This past Monday I received my copy of the decennial US Census. The Census is used for many purposes, most notably are two: reviewing and allocating seats for the US House of Representatives, and determining certain levels of Federal funding. Both of these items are important.
What amazed me was how simple the form was to fill out. It took me all of 5 minutes to go down through the list of questions about myself, my wife and son. As I was filling it out, as I am pre-disposed to do, I had my 11 year old son with me. I like to include him on civic things so that he doesn't take for granted or view civic tasks as a burden. He goes to vote with my wife or I, goes to City Council inauguration and is included in Clean Up day Activities (April 24th is approaching....).
While we filled out the census, he was asking questions, as an 11 year old will. He wanted to know why it was important to fill out. I was explaining the proportionality of the results, and the usefulness of it, and making him understand why these 10 questions are worth the 10 minutes.
In many ways it ties into the community based planning we strive for in Dover. The census is the ultimate participatory government. You really count (or are counted). By not taking the time to be part of the census not only do you cost money (the Census bureau has to come to all addresses which do not respond, and that costs money and time), but you lessen the City of Dover's ability to receive Federal dollars.
In Dover we receive many the benefits from many Federal programs. Most notably for Planning is the Community Development Block Grant program. This program, originated in the 1970s within the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, is intended to put money into communities for assistance with low to moderate incomes. The program funds are used to make improvements to housing and employment opportunities for those residents.
I guess what I am getting at here is when the envelope arrives, please spend the 10 minutes to make our community better. The return postage is paid and the questions are simple and non-invasive (name, rank, serial number). By counting you help Dover, and you make probably the easiest participatory move in government today.
For more information on the census, check out www.census.gov, search for it on Facebook and Twitter, or write me, and I'll be happy to help out.