This App Aims to Get Voters Politically Engaged and Sharing Local News

Los Angeles County residents looking to become politically engaged and on top of community news may want to check out The Burg, an app that launched in early April that offers users the ability to communicate with one another on political topics within their neighborhood.

The app aims to be an online community platform for local news where local representatives are directed to verified voters and residents within their area, according to the app’s founders, Los Angeles residents Matt Pell and Kai Bryant.

Pell and Bryant said they built the app as a direct response to what they called “the chaos” of the 2016 presidential election.

“We saw so many people talking about politics on the internet, and we thought it was amazing to see, but clearly there was loads of misinformation and millions of people feeling disempowered and disengaged after their brutal political conversations,” Pell told the Post.

The Burg first received its name as a podcast that never aired. The pair shut down the project to reevaluate and find a better platform for enabling voters to speak with one another and get involved in issues that impact their daily lives.

“Imagine an iceberg on the surface, nonthreatening below the surface? A massive unknown,” said Pell. “Politics itself almost feels synonymous with this ‘massive unknown’ kept below the surface. It would be a shame to let the metaphor die with our crappy podcast, so we let it live and we couldn’t be happier about it.”

Pell said The Burg is spelled with a “u” instead of an “e” because the term Burg in German translates to “community.”

“We wanted to build a space for all things community: where our real-life communities could come together, organize, and stay informed,” Pell said.

Photos courtesy of The Burg.

With a Knight Donor Advised Fund grant from the Long Beach Community Foundation in March, the app was launched during a soft opening in April.

Users who download it must fill out information like their name, the city they live in and birthday to allow the app to verify if they are registered voters and also identify where they vote from.

Verified voters are given special access on The Burg and earn an “I Vote” sticker next to their name, indicating their status as a registered voter in their community. Non-registered voters can sign up as well.

Local news is presented daily on the app and refreshed everyday at 8:00AM and 3:00PM. The app also verifies outlets and allows users to request to look into their local newspapers or blogs. Users are encouraged to submit links, vote or join in a comment thread and share what’s going on in their neighborhood.

Local representatives and departments can also sign up and directly tap into the pulse of their community. They can connect with verified voters in real time and host Online Town Halls where their constituents can submit and vote on the most important questions to answer.

In a new update released yesterday for Apple, users will now find a tutorial on how to anonymously “agree” and “disagree” with a post, view an improved map of Long Beach for users to navigate through and access a local news filter users can tap on to see what’s going on in their neighborhood.

The Burg will launch a new feature where the app can represent the user’s state level and news on the upcoming election where all users will be notified of election information including what’s on the ballot, who’s running for what and where the user’s voting booth is.

The app is available for download on Los Angeles County-based iPhones and Androids.

To learn more about the app click here.


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