Increasing Civic Engagement with Purpley

by Evan Osgood

For my summer internship experience, I interned at a small nonprofit called Purplely,
which seeks to increase civic engagement with local government. Local government directly
controls most aspects of our daily lives, but election turnout rarely tops 30% for positions like
mayor, city council, county commissioner, and so on. Part of the issue is that these elections
rarely get much media coverage, leaving people in the dark as to what policies are on the table in
an election, which candidates support which policies, and even when an election is happening at
all. To close this information gap, Purplely does research on local political issues and candidates,
sends out newsletters to keep readers abreast of local political developments, and engages in
social media outreach to keep people informed. They work in several cities around the country.


My internship was fully remote, so I stayed in New York City. It was primarily a
content-creation position; my task was to comb through the minutes of city council meetings in
New York City and San Francisco and put the most important developments, legislation,
speeches, etc. in a short newsletter, which would then be sent out to those who had subscribed. I
also needed to put the wording of legislation into more plain language so the content could be
accessible to all readers. The second primary element of my job was social media outreach,
which I mostly did on Reddit. While I occasionally collaborated with a colleague, the vast
majority of my work was done alone; the team had weekly check-ins via Slack to keep tabs on
progress.


I enjoyed my time at Purplely; I learned a lot about how local government operates, the
level of influence it has, and its interactions with higher levels of government. As I plan to work
in the public sector, I found this particularly valuable. The work culture was relaxed and casual,
which I appreciated, and being fully remote was convenient and easy. Overall, Iā€™d say that if
students are interested in local government or anything it controls (such as housing or land use
issues), want to work for a small organization, and enjoy content creation and social media,
Purplely should definitely be on their list of possible internships.


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