The Plight of Atlanta

Atlanta. Known for its rap artists, warm weather, and lackluster football team, has one other defining feature many of its inhabitants are all too familiar with: traffic.

Although a great city in many other ways, the seemingly endless congestion of cars among pothole-ridden roads prevent it from being equal to some of the other great cities of the U.S. The cause of this problem? Other than the geographic qualities of Atlanta’s expansion through suburbs, many put blame on one of the city’s most notable developments: the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). Characterized by its frequent shut-downs, late train arrivals, and dirty atmosphere, the train system is greatly under-utilized as many cannot rely on it to get them places safely and on time.

As a result of Atlanta’s poorly developed public transit system, many individuals opt to drive and use their car. This great number of cars at all hours of the day has lead to more pollution and an overall worse environment for those living there.

This theme of pollution and griminess of the city was one that concerned modernists to a great degree. Artists such as Claude Monet emphasized this idea in his series of paintings The Houses of Parliament, depicting the Palace of Westminster and the River Thames over the course of several years.

The Houses of Parliament, 1904

In this painting, created in 1904, Monet emphasizes the degree of smog cast over the city of London. The sun seems to only partially break through the dense layer of polluted air, and the palace itself appears blurred by it. The sky is an unpleasant brown color, and the water does not look particularly clean either. Utilizing Impressionist techniques, Monet vividly depicted the sense of light within the painting and focused more on the general sense and feeling of the scene.

Atlanta (although not to as great of a degree as early 20th century London), like all cities, has generally worse air quality and environmental issues than other more rural areas simply due to the great concentration of people, especially those frequently operating motor vehicles. Renovating Atlanta’s major public transit system could help to solve this problem. With fewer cars on the road as more people use the MARTA  to get around, the overall environment and air quality are bound to improve substantially. Additionally, less traffic would help the city flow better, and those that need to drive around would find themselves wasting less fuel waiting behind other cars.

I wanted to show the potential benefits of a more eco-friendly mode of transport in our current world of rising global temperatures, sea-levels, and CO2 indexes symbolically through a photograph of nature. I chose to use one I captured while in the mountains of North Carolina, the photo showing an expansive landscape of blooming wildflowers and thousands of trees, free of smog and any other environmental detriments.

Taken by me

To me, plants signify environmental capability and proficiency, of which an updated transit system could help Atlanta approach. I often think of the movie WALL-E, set on an earth with one singular surviving plant. That one plant allowed for the development of all other forms of life, which is what a cleaner environment allows for in general.

As I discussed earlier how Atlanta’s poorly developed public transit system leads to a worsening environment as more cars are on the road than necessary, another complication of this is the lack of personal interaction this environment produces. Cities are known for concentrating large groups of people together that will never end up forming relationships, which is something that concerned modernists greatly. The drastic shift from tight-knit communities to sprawling cities resulted in individuals being constantly surrounded by others with likely a great number of similarities and interests, but never actually getting a chance to get to know them. This led to a sense of isolation and alienation, as individuals feel even more alienated from the world because of how in a literal sense, they are among people, although for all intents and purposes they are alone.

This theme of isolation and alienation within cities is one that greatly concerned modernists. Artist Tom Hopper explored this theme in many of his paintings, and in Room In Brooklyn we can see this in great detail.

Room In Brooklyn, 1932

A woman is seated alone in her chair, staring outside her window into the expansive city before her. The only living thing accompanying her is a vase of flowers, well lit by the sun setting in the West. On the horizon, we see the top of a building covered in a hyperbolic number of chimneys, perhaps indicating the great issue of environmental sustainability in cities. Regardless, the painting displays the sense of isolation many of those living in cities felt, as the woman stares out of the window overlooking the city of Brooklyn, seated melancholically in a rocking chair.

One modern way the city of Atlanta could work to combat this plight of the modernist city is to, believe it or not, develop a better public transit system. An improved MARTA system that many individuals would use could be beneficial not only for the environment but for human interaction among residents of Atlanta as a whole. New York’s subway is known for being a hubbub of activity, with artists doing performative dances and music on the train. This is not seen to as great of a degree in Atlanta, simply because of the fact that MARTA is underdeveloped and fewer people utilize it for transportation. A better public transit system would quite literally force more human interaction among city-dwellers, as they would be in close proximity with oftentimes the same individuals on a frequent basis.

I decided to further this theme in the painting I created showing the value of human interaction. I elected to use one of the Modernist styles popularized by the one and only Pablo Picasso, Cubism, and illustrate individuals sitting around a table and simply interacting.

By me

In the painting, the figures are set between two houses, indicating a more tight-knit and enclosed area of interaction and conversation. The character on the left is speaking, with the character in the middle looking towards the character on the right. In the background, the contrast between night and day is apparent, as I wanted to illustrate how conversation and discourse are essential to a day, occurring perpetually among living things across time. Ideally, improving the MARTA transit system would result in the majority of individuals utilizing its services to get around the city, leading to more conversation and friendships as individuals are enclosed in a tiny train car without much to do.

One of the other common conceptions modernists had of the city was its breathtaking size and ability to make individuals feel so small. With buildings of great heights and cities themselves being epicenters of commerce and entertainment, cities were thought to be exhilarating and shocking in comparison to the traditional towns and cities of before. Many cities were also associated with futuristic qualities as well, being the technological capitals of their relative geographic area. This more positive view modernists held of the city can be seen in Fortunato Depero’s painting Grattacieli e tunnel where he displayed many of the futuristic and modern qualities of the newfound phenomenon of cities.

Grattacieli e tunnel, 1930

In the painting, Depero illustrates a colossal metropolis, with skyscrapers bent at unique surrounded by elevated Ferris wheels all sitting atop a network of modern and innovative tunnels. Using vibrant colors to indicate the chaotic and restless nature of the city, Depero’s employment of Futuristic techniques give the painting a more dynamic look that contributes to the rapid and mechanical atmosphere. This painting demonstrates how many Modernists viewed the development of cities in the twentieth century.

Although Atlanta does hold many of these qualities of modernity and commerce, especially the latter as many companies are headquartered in Atlanta, one aspect of Atlanta that does not follow this theme of modernity in futuristic tendencies is, believe it or not, the MARTA. Routes are inefficient, train cars frequently break down, and the stations themselves are not upkept to a satisfactory level. In one instance while riding MARTA in the morning, I actually walked by a pile of human feces on the stairwell. Not only that, but my train was delayed by 20 minutes and I arrived late to my destination. Although I have had many other fine experiences while riding MARTA, in comparison to Chicago’s “L” train or New York’s/Tokyo’s Subway system, a great disparity in the quality of public transportation among major cities becomes evident. It often feels as though Atlanta’s lack of an elite public transportation system prevents it from encroaching other cities in terms of prestige and popularity, and overall does not fit in with the futuristic tendencies modernists associate cities with.

I wanted to represent how an improved public transportation system could change Atlanta for the better, so I made a modernist image in the style of De Stijl (“the style”), a modernist art form associated with the contrasting edges and geometric shapes known for reflecting the modern urban space.

By me

The sharp edges and unique colors indicate a more abstract modernist view, with geometric shapes and other factors utilized to promote this futuristic tone. Primary colors, along with black and white dominate the image to portray a sense of uniformity and rigidness that many associate with a modern landscape, the various rectangles working to accomplish a similar goal. This image is meant to signify the potential of Atlanta to fully encapsulate the traditional modernist view of cities being exhilarating spaces of futurism and modernity, ultimately displaying how Atlanta could appear with an improved public transportation system.

In the future, I hope that Atlanta can continue to develop the MARTA and assist it in becoming a more useful and efficient method for navigating the city. In a utopic world, Atlanta would not be notorious not for its ludicrous amounts of traffic, but known for the many other great qualities it possesses, especially its rapid and competent public transportation system.

Works Cited

Depero, Fortunato. Grattacieli e Tunnel. 1930.

Hopper, Edward. Room In Brooklyn. 1932.

Monet, Claude. The Houses of Parliament. 1904.

Tate. Modernism – Art Term.

Wilsey, Matthew. “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” Modernism Lab,

What is ‘Home’? The journey through Prague and time!

(Year 2183 – Some planet in the Milky Way)

It has been a long time since I have been home. I do not even know what I consider home anymore. What is home? Is it a place, is it the society that creates a sensation of home or is it something very much different? I believe it is both the place and the people but the difference between any other place is the fact we do not see it change. We think we see the place grow and reshape itself, the rhythm of all the people to vary every day but is it actually the place or is it just us? I would say that a place that we call home changes itself too slowly for us to register the drastic alterations we think it undergoes and it is just the change in our way of thinking, our own space of mind that creates this illusion of change. That is, because we only notice the temporary changes but not the long-term ones. With every new great change, we eventually forget what it was like before, looking at the short-term changes only. Then, home becomes grey and the only outstanding thing is what is happening at the moment we are there. Home is just a place relative to time. Maybe, that is why I have lost perception of home. It is all the same. No change at all. Have I lived for far too long?

(Year 2021 – February – Atlanta)

It has been over half a year that I have been at home. What an interesting feeling. I have been in this situation before. I sometimes forget what home is like. Is it changing? Is Atlanta becoming my new home because I have spent so much continuous time here that I am losing perception of the big picture, the overall change? No. It can’t be. I see the city oscillate every day. Saturday is still different from Monday. Unlike Prague. My home.

(Year 2019 – June – Prague)

The river bank with the Prague castle (on the left) in the background

What a beautiful city. I have spent half a day today walking around, showing my friends the beauty. We started at the river bank. You can smell the fish when walking on the stone walkway. The sun was high that day. We didn’t pay much attention to the powerful, full of heat, rays as we kept on walking, cooled by stone wall from one side and the river from the other. “I must say, since I was here the first time, not much has changed. Only some of the boats parked at the side were moved.” I remember pointing that out to my friend. Or maybe, I only notice the ones that sell alcohol now and the only change I recognize is, if they move one of those. Can I say then it hasn’t changed? Have I forgotten how the river bank looked couple of years ago? Eventually, we had to climb stairs up so we could continue on our tour.

(Year 2165 – Mars)

            When I found the diary, I was fascinated. It contained so much, and I could relate to it, to some degree. Earth became boring, too simple, and thus humans expanded. Colonized planet after planet, forgetting where they came from. To be honest, I was in the same situation until I read the diary and realized what I have been missing. I am getting too old, too old to ponder around the galaxy, too old to act recklessly without caring just like the young generations, but I am old enough to go back to Earth to live off my last years.

(Year 2019 – June – Prague)

The unusually empty Charles Bridge in the morning. The rounded top in the background with a distinct green color is part of the St. Nicholas Church.

While I was still thinking about the meaning of change in my hometown, we walked past the Dancing House, an accomplishment of postmodernist architecture, and continued along the river. I love walking around the Dancing House as it stands out apart from the “boring” block-like buildings with red roofs. After a short walk we arrive at the jewel of Prague, Charles Bridge. With statues of various Saints lining the edges and being entirely from stone, it is the oldest and the most beautiful bridge in Prague. During the day it is crowded like no other place. We have to make way through the masses. Being in wondering mood, I asked my friends: “How many people do you think have crossed this bridge.” We could not come up with an answer. Maybe it was million, maybe ten million, who knows. Just like a bridge has milestones, our life has milestones. There are many but only some redefine the way we see the world. The latest milestone that changed my life was being able to legally drink. I now see Prague as an entirely different city. Over a short period of time, I started noticing things I haven’t before and the previous view of my home became bland, indistinguishable from the ones before that. Now it is like I received new glasses. I see the city with a pair of new eyes, looking for different elements than the eyes before.

(Year 2018 – October – Boston)

My picture of the Boston skyline when I studied nearby. It is very different from the Prague skyline.

The first two months were challenging. Getting accustomed to a new place is more complicating than I thought. Thanks to the help of others though, I was able to get into the rhythm of the new environment, the place I would call “home” for the next seven months. But is it really going to be my home? I don’t think so. I might see minor changes happen, maybe because of different seasons or because of the new people I meet but overall, I will never call this place home. The time I will spend here is too short for me to become part of it. To see the city in colors at first and then fall into the dark pit, the grey painting of blurred memories.

(Year 2019 – June – Prague)

One of the views of the red rooftops of Prague. It is called “The rooftop of Europe” for a reason.

I tried to recall some of the singular memories that I have from the past. I had a difficult time knowing which year that particular memory happened. It could have been a year ago or four. Who knows. After we crossed the river, we got into the part of town which is ruled by narrow streets and seemingly tall houses with little shops at the ground floor, selling various souvenirs, ranging from glass to “I love Prague” T-shirts. Most of these streets are uphill when going from the riverbank and atop this hill sits the grand Prague castle. Navigating through these steep filled streets, we finally reach our destination. The beautiful overview of Prague is irreplaceable. Wherever you look, you see red roofs with thousands of different shades and the only thing standing out is the TV tower. I am so glad they do not allow skyscrapers to be built nowhere close the center. It would be such a shame to destroy the beautiful skyline. It’s a different experience. The view of the city just changes into something completely different. From the reaction of my friends, they were mind blown.

(Year 2020 – March – Prague)

This is a map of the city center with labels to help understand the layout and to follow the story more easily.

After I learned to drive eight months ago, I was scared to drive around Prague. The city center is not built for cars and the one main street is getting overwhelmed every day. I talked about my fears with my parents and they said that it is not as bad as it seems. Only the parts where the communists got inspired by New York’s one ways are terrible. With this in mind, I bravely entered the asphalt jungle overlooked by the imposing concrete monsters. At first, I was shaken. Later, I realized that this was one of my life milestones. All the distances suddenly radically shortened. Everything seemed so close and I saw new angles of Prague that I have not seen before. I unexpectedly saw everything in terms of streets and how to get there by car. Everything was interconnected and I received a fuller, more 3D view of my home. However, with such change, came negatives. I became less aware of the beauty of the narrow streets and I could not recall how the city looked when I was either driven by my parents or when I had to walk. I stopped appreciating the beauty of blooming parks during summer or the icy pavements and I replaced it with a simple black look of the roads.

(Year 2168 – Earth)

            I came back couple of months ago. I have been gone for so many years that I almost forgot how Earth looked. However, once I saw it, I knew that it was the same old rock floating in space. It all seems so familiar. The beauty of the blue oceans, the green of the forests and jungles, the grey and white of the mountain ranges, and the yellow seas of sand. Oh, how I have missed Earth. By far the most outstanding planet I have been to. Some of the younglings have never seen it. How tragic. Long time from home can really change a person. Even though I felt like I forgot about home, forgot about the joy of colors, letting them sink into the back of my mind, I realized that it livens up once you see it. No more grey, only colors dancing around.

(Year 2019 – June – Prague)

This is the Old Town Square during the COVID pandemic. Usually a busy place, full of stands selling handcrafted things or various food from sausages to sweets, is now completely empty

With the beautiful scenery in our minds, we departed to our next and last destination – Old Town Square. I have so many memories from that place. We took the underground which is the fastest way to get there. It is the nicest square with one of the oldest and the most famous clock in the world. Apart from that, and what not many people know, there are 27 small crosses from stone on the ground to remind of the 27 Bohemian leaders who were executed in the 1621. The open sides of the square are mostly used by restaurants who roll out their “gardens” which seem very appealing but only a person who calls Prague his home knows that these are just tourist traps and that the best food is found in restaurants hidden in the narrow streets around the square.

This is when I went with one of my friends into a famous Bohemian-styled restaurant and that was the appetizer we received. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life..

Food is an important part of my life and thus I know a lot of restaurants around Old Town. But it was not always like that. When I was young, my parents always chose where we would eat if we went out. The portions were always too big and my judgement was always off. I would mostly eat too much and then suffer during our walks around the city. As I grew, my judgement would become better and eventually, no portion seemed too large. I would also become more daring and new cuisines would excite me. And once I got past the phase where I would crave only pizza or fries, I realized that the restaurants we went to were bland. They did not excite me anymore. The food was just grey. As time passed, I completely forgot about these places and after a fair amount of years, I found out that most of these places were closed now. And even though these were long-term changes, they happened to quickly and with no attention from me. Our trip was concluded in one of my favorite restaurants where I realized the extent of changes in the food options around Prague.

(Year 2184 – Somewhere in the wide Cosmos)

      I know I am close to going to the other side so I put this short story, compiled from diary entries, together for the young generations, to remind them of the beautiful place called Earth, or how I call it, HOME. My dream of dying on Earth will not come true, however, I do not regret anything. I have lived for a long time but it is not bad at all. At least I could always think of the memory of Earth. Home is a place that even if you leave you will always vividly remember and no matter what changes have been applied, it will always seem the same. The only alteration ones view of home can undergo is when it is an internal change. Only us achieving milestones in life will change the perception of home. The one place we can fully remember.

Picture sources:

  • Plockova, J. (2018, November 14). Naplavka. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

  • The Travelling Frenchy. (2020, May 17). Best rooftop views in Prague. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

  • Smith, K. (2018, May 24). Charles bridge PRAGUE: Prague locally blog – PRAGUE RESIDENCES. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

Street Art in Atlanta: A City Full of Life

While walking through the streets of Atlanta, or strolling along the iconic Beltline that extends throughout the city, you will likely notice art on buildings and walls. Some pieces cover the entire side of a building, some convey a political opinion, and some are meant to create a sense of community. Growing up in a suburban town in Maryland, I had not been exposed to such a prevalence of street art until I moved to Atlanta. I soon realized how the colorful and organic formations on walls and buildings bring humanity and emotion to an otherwise primitive brick-and-mortar appearance. These works, both commissioned murals and graffiti, showcase the liveliness of this great city. 

Walking along the Atlanta Beltline, I passed by a memorable building that was covered in both murals and graffiti. On the left hand side is a wall covered in pastel flowers that stretch over twelve feet, laying over a dark blue background. The flowers range from chrysanthemums to sunflowers, and the dark background contrasts the lighter flowers to make the piece appear bold. Flowers are often said to symbolize happiness, strength, or hope. Perhaps it is the contrast between the flowers and the background, or perhaps it is the sheer scale of the mural, but this piece is difficult to overlook. 

Pictured above is my view from the Beltline. In a highly developed city like Atlanta, standing on a walkway between grassy clearings and gazing at humanistic art offers a calming effect. The flower mural was commissioned in 2017 as part of the Outer Space Project, an event series that “merges public art, live music, design, action sports and culture” ( The art was commissioned annually to cultivate a sense of community within Atlanta.

The art that occupies the walls of our city can be compared to a period of time characterized by changes in art and life. The Modernist period that shook the world throughout 1890-1939 was a medium to showcase avant garde works of creativity. Artists, as well as authors and composers, conveyed the emotions that they felt in reaction to the new city life through their work. While former art has been confined by social norms and a limited variety of topics, Modernist art expanded the audience’s expectations of what art could be. During this movement, street artist Diego Rivera began painting murals that acted as mediums for his political activism. Known for his avant garde murals, Rivera sought to portray his communist views and express his support for the Mexican Revolution.

Rivera, Diego. The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City. 1931,  Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco.

Rivera’s art was influenced by Marxist principles and was largely believed to help amass support for the Mexican Revolution. The mural above, titled The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, connects artistic work to general labor. Using vibrant colors and realistic printing techniques, Rivera illustrates the interior of a house during construction that displays each step of the construction process. This mural depicts the working class, including designers, builders, painters, architects and laborers. Rivera used his artistic medium to convey his beliefs, regardless of the inherent controversy that it would ultimately incite in the city.

Much like the paintings of the early 20th century, works of street art in Atlanta are vital to the city because they express the personalities and vibrancy of the city.

The rainbow sidewalk, originally created in 2015, has become a staple for tourists visiting Atlanta. The piece replaces the typical government-mandated white sidewalks, covering all four walkways of the intersection in a bright rainbow of colors. Even at night, as pictured in the photograph I captured, the unapologetic nature of Atlanta’s pride shines through.

The vibrant array of rainbow colors conveys the idea that Atlanta is open and supportive to all, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+. This area is known for being especially progressive, and some have coined the term “gay-bor-hood” to describe the area in which the rainbow sidewalk lies. In conjunction with this belief, Atlanta hosts an annual Pride festival that allows people of all genders and sexualities to celebrate an important part of their identity without fearing stigma. 

Similar to Rivera’s art in the Modernist period, the topic of the art was especially controversial when it was first created as a temporary installment for the Pride Festival. However, the permanent addition of the rainbow sidewalk has normalized the acceptance of all genders and sexualities. For those who have been oppressed because of their identity, pieces of art like this can help them feel welcome.

O’Keeffe, Georgia. City Night. 1926, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis.

In the Modernist period, industrialization was rapidly changing the world, and citizens fostered differing opinions on the hectic nature of 20th century cities. The painting above, titled City Night, depicts the view from a person gazing up at the tall buildings around her. The painting is primarily black, evincing the immense nature of New York City skyscrapers. As the eye moves upward, they may feel small in comparison to the giant buildings that dominate the city. The city appears foreboding and intimating, especially in the nighttime setting.

This piece is one of many Modernist paintings that depicts newly developing cities. Now, after nearly a century of advancements in both technology and art, creators have begun to conceive art on the city itself, drawing inspiration from other sources to incorporate into the daily life of citizens. As time has progressed, street art has become more prevalent because it brings individuality and life to each building. The painting City Night shows how cities can appear frightening, but the appearance of street art can help create a more inviting atmosphere.

If you walk along the Andrew Young International street in Atlanta, you’ll pass by a large blue mural that illustrates one of Martin Luther’s King’s famous quotes. The painting reads “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” One of the apparent themes of street art in Atlanta is equality, and pieces such as this one depict leaders of the civil rights movement. More recently, street art that immortalizes the political opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement has begun to take shape throughout the city. These have been widely considered as a form of political protest, and each one makes a statement that calls for racial equality across America. Many stores also utilize other mediums to convey their support for political movements by displaying Black Lives Matter signs or Pride flags throughout Atlanta.

Pieces of street art scattered around the city showcase a variety of different artistic styles. Some show traditional portraits, while others exhibit a more modern, abstract approach. Many of these newer techniques were formed during the period of Modernism. Styles like cubism, futurism, and surrealism were introduced as new ways to express thought. The painting below is known to be the very first cubist painting, a movement characterized by two-dimensional structure and fragmented figures. 

Picasso, Pablo. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

This piece, titled Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1907. He is commonly known as a preeminent figure of cubism, which would ultimately lead towards other avant garde styles and artistry techniques. The Modernist period was a precursor to a variety of new forms of expression. Many pieces of street art in Atlanta employ similar styles to cubism or other Modernist art movements. In this way, these styles have been perpetuated throughout the city and add to the diversity of art in Georgia.

As I previously noted, some pieces are meant to build community, such as the flower mural along Atlanta’s Beltline. Some pieces are created to make a statement, such as the Martin Luther King mural. Every piece of street art throughout the city has a unique message and topic. These pieces of art bring a sense of individuality to different areas and buildings. Coupled with vibrant colors or bold images, these pieces of art help bring emotion and passion to those around them.

It is difficult to describe the personality of a city. I cannot describe Atlanta as happy, or gloomy, or anxious. While all of these may be true, life in Atlanta encompasses so much more than just one or two adjectives. This city is lively, and vibrant, and passionate, and all of the adjectives. What exactly that means for each person may be different. Each person in Atlanta is different and brings individuality to help form a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The street art that you might pass by on the way to the grocery store or your work commute may be bringing life and feeling to the bustling street, even if you occasionally overlook it. The next time you see a colorful wall or portrait, do not overlook it. Take a pause and appreciate the art that brings our great city to life.

Works Cited:

“City Night, 1926.” Minneapolis Institute of Art, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Cogswell, Ned. “A Brief Overview of Diego Rivera’s Murals In San Francisco.” Culture Trip, 3 Jan. 2017,

“Cubism.” Tate, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Outer Space Project. Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

“Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” The Museum of Modern Art, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Wolfe, Betram. The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera. New York, NY, Cooper Square Press, 2000. Google Books,

Feminism in the Womb of Bengal

“When walking I found to my surprise that it was a fine morning. The town was fully awake and the streets alive with bustling crowds. I was feeling very shy, thinking I was walking in the street in broad daylight, but there was not a single man visible.”

This an excerpt from “Sultana’s Dream” – a sci-fi short story written in 1905 by a pioneering feminist in Bengal. Rokeya was born to an elite Muslim family where she had been loved, but expected of a ‘dignified’ life at home, behind the veil – “purdah”. She was allowed literacy, but with the sole purpose that she would read and abide by religious texts. As cliché as it sounds, Rokeya did defy the odds – not only through her protagonists, but also in real life. What influences, besides her innate curiosity and spirits, helped this young girl outgrow the norms that she was ingrained with, intrigues me. Rokeya arrived in the city at a time when it was in high spirits of political discourse – the British colonial rule was nearing its end with a plan to divide the subcontinent on a religious basis. Urban civic societies began to think on the pillars of a nation – what unifies people in a territory where allegiance to the motherland and allegiance to the traditions run parallelly like the banks of the river but never meet? The issue of feminism was complexly intertwined with freedom, religion, and culture. All this leads to a question:

Is Unrest Good?

As the daughter of a feudal lord, Rokeya’s earliest observation was simple but deeply political. As they sat together to oil their long locks of hair in the female-only quarters known as zenana or andarmahal, she would listen to stories of abject poverty from the daughters and wives of the peasants. Growing up she also noticed the decline of self-reliant villages that produced sufficient clothing through handlooms run candidly by women as a side-gig. She saw a large part of society fall into dormancy and paralysis – the reasons of which became ever so clear when she understood politics, power dynamics, cultural clash and colonial policies.

The Break of Dawn

In our Bengali class, we had come across a difficult word – “অসূর্‍্যস্পশ্যা” (Aushurjosposshya). It was difficult to pronounce, to spell, and even to imagine – as it meant someone who had not been touched by the sun. It was a reality, nonetheless, for women across the rural-urban and religious landscape, the extent of which depended on lineage and communal values. Bengal saw its fair share of turbulence in the Modernist era amid which “the sun” was gradually redefined as the access to greater society – one that is socially, politically informed. The earliest Muslim women who received formal education would commute to schools in covered vans – the arrangement so private that I have not found a photo or rendition of it to date. Nevertheless, “Sakhawat Memorial Girls’ School” established by Begum Rokeya was up and running since 1909.

Going to school had larger implications than the obvious benefit of gaining literacy. The co-mingling of girls from different religious and social backgrounds for the first time was another step ahead in easing the boundaries that perpetuated among communities. An intergenerational change could be observed, even the older generations seemed to free up, albeit gradually – amid moral crisis. The commentary of Zainab Amin, a woman born in 1934 to a progressive Muslim family, about visiting a Hindu classmate’s house illustrates the situation:

So when I went … I would naturally go and pay my respects. She (paternal grandmother)
would be very affectionate [Bheeshan adar korten]! But in their house,
I have never sat in their dining room and eaten together with … [the family]. I mean when in the drawing … room [bashar ghare] where
I was sitting, food was being served and everyone is eating … Ira is
eating, I too am eating.… But in their dining room, eating from the
same plate sitting next to each other … that commensality was not
[possible] in that family…. When she came to my house, if we are
eating [we would say] “Ai, aye ekhane bosh [Come sit here] … eat a
little with me.” That she would eat … but in their household it was
not possible. But I never felt bad about that … they are Brahmin.…
And yet, when after my marriage I took my husband to their house,
Ira’s thakuma [paternal grandmother] herself blessed him…
” (Sarkar, p.14)

Hence, educational institutions had been playing salient roles in smoothening out cultural boundaries through new friendships and natural affiliations in a non-imposed, spontaneous manner.


The cover image I made symbolizes the gist of the scholarly article “Changing Together, Changing Apart: Urban Muslim and Hindu Women in Pre-Partition Bengal” where the oral accounts of four women – two Hindus and two Muslims – of the first half of the twentieth century were analyzed. I combined two artifacts: a jaynamaz, an Islamic prayer mat, and a handicraft featuring women preparing for a Hindu puja. They seem to blend into each other, although with a distinct partition, by dint of modern education and nationalism – which I symbolize with a chalk-written word – “দেশ – desh” meaning “country”, which was of high significance as the fight against the colonial rule climaxed in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Transition Captured in the City’s Art

Woodcut painting from 1914. Image source: the mentioned exhibition. (Click image to view exhibition)

According to Ashit Paul, the curator of the “19th Century Swadeshi Art in Bengal Woodcuts, Woodblocks & Lithographs” exhibition, the lanes of Battala (the banayan shade) in north Kolkata was the birthplace of the Bengali printing presses in the early 19th century. He further comments, “Battala soon came to be associated with the sphere of literature exploring social scandals, with undertones of an intensely eroticized language.” 

Erotica and literature on social scandals could be traced in Bengal long before the 19th century, however, the submissive and puritan woman narrative dominated those pieces. What was new about Battala, was a reversal of those narratives to certain extents.  Brinda Bose, author of “Modernity, Globality, Sexuality, and the City” recollects the “Unreal City” described in “The Waste Land” and remarks :

It is clearly no passing coincidence that one of the most significant symbols of the degenerate modern city, sterile, mechanical, soulless as it is, is the sexually promiscuous woman – a recurrent sign used symbolically, metaphorically, and metonymically across cultures to signify a changed, if not deranged, landscape. What makes this signifier interesting, however, is not its apparent connotation of moral degeneracy but its simultaneous admission of a metamorphosed autonomy of the female self.


This evolving genre at Battala appears to me as an unintentional normalization of the brazen side of the feminine, which as Bose points out, is a significant symbol of the modern city, irrespective of how that is interpreted.

Gendering Urban Spaces

I animated a stylized map of Dhaka city by an Instagram artist @dhakayeah to portray the fact that women’s access to public spaces are limited to norms – the density of a place, the time of the day among others. Quoting Brinda Bose, “Urban spaces are in fact excellent sites for analyzing how gender works, in Bourdieu’s terms, as an “embodied idea,” suggesting that spatial divisions within the city – the street, the office, the kitchen, the bedroom – are not always gendered in obvious or given ways, but enacted through embodied practices. (Bose, p.41)

This connects back to “Sultana’s Dream” where the notion of gendered spaces is addressed as well. The picture here though is rather contemporary. In “Sultana’s Dream” there are no manually-pulled rickshaws with male drivers. Public transport in Rokeya’s Ladyland is coordinated by women. The gendered space in Ladyland is a satire, a “terrible revenge” as Rokeya’s husband appreciated, of the status-quo blind to the oppressive segregation. The landscape of Ladyland may come off as superfluous female-supremacy, especially now that the discourse of gender equity has been established. However, back in the time, this is the shocking, avant-garde contrast that was required to shake things up – an alternative reality that challenges every single pillar of the urban society.

25 years after writing about the aircraft in her story, in 1930, Rokeya had for the first time seen the vehicle and subsequently toured on it around Calcutta. She journaled the experience and absorbed that the first Bengali Muslim female pilot had flown a Muslim woman in purdah (Rokeya) for the first time.

Despite such milestones, the cities of Bengal in the 21st century are not female-friendly spaces.1 Misogynistic and heteronormative mindset exists in the greater population. The conclusion of my research analysis recognizes the impact of cities on feminist discourses in twentieth-century Bengal, however, the voice of emancipation that drove these discourses is not linearly rooted in urbanization, rather in a humanitarian awakening raged through prolonged servitude. Unrest, be it material or spiritual, has been the harbinger of change, although the change is actually rooted in collective consciousness. Over time, the collective consciousness wears off amid the crushing pressure of urban existence, the voice of change tends to get muffled amid the noise. The city is notoriously known for culturing the noise which is why “Sultana’s Dream” is still relevant.

Directed by Isabel Herguera, 2019

Works Cited:

Hossain, Rokeya Sakhawat.”Sultana’s Dream”. The Indian Ladies’ Magazine, Madras, 1905

Ganesh, Chitra. “Sultana’s Dream: Digital Edition”. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 2019

Sultana’s Dream: Digital Edition | Flickr

Sarkar, Mahua. “Changing Together, Changing Apart: Urban Muslim and Hindu Women in Pre-Partition Bengal.” History and Memory, vol. 27, no. 1, 2015, pp. 5–42. JSTOR, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Bose, Brinda. “Modernity, Globality, Sexuality, and the City: A Reading of Indian Cinema.” The Global South, vol. 2, no. 1, 2008, pp. 35–58. JSTOR, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

DhakaYeah. “Give the gift of Dhaka, this holiday season.” Instagram, Nov 7, 2020

Das, Priyagopal. “Adbhut Hatyakanda” (1914). P.M. Bagchi and Co; 19th Century Swadeshi Art in Bengal Woodcuts, Woodblocks & Lithographs. Ashit Paul


  1. Kotikula, Andy and Diana J. Arango. “Walking the street with DIGNITY: Women’s inclusion in urban Bangladesh.” World Bank Blogs. Dec 10, 2019

Walking the street with DIGNITY: Women’s inclusion in urban Bangladesh (

Cities: Loud, but Not Just Audibly

Imagine hearing colors, tasting sounds, or seeing noises. Imagine memorizing a song by remembering the colors you hear in it, or watching the girl in front of you fracture her leg and feeling that sharp sensation of your own bone snapping as a result. These are not abnormal occurrences for synesthetes, or people with a neurological condition called synesthesia. Synesthesia is characterized by mixing senses that are not usually put together, or when a stimulus activates many senses when it typically involves only one. Synesthesia is difficult to understand by those who do not experience it, and its effects can be spun into both positives and negatives. Synesthetes each experience a unique set of perceptions individual of anyone else, and these odd outlooks on the world can provide new insight. In other words, synesthesia was a perfect “tool” for modernists to take grasp of.

Synesthesia only made its debut as a worthy issue for the medical world to investigate starting in the early 1800s. However, what truly brought synesthesia to the spotlight was a French sonnet called “Voyelles” by Arthur Rimbaud in 1883 that associated alphabetical letters with colors. His artistry of turning the condition into a beautiful and poetic piece of literature became exceptionally popular, and inspired further weaving of many senses into art.

“Voyelles” by Arthur Rimbaud

Modernists taking advantage of a synesthesia itself is a prime representation of modernist culture; when previously taking hold of a “disorder” and spinning it into a literary tool would have been utterly unacceptable, it was a stroke of genius in modernism. Modernists intentionally seek the awkward and the unspoken, and ultimately try and find new ways to look at the world. Modernists adopted a synesthetic approach, specifically in art, by mixing multiple senses (i.e. taste and sound) in order to communicate something in a deeper way. For example, the image below is a visual representation of what a synesthete could perceive upon listening to music. Not only do they hear all the instruments and singing melodies, but they feel the tactile patterns and sharp corners, they see the colors jumbling together in the chaos of a crazy song.

Synesthetic artwork by Wassily Kandinsky visualizing some of the perceptions upon hearing music

Modernists created art similar to this to emphasize the many perspectives that can be taken on the world. It is like a three-dimensional object or movie versus a two-dimensional. A three-dimensional object is simply one that has more faces than a two-dimensional, for example a square has essentially one (or two if you count the flip-side) faces, while a cube has six. The three-dimensional object takes up a considerably larger amount of physical space while also covering more surface area. The more perspectives that are added, the more impactful the object/idea can be. For example, the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta has a four-dimensional movie production as part of their museum. While sitting in the theatre, visitors will experience objects projecting off the screen, water spritzing onto their faces, and their seats rumbling and prodding them in the back. This allows visitors to experience the film rather than just watching it, similar to how a synesthete is stimulated in many senses rather than just one. Modernists would eagerly endorse this method of weaving together multiple perspectives to create one that has not been previously discovered, and this idea can be applied to cities. 

Cities have a lot going on. That much is obvious. I hated that part. I am a huge fan of nature and being far away from the rest of the world; my ideal view contains solely mountains and natural landscape, with not a manmade structure or building in sight. The city has always been a place of stress to me, where all I can see is the gray, shiny, concrete jungle of looming infrastructure that humans have replaced the natural beauty of earth with. Even just the color of the city—gray— is what it makes me feel like: dull. Polluted. Busy. Selfish. Loud.

My view as I attempt to find spots on campus with the least sky-line and the most nature

That last word, “loud,” was my biggest annoyance with the city. One reason that I love nature is because of the serenity it brings, just that overwhelming feeling of peace. The city appears to be the polar opposite as far as its constant traffic, blaring car horns, people and vehicles rushing to be places, and luminous signs all trying to grab passersby’s’ attention. Despite living relatively close to Atlanta my whole life, I did not spend much time visiting the city, and I sure preferred it that way. If I had to wrap up Atlanta in one word, I would choose the word “loud.”

But maybe it is loud, just not in a “noisy” sense. Maybe to appreciate Atlanta and other cities for what they truly stand for, it is necessary to take a more modernist or synesthetic approach and apply the city’s “loudness” to multiple senses. And oddly enough, what it took for me to gain modernist insight on viewing cities was to visit an island city that is practically the furthest you can get from exemplifying modernism.

A couple summers ago, my family took a vacation to an island in the eastern Caribbean called St. Lucia. Driving around on the island was odd enough considering the stray dogs everywhere, mangoes piled up in the gutters, and constantly trying to drive on the right—in this case, wrong— side of the road, but what truly shocked me was how loud a small country and its capital of Castries could be. And not just loud in an audible sense. The tin-roofed houses of Castries were each painted their own lusty color, blanketing the hillsides with a rainbow. Restaurants and small vendors managed to bring out the most exotic and authentic flavors within average-seeming food, like the cook who revealed to my family that the key ingredient of his potato salad was slightly different from the typical mayonnaise: swordfish. 

The most impressive difference between my go-to city in mind, Atlanta, and Castries was the honking. In Atlanta, honking stands out to me as a symbol of aggression and frustration. I suppose it is necessary based on the amount of irrational decisions that drivers in Atlanta make, but Atlanta constantly has drivers angrily honking at one another for cutting other drivers off, not moving fast enough, and truly everything in between. But in Castries, honking was used as a language. My family quickly realized that the locals in Castries would honk their car horns to say “thank you” or “hey” to other drivers or people they knew on the road, and honks should be taken as compliments or friendly greetings rather than outbursts of irritation and impatience. In fact, they even loved the horn so much that songs on the radio included it! To say the least, it was quite the surprise when the upbeat, steel drum Caribbean songs were interrupted with the occasional air horn. Nonetheless, Castries showed me that “loud” can apply to many senses rather than just noise, and that to truly understand that noise, you may have to seek a new perspective.

Modernists would see Castries and instantaneously pull out their construction tools to get to work— it is a very under-developed city that could use a lot of progression and updating from traditional styles of both architecture and personality. Just the fact that not a single house was the same shade of color or had a roof of the same material made it nearly incomparable to any modern city. However, a non-modern city teaches a lot about modern cities. Upon returning to Atlanta, I started looking for new ways to interpret the “loudness” I had previously despised so strongly. 

My photo of a colorful house in St. Lucia

Slowly but surely, it seemed as if the fog seemed to wipe away. I did not completely fall in love with the city of Atlanta, but rather began to learn its language. The city is busy and drivers always seem to be in a rush to get places, but that is necessary for people to commute to their jobs that the world needs. Maybe they are commuting to a hospital or research center downtown where the next ground-breaking COVID-19 discovery will change the world. There are new buildings taking over plots of untouched soil everyday, but they are not just destroying nature and building infrastructure for an unworthy cause, it could be a small restaurant in which someone is making their dream come true of bringing foreign tastes from their home country into the big city. Maybe there are people crowding in the streets and it destroys that peace that I so prefer, but that is Atlanta’s way of making change happen. Those crowds can be swarms striving to make the world a more peaceful place as a whole, propagating change such as the Black Lives Matter movement did.

My picture of how I imagine my mind wiping away the dullness of the city to see its true underlying beauty.

Is that so wrong of an idea, to find peace through chaos? Just as synesthetes take what should only appeal to one sense but perceive it as many, Atlanta can embrace loudness and busyness yet turn it into a peace and calm that did not exist prior to the storm. 

Black Lives Matter protest in Atlanta brought people willing to speak up loudly and make their voices heard.

Essentially, humans lack perception. It is similar to man’s natural tendency of selective hearing, in which we only focus on hearing one stimulus and tune out the irrelevant remaining ones. Modern cities are rapidly changing, and a lot of the perspectives and angles over the benefits or consequences of such changes are easily overlooked. To appreciate a city for what it is worth, people must take in the “loudness” of a city as a language rather than as a sound. Take the time to learn a city’s language.


Dimova, P.(2016). Synaesthesia. In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 28 Feb. 2021, from doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM1011-1

Tajiri, Y. (2001). BECKETT AND SYNAESTHESIA. Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui, 11, 178-185. Retrieved March 1, 2021, from

Itoro Umontuen | on June 24, 2. (2020, June 24). Black lives Matter protests have not led to a spike in coronavirus cases, research says: The atlanta voice. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from

Copeland, L. (2017, January 05). Feel the music-literally-with some help from new synesthesia research. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from

Mental Health in the City That Never Sleeps

William Martin ENGL 1102

New York City is the largest city by population in the United States, not to mention its large financial, commercial, and cultural hubs.  City life is often regarded as having a fast paced, hustle and bustle mentality aspect to it.  But what does this mean for its inhabitants?  How does City life, especially life in a place like New York City, affect its citizens in their daily lives, especially regarding their mental health?  I want to focus on college aged students and this effect on their mental health.  The average college student is 26 years old, while the average graduate student is around 33 years old.  New York City, being a large hub for anything from arts and fashion, to business and finance, has a lot of Colleges and Universities, as well as technical schools and fashion institutes.  There is a significant population in the city that is included in this demographic.

New York City at night, showing how easily one could feel lost and insignificant in a large city.

As we all know, college students are already under a lot of stress no matter where their college or University is located.  But is there a chance that college life in the big city is necessarily more harmful than say a school located in a rural setting?  Since New York City is home to a multitude of colleges, universities, and fashion and technological institutes, I figured the population size of part and full time students there was large enough to explore.  Another aspect of this that could be interesting is where these students were living prior to higher education.  Are students that grew up in a big city before unaffected by life in a city center?  Is the adjustment to the city harder on rural and suburban kids, or does it affect all students the same?  Maybe the more time spent in an urban center is actually worse for one’s mental health, whether they are only used to that kind of lifestyle or not.

In Big City Blues by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, he argues that the social pressure in the big city, mostly in the form of competition and weaker community ties could be one of the largest factors of the difference between the mental health of someone in a city, and a suburban or rural area.  Different studies fall in line with this hypothesis, but none better than a study done by Meyer-Lindberg himself.  Meyer-Lindberg and his team said that by looking at one’s amygdala, a cherry sized region of the brain within the temporal lobe, they could tell exactly where they lived.  The closer to urban centers their addresses were, the more engaged and activated their amygdala was.  This is because the amygdala affects our flight or fight response, and is greatly affected by stress.  These researchers said in a group of 70 subjects, with brain scan alone the city-dwellers could be immediately identified with hyperactivity in this part of the brain, while those in rural areas had minimal to no constant activity here.  This showed one link between city life and mental health issues.  Those suffering with anxiety and depression are also known to be commonly observed with an amygdala with increased activity levels.  The chronic overstimulation of the amygdala is most likely putting individuals at a higher risk of these conditions.

From the street it’s easy to get lost in the city’s size.

Both of these factors I would argue are especially prevalent in college aged individuals, and on a college campus.  Competition, with academics and just social life in general are found on probably every college campus in the country.  New York is also known for many competitive and prestigious universities, fashion institutes, and colleges where students may have large amounts of competitive pressure put on them by other students, parents, and even staff.  Not to mention how outsiders, students coming from rural or suburban parts of the country, maybe even travelling all the way across the country, might feel in this new environment.  The transition to college is a large pivoting point in many student’s lives, where they are forced to find new friends, hobbies, passions, and really find out who they are, not who they have been told to be their whole lives.  With the pressure to make new friends and stay competitive in school, this could be a huge factor on many students’ mental health and well-being.

One large difference between cities and rural or suburban environments is obviously the environment.  Green space is one of the huge differences in the two, as well as the differences in architecture and color schemes.  Rural areas have a lot of nature  and fresh air.  While nature is more aesthetically pleasing to look at, cities are often mostly greys and blacks, with square and rigid architecture that’s highly repetitive in nature.  New York has one of the lowest amounts of green space per capita in the US, with only 146 square feet per resident, compared to Atlanta’s 1,023 square feet per resident.  A few studies have shown that green space could be a large factor in mental health, especially during childhood.  A study by Denmark’s University of Aarhus showed that childhood exposure to green space played a large role in mental health disorders later on.  Children who were exposed to the least amount of green space had a 55% higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.  Researchers stated that this exposure to green space was comparable to family history as well as parental age when predicting mental health conditions.  While college aged students are not children, the brain does not finish developing until around 25 years old, so this could still play a part on the mental health of college students in a short term and long term aspect.  This could also mean those who have lived in a city with little exposure to green space prior to college may be at a higher risk of a negative effect on their mental health then those moving to the city for college.

A small park in New York City providing at least some greenery.

My first art piece is End of the Parade, by Charles Demuth, 1920.  I thought this was a good piece to represent the city environment, the dull greys and blacks, with the repetition of the smokestacks and overall dreary competition.  Much like how the smoke and smog pictured are negative for people’s physical health, the grey and blacks show the depressing environment and negative effects on their mental health.  I think it shows how modernists were still focusing on the poor and miserable living conditions many working class people were enduring for opportunities in the big city.  This is still very relevant, with how today people still migrate for work to large cities, even if the environment is less enjoyable than in the countryside or suburban areas of the country.  Many put their own mental health and well being aside while they try and focus on career goals, education, and work opportunities.

End of the Parade, Coatesville, Pa. Charles Demuth, 1920

My second piece comes from Picasso’s Blue Period, which started with the suicide of a dear friend.  I think the depressing colors of blue and grey, with the signs of despair and death in those pictured is a good representative of negative effects on mental health, and Picasso, dealing with depression himself portrays these feelings in a very real and raw tone.  Many of the other paintings during this period are very similar in nature, and it is said Picasso was influenced by his own poverty, and that of beggars and the old and frail that he encountered on his own journey.  The way he represents these people and these feelings shows an often avoided aspect of life especially in art, where it is supposed to be the happy and fortunate, the people a society can be proud of, not what it is actually made up of.  Just like how a society should focus on things that are causing negative effects on people’s mental health and work to fix these factors or lesson them, instead of shying away from the topic.

The Tragedy, Pablo Piccaso, 1903

My final modernist piece, The City, is very bleak, and shows the cramped conditions of city life.  I think the way the buildings are on top of each other, with no breaks between and how they sort of blend together is a good representation of how one might feel after living in the big city for too long.  It shows how cities put efficiency and allocation of space over their inhabitants, trying to fit the most amount of people on a small city block as possible.  There are curtains on the side of the painting, representing looking out of one’s house onto the bleak cityscape, where one can easily feel lost in and insignificant in such a large and confusing city.  I think this is a good representative of the social pressures and stressors that are heightened by life in the city.  If one had to look out at the landscape pictured here, there’s no doubt it would have a negative mental effect, because of the confusion and bleakness.

Robert Delaunay, The City, 1911

I think everyone should think about how their environment might be affecting them and their mental wellbeing, and think of ways to alleviate this added stress and social pressure they may be experiencing.  It could be anything from just reconnecting with an old friend, or getting to know your neighbor, to working to get more green space in your area.

Works Cited:

Meyer-Lindenberg, Andreas. “Big City Blues.” Scientific American Mind, vol. 24, no. 1, 2013, pp. 58–61. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Rocchio, L. (n.d.). Green space is good for mental health. Retrieved March 01, 2021, from

Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2021, from

Rodney King Riots: How Destruction in Los Angeles Inspired Rock Musicians to Protest

 Kaylin Belwood, ENGL 1102 – 11:00

Los Angeles is a city that everyone knows of, but few know anything beyond its existence. To outsiders, the city is often associated with celebrities and the rich; Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is packed with designer brands, and Hollywood houses some iconic architecture, including Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Sign. However, many people tend to forget that LA is just like any other city; working class citizens struggle to make a living while paying extraordinarily high rent. The city is a culturally rich area with large minority populations. California was Spanish territory in the early 1800s, and many Chinese and other Asian immigrants travelled to Angel Island and settled in California during the Gold Rush. During the Second Great Migration, many black Americans travelled from the segregated South to California. Because Los Angeles has been a large cosmopolitan area since it was built, the different ethnic communities have frequently clashed, leading to several riots in Los Angeles history, including the Zoot Suit Riots, Watts Riots, and Rodney King Riots. Several rock and metal groups used their music to protest racism perpetuated by the police department in Los Angeles in the 1990s following the Rodney King Riots.

The Hollywood Sign, sitting atop Mount Lee.
A collection of flags from the countries with large populations settled in Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Los Angeles and the surrounding areas have large enclaves with populations from around the globe; Chinatown and Koreatown represent some of the Asian populations settled in LA, and Mexicans and El Salvadorans make up a large percentage of the Latino population. Because Los Angeles held large populations of minorities, cultural clashes were inevitable. In 1943, the Zoot Suit Riots were a series of altercations between American servicemen and Mexican American youths living in Los Angeles. A zoot suit is a men’s suit characterized by wide-legged trousers and long coats. The outfits were criticized during World War II since the suits require copious amounts of fabric, which many considered “wasteful” since fabric was rationed. Zoot suit wearers, often Latino, were targeted and attacked in Los Angeles. Several modernists artworks, specifically from the futurist movement, depict a similar tension in growing industrial cities. The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni explicitly shows conflict between draft horses and pedestrians on the streets of a rising city. However, the tension Boccioni depicts can be related to the cultural and racial tensions in Los Angeles that still exist to this day; in relation to the Zoot Suit Riots, the horses depict the servicemen as they attack Mexican American youths wearing zoot suits. Umberto Boccioni painted another piece called The Street Enters the House that depicts a bustling street as a man looks on. Much like the people in the painting, many living in Los Angeles just wanted to carry on with their lives and did not search for fights with people of other cultures. Clashes were infrequent, but several cases have caused huge riots where people were seriously injured and even killed. Another futurist artwork, The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli by Carlo Carrà, depicts an actual fight between anarchists and police during a funeral procession; similarly, rioters and police clashed in Los Angeles during the Watts Riots, a series of riots that followed the beating of a black man and his mother resisting arrest, and the Rodney King Riots. Rising tensions between minorities and the Los Angeles Police Department led to a series of violent conflicts now known as the Rodney King Riots.

The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni
The Street Enters the House, 1911 - Umberto Boccioni -
The Street Enters the House by Umberto Boccioni
Carlo Carrà, Funeral of the Anarchist Galli (article) | Khan Academy
The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli by Carlo Carrà

Rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine has long used their music as a tool of protest. In 1991, activist Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles police during his arrest for a DUI; the officers that beat him were acquitted by an all-white jury in 1992, sparking the infamous Rodney King Riots, also known as the LA Riots. Following the riots, the song “Killing in the Name” was released in November 1992. Written by singer Zack de la Rocha and guitarist Tom Morello, the song was intended to be a fight against brutality and corruption in the LAPD. As producer Garth Richardson recalled, “Zack and I had a long talk about the power of speech and how whatever he needed to say, he had to say it. Malcolm X was a major influence in Zack’s life, and this was not the time to back down.” Richardson produced Rage Against the Machine’s first album, Rage Against the Machine, which included the single “Killing in the Name.” Several lines within the song directly call out the corruption often associated with the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s. For example, one repeated mantra within the song states, “Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses.” In this line, de la Rocha and Morello compare the blatant racism of the Ku Klux Klan to the racist actions perpetuated by the LAPD. Cross burning was used by the KKK to instill fear in black Americans in the mid-1900s; many people saw the brutality of the LAPD as another fear tactic that targeted vulnerable populations. Another line in the song references the officers’ trial and claims “You justify those that died. By wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites.” De la Rocha and Morello feel that the police were acquitted in the trial solely because they were police; the police were trusted by many, so deaths at the hands of these officers were thought to be “justified.” The image below is a collage depicting Zack de la Rocha and a group of riot police with some lyrics from “Killing in the Name.” De la Rocha’s facial expression is so powerful and emotional compared to the calm nature of the police in the picture shown; during this period of unrest, many were enraged by the inaction of the police department to hold their officers accountable for despicable acts. The calm of the police depicts the complacency within the LAPD while de la Rocha channels the emotions of the masses into his music.

Zack de la Rocha used his music to continuously push for social and political change.

The song “LAPD” by The Offspring, much like “Killing in the Name,” focuses on the issues within the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s. In the first verse, vocalist Dexter Holland sings, “When cops are taking care of business I can understand, but the L.A. story’s gone way out of hand. Their acts of aggression, they say they’re justified…” Similar to the line sung by de la Rocha, Holland wants to show that Los Angeles police officers believe they are in the right simply because they are police officers. The police can beat and abuse almost anyone with the justification that they are the law. In the next verse, the line “Take it to a jury but they don’t give a damn” may be a direct reference to the trials of the four LAPD officers that participated in Rodney King’s beating. Despite video evidence of the officers senselessly beating King during his arrest, all four were acquitted by the jury. Near the end of the song, Holland sings, “They say they’re keeping the peace, but I’m not buying it because a billy club ain’t much of a pacifier.” Holland felt that the police incited more unrest by beating rioters; peace can not be kept unless both sides are abiding. By fighting violence with violence, the police caused greater uproar among protestors. At the very end of the song, Holland yells, “Law and order doesn’t really matter when you’re the one getting bruised and battered. You take it to a jury, they’ll throw it in your face because justice in L.A. comes in a can of mace.” Much like the line stating that the jury doesn’t “give a damn,” the band wants the audience to realize that the police are not on the people’s side. The last phrase of that quote could be interpreted as explaining that justice in Los Angeles is based on self-defense rather than through the law. The Offspring wanted to use their privilege to bring awareness and justice to the Rodney King beating.

Reggae rock and ska punk band Sublime released the song “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” in July 1996. On April 29, 1992, the four officers charged with Rodney King’s beating were acquitted by an all-white jury. Writer and music critic Ian Port explains, “… the song is about the L.A. Riots: Specifically about Sublime members’ alleged involvement in the looting, burning, and general hell-raising that took place in the streets…” While the lyrics of “Killing in the Name” focus on the reasoning behind the riots and those of “LAPD” focus on corruption within the police department, “April 29, 1992 (Miami) focuses on the events of the riots. The lyrics shift between singer Bradley Nowell and a police dispatch. In the first verse of the song, Nowell sings about looting and destroying a liquor store and a music shop. Despite being part of the Rodney King Riots, Nowell looted for his own benefit, stealing alcohol and a guitar. Later in the song, Nowell sings, “They said it was for the black man, they said it was for the Mexican, and not for the white man, but if you look at the streets, it wasn’t about Rodney King.” Much like the riots that occurred following George Floyd’s death, many people joined in the riots solely to loot or cause chaos. However, those who protested truly felt that the Rodney King situation was a tipping point in the struggle against the LAPD. Although Nowell admits to using the riots as an excuse for personal gain, he also recognizes the integral role the riots played in the correction of the LAPD and its corruption.

Music has long been a form of protest, and rock and metal musicians are still using their voices to encourage and demand change in society. In the aftermath of the George Floyd protests and riots in 2020, bands like Bon Jovi and Machine Head released songs that discuss the abuse of power and racism within law enforcement. Even though the Rodney King riots took place nearly thirty years ago, citizens are still protesting the way the police treat black Americans across the country.

Works Cited

Boccioni, Umberto. The City Rises. 1910, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

Boccioni, Umberto. The Street Enters the House. 1911, Sprengel Museum, Hanover.

Carrà, Carlo. The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli. 1911, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

Hughes, Rob. “Story Behind the Song: Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine.” Louder, 12 February 2019, Accessed 21 February 2021.

Port, Ian S. “Twenty Years Later, Sublime’s ‘April 29, 1992 (Miami)’ Is Still the Best Song About White Boys Piggy-Backing on a Riot.” SF Weekly, 26 April 2012, Accessed 26 February 2021.

Rage Against the Machine. “Killing in the Name.” Rage Against the Machine, 1992.

Sublime. “April 29, 1992 (Miami).” Sublime, 1996.

The Offspring. “LAPD.” Ignition, 1992.

The Brilliance of the Boring – Kansas City

by Ethan Stone 11am Class Period

Everyday, as I walk to get food – since classes are a thing of the past – I pass hundreds of new faces that I have never seen before. In those faces, it is incredibly easy to see a nose, eyes, a mouth, and maybe even some facial hair. But when I see a new face, it is much more interesting to look a few inches deeper: the brain. Most people you see on a college campus have lived a minimum of eighteen years. Some people, such as professors and campus staff, have lived much more. Each person has experienced millions of situations, smelled millions of scents, and seen millions of sights. These experiences shape, damage, and create each person into who they are today. Each person’s life is worthy of its own movie, but they are all movies that I will never get the opportunity to watch. 

This picture exudes excitement, joy, and pure euphoria. The meaning behind this moment means nothing to you, but for me it was one of the best moments of my life. This concept fits perfectly with the paragraph above.

The weirdest feeling I have ever had occurred over this past winter. I am from a small town in Missouri called Maryville. As the only “Techian” from my school, it had been months since I had last seen my best friend, who went to Missouri University. Up to that point, me and the bestie had done everything together. The shared experiences were far more numerous than the non-shared,but four months is a long time. In those four months, she had made a bunch of friends, went to parties, and studied through tough classes, and for the first time, I only got to hear about it in stories. This reminded me of one of the most crucial facts of life: time keeps chugging. Time apart from somebody does not mean they stop living, their experiences are just as crucial to them as mine are to myself. 

This feeling can be extrapolated. Imagine a neighbor during your childhood. While you were getting through third grade, he was mentally preparing for college during his senior year of highschool. While you were learning that sedimentary rocks have layers, he was going through the toughest breakup of his life. As you were sad that you could not get a “Transformers” toy from ToysRUs, he just got accepted into the college of his dreams. These major experiences you are going through are completely irrelevant to him, and vice versa. You saw him get ready for school every day, hop into his Jeep, and live his life, and you had no part in it. This does not mean it never happened though. To your neighbor, those experiences were very real. He fell asleep each night with anxiety about his relationship, and excitement for his academic future, all the while, you had no idea any of those events occurred. 

I have this exact same relationship with my city. (Did you forget this blog post was about a city? Yeah me too.) Maryville, Missouri – where I live – is a short hour and a half drive from Kansas City. Kansas City is the closest metropolitan area to myself, and I have been there maybe eight times total. I feel as if I have a very similar relationship to Kansas City as the relationship explained above. Everyday, life just goes on. I have my own life, and Kansas City has its own.

Blurred picture of the Atlanta Skyline from West Village. The blur allows the looker to feel distanced from the city. There are millions of things happening within the city that I will never know happen. The city is both alive and completely stagnant.

Kansas City is mega weird. First off, there are two Kansas Cities – Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. KCK has an approximate population of 152 thousand people, whereas KCM has a population of 486 thousand. Each side is split by an imaginary state border and the Missouri River. Now, you might think, wait, KCM is considerably larger than KCK, and you would be absolutely correct. So, why is it called Kansas City when the large majority of the city’s population resides in the Missouri half? The only response I would have to that is, Kansas City is weird, man. 

Did you know that little fun fact? I did not. Not until looking it up for this blog post at least. Why is that? That is a super cool story that everybody should know. We all know so many weird facts about New York City. Most everybody knows that NYC is split into five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Most people know about Philadelphia’s history regarding the writing of the constitution and formation of our country. Most people know about San Francisco’s reputation for being ripe for technological advancement and start-ups. I bet a large majority of people even know that the Space Needle is located in Seattle. Outside of sports teams and the little fun fact I told you above, what do you know about Kansas City? Nothing? Yeah, me neither. Nobody does. 

The prototypical flâneur, walking his turtle down the street, experiencing the city.

Maybe this is pandering, but I feel as if Kansas City is the perfect representation of a flâneur. The flâneur is someone who strolls through the city, observing, but not participating. In the minds of most people, this is how Kansas City acts. There is something interesting about the flâneur, however. While we characterize them as “loafing” and as mere observers, they still have lives that continue on, with no knowledge to us. Flâneurs go through heartbreak. Flâneurs go through loss. Flâneurs experience euphoria. Flâneurs experience love. On the world stage, Kansas City is wholly unimportant. It may be seen as just strolling through “life,” housing it’s residents, and employing it’s workers, like any city should. But no. I disagree. Kansas City is no different from the random faces I see while I am walking to get food with my friends. Kansas City is no different from my best friend’s college experience. Kansas City is no different from my older neighbor that I never talked to. Just because I am not there to experience it does not make it any less real, or any less important. Just because New York City gets to be Robin Williams and Kansas City gets to be an audience member crying over the ending of Good Will Hunting, does not mean Kansas City’s experiences are any less important. 

‘The Little Street’ by Vermeer suggests that success is nothing more than a quiet afternoon on a modest street. This painting perfectly displays the greatness of boringness. No distractions, nothing grand.

This brings me to one of life’s most important questions. Is it ok to be unspectacular? The gut reaction for the Techian’s reading this blog will probably be an astounding no. We, since day one, have been told that we are special, that we must achieve. That feeling of being exceptional is probably what got us into Tech in the first place. I, however, would argue that it is absolutely ok, even preferable, to not be exceptional. A man who enjoys his job, has a happy family, and a good group of friends, is far superior to the man who has millions of dollars of wealth, hundreds of opportunities, and constant media attention. While most of society would reduce the first man to being a “loser” and “boring,” I applaud the non-exceptional. We constantly apply the term greatness to somebody who is at the center of everything, on the stage, in the news. Society hates calm, boring, happy individuals. Michel de Montaigne, the father of modern Skepticism during the French Renaissance agrees with this point. “Storming a breach, conducting an embassy, ruling a nation are glittering deeds. Rebuking, laughing, buying, selling, loving, hating and living together gently and justly with your household – and with yourself – not getting slack nor being false to yourself, is something more remarkable, more rare and more difficult.” I believe this quote perfectly encapsulates the beauty that is Kansas City. Perhaps the tale of the West Virginian bartender who shows up to work, works hard, and comes back to a happy family is not meant for Broadway, but it is his life. He chose it, and he is happy with it. His experiences are important to him. While I could never get excited about his child’s first baseball game, this story loses no value. The silly story of how Kansas City came to become a Missourian City has the same effect.

This modernist picture shows 4 or 5 different interactions happening in one picture. All are separate from each other.

Maybe Kansas City is boring. Kansas City does not house the Burj Khalifa. Kansas City is not the home of the Yankees. Kansas City is not the birthplace of the United States Constitution. BUT, Kansas City does contain the Town Pavilion. Kansas City is the home of the KC Chiefs. Kansas City was the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway’s work while at the Kansas City Star, a local newspaper. Now, does that sound boring and relatively unspectacular? Of course it does. Does that mean the lived experience of Kansas City means any less to Kansas City? Absolutely not. The story of Kansas City is not sexy, it is not amazing, it is wholly unspectacular. To me, however, that is exactly what makes it great.

The Burj Khalifa (2,722′) stands nearly four times as tall as One Kansas City Place (654′). These two different skylines shows how miniscule Kansas Cities tallest buildings are compared to the world’s tallest building.

Works Cited:

Varmeer, Johannes. “Little Street”

Stettheimer, Florine. “Spring Sale at Bendel’s”

“What is a Flaneur”

The Spitting Image

Jack Edge – 9:30 Class

If someone asked you if Atlanta is a modern city, what would you say? You might point to modern amenities like 5G, 24/7 donut shops, access to running water, and same-day Amazon delivery. Now consider the same question, but with “modern” referring to the archetypal modern city of the early 20th century. At that point, you might not even understand the question, but you’d know for sure that Atlanta isn’t that, if only for the fact that it is the year 2021, not 1921. However, Atlanta today has more than a few things in common with the crowded industrial cities of a century ago.

Now, what if someone asked you what the greatest recurring problem facing Atlanta is, what would you say then? You might say crime, owing to Atlanta’s perception as an aggressive, firearm-heavy city. While crime is high in Atlanta, many long-term residents might point to gentrification. Now, the word “gentrification” has the potential to mean different things depending on who you ask. To some, gentrification means the transformation of a low class, run-down area into a higher class area with improved infrastructure and living conditions. To others, it is an “-ation” that encompasses a loss of community, livelihood, and culture. In reality, gentrification involves both of these changes to an area, as shown by its definition as well as by a stroll through an area that has been affected by gentrification. Many Atlanta residents can tell you the anecdote about their house’s property value increasing five-fold in the past decade. This gentrification is a result of many initiatives in the last few decades, from tougher (but no less racist) policing mirroring that of other U.S. cities in an effort to break Atlanta’s long reputation for being dangerous, to the Atlanta BeltLine initiative, which was created by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel to build a sightseeing path around the city of Atlanta. Both Gravel and CEO Paul Morris resigned due to controversy over soaring housing prices near the BeltLine and failure to build promised affordable housing.

Initiatives like the BeltLine have caused Atlanta to become a lucrative city for both businesses and upper-middle class families with a bit too much disposable income to relocate to. Gentrification and crime go hand-in-hand, and both issues are part of the broader issue of wealth inequality. While gentrification of an area may appear to reduce crime, it usually only moves the issue somewhere else. For perspective, here’s some data on wealth inequality in Atlanta. In 2019, the top 5% of Atlanta households made 10.7 times more income than the bottom 50%, making Atlanta the city with the highest wealth inequality in the U.S. Atlanta, as home to Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, UPS, and many other Fortune-ranked corporations is also infamous for its many “hoods” where living conditions and income are poor and crime is rampant.

As for the elephant, or rather, the yellow jacket in the room (I’m so very sorry), Georgia Tech does stand out in comparison to many surrounding areas. In its expansion westward in the 1960s, the African-American neighborhood of Hemphill was razed, and the 1996 Olympic Games caused further expansion of campus outward. Georgia Tech’s current campus is a product of gentrification. That said, there’s a lot more to Atlanta than Georgia Tech.

(My picture) Car culture in Atlanta.

One aspect that has divided Atlanta on racial and wealth grounds is car culture. Not only was downtown Atlanta’s interstate highway system deliberately built to mark the boundaries between black and white neighborhoods, it has also drawn a superficial distinction between the classes. “Only poor people ride the MARTA.”

Something that has long been associated with areas of low income is graffiti, of which Atlanta is not lacking in. Graffiti has long been viewed as both a nuisance and a perfectly valid means of artistic expression, depending on who you ask. Graffiti in many ways could be considered an avant-garde artistic movement, as it is often misunderstood, born out of discontent, experimental, and challenging to authority. However, in recent years, graffiti-style art, usually in the form of official commissioned wall murals, has become an increasingly common sight in many cities looking to rebrand, with Atlanta as no exception. Many businesses and local governments have commissioned or sanctioned these murals, which are usually “clean” (no willies here) and unchallenging to authority, in an effort to appear “cool” and liven up the atmosphere of an area.

Photo by Myrydd Wells. One of artist Greg Mike’s murals, and one of the commissioned murals that cover Atlanta. Don’t mistake my part about murals to mean that I don’t like them; they’re absolutely one of the best parts of Atlanta.

You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about Modernism yet. Indeed, what does wealth inequality in Atlanta today have to do with modernism?

Walker Evans. Houses and Billboards in Atlanta. 1936. Doesn’t look all that different from some parts of Atlanta today, does it? The billboards plastered everywhere and the run-down houses with paint fading are certainly reminiscent of scenes that one might see on a drive through the West End or a similar neighborhood.

The transformation of the world (or at least the western world) in the Modernist era, prompted in part by the Second Industrial Revolution, involved the influx of people into the industrial and business-centered cities that contained job opportunities that could not be found in rural areas. These modern cities were crowded owing to the high population density and they were often ridden with crime owing to low wages and poor living conditions. Wealth inequality was blatant, with industrialists like Rockefeller, whose Standard Oil reigned as a monopoly well into the Modern era (it was broken up during the presidency of Taft, also known as the “bathtub sticker”), earning massive amounts of wealth off of the labor of workers making almost nothing. These cities were divided physically based on wealth, with workers living in inner-city slums and those who could afford to living in a different part or away from the city altogether.

Walker Evans. Negro Barber Shop Interior, Atlanta. 1936. Again, the level of poverty is not unlike that of some areas of Atlanta today.
(My picture) Atlanta City Hall, which is one of the more prominent Modernist buildings in Atlanta, was constructed in 1929. It is generally considered to be part of the Art-Deco Movement, and it is one of the few buildings in Atlanta that adopted a Modernist architectural style during the Modernist era.

The problems of the modern city led to several avant-garde artistic movements that challenged, parodied, or glorified the modern city, which were collectively known as “Modernist” movements. These movements often provoked the ire of the general populace and authorities for pushing the envelope of acceptable conduct and subjects. However, they gained popularity both in sectors of the working class for raising attention to their plight and in the upper classes as a symbol of progress. Modernist architectural styles were in many ways a stark departure from architecture of the preceding Victorian era, but over time they became the preferred styles of new buildings.

(My picture) The worst picture ever to accompany the worst building ever. The Tower Square Building, now the “Am I going insane? Wasn’t that the AT&T building like two hours ago?” building. It was built in 1980 in the International architectural style that was a key part of the Modernist movement and perhaps the most successful part of Modernism. It may seem out of place here due to its construction date, but it is perhaps the most ironic building in Atlanta: a monotonous office building at the heart of a crowded city, built in a style born out of a movement that in many cases reviled the crowded city.

By the middle of the 20th century, many of the ideas and styles developed in the Modernist era had made their way into the status quo. At the same time, however, cities continued to grow uninhibited, wealth inequality remained an issue, and many of the issues Modernist artists attempted to bring to the public’s attention were ignored. In a way, this paradox was the result of those with power as well as society as a whole taking only the favorable parts of the Modernist movement. The businessmen and aristocrats of the era may have taken a liking to Picasso’s Cubist masterpieces and the International style of architecture, but they preferred to ignore the “radical” Modernist thinkers that challenged their authority (especially feminists and early civil rights activists). This situation is characteristically similar to the one facing Atlanta today, where only certain parts of low income African-American culture are deemed acceptable to appear on the sides of buildings in rich neighborhoods or heard playing over a television advert.

Edvard Munch. The Scream. 1893. The meaning Munch’s work has long been thought to center around the despair and the monotony of the modern city.

With all of this considered, Atlanta, in its current state of growing wealth but stagnating justice, is a spitting image of the archetypal modern city as depicted in the works of Modernist artists and authors. The crowds of people may have been replaced by crowds of cars in traffic jams and sanctioned graffiti and clean rap beats over insurance commercials may have replaced avant-garde art movements, but Atlanta and many other cities across the United States have striking similarities to the dirty and broken cities of the Modernist era.

Works Cited–politics/beltline-ceo-paul-morris-may-out-after-rocky-tenure/bOcyi96A9aNBubHuCKZhzN/

Modernist’s Metropolitan Mental Health

With everything going on in the World today, it is now more important than ever to focus on health. Although Covid-19 is a disease that physically affects a person’s body, the chain reactions of the global pandemic have caused many other problems for people, specifically in regard to one’s mental health. Therefore, it is important to discuss and understand certain underlying factors that greatly contribute to the wellness of your mental state and overall well-being such as your environment. As a small town girl from Augusta, GA, moving to the city has definitely brought some factors of mental health to my attention.

While living in a city, such as Atlanta, has many benefits like more opportunities, more adventure, more people, and bigger events to improve mental health, the excitement can easily become overwhelming and add to the negative sides of living in the city such as the increase in danger, the fast-paced lifestyle, harder access to healthy foods, and more people.

Ludgate Circus: Entrance to the City (November, Midday) c.1910 Jacques-Emile Blanche 1861-1942 Presented by Georges A. Mevil-Blanche 1947

This image is titled “Entrance to the City” and I couldn’t think of a better name to call this piece of artwork. The hustle and bustle of city life when at first glance can seem new and exciting for most. However, after gazing at this picture for a while, I start to feel a tad overwhelmed by all the chaotic movement occurring.

Negative Affects of Living in The City:

Now, let’s start off with the cons to mental health of living in the city, specifically living in Atlanta.

Higher Crime Rates:

Atlanta has a higher rate of crime in comparison to other cities in Georgia. In fact, according to area vibes, “in Atlanta you have a 1 in 19 chance of becoming a victim of crime” and “violent crimes in Atlanta are 103% higher than the national average”. While the total crime per 100k people in Georgia was 2,717, it was 5,423 in Atlanta last year (AreaVibes Inc., 2021). Even though a person may not be directly involved in an act of violence or crime, the presence can cause much anxiety to some, especially young females who live in Atlanta. There is more of a need for not only women, but everyone to be a little bit more defensive and “on-guard” as they roam the streets of Atlanta.

Fast-Paced Lifestyle:

This picture is the view of the Atlanta highway from the North Avenue Apartments. To me, this picture accurately represents the chaotic lifestyle of Atlanta….always moving…. everyone on the go….. always having something to do or someone to see.

First off, I just want to say that I do not believe that fast-paced lives are necessarily bad or detrimental to mental health. However, I do believe that often fast-pace lifestyles can lead to stress and anxiety if not balanced in the right way. Too often, I see people walking extremely fast or running to get somewhere. This constant feeling of always having somewhere to be can take a toll on one’s mental health as it stems from a sense of stress and anxiety. While a little bit of stress is good in one’s life, constant exposure is not good and can have serious health effects. Living in a city offers more of a fast-paced lifestyle and it is very easy to become caught up in the rush of everyone else.

Limited Access to Healthy Foods:

I have always been a firm believer in the saying, “you are what you eat”. Though this is a silly, old saying, there is more and more evidence that correlates one’s nutrition with not only their physical health, but also mental. Healthcare is a basic human right and therefore access to healthy foods should also be included in that right. Unfortunately many cities are what as known as food deserts, which is a term used to describe a location where the people do not have access to clean, healthy foods. According to Ross Terrell, a reporter for the GPB news, “more than a third of Atlanta is considered a food desert” (Terrell, 2019). Without access to healthy foods, the citizens of Atlanta are forced to venture elsewhere such as fast food or just not eating at all. This has extremely detrimental on one’s mental health and is a problem that needs to be fixed in Atlanta.

So Many People:

Robert Bevan, Horse Sale at The Barbican, 1912

This picture probably looks extremely strange to many people today… “where are all their masks?” you may be thinking or “Covid-19 could never handle all those people in one place”. However, if you live in a city, you will come into contact with more people… it is just a fact.

Regardless of who you are or where you live, you cannot deny the fact that cities are crowded full of people… that is the basic definition of a city. To some, this can be a great thing, However, to others, the amount of people constantly surrounding them can be overwhelming. On the other hand, bing surrounded by tons of people all the time can sometimes have the ironic effect of making one feel extremely alone as though they are just another individual lost in a sea of people. This is why having many people living in a city can be seen as either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how the person deals with social events. There is also another side of the excess of people living in the city. Since moving to Atlanta from Augusta I have noticed an extremely high number of homeless people. Yes, I have seen a homeless person before living in Atlanta, but I had never seen homelessness on this sort of scale. In that regard, to me at least, I think it can be a bit depressing to see these people suffering on the side of the road and feeling as though there is little to nothing that I can do about it.

I took this picture on the Beltline of Atlanta and feel as though it captures the chaos of Atlanta with the grafiti and how the people of Atlanta express their emotions through art, much like modernists did..

Positive Effects of Living in the City:

Onto the better and more positive aspects on mental health of living in a city…

More Opportunities and More Adventure:

It is no question that moving to a city offers every person more opportunity… opportunity for anything that they want. Every time I am walking around Atlanta, it seems as though there is always something new happening. There are always new openings for jobs, new restaurants opening up to try, and new places to adventure. This never ceasing opportunity is a form of hope that every citizen of Atlanta has access to right outside their doors. Sometimes just the idea of a city and everything that awaits inside it excites and motivates me. For a lot of people, the city presents opportunity to whatever dream they have in their minds and goals in their life.

Hope Rising in The City, Nina Shaver, 2020

This picture was taken from Willage and just reminds me of all of the opportunity and hope that the city of Atlanta holds.

More People:

Ah, yes…. the other side to having people constantly around you. If you are like me, then you are probably an extrovert who likes to have little time on their own. For me, being around people forces me to get outside of my own head and I love meeting and interacting with those around me. People can teach each other many things and help each other and connections are always important in life. Having a social life is also extremely important to mental health, because when a person is isolated and alone…guess what… they tend to start feeling isolated and alone. This is why for many, living in a city is great, because there are so many people and you can always find someone to do practically anything with. Again this is a complicated point, because at the same time, not everyone is like me and some people really hate being in large crowds or find that being around people can be overwhelming, which is totally understandable. However, for people like me I would say that there are more advantages to having people around than to not.

Bigger Events:

This point could also just be a perspective one, but growing up in Augusta I always felt like nothing ever happened. There were no big concerts, no huge shopping malls, no big aquariums to visit, no zoos, etc. These sort of things allow for people to have an outlet from their routine of life that can sometime feel boring. This is very important and beneficial to mental health, because many people today have feelings of being “stuck” in life. Being “stuck” in life is just another way of saying that you are not growing in some way and a great way to grow is by trying something new. In this sense it is beneficial to live in a city, because there is always something new to try or do.

In conclusion:

Manhatta, Paul Strand,

I find this picture extremely fitting with the overall theme of this blog post. For example, the outsider’s view of the city is beautiful and yet the artist makes the painting of grays, whites, and blacks.

This shows how every city, including Atlanta, is not without its faults and that the city can be an exciting, amazing place to live as long as one can handle the negative aspects to city life. In the end, no matter how Atlanta affects you, it is all what you make of it and how you grow through whatever problems or experiences the city throws at you.