Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Census Kickoff in NoMi!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Like most days in NoMi, Saturday had multiple events happening at the same time. While the peace march for Alisha Neely was happening, another group was kick-starting 2010 census activities in NoMi. It seems like the census gets two reactions: either a yawn or knee-jerk anti-government suspicion. But this is really important stuff. The information gathered in each census guides decisions in our community for the next decade, so it's incredibly important to get it right.

Here's what the Minneapolis Complete Count Committee had to say about Saturday's event...

(paragraph breaks and hyperlinks added by me, and since this is a press release inviting people to the kickoff and I'm writing about it after the fact, some sentences have been deleted or altered)

We are running out of time! Census forms arrive in just three weeks and many people on our North side still do not know how critical it is for us to be counted in the 2010 Census. In our community there is still a lot of mistrust that the Census will actually benefit our neighborhoods, plus with so little positive messaging coming out about the Census, it's critical that we get out to our community before it's too late!

The rally on Saturday included Councilmember Don Samuels and other community and faith leaders from Mad Dads and Shiloh Temple. After the kickoff, volunteers canvassed local businesses and did street outreach along West Broadway Avenue. Volunteers reached out to people inside Cub Foods about how important it is that we participate in the Census. This event was the largest gathering of community leaders and volunteers in North Minneapolis around the 2010 Census and the opportunities it brings to our community.

The Census for our North side is particularly critical because our neighborhoods and Black/African-American community have been undercounted in the Census decade after decade. (Hawkman interjects: and we have a growing Southeast Asian population that risks also being severely undercounted due to language and cultural barriers.) In 2000, far less than half of our people in North Minneapolis were actually counted in the Census, leaving us without the resources we deserve.

When you take a look at the quality of resources in our community - our schools, public safety, hospitals, jobs programs, housing, and roads, you can tell that we missed out on funding. If we don't participate in 2010, we will continue to miss out and in this tough economy, things will only get worse for our community.

It's estimated by the State Demographic Center that for every 85 people missed in the Census, it is a $1 million loss in funding to the people of our city! We cannot afford to let this continue. Not only are all of our community resources at stake, but so is our political representation. If we are not all counted, we will likely lose a congressional representative and we do not want to lose Congressman Keith Ellison! (This last statement is made on the flier, not by this blog, although the Hawkman agrees.)

With the days counting down, this work will become more and more critical as we try to prevent thousands of our people from being left uncounted, under-funded, and under-represented. It is a responsibility for each one of us to be counted and it is your duty to help get the word out about the 2010 Census.

(End press release, begin Hawkman commentary)

It's been said that the Census helps bring government money and more representation to communities, and even the corporate sector uses this data to determine where to allocate their resources, jobs, and marketing. Furthermore, neighborhood groups often use Census data to describe our communities when applying for grants. So if the data isn't accurate, then what can happen is this:

We (neighborhood groups) may know from anecdotal evidence that the demographics of our community are one thing, and the Census tells a very different story. But the REAL demographics have their own resources and needs. So the neighborhood group may apply for a grant to do certain kinds of work in our community, and we base it off of our experience "on the front lines." If the disparity between our information and the Census is too great, it may diminish our credibility in the eyes of the granting entity, and we may not get the funding on that basis.

I'm sure there are many other reasons why the Census is crucial, and JNS readers are encouraged to share.


la_vie_en_rose said...

Question: the last time I participated, I lived in a very small town in Indiana, so I got a knock at my door from a worker. Are workers going to go door to door this year in this area? Or should I expect to see a form in the mail? (Just curious, although I'm trying to see if I can fill it out online.)

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I know people are going door-to-door, and I don't think there is an online form. It'd be nice if there were.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Yeah, I discovered that there's nothing online although they are "working on that". Hopefully that will be resolved in time for 2020!

la_vie_en_rose said...

Just got this in my email. This is something we need here in NoMi. Group praises Indy's return rate of Census forms.