Business owners, clergy and lawmakers filled a conference room at the Ulster County Restorative Justice Center to figure out how they are going to get the most participation possible in the 2020 Census.
Pastor Michael Flowers of the town of Newburgh got rave reviews from others in the room about his idea. He was surprised no one thought of it yet - a song.
"The very people we're trying to reach, they gravitate toward music," Flowers said.
Census workers are especially trying to educate immigrants, people who move frequently, and people in poverty. Historically, they are less likely to be counted.
Workers want people in these subgroups to know that the census affects a community's representation in Washington, DC; emergency response resources; and public housing.
"All these things are based on our census numbers," said Jennifer Clark, the meeting's host and the chairperson of Ulster County Complete Count. "We get money based on how big of a population we have responding."
Instead of simply telling people about what is on the line with the 2020 Census, Pastor Flowers figured, "Why not sing it?"
"So many people still don't know about it," Flowers said.
He and his friend, Elijah Daniels, came up with the idea to produce 'Sign Me Up' after Flowers went to a recent census meeting in Albany where workers were discussing different public information campaigns.
"I was just kind of surprised that nobody thought about music," Flowers said. "Which is definitely a major entity that actually works for the community that deals with poverty."
He hopes creative campaigns like his stick with people over the next few months. The first census mailers will be sent out the third week of March.
By May, anyone who has not yet responded via email, phone or online may receive a visit.