[ Question ]

What are you grateful for?

by MaxDalton1 min read27th Nov 202022 comments

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We often have high standards in Effective Altruism. This seems absolutely right: our work matters, so we must constantly strive to do better.

But I also think we should spend time appreciating the hard work and creativity of people in this community, and the progress we're making.

Who or what are you grateful for?

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I'm grateful to group leaders: running a group can be difficult and most people do it on top of full time work or studies. It requires so many different skills - being socially adept, knowing the latest research, and being able to orchestrate complex plans. 

And I think it's really important work: it creates a personal and sustained way for people to learn about EA and decide to take action. Empirically, loads of great people got into EA this way.

I love being in a community which helps me live up to my values: 

When I first came across Peter Singer, I just kind of assumed I wouldn't end up donating much because it seemed like even though clearly we ought to, no-one else did. It makes it so much easier being suddenly in a group where donating 10% is just the accepted norm. 

The community also seems great at sharing knowledge to make this easier, and supporting each other. An example I particularly loved was Rob Wiblin helping me ringing for the election: he wrote up and easy how to guide, and then for people who still found it aversive (which includes me because I hate making phone calls), he invited us over to all do it together and egg each other on, and so that he could help troubleshoot. 

I'm grateful for all the people in the EA community who write digests, newsletters, updates, highlights, research summaries, abstracts, and other vehicles that help me keep abreast of all the various developments.

I'm also grateful for there being so much buzzing activity in EA that such vehicles are so useful/essential!

I'm grateful that effective altruism gives me a sense of purpose and a global community. 

It feels like it fills some of the human need I have to be part of a village.

Many times I make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are bad enough that the wronged parties would have cause to demand expensive recompense, or to weaken their ties to me. Wonderfully, my friends and colleagues by and large value their relationship with me enough to overlook my flaws. From my Christian upbringing, I'd call that grace. On Thanksgiving this year, when many of us have needed little more grace from our friends than before, I'm grateful for mine.

I'm grateful to everyone who's ever written to me to report a bug, unexpected behavior, or suggestion related to the Forum. One of my favorite things about this community is that it's full of people who don't just want to help in big ways, but are also helpful in small ways. 

Whenever I see someone accuse the community of being a giant virtue-signaling exercise, I think about the people who take time out of their days to send me detailed Intercom messages.

This reminded me of the interesting post Illegible impact is still impact. An excerpt:

Illegible impact is, by comparison, invisible, like helping a friend who, without your help, might have been too depressed to get a better job and donate more money to effective charities or filling a seat in the room at an EA Global talk such that the speaker feels marginally more rewarded for having done the work they are talking about and marginally incentives them to do more. Illegible impact is either hard or impossible to measure or there's no agreed upon model su

... (read more)

Being born into the 1%.

I am so grateful for WAMBAM, the mentorship program for women, trans and non-binary people in EA. It is so well-run and well-thought through, and it has really helped me develop professionally and personally and also made me a lot more connected to the international EA community.

I am also really grateful that the EA Forum exists!

Oh, so many things! I'm really grateful for all the support I've received from the team at CEA, GWWC members, the broader EA community, and a number of close friends in this community who've been a rock to me (in particular those in Sydney: James Harrison, Peter Slattery, Neil Ferro and Sophia Cyna).

I'm grateful for the qualities I value being embodied by so many people: thoughtfulness, compassion, passion, intentionality, open-mindedness, and humility.

I'm grateful for the open door policy that so many people have. The number of times the right connection or conversation has been a single email away is amazing.

I'm grateful for the hope for the future that I get knowing how many people care deeply about working towards ensuring it's prosperous.

Echoing some of the other answers here, I’m grateful for the EA community itself. I find it very comforting to know that although the world’s problems are too big to be solved alone— and although all my efforts may well come to nothing— there are others out there trying to do as much good as they can.

Specific people I’m particularly grateful for are:

  • My husband, who has been so supportive of my involvement in EA, and has largely gotten onboard himself, though it wouldn’t necessarily have been his thing otherwise
  • Catherine (cafelow), who is in many ways the lifeblood of the EA community in NZ. It's been amazing working with her- she always has things for me to do, and never fails to make me feel like my work is valued and appreciated
  • Dewi, who did a fantastic job managing my cohort in the EA Oxford fellowship, and has gone above and beyond in maintaining contact with us after the fellowship ended

A big thank you to all of you.

I am grateful for all the people in the community, who are always happy to help with minor things. Everytime I ask someone for training advice at a conference, or for a, explanation of any word on Dank EA Memes, or for career advice in the Forum, I always got really nice and detailed answers. I feel really excepted through that, especially considering, how rare these things are on the internet.

I'm grateful to colleagues who have worked hard through a sometimes-difficult year, been willing to try out new things (like online events), and somehow kept a sense of fun through it all.

I'm especially grateful when they point out ways I could do better and help me to grow. 

I am grateful for people like Jaime Sevilla who always have time to listen and give advice and help others in the community.

I'd like to thank Guy Raveh for organizing a Forum Tutorial!

Tell me more! 

I'm thinking about preparing more tutorial resources myself, and it would be nice to piggyback off of another person's work. Were Guy's resources in English? If so, could you share them with me?

2EdoArad8moSo actually he asked me for help in getting used to the forum and to understand what it's all about and how EAs use it, and then organized a short zoom session in which I guided him and a couple of other people through the forum. I had a short list of what I wanted to go over: frontpage/personal/shortform/welcome-thread, tags and filters, personal bio (including homework to create one :) ), types of posts, my use of the forum, and encouragement to engage more. This thank-you was posted live in the session :)
2Aaron Gertler8moGood to know, thanks!

I am grateful for the internet. Without it, a surprisingly large chunk of my chosen life activities would be either impossible or way harder. Especially in 2020!

Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by just how vast the terrain of doing good is, how many niche questions there are to explore and interventions to test, and how little time/bandwidth I have to figure things out. Then I remember that I'm part of this incredible community of thousands of thoughtful and motivated people who are each beavering away on a small patch of the terrain, turning over the stones, and incrementally building a better view of the territory and therefore what our best bets are. It fills me with real hope and joy that in some important sense the graft that other people are putting in psychologically frees me up to double down on my small patch of activity with even more vigour knowing that other people will find gold veins in other parts of the terrain that I miss.

I'm grateful for the Covid vaccines!

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(I know I'm one day late for Thanksgiving! I hope that people who celebrated it had a good day.)