In progress

¬°Cuenta! Count!

Diary of a Census 2020 Enumerator in Washington Heights

A pigeon’s progress toward alto Manhattan

I am writing and drawing a short graphic novel about Census 2020, starting from my sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, sometimes poignant experiences interviewing neighbors as an Enumerator working in my home neighborhood of Washington Heights.

I am working to include sketches of real buildings and some portraits of people (with permission!) in the neighborhood, which I got to know so much better during the course of working for Census 2020. I’ll be showing the team I got to work with, my fellow enumerators, the way we dealt with Covid issues, training, language and bilingual polling, Covid-related difficulties, what data is collected and how it’s used (legally), misgivings and enthusiasm for the count of our immigrant and marginal populations, and concrete benefits and drawbacks to what I saw (and am researching).

above Dan’s Supermarket on 185th St

I learned so much about my neighbors and neighborhood infrastructure that I want to share with the world! In case you did not realize this, Washington Heights as a community was regularly undercounted in the 10-year censuses of the past. There’s so much misunderstanding about the decennial Census, and it’s become politically controversial! I want to help my amazing, eclectic community make sense of it, give some info and eyewitness experiences, and celebrate and take pride in the fact that despite some tech problems the Washington Heights community was 99+% counted for the first time in the history of the U.S. this year–a step toward really making our local Dominican, Cuban, Russian, African American, Jewish/Arab, Latinx etc voices heard and getting resources we need for schools, parks, health care, and more public amenities.

Link: Spanish “¬°Cuenta!” counting song included purely for cuteness.

Theatre for the 99%

I am also excited to be working very slowly but surely on Theatre for the 99%, a graphic novel telling the story of Hallie Flanagan and other public theater practitioners of the 1920s-1930s, the era before and during the brief career of the Federal Theatre Project under the auspices of Roosevelt’s New Deal employment and infrastructure program, the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Could (and should) the U.S. have developed a sustained National Public Theater?

I have gotten a lot of help on beginning this project from Ellen Lindner, whose comics classes at Word Up Community Bookshop (and elsewhere!) I highly recommend!