Co-op Stories: John Erland and the Seattle Mayor’s Office

After growing up in Portland, OR, John Erland finds himself close to home with a unique co-op, working with both the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and the Office of Film + Music.  John works on a small communication team of three, allowing him to take on a large amount of responsibility.

“As a member of the communication team, I take an active role in writing pieces for our daily economic digest that covers important local and national news that affects small business owners, and our weekly film and music newsletter that covers important local music and film industry news. (Both have a subscriber list of +15,000.)”

John also takes part in composing press releases and mayoral proclamations, as well as maintaining the office’s social media presence, monitoring blogs, and playing a role in various campaigns.

This is his narrative:

I also represent both offices at different external functions. I have the opportunity to sit in on meetings with both the Film + Music team, and the business services team at the Office of Economic Development. Additionally, I conducted the hiring process for a new intern, vetting resumes, and interviewing candidates.Seattle has a thriving economy, and is an example of how to prosper in the new economy.  My studies besides Communication are Economics and Social Entrepreneurship, and this Co-op gave me an excellent insight into how a city like Seattle cultivates talent and industry, and how they are opening the doors to make it accessible for all people.  Furthermore, I am very interested in politics and this Co-op put me directly into a political atmosphere, as it is an election year in Seattle and many people are unsure of where the city and its departments will stand if there is a newly elected mayor.

The biggest highlights for me so far are going to the Bumbershoot music festival kickoff party on the 75th floor of Seattle’s highest building; attending free shows through connections that the Office of Film + Music provides; sitting in on a small ceremony with the Mayor and watching him “work a room” complete with out of town businessmen. Another top highlight for me was being ‘in-the-know’ about the major Macklemore & Ryan Lewis music video shoot for “White Walls-” which just happened to be shot across from my apartment- and then watching how a team responds to a crisis situation.  The Macklemore shoot location was leaked by somebody and its cover blown; the anticipated crowd for the shoot shot up to nearly 10,000 people and much over any “safe” capacity.  I watched first hand as the director of the Office of Film + Music ensured that the shoot got underway and was executed successfully, and maneuvered politically afterwards.  Another highlight is actually producing content everyday that I truly have a sense of ownership over and that I can proudly display.  Most importantly, the people who work in the Offices of Economic Development and Film + Music are great people, and make sure that if you work hard, you are rewarded.

After graduation I would like to travel across America for a year, preferably on a motorcycle, and attempt to make sense of this county.  Shortly thereafter I would like to get into business, corporate philanthropy, or non-profit work.  Anything that has some sort of emphasis on eliminating poverty and helping all people attain a modest living.  In the long-run, I would like to run for political office in my home state of Oregon.

This Co-op has steered me towards a serious interest in business, how it can help people, and how government and business together can create healthy, equitable, and thriving economies that can impact the culture of a city, and the happiness of its communities.