created and what they represent. She said that the way each home is created is significant to the person living there because “identity is closely tied to one’s place of home” and a result of them always moving is that their identity is   “consistently fragile”. The fact that they continue to rebuild theses homes each type they move, shows that their “creative response to instability”. A common issue homeless people faced was the city destroying their homes and closing off the tunnels where they were built, taking away their identity. This often makes them vulnerable and she explains that this represents the “universal relationship between space and the splintered identity”. They space they have determines how they will build their homes and the homes they build become their identity. This changes when they have to change the space.

Nersessova, then talks about Morton’s photography of the urban areas in New York and the role they play in a “society of the spectacle”. She discusses this using the views of the Situationist International (SI) which acknowledges the difference between the “society of the spectacle” and the “reality of homelessness”. According to the SI, people use the media to decide what they will consume and how they understand themselves.

In Morton’s book, she discusses the significance of the tunnels with some of the people she interviewed that lived in the tunnels. A common thing they said was that they felt safe in the tunnels, as odd as it may seem, even though it looked like a dangerous place. They didn’t have worry about getting robbed or attacked, because they felt like no one want to risk coming into the dark tunnel. They also liked the tunnels and the underground part of the city because there was less traffic, which made it safer for them.

The photographs in Morton’s book gives a visual of what is the reality of homeless people’s lives. It provides an inside look at how they actually live and instead of how we, as a society, assume they do. It also gives the views of outsiders looking in on their lives. They are afraid of the tunnels because they fear the unknown and that is a product of our society.


Architectural Exclusion: A Summary of Schindler’s Article



Architectural exclusion is when man-made, built environments are designed to exclude certain types or groups of people. Schindler gives several examples of this throughout the article. One of the examples of this would be exclusion through the subway system. Often, rich communities in Atlanta are against allowing MARTA to have stops in their neighborhoods, because they know that this will encourage the poor and people of color to come there. It will also stop them from getting jobs in the area because they will not have a ride to work. Schindler also talks about how white residents in a suburban community once had a road closed because it gave a nearby, black neighborhood access to their area. They even covered it up by saying that closing the road would help reduce traffic.

According to the N.Y. Times article “Where has the Northern State Gone?” written by Philip Lutz, Robert Moses, known as the “Master Builder” of New York, wanted to build “low-hanging overpasses on the Long Island parkways that led to Jones beach…so that buses could not pass under them.” Schindler then explains that this affected the people of color and poor people because they were that ones that rode the bus the most. This means they were excluded from going to Jones Beach.

Architectural exclusion also, serves as a regulator, keeping people of color and poor people separated from everyone else. An example of this would be the fact that park benches are designed to have armrests so that homeless people will not sleep comfortably on them. This type of regulation is discreet because to most people, they assume the purpose of the armrests are to divide the benches. Schindler explains that this shows how effective this type of regulation is and how it occurs with no one suspecting it is taking place. Another example Schindler provides is architecture being used to hide neighborhoods from non-residents and to discourage them from entering. They can even be designed to keep the residents in. One way they do this is a residential parking permit requirement. This keeps the resident from wanting to invite guests over, because they know they will have to pay for a guest permit so that their friends can park in the street. The roads of these neighborhoods are often curvy and full of dead ends, which confuses non-residents and makes them not want to enter the area.

There are also regulations in transit, street, and highways that keep visitors out of these communities. Schindler gives an example from Lessig, which says that putting a highway between two neighborhoods prevents them from interacting with each other. Highways were put in the middle of cities to get rid of the low income and black communities. One-way streets are used to keep traffic out of certain areas, mainly the wealthy ones. Bridge exits and highway ramps were used to direct traffic in the direction away from the rich neighborhoods to keep non-residents out. This was very inconvenient for drivers, taking them out of the way to get to where they were trying to go. Some of these communities took matters into their own hands to keep their neighborhoods exclusive. In Darien, Connecticut, they don’t have many street signs because they want to confused visitors and keep them from finding the rich neighborhoods. In Bolinas, California, people would remove the signs telling drivers the location of the city, so that they would not have visitors. Architectural exclusion can easily be overlooked, because it is often covered up by the people designing the environment where it occurs.

Built Environment Observation Activity


Objective (Describes experience)

Subjective (Thoughts, analysis, interpretation)

3 Swings (wooden) Makes more people want to sit in the area
2-seater swings Friends have enough room to sit together
It is located in a corner space It’s cozy even though it’s outside
Grass It was muddy
Square tiles in the ground near the swings It would be a good place to put your feet when the grass is muddy after the rain
Trees nearby To provide shade
Hooks on the swing poles Maybe to hang bags (two students that were there used the hooks for that)
Bridge connecting Student Center East and Urban Life
Drain in the ground nearby Good for when it rains
3 light poles Useful at night to keep the area well lit
Swings held up by chains So that the swings can hold the weight of two people
Smells like grass Not a good or bad smell
Sound of vent blowing I liked to have some type of noise in the background and not just silence
2 students talking It’s a nice place to talk and relax with friends

Schindler’s “Architectural Exclusion”

What Does It Mean?

3.) “Architectural regulation is powerful in part because it is unseen’ it allows government to shape our actions without our perceiving that our experience has been deliberately shaped” (1940)

  • The reason that architectural exclusion is powerful is because the government is able to control our actions without us being aware that they are doing it.

7.)”…’there is no such thing as a neutral design” (1948)

  • Every design is made a certain way for a reason

18.) “..the design of many suburban communities, with their cul-de-sacs and curvy streets, makes them confusing to outsiders who can not see what lies on the other side of the neighborhood. This street layout also gives non-residents fewer reasons to enter the neighborhood in the first place; the multiple dead end streets and cul-de-sacs of a suburban neighborhood often all branch off a single arterial road” (1972).

  • The design of cul-de-sacs are used to hide was is the other side of the neighborhood from non-residents and with the purpose of discouraging them from entering by making the streets in it confusing and complicated.

Syllabus Quiz


What are the major projects? In a bulleted list, provide links to the project descriptions for each of them.

  • Reading Summaries (6)|0
  • Annotated Bibliography (10 annotations)|0||annotatedbibs|0
  • Built Environment Descriptions (3, one each for exterior, interior, and digital)|0||annotatedbibs|0||bedescriptions|0
  • Built Environment Analysis (1)|0||annotatedbibs|0||bedescriptions|0||beanalysis|0


How will your final grade be calculated?

  • The grade is calculated based on the point system. You can earn points for everything you do. there is a minimum of 2500 points to get an A in the class

What is the “submission form” and how do you use it?

  • It is the form used for turning in work to receive points

Embed the form below your answer (hint: Google “embed Google form” to find out how).

Embed the course calendar and weekly overview below this question.

Where on the course website can you find an overview of what’s due and the readings for each unit?

  • Go to the Syllabus and course info tab and click on unit overview

What is the best way to see an overview of what’s due each week?

  • The course calendar

What is the attendance policy?

  • You earn 20 points for coming to class and lose 20 points for unexcused absences

What are my office hours, and how do you make an appointment to see me outside of class?

  • Tuesdays 9:30-11:30 a.m., and by appointment

How do you earn participation credit? Provide a link to the instructions/guidelines for particiption.

  • By doing the major projects, coming to class prepared, and missing only 4 class meeting. Also any other extra work that you do can be submitted for points.
  • Participation (link to instructions)

How many points can you earn by participating in or organizing a study group session?

  • up to 25 points

How can you be assured of earning an “A” in this course?

  • Accruing 2,500 points

What are the minimum requirements for earning a passing grade of “C”?

  • If you complete all the major projects, earing at least the minimum amount of points

What do you do if you’re not sure how to document your participation in order to earn points?

  • You can request to meet with the instructor


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Reading Summary One

Great summary of the thing. Evidence, evidence.

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