LoPorto 1 Maria LoPorto Professor Wolcott ENC 3331 16 November 2012 Rhetorical Citizenship: We Built This City Through

Service As members of society, we all have a responsibility to contribute something to our growing world. Through rhetorical citizenship, we can communicate and move others to join in our work creating a better community for each other and future citizens. By participating in politics, volunteering for charities, advocating for special causes, or working with government leaders to make changes in our communities, we are implementing our right to be rhetorical citizens in a world that is constantly growing and changing. To define rhetorical citizenship, we must first break down this term into its two main parts: rhetoric and citizenship. We must understand how we can communicate with others to incite participation in our communities. Both rhetoric and citizenship work together to help build individuals who are ready to improve the world around them through their community service and contributions they make to their community. In Sam Leith’s book, Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, Leith defines rhetoric simply as “the art of persuasion: the attempt by one human being to influence another in words.” (1). However, rhetoric is more complex than this simple definition. Leith examines Aristotle’s first ideas of rhetoric. Aristotle felt that rhetoric was a “techné” or technique that had a direct goal (Leith 2). He also felt that there are three branches of rhetoric that use three appeals: judicial, deliberative, and

LoPorto 2 epideictic rhetoric that use ethos, pathos, and logos as a means of appeals (Leith 28). By developing authority and credibility through ethos, using pathos to connect to the audience, and implementing logos to state facts about an argument, Aristotle feels that rhetoricians are able to persuade and move their audiences into action. For the purpose of this paper, I define rhetoric as communication or symbolic action that incites others to take a position on an issue and appeals to audiences through persuasion during a specific timeframe. Rhetoric can move your audience to take action and improve situations in society. Rhetoricians can make many arguments that point out these troubling or significant situations to move others to find a solution to these problems. Rhetorical arguments often lead to great things: solutions to problems, organizations and advocates that support these solutions to problems, and even some of our greatest world leaders. Citizens of communities can use rhetoric to get problems in their community solved. What makes a citizen? According to Amy J. Wan in her article “In the Name of Citizenship: The Writing Classroom and the Promise of Citizenship”, a citizen is “one who participates, who is engaged, who can critique society, and who is a productive, satisfied member of the nation, using advanced literacy skills as a means to achieve these civic acts” (33). Throughout the article, Wan seems to question these views and definitions of what a citizen could be. She never points to one single definition, but many definitions that seem to restrict some groups of people from citizenship. For example, Wan claims that individuals who have improved literacy skills are better equipped to participate in civic behavior (35). However, in Paula Mathieu’s book, Tactics of Hope: The Public Turn in English Composition, Anaya, a college student who was left homeless

LoPorto 3 because she couldn’t pay her student loans, was able to use rhetoric to move an audience in a bus tour of a homeless neighborhood in Chicago. She was able to make her audience realize that not all homeless people should be put under the stereotype that they are drug addicts, prostitutes, and mentally unstable. Anaya gave a speech and used rhetoric to gain support for the homeless community (Mathieu 41-42). Anaya should be considered a citizen in her community because she makes problems about homelessness aware to others to clear the air about homelessness stereotypes. It is easiest to include more people in citizenship through the basic, legal definition in that “membership in a particular nation-state” suffices for citizenship (Wan 33). Once we limit citizenship to individuals who are educated, politically involved, contribute monetarily, own a house, and are able to participate in their community, we exclude a significant amount of people from this status of “citizen”. By excluding these individuals from citizenship, we lose many different perspectives that may help us solve various problems that our communities face. I feel that a citizen is someone who lives among others in a community willing to contribute to it whether through participation in government, volunteering with non-profit organizations, being politically active, or simply working to improve their own community. Therefore, rhetorical citizenship occurs when a citizen works to make others aware of an issue that is troubling to their community and to serve the needs of others through speech or symbolic action. As citizens, we can use rhetoric to bring about awareness of these problems in our communities. This can also be called civic engagement. Civic engagement is active participation within your community to bring about awareness and call others to also participate for a cause in your community.

LoPorto 4 I put my rhetorical citizenship to use while I volunteer for different community organizations. I have been a part of the Seminole County Special Olympics for eight years and have volunteered as an assistant coach, head coach, fundraiser, and competition volunteer. When I first started to volunteer for Special Olympics as an assistant coach for the aquatics team, I needed to use my rhetorical skills and persuade the athletes to get them motivated to train for their races. My activities as a rhetorical citizen increased when I was asked to help out with the gymnastics team. As a head coach, it was important for me to use my rhetorical citizenship to recruit other volunteers to help out with the gymnastics team. As a fundraiser, I used rhetorical citizenship to explain to others that Special Olympics is a year-round sports program for people with intellectual disabilities that needs support all year, every year. I participated in the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser in which people around the community pledged donations to see me plunge into a chilly wave-pool at a local water park. Before the plunge, I wrote numerous letters advocating support for the Special Olympics and also went out to talk to various organizations and clubs around the community to explain to them what the Special Olympics has done for people with intellectual disabilities. I have also witnessed athletes with special needs act as rhetorical citizens within the Seminole County Special Olympics on the Athlete Input Council and also as Global Messengers. The Athlete Input Council is made up of seventeen athletes that range in age from sixteen to fifty who gather together once a month to talk about concerns or issues they would like to address within Special Olympics or in the community. Global Messengers are athletes that travel around the community to talk to groups of people in clubs, schools, or organizations to explain what the Special Olympics is and how it has

LoPorto 5 impacted their lives. They also advocate for the respect of individuals with intellectual disabilities through speeches and letters. After volunteering with the Special Olympics, I have become an advocate for individuals with special needs. I have volunteered with other community organizations that are also passionate about bringing out the best in people with intellectual disabilities like the Oviedo-Winter Springs Optimist Club. Through the Optimist Club, I have been able to work directly with the special needs community by volunteering at Sunshine Dances, socials for individuals with both physical and mental disabilities that are sponsored by community organizations each month. Sometimes, volunteers that come from the sponsoring organizations are not sure how to engage with intellectually disabled individuals. As an event coordinator, I encourage them to socialize with these individuals or even dance with them. I also work with middle school and high school students who are involved in the Oviedo Junior Optimist Club at these dances, encouraging them to respect and interact with people with special needs just as they would with their own friends. During the summer, I work as a counselor for the Altamonte Springs Special Needs Summer Camp. Campers range from the ages of thirteen to sixty-five and have various disabilities. When we go on field trips out in the community, I try to talk to others who are staring at the campers to enlighten them about people with special needs. Whenever I hear someone use the word “retarded”, even in my daily routine outside of volunteering, I speak out against this hurtful word. As a rhetorical citizen, it is my duty to make a difference in my community to make a difference in the lives of others. I can use my words, writing, and actions to

LoPorto 6 incite others to join me in my advocacy for the special needs community. Because of the actions I have taken as a citizen in my community, I feel that I have made an impact in the services that are provided for people with special needs. If others take on their roles as rhetorical citizens, then our community will improve as it continues to grow.

LoPorto 7 Works Cited Leith, Sam. Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2012. Print. Mathieu, Paula. Tactics of Hope: The Public Turn in English Composition. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc., 2005. Print. Wan, Amy J. “In the Name of Citizenship: The Writing Classroom and the Promise of Citizenship.” College English 74.1 (2011): 28-47. Web. 5 November 2012.