The train station: A place where the paths of all different kinds of people converge. The train station in New Brunswick is sort of a meca for the inhabitants of the city. It is there that everyone and different social groups interact with one another. (ie. the locals, the students, corporate travelers, teh homeless, the foreigners)The purpose of the train station is to provide a place to wait for those we need to take the train to different locations. It is a transient and heterotopic space for those who use it, a space where technology and people intertwine with one another. People need trains to get places, and trains need people to operate. It is a heterotopia because it is never constant as it also has an inflow and outflow of different people: It is never the same. It is a structure that is enclosed by the city. It is a place that is priviledged to those who can afford to ride a train. Those who can't surround it, but are never allowed onto the train or to just wait inside. The train station is an expansive interconnected web of people. Each person has their own story to tell and purpose as to why they are there. The purpose of transportation is obvious for all: What isn't obvious is the question of what is actually being transported. There are many layers to the train station and the issue of what is being seen and what is not is a complicated.
I thought it would be interesting to do a social project that plays upon social responsibility. Since 911 every type of public transportation has signs that disclose, "See Something, Say Something." My group thought it would be interesting to find out if the inhabitants of New Brunswick care enough to actually "Say Something" if they were confronted or placed in a situation where they should. Although Rutgers consumes much of New Brunswick, there are still paces on the outskirt that are untouched by Rutgers culture. These areas and their inhabitants are somewhat cast aside, their narratives ignored, as "Rutgers life" is what New Brunswick often promotes as their staple culture.What really inspired our project was the huge narrative of New Brunswick is one that is not often talked about...Human and Drug trafficking. Many do not know, but New Brunswick is a hub for both. Why? there are many immigrants here and there are those who are not legal. It is hard for them to find ways to support themselves and it is dangerous as well. With that being said, it came to be of intrigue of how they go about their trafficking. The train station...who is being transported?, what is being transported?, is it by will?, is it legal?
Our project involved posting ambiguous posters that said "Have you seen this guy/girl?" We place pictures of me and of Sunny, underneath we placed a number to see if people would call if they did see us. We did not detail as to why we wanted people to call: We wanted to see where their imagination or assumption would lead them. Were we missing or were we wanted for a crime? In a sense this, our posters were a score. We left it to see how people interpreted it and see whether or not they would react and preform what was being told. Some would actually call, some would see the poster and actually contact us ( meaning me, myself), some would ignore it. Either way each reaction causes another reaction and from that a continued interpretation of our poster's score was perpetuated.
So many other projects we did this semester were incorporated in this project. The idea of mapping was important. The number wee place don the poster was actually a hipcast. We were mapping and keeping track of people's reactions. We were seeing how they emotionally responded to the posters. Their reactions were somehwat affected by assumptions about types of people. Just as one of our projects, they had certain profiles made up for certain types of people. With me, it seems, many more people felt less threatened by my poster. They were more concerned if I was missing or in danger. When they did recognize me, they didn't see me as a big enough threat or even a threat at all to confront me or call immediately. Those who did care enough ended up being classmates, friends, co workers of mine who would directly contact my phone concerned. With Sunny, it seemed more strangers reacted. They felt that Sunny was more dangerous, that his poster had to have meant he did something wrong. Some called while others actually confronted him. We figured this was a result of gendered profiling and bias. Males are seenas more threatening than a female. Alot of our project was actually following. While Sunny and I walked around the station, the others had to be careful as they tried to document our experiment and people's reactions on the spot. In the end, we concluded that there are some people that actually do Say Something, which made us feel better. I was touched by all the texts and calls I recieved from friends who wanted to check if I was okay.
So it makes me wonder, if we, as a community, were to care enough to actually document or attention to the actual "TRAFFIC" that is occuring, would we be able to stop its perpetrators? If we placed ads with the pictures of actual criminals or actual victims would people be inspired to do more? What this project has shown me is that there are still people out there who do care enough and do feel socially obligated to protect their neighbors....