Final Project: Achieving Change

Miguel L.

Final Project

English 1101 – Prof. Gold


The Earth has hosted many great thinkers who have made it a priority to make this planet a better place. These people have time and again been told their efforts would turn out to be worthless, but they persevered. They believed in their ideas and as a result their communities have benefited from that continuous effort and the world has to collectively. These men and women come in all shapes and sizes in other words they tackle issues at all levels from the large global epidemics to the smaller local community problems. It is perhaps their story of “wanting to change things for the better” that should be learned from and even better achieved.

This past semester I had the privilege to participate in an English course which included visits to the Brooklyn Historical Society.  I vividly remember the first time I went to the archive as I recall being confused while looking for the building, but once I arrived, that all changed.  When I entered I was amazed by the interior architectural details of classical Brooklyn and was delighted to see my fellow classmates who had just arrived a few minutes prior.  After I studied the lobby space and later the great reading room the historians discussed some of the content we were to cover on our visits with an emphasis on the methods to both primary and secondary documents.  One of such documents we reviewed in my group was photographs.  At first I thought the task wouldn’t be as thrilling as what the other two groups had done, but as we looked at pictures of the famous Brooklyn Navy Yard, workers from the first half of the 20th century, and ships I learned interesting techniques of understanding what the photographers intentions were.  I enjoyed this first experience, but what I did not know was this was the start of an interesting course that allowed me to question how are the changes of present day going to be archived for the generations to come.

One of the tasks that fallowed after the first visit was to write about some three types of documents, or artifacts we should save from a person in our generation.  In my post I wrote about the late Jan Kaplicky. I discussed how his ideas were as free as the wind and by that I meant not contaminated by others, creative, and most importantly open to change. He believed although some people are go out and are braking boundaries there is a large number that fails to welcome the creativity of change.  In his efforts to get approval for his design of a National Library in his native Prague he said “More importantly, there appeared unprincipled people, who were not suited for democracy…..This is a battle for culture…..There are far greater values at stack here…”  I also incorporated “Hamlet Literature in a Digital Age” by Matthew Kirschenbaum, “Funes, the Memorious” by Jorge Burgos as well as his essay “The Library of Babel” into my piece.  I first came to know about the international architect when I read his book “Confessions” which I proposed as one of the artifacts that should be saved.  As I read the book I couldn’t help, but feel I finally found a man who shared the same ideas and approaches.  Although he is no longer alive his ideas live on in many young architects around the world. His efforts, work, and beliefs are examples of a man who persevered and who was most notably known for questioning and saying “LETS CHANGE THIS…..”

Currently the most publicized issue in the world is the Occupy Wall Street. This movement which began in a few months ago has raised lots of attention both positive and negative. In my blog “Much needed improvement Mr. Protester” posted November 20, 2011 on OpenLab I wrote about some of these pros and cons of the protesters efforts. In regards to the cons I wrote “these protests have shown form of promise as a great positive, but the costs of the protest are beginning to be evident and the safety of the public is nearing boarder line dangerous.” This is true for the occupation has cost major cities across the nation a significant amount. In addition to the costs the protest has begun to get violent at times for instance the eviction of the protesters in Zoccoti Park were the movement originated, the pepper spray incident at UC-Davis, along with other occasions. These events have raised much attention which further explains how we think as a society, fight for our rights, preserver, current issues, and demonstrates the greediness of the 1%.

One topic we researched about at the Brooklyn Historical Society was the tragic event of the Brooklyn Fire a day in which Professor Vaidya joined us. At first I thought it was a fire which covered a significant amount of Brooklyn, but I later learned it was fire at the Brooklyn Theater in other words it was the Brooklyn Theater Fire of December 5, 1876. We got into depth when reviewing primary sources that followed the fire. In my group my peers and I examined some cost bills that had to be paid. Later in the course we looked at maps of the area in which the fire occurred. This coverage of the fire made me question in what manner or form will present day’s events is represented.

My most recent visit to the BHS was the final scheduled for the course. We learned about the journals of Gabriel Furman who lived in Brooklyn some one-hundred and sixty years ago which I wrote about in “Dear Brooklyn…what a world…..” Although he wrote about interesting topics such as diseases in particular the yellow fever and remedies I really enjoyed reading the letters in his primary sourced journals. I learned methods to figure out what difficult letters are and I also learned some of the standard writing was much different from today. I had a privilege to read and touch Furman’s actual journals which he wrote in as he roamed the streets of Brooklyn, which was its own city at the time. As I placed my fingers on the book I thought with today’s technology what physical primary sources will those who study us look at.

I find it perhaps awkward, uncomfortable, yet excited to know others might look at my work many years from now. They will seek to investigate how we are as people and our actions. Based on the fact we all now seem to rely on technology one why, or another I believe the archive system will get a huge face lift in other words it will stay the same, but change with categorization based on time in history. There is a great purpose to archives such as the Brooklyn Historical Society. One of such is its ability to introduce topics of the past to help use discover our future. Through this course I was able to question how our ideas will be preserved and what would be some of the content. The most important topics I hope is studied in the future are the ones society once labeled “the crazy ones”; the ones who “think” differently of the 20th and early 21th century such as Einstein, Dr. King, Gandhi, Jobs, Earhart and the other greats for I am interested in preserving that which moved the human raced to greater heights. Those are the types of people who I encourage others to study and learn from for they do not fear change because they are the change. I suppose since the BHS saves the work of Brooklyn that the work from today should be of those Brooklynites who made a difference in their communities throughout the Kings borough. It has been a privilege to have been able to visit the BHS and I hope it is for those who visit in the future to learn from todays changers.

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