Saturday’s workshop, a bookmaking session, happened at 3 PM at the Lil Book Bug, right in the heart of Lancaster Blvd.
Among rows of bookshelves, our workshop tables were set up and covered in art supplies. The day’s goal was for our participants to design the pages for an accordion-style book about inclusion. They could draw, write, and put together anything they wanted on those pages, so long as it had something to do with being “counted in”.
Our team members ready to start the workshop
Despite the prime location and time slot of the workshop, participation in the bookmaking was very low. Some of us running the event stood outside the building, handing out pamphlets with information about the 2020 Census to people on the street. This did not work as well as planned.
While the event was going on, dozens of people walked along the Blvd in both directions. Many of them were glued to their phones, tapping their screens with urgency, and didn’t give us the time of day. (My team member told me this was because of an event in Pokémon GO). Others took a pamphlet from us, but kept walking. No matter how many people saw or passed by us, nobody wanted to go in and see what the event was all about.
People strolling the Blvd playing Pokémon GO
This workshop taught us an important lesson that we, as ambassadors of the #CountMeIn movement, had to learn sooner or later. Getting everyone interested in the 2020 Census is a difficult task and, even if we think we’re doing enough to attract people’s attention, there will always be those who don’t engage.
I can’t speak for my team members about their feelings with this experience but, while I was frustrated at the lack of interest, I am more determined than ever to inform people about the importance of the Census. Games and other things will continue to exist and draw people’s attention, but there is plenty of time to do those things and still participate in something as crucial as a Census.
Those few people who did participate in Saturday’s workshop made a huge impact on the project, because the pages they created for the book are just the beginning of a larger story, one about Lancaster and a future where we can all be counted in.