Yesterday was the official launch of the #countmein project. Our first engagement event took place in conjunction with the Café Open Mic Night at the Cedar Memorial Hall, a historical building in the heart of Downtown Lancaster.
Team member Nathaniel Ancheta gave opening remarks, telling the audience how happily surprised he was about the transformation of Lancaster Blvd and the ways the community made it possible. He said, “Change is inevitable but participation is a choice.” He finished his speech by encouraging everyone to participate, both in the night’s #CountMeIn event and the census, and to “take hold of that change”.
Our primary goal for this event was to engage with those participating in the open mic by asking them to write a couple lines about what means to be “counted in”. We brought a couple poetry samples using the words “Count me in”. Many people wrote compelling and powerful lines and read them aloud on stage. One of the most touching pieces was written by someone who wished to be anonymous. They wrote:
Counting the seconds that have passed
Counting the moments that passed by.
A person who was lost and now has been found
Somebody who finds comfort in silence.
Inside a box where I’ve been chained
Now is the time where I break free.
Robin Rosenthal brought several Polaroid cameras to the event and gave them to anyone who wanted to take a picture. I saw many of the people smiling while taking the photos with their friends because they had the freedom to be themselves. Needless to say, the end result was outstanding. These Polaroids will be used by the MOAH in a future art show, planned for the end of the #CountMeIn project.
Jane Szabo, our official photographer, captured photographs that will definitely be a highlight of the #CountMeIn project. She has the ability to connect with people of any age and make them feel at ease while taking their portraits.
The film crew, consisting of Janice, Nathaniel, and Dave, also shined. They filmed and interviewed people about the census and the importance of being counted, demonstrating the essence of what means to be counted in.