The Seattle Freeze Thawed by ALL THE DOGS

By Alice Skipton


Molly Nagappala is Minerva Strategies’ summer intern. She is a freelance writer who moved to Seattle from Madison, Wisconsin with a background in government accountability. Minerva is happy to have her unique perspective and relishes the opportunity to exchange goddess wisdom.


What was your government work like?


I worked for two years at the Department of Health in Medicaid and food stamp eligibility and then five years with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which was a nonpartisan watch dog agency in charge of state ethics and election laws, including campaign finance and lobbying.


There’s only so much that government can do. What should the state do? What should be left to charities or nonprofits? I’m curious to learn how nonprofits can tackle the same problems or more nuanced problems with maybe better results.


What was the path that led you to Minerva?


I grew up in Wisconsin. Attended the [other] UW in Madison, where I studied political science and women’s studies. After college, I worked with state government for seven years before deciding it wasn’t the right place for me, and I turned toward my passion for writing.


In 2017, I started doing freelance writing. My husband got a job in Seattle and we moved here last August. That’s when I found Minerva. Their work combined two things I’m most passionate about: writing and global social justice.


What are your hopes and dreams post-Minerva?


I’d like to gain a better understanding of the ways that nonprofits can use communications to change the world. With a background in government, I don’t have a lot of experience in the nonprofit world.


It’s been interesting to be behind the curtain with clients to see everything that goes into making a message that moves people. As citizens we just see the end result: a billboard, a commercial, a newsletter. How a message is crafted is more interesting than I would have expected. I like thinking about what people will respond to and what’s effective for different audiences.


How are you adjusting to life as a Seattleite?


I love the number of options in a city like this: food, bars, entertainment. There’s always something going on to a much bigger degree than in Madison. I like the touristy things, Pike Place. I live near the Space Needle. I like being able to see that and going to the market and getting food.


Has the Seattle Freeze been a problem?


It’s for sure real. I don’t think people themselves are terribly different, just a culture of keeping to oneself a little more here. Whereas in Madison, everybody is a potential friend.


Something I love about Seattle: ALL THE DOGS. I get a kick out of telling people that Seattle has more dogs than kids. To that end, something that happens in Seattle that would never happen in Madison: dogs in grocery stores, dogs in restaurants, dogs in bars, a robust dog-walking industry. All these things don’t exist/don’t happen in Madison!


What do you miss from Wisconsin?


Aside from my friends and family, I really miss Culver’s, a chain restaurant in the Midwest. Maybe eventually they’ll get here. Butter burgers. Cheese curds. Frozen custard. I don’t eat meat anymore, but I miss the other two. When I go home, I’ve got to have it.


What the heck’s a butter burger?


It’s just a burger with fresh meat and a buttered bun.


In addition to jumping into a growth opportunity at Minerva, any new habits you’ve acquired since moving here?


Since I’ve been here, one of my favorite things has been discovering Hugo House. I’ve taken several classes there already which has broadened my mind to what’s possible with writing, and what success can look like outside of a book deal with Random House. That change of mindset has been the biggest area of growth.


On writing: what kinds do you do, for work, for fun, favorite book/author that has informed you as a writer?


I consider my genre to be creative nonfiction. I’ve written personal essays. Back in November there was a scandal in Wisconsin about high school boys doing the Nazi salute. It happened in my hometown. I took it personally and wrote about it for Refinery 29.


I will read anything Roxane Gay puts into the world. Samantha Irby is one of the funniest people I’ve ever read. Other favorite authors: David Sedaris, [Seattle’s own] Lindy West, Dave Eggers, Scaachi Koul, Jane Meyer, Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward . . .


Share the wealth. What are you reading right now?


What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About by Michele Filgate. It’s a collection of essays about exactly what you would expect it to be about. I’m also reading How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. I usually read two books at a time and I tend to read nonfiction more than fiction. But Circe by Madeline Miller is up next. A friend sent it to me because she loved it so much.

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.