Don't Be A Hipster Doofus: Participate in the Census!
By Rachel Bishop
The neighborhood I live in has a reputation for being the hippest- and also the most apathetic- part of Brooklyn. This dubious honor was confirmed by a recent NPR report documenting that the “hipster enclave of Williamsburg” has the lowest census return rate in all New York City.
The reporter asked a few token hipsters why they didn’t participate. One’s thoroughly academic response was “I guess it’s laziness and like, what’s the point?” Another sunk further into nihilistic futility, saying “maybe some people, they figure what’s the point to be counted if you don’t count for much anyway? If we don’t count, why be counted?”
Come on guys. If you know how to read a billboard (and God knows you’ve read Nietzsche), you should know that filling out the census will bring important resources to your community. This is not a ‘does-one-vote-count’, debatable sort of question. Everyone’s census form makes a difference; the city’s estimating that each form filled out will bring NYC an extra $3000 in federal funding.
Maybe the problem is that young, cool people don’t really feel like they’re part of a community. It’s hard for the values of strong community to be present when the whole neighborhood is young; no kids making it necessary to show up at the school board meeting, no parents saying we have to go to the lame Community Day parade. So we end up seeing ourselves in a void, just us and our friends and nobody much mattering outside that.
But Williamsburg is a community. Hipster kids share many key values; the importance of art, love of music, the need for access to sustainable transportation and healthy ways of living. We congregate in masses for kickball games, free shows, street fairs. But we get stuck before the realization that the group of all of us together means something real and needs our active involvement to keep it going.
So Williamsburgers, I beg you: Before you throw out the census form, think for a minute about what your values are. Why do you live in Williamsburg? For most of us, it’s not just because it’s “cool”; this is a community that formed because young people with shared values wanted to live together, work together, organize and play together. This community needs to get its fair share of government resources, so we can have great transportation, schools, parks, education; even funding for the arts! Think about it before you shrug it off. Fill out the form.