Knowing what you’re walking through
Let’s take a walk. Here at the grassy area, we come to a particular stop. But it isn’t a stop, it’s an ongoing path, an in between space. A place people tend to spend some time in a recreational sense dependent on weather and time of day. The people, the surroundings — including buildings, art, and paths make this spot what it is. It is still and it is ever moving. With people constantly using this space to get from point A to point B we come to the paths. Which path will you take and why? These four paths are what make the grassy area accessible.
As this is a physical space, it is very similar to Paul Heilker’s On Genres as Ways of Being. Heilker discusses his belief of genres and how they tie into many aspects of life, “…genres are ways of being, ways of emerging into the world” (Heilker 93). Through genres as “emerging into the world,” the grassy area tells the decisions people make daily, of where they are going and coming from. I see this vast area as a middle ground. A middle ground where people are passing by each other, it is open and you can see everyone.
Heilker takes a single school desk and uses it to depict his idea of a piece of furniture, a technology, a furniture with a genre. Heilker continues on this idea and says: “…if you will, [genres] makes a host of demands on its users, on how we need to be, on how we need to be present in the world, in order to use it” (Heilker 97). By this as he is referring to the single school desk takes us to the idea of any space, in particular the grassy area and how it’s genre effects those who use it. As human beings it is natural for the way you interact with an area to change as you come across different areas. This is true for different paths similar to the ones that flow through the grassy area. Prior to getting to this middle ground, you are in a different set of awareness and those paths are coming from and going to different places. Again, different ways we interact with those places hence these places have completely different genres. These different genres bring out different ways we interact with the space, it challenges individuals and “makes a host of demands on its users.” This set of demands can be different for every person, how they maneuver and interact with the space. I think within every space we need to be present within it and let the genre of the space pull those demands from us. The grassy area shows peoples’ behavior and ways they have interacted with the space whether physical or immaterial and over time this is a part of what makes a spaces’ genre.
As this is relevant to Heilker’s concept of genres, the grassy area is also relatable to Kathleen Yancey’s Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key. Taking the idea of a space and the genres that make it to be such a space, an aspect that falls under genres is the layout. The way the space is constructed and used through technology.
“Today we are witnessing a parallel creation that of a writing public made plural, and as in the case of development of a reading public, it taking place largely outside of school — and this in an age of universal education. Moreover, unlike what happens in our classes, no one is forcing this public to write. There are no As here, no Dean’s list, no writing teacher to keep tabs on you” (Yancey 179).
I agree with Yancey as she states that the “writing public” is a term that is not only in schools but emphasis that it is actively happening outside of the classroom setting. Which personally I find true with the internet and
social media becoming a daily technological being that is a part of us and in our lives…this writing public is indeed true. We love knowledge and learning, always hungry for more to know. It’s our curiosity and nowadays with technology advancing we are constantly using our phones and computers. Writing all the time with or without noticing that in fact we are writing and using this writing public and are a part of this parallel creation. One of Yancey’s key notes is that the writing department should shift and lean towards taking advantage of the fact that students and above are using this way of technology. Using it to the advantage of school’s could create a new way to think of writing. With that I think using this to the advantage of the English/writing department (as Yancey goes on in her essay) would benefit not only schools but would create a new platform and idea of what it means to write.
The grassy area is proof of a network that goes outside the norm of a regular classroom setting. There is multiple ways the spaces’ genre has been manipulated through the design of the layout such as paths that were not originally planned. As well as two pieces of student artwork placed within the space. Interesting to think that although time passes and new additions are added to the original design it doesn’t take away from the space. It only adds to the genre. It allows people to interact with the space rather than just walking through to get somewhere, it has meaning and it is purposeful. It’s almost like the grassy area was meant to be designed to be so vast so students and others could add to it as time goes on and it becomes something more. It becomes a part of the school in an entirely different way because however one interacts with it, they are leaving somewhat a piece of them there.
There’s this concept my leadership counselor told me at camp one summer. He handed out bracelets he had made for all of us. They were like friendship bracelets, red with a green bead at the end where you could loop over it to wear.
He told us that he learned about it when he adopted his Chinese daughter. It’s called the red string of fate, it symbolizes an invisible red cord that is connected to us and wherever we travel to it crosses with other red cords as we meet people, it stretches and tangles but never breaks. The more I think of the grassy area I think of this red string that is “connected” to us. However we may interact with the space, however many times we have walked through it (the tangles) our string crosses with those who have been there before and will be there in the future. It’s neat to think of this space in that perspective of a genre.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that no matter how significant, very little or very impactful we are connected one way or another. The grassy area is only one of many other areas that through its genre allows people to interact with it in some way. Whatever that interaction may be; art sculpture, making a new path, or simply choosing to walk through it, is all a part of its genre and layout. It is the interactions, the manipulation of the space, and adding objects that create this physical writing structure that has come to be what it is today and will continue to be in the future.