Essay 4. Place proposal

For this essay you will propose some change or addition to your community that would make it a better place to live; this may involve identifying a problem in your community order to propose a solution, or suggesting something that might be added to make your community more livable. In order to strengthen your argument, you will use some research.

Sample student essays:

Wind turbines

Dog park


Local food

BRAINSTORM: Consider the issues and innovations you learned about from watching the movie Urbanization, as well as (for face-to-face classes) what you learned from your group project and the projects of others or (for hybrid class) preliminary research you did for blog post on how other communities have addressed this issue. These issues may include the following: housing, public safety, communal spaces (could include playgrounds), walkability/bikeability, public transportation, communal spaces, public art, beautification, suburban sprawl, revitalization of downtown areas, re-purposing of post0industrial artifacts (for Fall River, this might mean what to do with mill buildings), using technology to improve community. For my town of Rehoboth, for example, possible issues might include dealing with roadside litter, addressing the loss of farmland to cookie-cutter McMansion sub-developments, and the lack of a town center. To find your own issues, look around your town or city, read local newspapers to see what people are complaining about, talk to friends and family. If you find it difficult to find anything to write about in the community you live in currently, you may choose another community where you have previously lived or another community that you know well.

FIND SOME SOURCES: Look for information you could use to support your proposal (or to get ideas for what proposal you wish to offer, if you’re not quite sure the best way to solve a problem you’ve identified). Your sources may do the following:

  • establish that the problem exists in your community (e.g., local crime statistics)
  • provide info about a community that successfully addressed this problem and could serve as a model for your community
  • give evidence of how this sort of initiative would provide better living conditions (more convincingly than just your assertion!)

Remembering to rely not just on search engines but also the library’s databases and book collection. You will need at least three credible sources; at least two of these must either be in print or have originally appeared in print. (You cannot use three websites, no matter how credible they appear. Note that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for college-level research.)

You may also want to use photographs as “evidence” to support your claim of the seriousness of the problem (e.g., I could use some pictures of roadside litter).

COMPILE A TENTATIVE WORKS CITED PAGE: List your sources in MLA format. Be sure to consider the credibility of the sources you choose to use. How can you tell it’s reliable info? Look at where and when the source was published, the credentials of the author, the objectivity of the organization involved. Look for sources that are “meaty,” with lots of useful information.

ORGANIZE YOUR PROPOSAL: The core of this project will be your proposal essay. Once you’ve digested the information in your sources, decide on your position on the issue. Free-write or bullet point the reasons you hold this position. What details could you use to support or develop or explain those reasons? Write a tentative thesis statement that gives your claim along with the strongest several reasons you have come up with. Make sure that your claim is specific and realistic (you probably want to include cost considerations and/or suggested sources of funding, if your proposal would require financing).

DRAFT: The target length of your essay should be about three pages (or 1000 words). Focus on a clear structure, and make sure your reasons are supported by evidence from your sources, cited according to MLA guidelines.


  • a strong thesis statement makes an arguable claim
  • focused, unified, and coherent paragraphs that give a logical framework for your argument
  • use of specific details to provide evidence for your reasons
  • proper MLA documentation

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