Good Idea for April 1 (without fools): Census Day edition

Hi, all.  After the high-level thinking challenge presented by yesterday’s Good Ideas post, today’s is simple:

Today is Census Day — the date that the U.S. Census is supposed to represent. Census questions ask you about where you live, who is in your household, etc.  as of April 1, 2020.  Of course, lots of Census data collection happens on other dates, but this is the centerpiece day.

The reference point.

So it’s a good day to encourage your community to do its census.

Why bother with the census in the midst of everything else going on?  Here’s why:

  • Everything federal, from the number of representatives your state has in Congress to the amount of money your local community gets for CDBG grants, hinges on the numbers in the Census.  In a year when our communities are going to need more help than ever, we have to do everything we can to make sure we are getting our fair share


  • If you want to be able to make a case for government funding at any level in the future, or demonstrate the economic impact of a project, or figure out what the best businesses for your community in the future are, the Census is the cornerstone of the data that you are going to need.  Bad census data, bad study data.  You might not be able to see how your bad data is hurting your future prospects, and that in itself should be enough to push you into action now.


  • Filling out the census is an easy, low-cost, low-time demand thing that your business owners and community can do to help themselves down the road.  Psychologically, it’s a chance for them to make an investment in their future, when the virus and the pandemic have become a memory.


  • And if all that fails, the Census is how your great-great- grandchildren will know that you existed.  Genealogy depends on the Census for some of the most accurate information on past generations.  I would know nothing about my own family’s history if they hadn’t participated in the census.


Businesses can encourage their online audiences to fill out their census as a way to give them a little extra content to share (many are struggling to stay in front of their customers in a meaningful way).  Your newsletter or your local media can promote the census as a way to counteract the feeling of helplessness, and address many of the mistaken beliefs that get in the way of the census (if you have immigrant or undocumented communities, this will be extra important).

To complete the Census, just go to  If you have the paper the Census mailed out, you can use that to make it easier. If you don’t, you can still complete it very easily.

And if you still need a way to encourage your community to do that, here’s Wisconsin’s favorite comedian, Charlie Behrens, showing you how to make a proper(ish) Brandy Old Fashioned to sip on while you document your existence:


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