Every 10 years the United States Constitution mandates that the country’s population be counted. The count is then used to determine federal funding and political representation in each state.
Census 2020 continues despite the ongoing global pandemic and nationwide social unrest. In fact, U.S. Census Bureau Media Specialist Josh Green says, it is now more crucial than ever, as many services are dependent on federal support.
“The more people counted, the better,” Green says. “It is vital for us to get that message across.”
The Census Bureau has teamed up with the City of Watsonville, other local municipalities and organizations to sponsor Chalk Party, a community art campaign this month. People are encouraged to spread the word about the importance of the Census through chalk art in front of homes and businesses.
Participants are asked to share their creations through social media using the hashtags #censuschalkparty and #2020census. Three participants will be chosen at the end of the month to win gift baskets.
“We are trying to be as creative as possible with our outreach,” says Elizabeth Padilla, senior administrative analyst for the City of Watsonville. “The [Chalk Party] seemed like an easily accessible and cheap project… and one that could bring the community together.”
Chalk Party also included the creation of a mural by Watsonville artist Priscilla Martinez this week. The piece now graces the side of the Ramsay Park Community Center, easily viewed from Main Street. The mural depicts different services that are affected by Census figures, from healthcare to education.
Martinez says that the project was challenging, as the outside of the Community Center is rough and has many layers of old house paint. She took to using a combination of different paints and chalk for the mural.
“It’s not the same as a sidewalk,” she says. “Chalk does not easily stick to a surface like this.”
Watsonville Deputy City Manager Tamara Vides says that she hopes the mural will catch people’s attention and bring awareness to Census 2020.
“The Census impacts every single community in the nation,” Vides says. “The funds we are granted help shape the future of our community.”
Added Padilla: “It is vital to stress… why the government needs an accurate count. It affects everyone, on every level.”
The deadline for Census 2020 has been extended to October 31 because of the pandemic. Residents can fill out a census survey online at 2020census.gov, by phone or mail.
Organizers are hoping to reach more people by then through outreach such as the Chalk Party.
“I think it’s great to highlight local artists, seeing the talent that Watsonville has,” Green says. “To help get the message of the Census out, we need trusted messengers… who better than local artists?”