The Burg, Reborn
Happy to introduce the new and improved, The Burg. Now available on iOS in every neighborhood across California.
After months of hard work and mindful listening, we are thrilled to release our brand new Burg app, which is now available in every neighborhood in CA.
Our mission has remained the same, but our approach has evolved.
November 6th, 2018, the day of the midterms, we built a voting tool that helped thousands vote, many for the first time. Our idea crystallized into something tangible. Voters were sharing, getting informed, and having healthy debates about what the future of their city and country could look like. Thousands filled out their Burg sample ballot, brought the app with them into the booth to cast their vote and told us how much it helped them vote, many for the very first time.
That wasn’t even the best part.
The hypothesis was that our tool would be an on-ramp. We wanted folks to explore beyond the ballot tool, and be connected for the first time to the leaders and information where they lived. Our hypothesis was soon validated as folks trickled into the app not only to vote, but also to explore and read local news (many discovering for the first time they had a local newsroom). Local news is strongly correlated to local voting, so this can be a self perpetuating cycle. We wanted The Burg to be the connective tissues that drives a shift of attention from national to local, and the data indicated we were on the right path.
Then November 7th happened.
National chaos ensued and captured everyone’s attention, including our user’s. Chaos is two things: a ladder and the national news cycle. In this case, you could say it was both as Attorney General Jeff Sessions '“stepped down”. This presented a problem that our product wasn’t solving: we didn’t have an engine or infrastructure for national news; we couldn’t retain attention, it was warfare. We noticed people logging in to see if they could learn more about the “chaos” with their city, but we had nothing for them. Our value diminished and so did user activity.
On one hand, we feared if we included national headlines the platform would devolve to what we see on other media platforms, and our mission would be left in the dust. Yet, people kept coming to our app looking for these stories.
There had to be a way to balance the playing field, to include national news but always connect it back to people’s real lives and their communities. We wanted to capture the value of learning about what’s happening in Washington, DC as well as the important issues with your neighbors. We had to rethink, rebuild and reorchestrate what people actually wanted and what was needed.
So we started from scratch, putting people at the focus. We spoke with our users and studied their behavior, then it hit us...
What’s the common strand linking neighbors as well as our behavior online? Gossip. It’s as natural as breathing and still the prime way we share information to one another. Perhaps we could use the power of gossip to fuel this community and making voting easier.
So we decided to build a group chat for your city, where folks could communicate with their political and community leaders as well as each other. A ‘group chat’ that is catalyzed via a robust news engine that puts local first, but doesn’t ignore the national headlines. This goal was to reduce the friction between you and the info about your city, and how you can be a person of action.
Proud to share the new app is live and available CA wide.
In this new app, you can interact and talk with your neighbors and everyone one of your representatives and nonprofits from day 1. We are providing you with tangible access to the people and levers that control your everyday life.
Here are some highlights of what’s new:
🗣🔥 A group chat for your city
Chat & repost news to the group chat and organize with your neighbors
First names and neighborhoods only, so we can be friendly but safe.
🔌🌎 A news engine that sends the important stuff from around the world, country, state, and neighborhood, straight to you
☀️Morning and 🌙Evening briefs sent to the group chat every day
Follow issues you are passionate about– and learn how these issues hit home
✊ Direct message your Reps & get them to better represent you
Assign your reps a to-do list, @ your reps on important news articles, and include your reps in the conversation
Anytime your reps are mentioned in the news, we’ll send it straight to your phone
🎨 Volunteer with dozens of local nonprofits & orgs and learn how to help your city
Follow your favorite nonprofits, and even repost them to the group chat
Learn from your community leaders and @ them when you need an expert
We will be sharing more information and deep dives on what’s next in the app, but just wanted to give you a glimpse. Politics isn’t an Olympic Sport-- its not once every four years. It’s local and it’s every day, and we are on a mission to make it accessible and effective, every day.
The Future is Local.
We are a country that is undergoing a mass migration to cities. People are moving to these places and have no idea what’s happening, how to join the community nor that they have real power. People are disconnected and lonelier than ever before due to our phones. We want to live in a future where we people understand and actively govern our cities in the way they see fit.
Feel free to comment below with your thoughts, how to spread The Burg word in neighborhoods across CA, and if there are any nonprofits you want to make sure we include!
Thanks and much love as always,
your friendly neighborhood app team