Written by Alex Rahl-Kaplan (EA NYC Community Coordinator), Megan Nelson (EA NYC Community Health Coordinator), and Rockwell Schwartz (EA NYC Director).
The mission of EA NYC is to support the growth and success of the effective altruism community in New York City and beyond by fostering a welcoming, inspiring, and productive hub that serves those aiming to do the most good. In support of this mission, over the course of 2022, the team at EA NYC worked to scale our community health infrastructure. The EA NYC team believes that strong community health is a priority and a crucial component of achieving our collective aims. We also believe our investment in community health to date has been fruitful and we intend to continue to prioritize and expand our community health infrastructure, as there are ever-evolving community needs and always room for improvement.
In this post, we outline what the EA NYC team has been doing over the past year to support the health of our local EA community. We encourage other EA communities to consider creating similar infrastructure and we are happy to serve as a resource and partner in such efforts. We also welcome feedback and would love to learn from others as we continuously strive to make EA a safer and more inclusive community.
Paid, Part-Time Community Health Coordinator Hired
In April 2022, EA NYC hired Megan Nelson as a paid, part-time Community Health Coordinator through the CEA Community Building Grants program.
Megan’s Background: Megan is a licensed master social worker in New York State with a decade of experience serving individuals, families, and groups. She became involved in EA before it was EA, after reading The Life You Can Save upon its publication in 2009.
Megan’s Role: Megan advises the EA NYC team on sustainable community growth, and is available as a point-person for those who have concerns related to the NYC EA community. Megan serves as a confidential, supportive resource. You can email her here, or contact her anonymously here.
Megan also helps coordinate NYC Community Builders monthly dinners (discussed below), gave presentations at EAG DC and EAGxBerkeley on self-care and burnout, organized group accommodations for EAGxBoston 2022, spoke at a university groups retreat, was a volunteer facilitator for EA NYU’s Spring 2022 Intro Fellowship, and co-leads EA NYC's new Women and Non-Binary subgroup (discussed below). Megan played a central role in the creation of guidelines for the potential future NY EA coworking space and a fair and balanced system for vetting potential users.
Publicizing Megan’s Existence: EA NYC publicizes the existence of the Community Health Coordinator through our website, monthly newsletter, and all community surveys. We also explain the role during our events (at which Megan is often present) and encourage the community to utilize Megan as a resource.
EA NYC CH vs. CEA CH: The EA NYC team continues to utilize and work with CEA’s Community Health Team and the EA NYC Community Health Coordinator role should be viewed as an additional resource to, rather than a replacement for, CEA’s CH work. By having multiple point-people available, we hope to offer our community members more options for reporting their concerns as well as a consistent, local resource.
Weekly Community Health All-Team Calls
Once a week, the EA NYC team has a 45-to-60-minute Community Health call. We created this dedicated weekly meeting in order to keep community health front-and-center in our decision-making and programming. During these calls, the Community Health Coordinator, Community Coordinator, and Director discuss a range of topics that are largely proactive, rather than reactive to existing issues. Conversations have included (but are far from limited to) topics such as how to create productive in-person spaces for controversial dialogue that often otherwise happens exclusively through online spaces like the Forum, data privacy for the NY EA community, formal policies that promote community health and safety, and fostering inclusive and diverse subcommunities.
Code of Conduct
One early task for the weekly Community Health calls was to review and update our group’s Code of Conduct. EA NYC has had a code of conduct for some time; we decided to revisit it through a community health lens. Although we did not make substantial changes to our Code of Conduct at this time, the review process helped us to think about our community’s culture and norms, and about how to ensure that our events are welcoming and inclusive.
Monthly NYC-Based Community Builders Dinners
NYC is home to a number of EA community builders, such as the EA NYC staff and board, university group organizers, employees of meta-EA organizations such as CEA, and leaders of religious and professional EA community-building organizations. Although they work in very different contexts, they share common goals, challenges, and skill sets. Once a month, EA NYC convenes a dinner that serves as an open space for discussion, troubleshooting, and coordination among these community builders. These dinners are facilitated by EA NYC’s Community Health Coordinator.
Coordinating with Other EA Groups
EA NYC is working alongside several local and professional EA community-building organizations on coordinated community health policies, statements, and best practices. More information on some of these coordinated efforts will be public soon.
WANBEANY & Affinity Meetups
EA NYC recently launched a monthly affinity meetup: Women and Non-Binary EAs of NY. Our first WANBEANY meeting was last month. We’re optimistic that this space will serve as a platform for community and connection, and also create a welcoming environment for those who may not feel as comfortable in often male-dominated wider EA programming. EA NYC is eager to create further affinity-focused meetups going forward based on community demand. Next week, we will pilot our first Spanish-language meetup.
In addition to continuing the above, EA NYC is constantly exploring new ways to improve community health. Ideas include: a community health talk/workshop series (the first event of which we piloted last Fall), structured programming for identifying and discussing differences of opinion on touchy topics, a formalized DEI policy and improvement plan, and further dedicated affinity spaces.
EA NYC is proud of the steps we’ve taken over the past year to prioritize community health and believe these actions are in keeping with a longstanding dedication to community health among EA NYC’s previous volunteer organizing team. There is always room for growth and we welcome feedback. We would also love to hear from leaders of other EA groups who are building their own community health infrastructure.