This past Wednesday, Adrienne, Beth, and I attended the Rice County Joint Government Meeting, where representatives from the County Commission and all of the municipalities got together to discuss issues of shared importance. We were joined by ACT student coordinator Rebecca Palmer, as well as Nick Welna and Jon Aronda of Carleton’s volunteer translator services.
Our primary purpose at the meeting was to view a presentation by Census partnership representative Mathew Falk about the importance of local partnership programs in the form of Complete Count campaigns. A complete Census count in Northfield makes a difference in the amount of federal funding we get for important local programs and services, and could help Minnesota keep all of its current 8 House of Representative seats. After a brief introduction by the Northfield mayor and various other Rice County representatives, we joined the Northfield Complete Count Committee in a separate discussion to address ways that Carleton and Northfield can reach out to community members at risk of being missed by this year’s Census, happening April 1, 2010.
The meeting’s main outcome suggested that there are a number of ways that Carleton students can work towards getting a full count in Northfield. While we had previously been under the impression that non-deputized individuals couldn’t assist with or translate forms for people, Falk stated that Census-takers could accept help from anyone if they so choose. That means that nothing would prevent us from setting up an unofficial “Questionnaire Assistance Center” or host a “Census Fiesta,” both of which would have students and volunteers on hand to provide assistance and translation skills/materials in a variety of languages.
An online count by the Census.gov website will track how many people have filled out the census to date in each town, county, and state between mid March and early April 2010. With this information, Carleton can keep track of the Northfield population and we can better gage how much work needs to be done.
It was an enlightening meeting, and it certainly helped get us thinking about constructive ways to get Carleton students involved with this important 2010 Census!