Who are we? U.S. Census Bureau data offers a starting point to answer that question in northeast Wisconsin, the place we call home. Yet the 2020 census provides only a snapshot; the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The phrase “Home is here” comes from a business leader whose family fled Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War, speaking about the Hmong experience in our region.
The first installment of an ambitious yearlong series will launch Tuesday morning. It is called "Home is Here: Stories behind the census." Don't worry, this won’t be a rolling series of statistics. The stories will focus more on people than numbers.
The biggest headline to come out of the census data released last summer is the growing number of Black, Asian, Native American and Hispanic residents in the region. Yet the antiseptic, often imprecise labels used by the census bureau fail to convey full truths. For example, some of the largest percentage increases came in the category of people who identified themselves as multiracial.
Over the next year, this series will continue to pose that question — Who are we? — in a variety of settings, from traditional news interviews and informal conversations to formal community town hall events. The goal is to spark a dialogue that helps us better understand who we are, and more importantly, decide who we want to be.
We are journalists at FoxValley365, the Green Bay Press-Gazette and The Post-Crescent. This project falls under the umbrella of the NEW News Lab, a local news collaboration in northeast Wisconsin made up of six news organizations, which also includes The Press Times, Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Watch. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Journalism Department is an educational partner. Microsoft is providing financial support to the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to fund the initiative. The mission of the lab is to “collaborate to identify and fill information gaps to help residents explore ways to improve their communities and lives — and strengthen democracy.”
Stay tuned for details on attending or hosting a community discussion. We welcome your comments, suggestions and constructive criticism along the way.
Contact Jim Fitzhenry at (920) 993-7154 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JimFitzhenry, Instagram at @jimfitzhenry or LinkedIn.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Census: Local journalism series explores northeast Wisconsin diversity