Kindness Counts with the Census

Anne-Christine Von WetterBy Anne-Christine Von Wetter      September 4, 2020

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Kindness Counts with the Census
What would inspire a nerdy, numbers-loving introvert to take a job with the U.S. Census Bureau, going door-to-door gathering data as an enumerator?  My timid friend told me about her experience climbing steep driveways, wearing a mask in 100-degree temperatures, her heart racing, wondering who she may meet. Even so, she has discovered new places, reconnected with people from her past, and met new neighbors. Topanga residents are known to be informed and value the importance of numbers and statistics. Most want to participate in the 2020 Census. Residents have offered her water, a shady spot to sit, and one man gave her three baby native oak trees to plant at home. Acts such as these remind her why she loves living in Topanga. She also remarked on our differences when she encounters people who do not trust the government or do not want to be bothered. Many live behind heavy security in “restricted areas” with gated roads, high fences with locked gates, and use “ring” devices they do not answer.  We both wonder if these “Private Property, No Trespassing” residents realize that although they live on a private road that they maintain, they still travel on public roads that others live on and everyone uses, including them. The meaning of “community” comes to mind. This Census effort is to count each person who resided here on Census Day, April 1, 2020. This nationwide, decennial count (every 10 years) is mandated by the U. S. Constitution for the benefit of our entire community, and that is what inspired her to take the job. Over the years, through jobs she has held, she has learned and understood the importance of using statistical demographics. Having an accurate count of an entire population is important for many reasons. Population counts on the federal level determine our state’s representation in the House of Representatives and the distribution of federal funds to our state. It benefits our state legislature that is responsible for building and maintaining roads, firefighting, hospitals, schools, polling places, drawing district lines, etc. At the county level, it helps fund the arts, e.g., in Topanga, the Theatricum, TYS, TCC, the Historical Society, programs for seniors such as the Sages, and our library, among others. In the present climate, with wildfires burning up the state of California, we wonder if there will be funds to fight fires in our populated canyon should we become vulnerable and need assistance. The Census count this year will forecast the distribution and use of funds for the next 10 years. More details here: https://2020census.gov/en/community-impact.html?utm_campaign=20200814cbc20cclas3ptct&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery EVERYONE COUNTS! Perhaps in search of a simpler life, some people have chosen to live in cars or RVs; others who have no other housing, remember, you count, too….all ages. PROTECTING YOUR PRIVACY. Although confidentiality of personal identifying information is strictly protected by federal law with the Census Bureau, some may be uneasy and untrusting. There are options to maintain your privacy by entering “Person 1, 2, 3…,” or using a nickname in place of your name and names in your household on the questionnaire. Stating ages is important, but there are ways around disclosing personal information like birthdates. You can enter that you “do not know,” or simply “refuse” to enter a birthdate, or guess at an age. The age is what is important. You are not required to enter your ethnic origins or race unless you want to be represented in that category. There are no questions about U.S. citizenship. Find more options for completing the Census questionnaire at: my2020census.gov. For information: https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-online.html. By telephone: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern Time, English: 844-330-2020. Find language and hearing impaired phone numbers at: 2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html KINDNESS COUNTS, TOO If an enumerator visits you and you have already filed the Census questionnaire online or by mail, the visit is to check for accuracy. Topangans may have more than one address, moved, turned a guest house into an office, added a rental, lost a house in a fire, lived elsewhere on April 1, or did not state residents/tenants on their property because they did not know their information. Inspired by a recent call for an “informed and involved citizenry,”  we realize there are over 300 million people in our country, and even though we can feel insignificant individually, this effort is a reminder that each of us adds up to our entire population; we each count. Please open your gates for a few months!  Let her in for a “masked” visit to count you and complete the questionnaire on the spot. Just as you would let the fire department in during fire season, it may save our canyon. Thank you for your assistance in doing your part to gather an accurate Census count for 2020. What you Should Know about Census Takers Census takers (Enumerators) are visiting homes that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census. They are here to help and are hired locally with a goal to help everyone in the community complete their census, Please work with them to make sure that you are counted. If you would like to avoid having a census taker knock on your door, respond to the census today. All census takers undergo virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods. The Census Bureau has provided face masks to every census taker and mandated that all census takers wear one. In addition, census takers carry an ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. For more information on the Census Bureau’s process for visiting households that haven’t responded, visit Census Takers in Your Neighborhood. Source: 2020census.gov If you are suspicious of someone claiming to be a Census taker, you can call to report fraud or suspicious activity (800) 925-828; or email rumors@census.gov. Check to make sure they have a valid ID badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo. Source: 2020census.gov.
Anne-Christine Von Wetter

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