With the U.S. government surveying America for the census, we asked our audience how their slice of the country has changed since the last one was conducted 10 years ago.
Hundreds of people responded, telling us about many of the changes they've seen — from more family members living together in one home to housing developments rising where they didn't exist before to new ethnic groups joining the neighborhood. Here is a selection of their emails:
In the past 10 years we have added a daughter to our family, my son has completed college and we moved from the suburbs to the country for a more peaceful lifestyle. Fortunately my husband and I have kept the same jobs (unlike most less fortunate people) with annual raises. We have been very lucky to have been able to build a new home and have some "property" to call our own. I believe most people spend way too much emphasis on "technology" and "gadgets" and need to slow down and appreciate a simpler life.
East Aurora, NY
In 2000, most of us baby boomers were putting our kids through college. Ten years later, those same baby boomers are grandparents and entering the social security benefit stage of their lives. The wife and I are alone now, just like we were back in BC (before children). The number of small farms, like the one I milked cows at 50 years ago, continues to go down. Now we see single dairy farms in Wisconsin with thousands of cows each - not much like the family farm any more. There's hardly a place in the state any longer where you have to travel far at all to find a super WalMart — and most of them are less than 10 years old. The downtown areas of many of our small towns are dying on the vine — having been replaced by strip malls or mega-stores on the outskirts of town along the highway. There are blocks and blocks of new houses in new subdivisions that weren't there ten years ago, but many of them are for sale. And life goes on.......
As a result of the cost of housing/housing crisis, more families are living together in one home - many more cars parked on the street; brings down the beauty of the neighborhood. Much more diversity than there was 10+ years ago. Traffic in my little neighborhood, has increased exponentially. My town has opened up a gaggle of restaurants and a Costco. Our city changed its motto — I have no idea why. It used to be: Tomorrow's City Today. Now, its: Times change, values don't. I like the original motto. I live in Lakewood, California.
Well for one our town of Pasco, Wa, has doubled in size, the west side is like a whole other town new and with housing developments and shopping centers. We have a lot of schools and a brand new high school. The population has increased so much you don’t know who is who anymore. When I was growing up we were able to tell who was who and what family they belonged to now, its new people from all over and you don’t know who is who. Employment has increased with better pay. When I left for college there was not much in Pasco now it has changed. We didn’t have texting and it seems like that’s what everyone does instead of calling.
Our population in Tolleson, AZ, has exploded. I'm sure the numbers will surprise us all. In my house, there is my little brother, me, my mom, my dad, and we have one more person, a dear friend of mine. We have 3 dogs, the fourth died recently. We’re middle class, but like most we are struggling through the depression. Thank you for your time.
Nicholas Kidder, 17
Shopping in the food markets has become much more interesting and exciting since the last census was conducted. Seeing an ever expanding array of food selections from the Hispanic, Asian, and East Indian cultures has me more open and willing to increase my food choices, and enjoy and appreciate other tastes. I'm having a ball in the kitchen!!!
My name is Adam and I’m 29 Years Old. Ten years ago today I finished my last year of High School during the early part of March of 2000. To me life really didn’t begin because I was still trying to figure out my life after I graduated High School. I just started learning the way life is suppose to be and being at the age of 19 I had to discover the real world of life by working and finishing up school at the same time. In 2000 I lived in my hometown of Binghamton, NY a small city near the NY/PA Border. Binghamton wasn’t much of a booming town since the 1980s and I really couldn’t find a future there. So I moved on to Syracuse, NY in 2003. Now I can honestly tell you from going back to visit family in Binghamton every month I can tell you I have not seen anything different then 10 years ago. It’s like the city is frozen in time with the years just ticking by and the same here in Syracuse. It seems like the city doesn’t change its face at all. Everyone gets up in the morning and either goes to school or work and comes home at the end of the day between 5pm and 7pm and watches TV, has dinner with the family or finishes work at home and then goes to bed. Then the following day does it all over again. Life is a routine because you do the same things every day.
In S.W. Missouri we have seen a marked increase in Hispanic and African American families in this part of the Midwest. Most of the Hispanic slowly developed over the past 2 decades then after Hurricane Katrina a noticeable increase in African Americans. We are much more diverse today than when I was growing up in this area. What held true then holds true today "the times they are a changing" as Mr. Dylan described.
Since the last census, the Great Lakes region has experienced further reductions in good paying jobs. As Americans continue to expand their thirst for low cost foreign imports of everything from autos to paper clips, our economy will continue to decline not only in this area but the country as a whole. The American government for years has failed to put the USA first. Instead we have allowed corporate greed and international policies to dictate to us the course of our own history. It is so sad to see the decline of not only our manufacturing base, but many other aspects of our once robust economy. Prayers, though helpful, are no longer enough! What we need is a revolutionary approach to how the business of government is conducted in this country.....before a revolution of another kind happens.
We live in Rowlett, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, and the local neighborhood did not exist 10 years ago, as many of the houses on our street were built in 1999 or later. My wife and I live here with our three children, I am a 48 yr old anglo native of Oklahoma, my wife (31) and her son (12) are Russian/Ukrainian and my son (14) and daughter (12) have a mother who is originally from England. Next door on the left my neighbors are a younger couple, with an anglo husband and a wife who is from the Philippines, on my right are two anglo families and then next to them are a couple with an African American husband and an anglo wife. Down the street are an African American couple with children, another anglo couple with children and a Hispanic couple with children. On the next block live another Hispanic couple with children, an anglo gay man and his partner and an Iranian/Mexican family with children. Everyone in the neighborhood gets along well and we all lead relatively happy productive lives, with many of the people in my neighborhood owning businesses, or working in professional capacities (Engineers, Technicians, Treasury Agent, Teacher, etc.) When I grew up in Oklahoma almost everyone I knew was a white anglo, only rarely did we see anybody that did not look like "us", so I am amazed at the change that has happened. If anybody had told me when I grew up that I would have a former communist Russian wife and live in a neighborhood like this I would have told them they were crazy. In fact I find all of this ironic, as I have worked in the defense industry for 20 years and during a good part of this time my job was to design new and more efficient ways to neutralize "kill" the threat of the former communist USSR, etc. and now I am married to a Russian woman and I love her and my in-laws in Ukraine and Russia very much. I think the face of America will constantly change, before we were a nation of primarily WASP's, then in the early part of the 20th century we had a large influx of Irish, Germans, Chinese, etc., now we have a large and growing Hispanic population, but also an diverse group of people coming here from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. I think this should be encouraged, we need the best, the brightest, the most hard working people to come here, if we want a good life for our people and the economic benefits that come from new ideas and hard work.
After living for 18 years in the most urban part of Washington, DC, my hometown my community has changed because following my getting married at age 56 my husband and I have now moved to the suburbs. It is even hard to write but I am now a suburban wife. I went from being an urban girl in an urban world to being in a burban whirl. YIKES, my neighbors brought us cookies and cakes, they walk their dogs morning noon and night, they bring over their children to introduce, and they share kid stories. What happened to a chin gesture that communicates, Heeeeey, how ya doing girl all in one motion, the eye glances that meant something, the wailing sirens. My community has changed and it sure enuf looks different, moving from chocolate to cream. Not better not worse just a sample of the changes in America. I guess I am going to just say that I am an urban burban and that ain't so bad.
Silver Spring, MD
My neighborhood is a farming neighborhood. I live on our family farm. ...The last ten years two barns have been torn down and my neighbor farm shut down. A couple from the city moved here with their sheep. We don't know what our area will look like in the next ten years because of the fewer and fewer farms able to make money.
In my neighborhood America looks poor and it appears to be getting poorer with each passing year. I am living in the home purchased by my parents in 1951. The neighborhood was always lower middleclass but we were hopeful. We felt we were in step with the rest of America and that over time we would be able to improve on our position and move ahead. The folks who live here now seem beaten, weary and even frightened. The future is something to fear. I moved back here in 2004. I am much more like my neighbors now. A year and a half looking for work, one third less pay that I'd been earning in Chicago, all my retirement money gone. Each set-back takes a toll. The tolls when added together equal fear.
St. Louis, MO
Here in rural Lancaster Co, PA, it is striking how many minorities have arrived to find a better life. Assimilation, without prejudiced reaction, appears to be the rule, thank goodness. They will work manual, limited advancement jobs which could go unfilled otherwise. My major bias is they need to learn English. But God loves us all, and we "natives" can only claim to have arrived here earlier than they. I favor strict immigration laws and bringing jobs back to the US that left with "free trade."
As a native New Yorker living in Little Rock, Ark., for almost 28 years, I can say the demographics of Little Rock and Arkansas have changed dramatically. For example, when we moved here I could not find any Goya products. Now there is a section in most grocery stores labeled "ethnic." I can find plantains, black beans, pigeon peas, etc. Another example, two years ago we moved into an upscale neighborhood with the homes ranging from $400,000 plus and it is very diverse. The subdivision I live in is like a mini United Nations.
As an African American woman and native New Yorker, I can say living in the south these almost 28 years has been a positive experience for me and my family. My husband and I are both professionals (I retired last year from 16 years in Arkansas state government) and my husband is an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Our children are both adults living in Atlanta, GA. Our daughter is a business analyst for a medical insurance company and our son is a professional athlete. My husband and I know if we had stayed in NYC, we would not have been able to live the life style we are living now.
Little Rock, AR
My community is a town of 7,000 in rural central Pennsylvania. Despite being 96% white, our community is surprisingly diverse. This is due, in part, to the presence of a small liberal arts college which brings foreign exchange students and urban students to our rural area. Our small town is somewhat more liberal than the surrounding county, with 52% voting for President Obama versus only 35% in the county. We are basically a conservative people who distrust government, both local and federal. Grumbling about our democratic governor and president is common. Change comes slowly here. The community is growing slowly; we've only had a Wal-Mart for three years. Like much of the U.S., we are losing manufacturing jobs. People here do not see the advantages of global economic competition, seeing only the loss of jobs to foreign competition. The manager of the town's largest manufacturer in currently in Shanghi, China setting up a new plant. Unemployment here now tops 10 percent.
We have the longest wooden pier on the West Coast, and it’s always packed with visitors and fishermen. We have a great boat harbor, with shops and restaurants. The beaches are clean, the surfing is good, and it's a great place to live.
As you can imagine, many of our residents are either employed by the base as a civilian, serve in the military (or did), or drive south to San Diego or north to Orange County for their work. I've served in the Marines and have lived here for about 30 years, and the community has basically stayed the same demographically, but has grown in size. Over the past 10 years I've seen a jump in the number of people from affluent Orange County, who are basically here because our home prices are better. The city is largely comprised of white Americans, then Hispanics, and finally African-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Military members and families still remain about the same, and expectedly they’re our most transient residents, with many coming here and then transferring onto other duty stations. This generally means we have a disproportionate number of residents from out-of-state than most communities, and it’s not uncommon to see license plates from other states.
As far as changing over the last ten years, I'd have to say it has been the influx of the former Orange County and San Diego residents who have purchased homes in many of our new, upscale housing developments that have sprung up, including the one I live in with my family. However, the city still remains as ethnically diverse as it did ten years ago and is a great vacation spot or destination for vacationers and beach-goers.
Over the last decade my neighborhood has gone from a middle class mostly Caucasian homeowners to a mixed race of African Americans and Hispanics that are renters of the houses my former neighbors occupied. Not to say this bad or good just different. Foreclosures and sales and houses for rent for whatever reason have changed the complexion of my neighborhood.
The changing face of America is fear. We are paying off debt if able, saving (and not always at the bank), buying extra canned goods, guns and ammo. No one we know is happy and we see few new cars on the road. My neighbors are laid off and none can seem to find any work except the lowest level paying jobs. Foreclosures are rampant, but the prices are getting so low that some of them are selling. People seem to be grouchy and angry all the time. The good news is that families are talking more, eating together more often and that is because everyone is starting to live together again under one roof. Everything seems to be about politics, even helping Haitians who are desperately in need of help on the human front. We are sick of politicians and them being the limelight and them telling us they are the solution when all they do is spend our money and keep us down.
My neighborhood hasn't changed much in the last 10 years. A retirement community with mostly white middle class folks that got an education, fought in wars, worked hard and saved. Education being the most common denominator, allowing us to live a comfortable life in our older years. The majority of us are conservative leaning and believe that the government has a place in our society, but should not be in control of our lives. Most of us are religious but think religion is our own responsibility and never want to push religion on anyone. We believe that we should be responsible for our actions. Most of us don't believe that everyone should be allowed unfettered access to our country, citizenship or the benefits thereof. Most of us believe that a WAR is a WAR and should be carried out as such. Most believe there to two certain things in life, one being the upward spiral of taxes and the other being the certainty of death.
I am a Chinese-American. I grew up in the Bay Area, where my classmates were roughly split between Asian-Americans and Caucasians. Today, I live in Sacramento, and while my neighborhood is primarily Caucasian, the city as a whole has many areas that are nearly all dominated by minorities. These areas include both desirable and prestigious neighborhoods to those which are less so. In the future of America, I see a country where race is less of a factor. Looking at our past, there was a time when even those of European descent were clearly divided. Today, they have melded into a general White American population. In the future, I believe that all the races will meld into a general American category, race will not be very important.
In 2000, most of us baby boomers were putting our kids through college. Ten years later, those same baby boomers are grandparents and entering the social security benefit stage of their lives. The wife and I are alone now, just like we were back in BC (before children). The number of small farms, like the one I milked cows at 50 years ago, continues to go down. Now we see single dairy farms in Wisconsin with thousands of cows each - not much like the family farm any more. There's hardly a place in the state any longer where you have to travel far at all to find a super WalMart - and most of them are less than 10 years old. The downtown areas of many of our small towns are dying on the vine - having been replaced by strip malls or mega-stores on the outskirts of town along the highway. There are blocks and blocks of new houses in new subdivisions that weren't there ten years ago, but many of them are for sale. And life goes on.......
As a result of the cost of housing/housing crisis, more families are living together in one home - many more cars parked on the street; brings down the beauty of the neighborhood. Much more diversity than there was 10+ years ago. Traffic in my little neighborhood, has increased exponentially. My town has opened up a gaggle of restaurants and a Costco. Our city changed its motto - I have no idea why. It used to be: Tomorrow's City Today. Now, its: Times change, values don't. I like the original motto. I live in Lakewood, California.
© 2013 msnbc.com