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The Neighborhood’s Census

Posted By briana On March 3, 2010 @ 8:26 am In Partnerships | 13 Comments

Written by: Director Robert Groves

The pace of our lives at the Census Bureau is picking up now. This is the month that it all comes together.

Our partner activities are increasing also. I was in Los Angeles Saturday and visited one of 200 different census events going on simultaneously — at community centers, at local festivals, at neighborhood art shows, athletic events, etc. It was in the town of Temple Hills where, in the midst of a neighborhood carnival, a census booth was educating the local folks about the census. Pacific Islander kickoffs of the census, with dancing and great food; a Latino press conference reminding folks to report the children in the household (a group often undercounted). Many of the events were organized not by the Census Bureau but by our partner organizations, for the benefit of their members.

At each one of these I got the clear message that the organizers were doing this not because they had grand aspirations for a perfect national census, but because they wanted their group counted. Group pride drove them to desire that their place in the society be validated by accurate census counts. It was heartwarming and a wonderful lesson to those of us in Washington who think only nationally.

In a way, the census is one of the most grass-roots thing we all do, despite the fact that it is a creature of the national constitution. Each person, each family, each neighborhood form the building blocks of the national census. While we are painting the portrait of America, we are also updating the portraits of our own group. The national census is really a collection of neighborhood censuses.

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