Examining Spaces: Change in Tragedy Part 2

In the last post regarding spaces and the April 12th shooting on 13th and Bannock Street I concluded with the idea that the personal stories of the members in a space can help to feed not only the context of that situation but can create meanings that link past and present contexts together. The rapidly politicizing nature of the space around the shooting lends credence to the idea that people do not simply develop a position on happenings in a vacuum of knowledge about the past. For instance, while we were there a family with a small child came to ask us what was happening. When we told them what was going on the young child quickly asked whether the victim was black, he wasn’t, but the nature of the question was fascinating in itself.

While examining online spaces we defined intercultural communication as a clash of contexts, or paradigms, which different people develop based upon their own perceptions and experiences (Martin and Nakayama, Pg. 50). In the last post I spent some time developing the context of this space as an area that became political as people created a story of what had occurred and assigned meaning to those pieces. The question which still needs to be answered, at least in my mind, is why that context became so rapidly political? For all we knew the police shot a suspect in the process of serving a warrant; what happened was not intrinsically wrong or even uncommon so, to use the popular turn of phrase, ‘why the hate?’ My suggestion would be to look for the answer in this clash of contexts, or ideas related to spaces and events, which inevitably happens around events which people can relate to their other experiences.

The answer is pretty apparent, especially when individuals are at the scene saying things like, “a year ago they took my son,” the hate comes from the past. In the days following the shooting several facts came to light in the sparing, and I mean sparing as in 4 or 5, stories which chose to cover this issue.


Police: No Gun Found After Deadly Officer-Involved Shooting

First, it became clear that Dion Damon did no have a weapon. Second, it came to light that his wife and child, who previous sources suggest were in the car at the time of the shooting were not. And finally, we find that the suspect was shot a round total of 7 times… seems excessive but the Denver Police Department gives no regulation for what is excessive force at the point in which deadly force has been decided on (i.e. if you are going to shoot them the DPD will not tell you how many times you are allowed to do so).

The public standing around the scene did not know how many times the suspect had been shot or that he was unarmed, in fact, all that we knew at the time was that a man had been shot while police attempted to serve him with a warrant. So where did our assumptions that he was unjustly shot, or as the child stated that he was black, come from? My suggestion is that these assumptions are manifestations of the Past-Present-Future dialectic at work in our lives and that it is these contexts playing upon the current contexts that allowed us to develop so many opinions of the issue so quickly.

Media framing of events has always carefully chosen the facets of a story that are released. Not only do they choose what to say but they have an annoying tendency of choosing how it is said, a character trait which has allowed the media to incite and drive massive swings in political opinion based on things as simple as wording. Sadly, one of the primary areas in which media framing of issues tends to abuse this power is in the case of tragedies such as this happening on 13th and Bannock, the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown or even the Florida death of Trayvon Martin. As sad as the death of these individuals might have been media portrayals, and their constant linking of these past events to current ones, helps to create a mantra of wrongdoing spreading an us/them mentality which separates the population from those designed to protect them. Ultimately, this mantra fails to remember the individuals for who they were instead posting them as unwilling victims of an ever-willing state.

Skepticism of any power is never wrong but when skepticism turns to outright hostility and suggestion of wrongdoing even in the going about of regular business, as it did in the case of the 13th and Bannock shooting, we have to ask where the bile comes from.

Whether legitimate or illegitimate there is a reason that a young child asked if a man shot by the police was black. Legitimate or illegitimate there is a reason that media surrounding the Trayvon Martin case took special care to call George Zimmerman a “mixed race Hispanic man” as opposed to calling him Hispanic, or better yet not mentioning his race at all as it doesn’t fucking matter. And legitimate or illegitimate there is a reason that when a man is shot during the routine service of a warrant a large crowd gathers which comes to the conclusion, on its own, that the man was illegitimately shot and that this serves as yet another example of police brutality. Somehow the contexts of the past have found a way to haunt our present but sadly they won’t haunt it for long.

The day after the incident the tape was taken down, the suspect’s car removed and businesses reopened (specifically the paid parking-lot which had to shut down due to the event). Several news stories about the incident scrolled across the Denver Post’s website and a few dedicated protestors brought up the event at a rally a little ways away, but apart from that what changed, nothing. A space, an entire street, which had been transformed, first into a space of morning and then into a space of narration and political formation, simply by the act of surrounding it with yellow tape, was once again nothing more than a street.

What amazes me is that our society can have such a strong sense of collective memory when we are in the midst of these clashing contexts and yet, a day later, people walking into the Denver Environmental Health building probably have no idea that less than 24 hours previously the police killed an unarmed man in a car 100 feet away.

Recent Headlines through the lens of Intercultural Communication

For this blog post, I will be analyzing a recent news story through the perspective on intercultural communication, first looking at what happened, and then bring up and jab at a few questions or thoughts about the situation.

The news story I’m going to talk about it is one that came up yesterday. Yesterday, 4/14/16, the Pentagon made public that they now intend to attack ISIS with ‘cyber bombs’. The purpose of these “cyber bombings” or cyber attacks basically are to disrupt the groups [ISIS] network and communication, in an effort to reduce the success of their planning, and any chance of further physical attacks.

This is an interesting headline, especially in terms of intercultural communications, for a few main reasons. The first reason can be shown by an analysis through the critical lens of intercultural communication. For example, there is a power dynamic here between a country and a terrorist organization. The power dynamic is held in favor of the U.S., as understood from an interview with Deputy Security of Defense Robert Work stated “Every time we have gone after one of their defended positions in the last 10 months, we have defeated them.” (Browne and Starr, CNN 4/14/16). With this in mind, it would seem that the U.S. would be comfortable in attacking ISIS over via the cyber-net. However, the power structure is complicated here. If the U.S. is to make a cyber attack, we [U.S.] run the risk of ISIS mounting a counter-cyber-attack to our very own network system.

This situation is interesting from the perspective of intercultural communication because it is immediately involving power dynamics in how the U.S. is going to interact with a terrorist culture. Making a cyber attack on ISIS’ network could mean not only hindering our own network, bout our intelligence collection as well. This is interesting because even though it seems that the U.S. has more power in this intercultural bond, it has almost given ISIS the same power to turn things around and do the same to us.

Another interesting aspect is where we see the distribution of power coming from. On the U.S. side, the power comes from the governments international involvement. We have troops located all around the globe, and especially in the middle east, supposedly fighting against the ISIS threat. In contrast, ISIS seems to get their power from fear of recent attacks which they claim responsibility for, and the basis of their political power they have is the fact that they can instill fear around the world.

As time goes on, it will be interesting to see where this situation goes in terms of a power dynamic, between our government and the terrorist group and its affiliates.

Some questions I am left with, and pose to leave you with area s follows.

How does (and how will) the fast paced evolution of technology continue to change how communication is made between cultures?

With new technologies coming out so fast, is it necessarily a good thing? – it makes me wonder if the means and forms of communicating are changing faster than we can learn how to properly (and more efficiently) use them to actually communicate.

Colfax @ Grant and Logan: Picture Blog

In this post, I will be doing an analysis of a part of Colfax, specifically at the intersections of where Colfax meets Grant and Logan. “Down” Colfax, in this case will refer to heading west.”Up” Colfax, on the other hand, will refer to for purposes of this blog, heading east. One primary thing that I noticed, was the possibility of Grant street as being a boundary. Going “down”-side of Colfax is a more judicial, government type sector. However, going “up” Colfax, after Grant, the architecture and public art represent a more “creative” type of setting, opposed to the “structured” and “rigid” governmental sector. in this blog post, I will showcase some examples of the architecture, art, and people that make the area of Colfax past Grant so culturally different than Colfax before Grant.

2016-04-12 16.24.12.jpg

^ Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception ^

The Cathedral at Logan and Colfax towers above everything in a 2-3 block vicinity. The architecture is super classical, imitating the Gothic style.

2016-04-12 16.26.25.jpg

^ First Church of Christ, Scientist ^

In comparison, the FCoC,S copies an architectural style that resembles a classical Greek architecture, seen here are the ionic columns at the front of the church.

2016-04-12 16.25.31.jpg

^ The Olin Hotel Apartments ^

Across from the FCoC,S, is the Olin Hotel apartments, the architecture here resembles that of Spanish colonialist buildings.

2016-04-12 16.27.57.jpg

^ The Residences at Capitol Heights ^

In contrast to the nearby Olin Hotel, the Residences have a more “stucco” type architecture, being more modern and block like.

2016-04-12 16.32.14.jpg

^ City Grill ^ “Denver’s Best Burger”

Walking around Colfax you can see a lot of types of art. This piece is on the corner of a restaurant, apparently known for its burgers. This art piece is more formal than the other that I photographed. It is more straightforward than abstract, which makes it all the more interesting. I thought it was pretty cool that these 2 artworks, though vastly different, were literally right across the street from each other, hiding in an alley, and one as a street advertisement for a restaurant.

2016-04-12 16.23.00.jpg

^ Untitled, unknown ^

This piece of art has an author or authors, but I could not make out the tags at either side. It’s a pretty trippy art work, very creative, yet also hidden. It was inside an ally of a building, away from public eyes, so to speak. The two art pieces here show how artistic the area of Colfax holds a reputation of being.

2016-04-12 16.24.16.jpg

The area around the intersections of Colfax @ Grant and Colfax @ Logan was bustling with people. On the corner of Logan, as pictured above, was one of many homeless people I saw on the streets.  He held a sign saying “Better 2 bed than 2 steal, work is best”.  Seeing that this was not the only man out on the streets, it makes me wonder, why are all these people out begging on the streets and sleeping on stoops? What brought them to where they are? Why do they seem to gather around Colfax?


Rise Of The American Fascist Party

Exploring Intercultural Communication

“We have been waiting, as Trump marches step by step towards American fascism, for him to get his brownshirts. And today, he got just a little bit closer. It has been shut down but very briefly, and it will be back, there was an online group called the ‘Lion’s Guard,’ who are going to be his goons, his uniformed troops in the field to ‘protect’ [air quotes] his supporters.” John Iadarola, The Young Turks (3/14/16)

A group calling themselves “The Lion’s Guard” appeared for a very short time on Facebook as it attempted to branch out and recruit online. The group described itself as a voluntary security force for Donald Trump.

From the page: “Do you want to provide security protection to innocent people who are subject to harassment and assault by Far-left agitators? If so, you are welcome to join.” The Lion’s Guard/RT, Twitter

The members of this group were worried about an…

View original post 904 more words

Rikers Island: Problems arising with increase of mentally ill inmates(blog post 5)


News Incident


According to this episode the amount of inmates diagnosed with mental illness is increasing, more than 40% of the population at Rikers are mentally Ill. 60 Minutes talked about a particular case with an inmate named Bradley Ballard. They show video footage of him twisting his shirt and making lude gestures. Apparently this type of behaviors he displayed was enough to get him in solitary confinement. Bradley Ballard was diabetic and a schizophrenic and while he was locked up in solitary he was refused his medicine. Within a couple days Ballard needed serious medical help but the video footage shows multiple officials just peering in not doing anything. Workers said his cell started to release an awful odor and on the sixth day medical officials were called to see what was wrong with Ballard. As soon as Ballard received medical attention it was too late and he…

View original post 444 more words

Examining Space: Change and Tragedy

The area surrounding Civic Center Park is a space born from cultural collision. On the eastern end of a long area of grass, awkwardly cross-cut by sidewalks, lies the State Capitol building with its gold-fleck paint a reminder of some sort of misplaced cultural conception of the gold rush. To the west of this grassy area sits the Denver County Court building, as distinguished from the Denver Appellate and Supreme Courts located nearby. Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 2.11.07 PM

The park itself represents a space of public being with people roaming about and many ‘weather-beaten’ individuals using the shade provided by the trees. Citizens also use the park as a space for unofficial gatherings such as public protest and what will inevitably tomorrow (4/20) become a celebration of Mile High spirit in a very visual, and dare I say very eye reddening, way. As a result of its creation, in the action of its inhabitants, spaces like these can change in purpose and use while maintaining almost exactly the same physical character.

Naturally, the change is not always good nor does it always celebrate the behavior of the spaces inhabitants. On April 12th of this year the space along Bannock Street between 13th and 14th Avenues was temporarily changed by an officer related shooting on the eastern side of the street near the Byers-Evans House.

Around 4 PM on the 12th we were walking along 14th Avenue when we passed the scene of this particular shooting. We were immediately gripped by the way in which this new occurrence changed the nature of the space itself, dictating rules and acceptable practices which never applied to the area before. Within the roped off area, extending from the edge of 14th and Bannock, near to the older Art Museum building and the Denver Environmental Health building, and the latter end of the block at 13th Avenue is a space dedicated exclusively to those in law enforcement. The fact that power structures allow officers to create there own space is a discussion in itself, but to be honest I am far more interested in the area directly outside of the police tape in which multiple different people stand, sit and walk while being governed by unique rules created only in this context.

Context is an important aspect of this experience, and I think the context itself changed even while we were there. We were drawn to the area by the sound of yelling, but upon coming across the individuals already there we noticed less anger and more sadness, there was even a young woman crying. We never really found out why she was crying but we did notice a tangible reality surrounding the circumstance, laughing was ‘forbidden’ and talking was a questionable move. It almost felt as though the space was exclusively defined by this woman’s mourning.

Soon after we arrived the crying woman left and the area began to not only liven but become more fascinating. Individuals began to speak with each other and share information, this context was even complicated by the constant access to the internet (everyone there was on their phones to find out what happened) which allowed people to glean information not only from other but to then conglomerate that information and share it with others when they asked.

This entire process fed into the creation of a narrative around the space within which we sat, a narrative which helped everyone present to develop their own concept both of happenings and meanings surrounding surrounding those happenings. As we spent more time there the environment became more and more vocal which added to visceral quality of the context of surrounding the space itself. We started to hear individual outbursts from certain people: One older looking woman exclaimed that, “they took my son from me one year ago,” while a second women stated that, “they will never stop because no one will make them” (they being the police officers). All of these personal statements, and the individual experiences that they represent, present a wonderful representation of the personal-contextual dialectic at work.

The context of this space was changing the whole time and it was fed and altered by personal stories and meanings injected from individuals within the space. Meanings are made from these personal injections which not only help to shape the context of the current circumstance but help to create connections between that context and similar circumstances and meanings in the past. These past meanings became increasingly clear as the space we were in became gradually more political, not only in nature but in its inhabitants too (several very punk young people demanding protests began to fill the area towards the end of our time there). This  context, in my mind possibly framed by media, will be the subject of my next post regarding media retelling of the same event.

Here to stay.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Melody Beattie

What am I taking from this message/story: Be thankful for what you have.

At this very moment in time, as you are reading this, there are women and men, boys and girls, grandparents and aunties, all struggling to find each other. They are struggling to find food, water, clothes, and some are even trying to find their old home, while some people are starting to rebuild new homes. Life is and will never be the same. On April 16, 2016 a magnitude- 7.8 earthquake hit the country of Ecuador in South America. As of now the death toll is 246 people with more than 2,500 injured.

My questions I ponder are as follows:

Why did this happen? Why now?

The people of Ecuador did nothing wrong, yet their land and their lives are destroyed. There is no way to justify why this happened. It was nobody’s fault, natural disasters happen. I understand that, however I wonder why now? Did it happen in Ecuador and only killed 246 people now because if not in Ecuador than it would of killed 3,000 in Nepal? Was Ecuador, the country, really a hero for someone else or something much larger?

In addition, another main question I ponder is how is the world going to come together, from an intercultural aspect, and help get a country back on its feet. (The circle of Life.)

The people in America, Guatemala, Spain, South Africa, and England all share a different culture than the people of Ecuador. The speak a different language, they look different, they eat different food, and they wear different clothes. However, when times are tough, humans can thrive and overcome by working together.

Within the past two days thousands of people from all over the world are coming together to help with the relief process. On the Generosity page on Indiegogo 1,567 raised $73,924 USD. Firefighters traveled to Ecuador from Bogota, Colombia to help save this one man who was trapped in a hotel.


Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Peru and other countries sent rescuers and aid. The European Union said Monday it had released €1 million in humanitarian aid to help victims of the Saturday evening quake, which injured thousands and left an unknown number homeless.”

I find it interesting that when there is war, when people travel, or talk about popular culture, or even support sporting events, people usually tend to side with their country, home team, or home popular culture. I personally believe that that may be because that’s all we know. Our home country and atmosphere is the only life we know. However, when people are in chaos, need serious help, or are in a life or death situation, people from all walks of life are there for each other. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or if you’re rich or poor, you just feel the need to help the people who are desperately in need because you would want help if you were in that situation.

From an intercultural lens/perspective I find that interesting because it is as if all barriers are broken. The earthquake in Ecuador is a perfect example.

An avowal is “the process by which an individual portrays himself or herself” (Nakayama and Martin 174.)

An ascription is “the process by which others attribute identities to an individual” (Nakayama and Martin 174.)

I believe that people leave their avowal identities for the time being in chaos and their ascription identity becomes an identity of the human race that everyone becomes accountable for.

I also believe this story ties back into the cardinal rule: treat others how you want to be treated.



I sit in my college dorm room reading about what’s going on in Ecuador. I look to my left and see a warm bed, a desk chair that resembles freedom, college and education, a lacrosse bag that signifies how lucky I am to play the sport that I love at a wonderful university. I can’t help but think in the back of my mind what I can do to help. It’s a natural feeling. 



At the same time when I think how can I help these people who are in need, I think to myself “thank god it wasn’t me and it didn’t happen here in Colorado.”

One could ask what could be behind the scene that were missing? What else is happening interculturally?

Is it a bad thing that I am happy that the earthquake didn’t happen to me and that another family was killed instead of mine?

I don’t want anyone to die, but from an intercultural perspective I feel as if I am somewhat greedy by thinking this. It is as if its them over me.W

With the help of Dr. Goodwin, I am able to visualize that usually behind every glowing picture (the picture in this case of all countries coming together to help) I always want to ask what is missing?

I believe that many people might feel the same way I feel.

How ought we to live together in an intercultural world when we are constantly wanting to help, but never wanting to “receive” (have anything happening to us.)

Distance zones are “the area, defined by physical space, within which people interact, according to Edward Hall’s theory of proxemics. The four distance zones for individuals are intimate, personal, social, and public.”

It seems as though there are no distance zones in a time of crisis, a time when there are no individuals, but whole communities.

I am thankful for what I have and I pray for the people of Ecuador.







Observations, ideas, stories and critical perspectives