Changed for the better?

Here we are at the end of the semester, and I’m finishing my final project for J335. I made it! And I’m so happy to finish the class with this project, which is very close to my heart.

I’m about to end my third year here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and some of my absolute best memories of college have taken place on State Street. From sitting outside Michaelangelo’s coffee shop on the first day of spring, to having a fancy dinner with friends at Cosi, to trudging through the snow to get free frozen yogurt, State Street has served as the center of my campus world for three years. When I saw the plans for the Street’s redevelopment that came out this spring, I couldn’t decide if I was excited to see the new beginnings of the street, or sad at the loss of a great area.

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A sketch of the proposed building which would take up the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street. Courtesy of thedailypage.com: http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=39874

Talking to city and University officials backing the plan made me feel like this might be something great. Talking to students who were frustrated at the loss of some of their favorite places, full of memories and stories from their time here as a Badger made me realize that this development is somewhat of a tragedy.

State Street is what makes Madison unique and special. Knocking down small businesses who have had a home in the area for years to build ANOTHER expensive apartment building is a real loss. It even sounds like it could be the plot in an action movie, we just need a hero to swoop in and save the day, stopping the big city from making a mistake and giving into big companies.

This story made me realize I need to take action to try to help the area, and join my friends who were hoping to keep their favorite restaurants and shops right where they are. We can be the action heroes in this situation.

This is the second time that a story I wrote for J335 inspired me to make a change in my life and join a cause. Though I don’t know if my actions will help create any real results, I need to say I tried. I’m proud to say this isn’t something I probably would’ve done before I took this class.

So, even if the apartment building does go up, I can at least say I did what I could, and through the process, I was changed for the better.

Thanks for everything J335! Senior year here I come!

Inspiring and Informative: Unspeakable Conversations

Before reading Unspeakable Conversations, I had never even been aware that infanticide was a topic that people discussed. I have heard of those who believe that a woman should have the right to abort a fetus if it is disabled or believed to be suffering from some sort of mental or physical disability, but actually killing a living infant or child because of a disability is an argument that I (thankfully) have never come across.

I had also never read a story in this form. I was very honestly very intimidated when I was approaching this article because it is a long story with no breaking points in between. It goes against much of the writing techniques we’ve been taught in j202, but it works. It works so well that I don’t think this story would have quite the same effect in any other form. When I was reading it, I felt as if I was right there, listening to Harriet McBryde Johnson telling the story. Though I had never heard of her or Peter Singer, I could visualize them and the situation as if I had seen them every day of my life.

I was curious to learn more about both of the main characters in this story after reading Unspeakable Conversations, and was saddened to learn that Johnson, the author that moved me with this story, passed away suddenly in 2008, at age 50. The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina said her sudden death stunned everyone in Charleston. They describe her as a strong woman, a fighter, but also as having a great sense of humor, and a love of passing people on the street with her power scooter.

The other character in this story, Peter Singer is still a professor at Princeton. Reading more about his beliefs and ideas, I am very confused as to how he could feel this way and so publicly say things like that he doesn’t consider handicapped children as people (paraphrased by Johnson in paragraph 3). An idea like this seems so monstrous to most people, and in fact Johnson refers to him as a monster and a Nazi in the story, names that those around her called Singer. The fact that he basically believes she shouldn’t have had the chance to live, and says this to Johnson, and yet she still by the end looks to him almost as a friend, says so much about who she was as a person.

I really enjoyed this reading. I not only learned about these important ethical issues that I had been previously unaware of, but also learned about a truly inspiring person. How she lived her life is amazing, and a real wake-up call to appreciate what we have, and to treat those around us with kindness and respect no matter what their abilities or their opinions are.