Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just Who Do We Think We Are?

In which we get a fix on our place and people
Last week the Federal Government released the first U.S. Census data for the San Fernando Valley as an entity unto itself. According to the figures, a whopping 42 percent of the Valley's 1.74 million denizens are foreign born, and Spanish is spoken in 62 percent of the households. Viva Valle!
And yes, I said 1.74 million people live in the Valley. The only metro areas bigger, population-wise than the Valley are L.A. itself (which occupies a large portion of the valley), NY, Chicago and Houston. Funny, it doesn't feel all that crowded. The data also show that it takes 29 minutes average for people to commute to work -- a few minutes higher than the national average. That's spot on for me, but then I ride a bicycle to work, so I can weave in and out of gridlocked traffic on the 5.

Of course, what I want to know the most is what the census doesn’t cover. It counts folks in the broadest strokes. I already knew that lots of people here can speak Spanish. I'd also like to know how many people can speak, say, Armenian or Russian or French or Hindi. For that matter, what I'd really like to know is where, besides Bollywood Cafe, can I find a really good meat somosa?
That's government for you.



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