Why You Should Visit Vancouver

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In Should You Visit an EA Hub?, Peter McIntyre and Brenton Meyer lay out the positive outcomes that come with visiting an EA hub. Vancouver, Canada, is a burgeoning EA hub which can provide all the same benefits as any other hub. There’s an opportunity this summer as well, with internships at .impact/LEAN, as well as full time jobs. Applications are still open, but offers will be made soon.

As an EA community, Vancouver is a sociable and vibrant place to be. There are a few dozen of us here, and any night there’s something to do, making it a revolving door of fun times. Every week, we have nights where we get together, watch a documentary film or some TED talks, and discuss them. We watch movies, cook, and dine together. We occasionally go to local concerts, events in the park, or on weekend camping trips. As a lot of us work for non-profits or are living on less to donate, all these things we do for fun are done very affordably, and more than anything else, we just freely enjoy each other’s company. I really think we have some of the most exciting meetups, too. Last time I hosted a meetup at my house, we had Jess Riedel visiting from out of town, spending the evening talking about quantum physics. As a dozen more people showed up, we broke out some card games and I cooked everyone some pasta for dinner and we had some smoothies and it was great. The evening wound down with several of us breaking off to go to my friend’s lab to try out the virtual reality setup he uses as part of his research job, while the rest of us had fun hanging out into the wee hours of the morning.

Effective Altruism Christmas Party

I can honestly say that my friends in the effective altruism and rationality community in Vancouver are among the best friends I’ve ever had, and I think we’ve been keeping each other committed to our ideals and making progress on our personal goals in ways none of us would have made without each other’s support.


If you love traveling and the outdoors, Vancouver is one of the only places where you can scale or ski in the mountains, hike in the forest, and go swimming in the ocean all in one day. It’s got the best scenery in Canada, and it’s got great museums, beaches, and party scenes to boot. I’ll personally show around anyone who comes to visit Vancouver anything they wish to see, and the best this city has to offer.

There are also significant opportunities in Vancouver to understand effective altruism better, and leverage your personal impact.


Peter and Brenton wrote:

Most importantly, visiting an EA hub can lead to a significant change in your career or life. We asked the 14 Australians who have visited an EA hub about their experiences.[1]

 

  1. Acquiring contacts within the EA community can lead to:

    1. Collaborative projects you hadn't envisioned before

    2. The ability to ask people with skills in a particular area for help

    3. Having a better feel for the scale and characteristics of the community.

  2. If you enjoy the atmosphere, you might be more inclined to start your own groupback home to replicate it.

  3. It will increase your understanding current EA best practices, rather than reinventing the wheel.


Several effective altruism organizations call Vancouver home, including:

  • The .impact focus projects team, which runs many projects, including the EA Hub, the online portal for effective altruism, the annual EA survey, and the Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN), which is responsible for supporting local effective altruism groups all over the world, and has seeded over 100.

  • Charity Science, which runs fundraisers and fundraising experiments for Givewell’s top recommended charities.


  • Charity Entrepreneurship, an ongoing research project run by Charity Science’s founding staff seeking to create a high-impact evidence-based charity. Charity Entrepreneurship just completed their initial two-month research phase where they completed reviews of 30 effective interventions, and have narrowed down to 8 to consider pursuing.

  • Students for High-Impact Charity is a pilot project launched in the last month which aims provides interactive course guidance and curriculum introducing high school and other students to effective altruism. It aims to teach students the methods of effective altruism in a systematic way so they have a well-rounded understanding of the ideas behind it if they so choose to pursue the opportunity to do the most good.

  • Greg Boese, the Advocacy Research Program Officer for Animal Charity Evaluators running their $1 million fund for this, is based in Vancouver.

  • Vancouver recently got approved for a MIRIx workshop series, which are independently organized events to learn about and do original research on open problems on the agenda of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute.


Students for High-Impact Charity was recently launched by Tee Barnett and Baxter Bullock, Charity Science staff who wouldn’t have started this project together had it not been for that initial connection. So, that’s an example of new collaborations in action. This wide diversity of projects and people across all cause will give you a great impression of what’s possible in different places.

  1. It’s great fun to talk about what you've been reading with people in real life, rather than just through a computer.

  2. The enjoyment of travelling.

  3. A speaker saying “I volunteered for an organisation researching and running workshops on working out the bugs in our cognition” conjures up more faith than “So, I read this blog right…”

  4. It might reduce value drift because you meet friends with similar goals and because the travel is a significant investment in EA.

  5. It's a good environment for getting your own projects done:

    1. Highly motivating (observing others' productivity + feeling them approve of your EA work)

    2. Access to an office

    3. Away from normal duties at home.

and

  1. General personal growth:

    1. You might learn productivity techniques.

    2. Nice environment for goal setting/career planning

  2. When you come back and tell your friends about your experiences, you get to discuss EA in your life in a less preachy manner.

I can tell you in Vancouver you will learn productivity tips from Tom Ash. Tom has worked for the Centre for the Effective Altruism, Charity Science, and .impact, and is now more or less webmaster for an entire social movement. I’m pretty sure Tom is the most productive person I know, considering he manages countless emails and the online presences of several hundred local EA meetups. I have no idea how he does it, but he will teach you.

So, if any of you are free for the next few months and want to visit, live and work with the most active EA community outside of SF or Oxford, and additionally have lots of affordable but nevertheless fun activities like art gallery shows, all manner of parties, and hikes, consider Vancouver.