This year is a banner year for planners: The 2010 U.S. Census is being conducted, which will produce all sorts of wonderful data that groups like MPC can’t wait to get our hands on.
Though forms won’t be mailed out until March, we’re already getting excited because we know the information collected and made available by the Census is critically important to our work, as well as to the allocation of federal funds to metropolitan Chicago and other regions. Also, as a recent Crain’s Chicago Business article by Paul Merrion noted, the “demographic shifts enumerated by the 2010 Census will help businesses recalibrate strategies and lay new plans for the decade to come.” Companies such as Walgreens and Sara Lee, as well as local developers, are among those awaiting their “data fix.”
Those are just some of the reasons MPC has happily agreed to help spread the word about the value of participating in the Census -- through our newsletters, by distributing educational materials at our events and community meetings, and by encouraging participation among employees, partners and friends.
I also want to call attention to the fantastic Census.gov web site, which refers to the Census as America’s portrait and features mini documentaries of urban, small town, and rural Americans explaining how they will benefit from the Census. As a storyteller myself, I found several of the stories quite moving.
One of my favorites (and, in full disclosure, it’s both because my husband and I garden and try to buy local food whenever possible, and because I know Breanne and Dave) is this story of a Chicago couple’s extensive rooftop garden. As the video points out, the Census helps determine funding not only for mega-scale improvements, but also for smaller scale projects that improve neighborhoods and people’s lives. Breanne and Dave’s story – much like MPC’s monthly Placemaking case studies available on the Placemaking Chicago web site – illustrate why these micro-improvements, created and nurtured by committed individuals, can add up to dramatically improved quality of life for an entire city.
To view Breanne and Dave’s stories (and others, many of which are Chicagoans), click “See their stories” on the Census.gov homepage. Select "Broadway" to view urban stories. Breanne and Dave are second from the left.
And stay tuned for more information from MPC on the U.S. Census.