Young and Restless (and other semi-useful categories)

While you certainly can’t be defined by mere data, it is interesting to sift through it from time to time just to see what you can learn about yourself and others. I’ve been specifically wondering where to meet people who want to form the next church in South Jersey. Sometimes it sounds crazy, but I think it’s possible to form a people who care about each other and the world around them, who want to seek peace and justice, who care about the poor and disenfranchised, and who want to take what they’ve been given and make a difference for God’s sake. This tool struck my fancy late last night…

The Esri Zip Lookup is an attempt to show people what their zip code says about the average demographic, culture, and lifestyle of the people living in their area. Of course they’ve classified everything into 67 manageable categories using their “Tapestry” technology and reinforced imaginary boundaries and that has it’s own problems. You can probably tell that I’m not much of a fan of classifying everyone according to data or respecting arbitrary lines. In fact, around Circle of Hope we often say, “We are diverse in many ways and we will cross boundaries to become more so. Don’t bean count us.” So take all the following bean counting information for what it’s worth. We’re trying to do something in the world and the information is a useful tool. If nothing else, it’s simply interesting.

Take Pennsauken, for instance… it’s where Circle of Hope has a meeting space… the physical building is in the purple shaded check-mark shape ( √ ) – below…


By clicking on the different demographics, you can see a summary of the type of person Esri’s geographic data says you are.

For Pennsauken, 36% are labeled as “American Dreamers,” who are described as “foreign born, diverse, young married couples” who moved out of the city for “more affordable housing and open space.”  The other two “tapestry” categories for Pennsauken are “Parks and Rec” (most of the region has this category in the top 3) and “Urban Villages”. You might want to check them out on your own.

pennsauken 2

Nearby Maple Shade (you can see where Circle of Hope is in relation below, look for that check mark shape, again) is heavily “Young and Restless.” 39% of the people in that zip code are Millennials coming into their own: young, diverse, well-educated, and working. They “can’t live without their cell phones”, are likely to shop online, and “buy natural/organic food, but will also go for fast food.”

maple shade

There are overlays for Income, Age, and Population Density… all fascinating data points.

I’m learning and re-learning, teaching and re-teaching about how to view and engage the region. If you’re a part of Circle of Hope already (specifically Marlton and Crescent), give the site a look-see… what are you learning? If you’re in the region and want to do something meaningful, let’s connect. It doesn’t matter what category you supposedly fall into… or what zip code… Jesus is into connecting. I am too.


3 thoughts on “Young and Restless (and other semi-useful categories)

  1. Esri Zip Lookup’s website read like someone trying to sound nice while still stereotyping people in my neighborhood (19145). It was eerie that the blurb was written in first person language: “We are…”- I don’t know who put the website together but I seriously doubt they speak for me and my neighbors. Nate however, does speak for me and my friends, and his point of view to care to look closely at the people in the region he serves is very very real and appreciated.


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