The 2020 Census is getting underway, and as Cyrus said in “The Warriors,” “the future is ours – if you can count!”

The Constitution requires that the government take an accurate count of every person in the country every ten years.

The first was in 1790, and the official count was about 3.9 million, though both Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was in charge of the census, and his boss, President George Washington, thought the number was too low.

In most parts of the country the Census begins April 1st, but some parts of the country are pretty far from the beaten path.

So counting is starting today in the village of Toksook Bay, Alaska.

It’s a rural village that’s near the Bering Sea about as far west as you can go, and so remote you can’t drive there.

Toksook Bay is more easily reached by dog sled, or, if the ground is frozen, bush plane.

The counting is done early there and in hundreds of other small, remote communities because it’s winter, and the ground is frozen.

One the spring thaw begins it’ll actually be more difficult to get there.

The people of Toksook Bay plan to welcome the Census workers with some traditional Yup’ik dancing and drumming at the local school.

They’ve even told the workers they’re welcome to stay in the building while they’re in town, though checkout is at 8 am, because classes are still going on.

Counting residents in small, remote villages is slow work.

You might even say it proceeds at a snail’s pace.

Which brings me to the story about Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland.

They’ve been building little environments for their snails and then filming and photographing the results.

The scenes show the snails working in little laboratories, or painting, or playing board games – one even gets beamed aboard a UFO.

Getting to Hard-to-Reach Villages Before Spring Thaw and Start of Hunting Season (

Toksook Bay prepares to be first town counted in 2020 U.S. Census (Alaska Public Media)

See the world through the lens of a snail in these miniature creations (It’s Nice That)

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Toksook Bay, Alaska photo by Travis via Flickr/Creative Commons