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This is a linkpost for https://www.lighthaven.space/

Lightcone Infrastructure (the organization that grew from and houses the LessWrong team) has just finished renovating a 7-building physical campus that we hope to use to make the future of humanity go better than it would otherwise.

We're hereby announcing that it is generally available for bookings. We offer preferential pricing for projects we think are good for the world, but to cover operating costs, we're renting out space to a wide variety of people/projects.

How do I express interest?

 What kinds of things can I run here?

  • Team Retreats (15-80 people)
    • We offer cozy nooks with firepits, discussion rooms with endless whiteboards, plus lodging. The space is very modular, and we can put up walls and dividers that will separate out your own private section of the campus.
  • Parties & Events (10 - 500 people)
    • From private dinners to 500 person parties. Sound setup, music, use of private kitchens, snacks/catering.
  • Conferences (50-600 people)
    • 20+ session spaces and lodging for up to 80 attendees.
  • Lodging (10 - 80 people usually)
    • We have 45 bedrooms sleeping up to 80 people that can be booked together with or independently from events.
  • Other
    • You could host all kind of things here, like choir rehearsals, dinners, LARPing, etc.

What does it cost?

We determine pricing on a case-by-case basis, but a good approximation is $100 - $250 per person per day for retreats conferences and $25 - $75 per person for parties.

We offer some groups large discounts (including free), if we think what you are doing makes the world better. Do really reach out to us if price is an issue. We will often be able to work something out.

You can use your own caterer, or we can provide catering. Our default caterer offers meals from $20/meal to $50/meal that most visitors have found decently satisfying.

We engage in some price discrimination. If we think your best alternative to our venue would be much more expensive, we may charge more than our listed price. We try to find a fair price that splits the difference between our own costs and the value you get out of the space.

We also provide more bespoke services, for an additional charge (see below). Overall we try to be reasonable about pricing, and don't expect to make much profit on the space.

What do other people say about the space?

Some testimonials from people who have run or been to events here: 

We had an incredible time at [Lighthaven] last week - many of the participants remarked how beautiful and cozy the campus is, and the atmosphere was extremely conducive for creative thinking and problem solving. All the little details from having lots of post-it pads and markers to mini fridges and fluffy slippers show how much thought was put into designing the space. Thanks especially to the Lightcone staff, including the cleaners, who responded quickly to all our strange requests, like packing vegetables in the fridge. We hope to be back at [Lighthaven] again at our next event, if there are vacancies!

– Shao Wei, organizer of "Finding the Right Abstractions" workshop run by the Topos Institute

The venue was really great, things went really smoothly, and I’m excited to use the space again in the future for similar events.

Alex Vermeer, MIRI head of Process and Projects

[Lighthaven] felt rambly and wondrous and fun without being pretentious?  Felt like an incredibly-well-executed, 11-of-10 house party venue (laudatory) crossed with Disneyland.

I am still learning about cool things and spaces in the venue that I missed (there was a robot sand table?)

Manifest attendee in the Manifest feedback form

the venue itself is fucking gorgeous. i heard something like that ~2/3 of the time as i was walking guests of honor in & giving them a tour. something like “wow, how did you find this place?” or “damn, you guys got a good spot.”

– Saul Munn, lead organizer of Manifest

Man, I really like the aesthetics. Other people seemed to also.

“Well appointed” is the phrase that keeps coming to mind for me. Lots of things I needed were nearby when I needed them. Having supplies in multiple areas is a good call and I think your supply list is pretty good.

The layout was also good for movement, good for thought.

The math and science decorations were great.

Vibe: it felt like you were happy to have us there and happy to help. That’s a nice and unusual thing!

– Caitlin Elizondo, Head of People Operations at the Centre for Effective Altruism

What services do you provide?

For an additional charge we can provide (among many other things):

  • Catering services, snacks & drinks
  • General ops-support for your event
  • Event branding and marketing

Our team has a lot of experience running all kinds of different events, from small 15-20 person dinners to 1000+ person conferences, to 2-month fellowships and research programs.

We can’t guarantee we can provide everything you need, but if you are facing some kind of problem or obstacle in the course of preparing or running your event, we can probably help you.




What are the various buildings and areas?

The Atrium
Upstairs has a common space and 7 bedrooms. Downstairs is great for parties and weekend conferences (though not available during weekday business hours).

The Bayes House
20 bedrooms, it can host sessions of up to 60 people. Includes the surrounding gardens (200+ capacity).

The Cottage
Storage and laundry. You can store things here during events.

The Den
Front of building has 7 offices/event-spaces. Back of building has 4 of our nicest and most secluded bedrooms.

The Extension
4 small session spaces and/or bedrooms, a gym, and a 60 person session space.

The Farmhouse
Common space surrounded by beautiful gardens and a nice outdoor bar.

The Guesthouse
An additional house a block away, with 10 additional bedrooms.



What is your goal with Lighthaven?

While this post is mostly about our event space offerings, we will also run our own events, fellowships, research programs and we and many of our collaborators are working on a daily basis from Lighthaven. 

I expect the number of people working here to grow over time as we try to make this place into the center of a bustling community that will hopefully somehow make the future of humanity go better. If we can do it while we provide services that fund a good chunk of our ongoing operations and engage in the capitalist enterprise and produce surplus through trade, even better.





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This looks amazing!!

Honest question though (sorry): Do people think there's a moral difference between Lightcone's campus ("house party venue...crossed with Disneyland") and EVF's abbey ("castle")?

There are obviously multiple reasons why the EVF purchase looks worse at first glance:

  • Large English venues generally look more extravagant
  • EVF is - for better or worse - closely associated with ideas like frugality, charity, sacrifice, etc., while Lightcone explicitly owns their engagement in "the capitalist enterprise" for the greater good
  • Lightcone spoke about the campus prominently even before it was open for bookings, with their preferred framing and explanation, before critics had the opportunity to do it for them
  • EVF was already in some people's bad books

Many EAs also made the meta objection that bad optics should have been reason enough not to do it. But this was partly self-fulfilling the more loudly and hyperbolically the objection was voiced, and hopefully we can all agree that the extent to which optics should guide our decisions is at least a hotly contested topic in EA (rather than a scandalous signal of incompetence when an org leans one way rather than the other).

So I'm curious if community opinion is generally that the EVF purchase was "bad" and the Lightcone purchase was "good"?

If so, and if the explanation is that third wave EA is too large for majority opinion to be that much more nuanced than the public's, I want to double-check that orgs are very aware of this now so that they can factor it in to future decisions.

And if people think that the EVF purchase was bad for another reason, I think that would also be helpful to know.[1]

  1. ^

    Sorry if I've missed something obvious and important here! This is all just one person's impression of how two similar initiatives played out and it's very plausible to me that I've missed a key part of the picture.

The really important question that I suspect everyone is secretly wondering about: If you book the venue, will you be able to have the famous $2,000 coffee table as a centerpiece for your conversations? I imagine that after all the discourse about it, many readers may feel compelled to book Lighthaven to see the table in action!

I think your third bullet is a big one: being open about what they were doing from pretty early on was a good approach, and I expect Wytham Abbey would have gone over much better had they done that.

So I'm curious if community opinion is generally that the EVF purchase was "bad" and the Lightcone purchase was "good"?

I didn't get the sense that there's a community-consensus about the castle as a convenient event venue that you can resell at some point later to make up parts of the costs. Some people were very vocal in their outrage, but many thought it might be totally fine or is at least defensible even if it was a mistake.

It could be that "third wave EA" will contain a norm of accepting that people have different takes on things like that. For example, Lightcone has lately been critical of the direction EA is going, but them advertizing their new spaces here on the forum suggests that they're happy to collaborate with parts of the community that shares enough of their worldview/assumptions. 

they're happy to collaborate with parts of the community that shares enough of their worldview/assumptions

I work at Lightcone and with Lighthaven, and I'm mostly happy to engage in positive sum economic trade with anyone regardless of worldview :) I'm hoping we can rent space for orgs both in the community and beyond merely as means of a good trade that helps us both, and regardless of where we agree or not in other matters. 

The worldview alignment mostly effects where we'd spend our limited ability to subsidize events or run them below cost! 

[comment deleted]2

If you're running an event and Lighthaven isn't an option for some reason, you may be interested in Atlantis: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ya5Aqf4kFXLjoJeFk/atlantis-berkeley-event-venue-available-for-rent 

For a lot more pictures, showing the space in use, here's the Manifest 2023 Communal Album.

(Via the Manifold Substack)

Possible this isn't an accident, but I couldn't find an address for the campus (also, it looks awesome).

[Address removed by moderators.]

I also was not able to find it directly on the website.

It's intentional, though I don't feel that strongly about it.

It's a bit nicer if we can offer people who rent things a bit more privacy and security and have a bit of a trivial inconvenience for random people finding the address of an event hosted here (it's not hard to find if you look for it, but my guess is it still helps to not have it listed directly).

If you're trying to make it a bit more inconvenient you could consider removing one or both street names from the map?

Moderator Comment11

Posting highly sensitive personal information, such as street addresses, is not allowed on the Forum. Although this is the address of an organization's campus, rather than a specific individual, it can nonetheless pose a risk to those using the campus.

It's bit weird to come down like this when the post itself already includes the location of the campus.

As I see it, this was not meant to be a warning, or any sort of "punitive" action. It's clear that Felix was just being helpful, and that the information was pretty public.

I saw it as a reminder of our general policy. It's not always clear how "public" some information is[1], and it's good to err on the safe side and let people decide what information they want to include in their posts and comments online.

You're very free to dox yourself if you want!

  1. ^

    see e.g. the famous case of Scott Alexander's legal name, which has always been very easy to Google, but he understandably didn't want it in the NYT article

Taken literally the personal information policy does not appear (on my skim) to have any exemption for auto-doxing so the post itself is in violation.

Tempted to dox myself, but poking moderators with a stick to see what happens is a dangerous game...

Not in searchable text though?

We're going to need to keep updating our sense of "searchable" as LLMs get better.

(Which means people need to be careful about what they post now -- I remember when everyone thought gating something behind JS execution protected it from search engines.)

My current model is that it not being in searchable text is indeed a pretty big advantage. 

Agree LLMs make this more confusing, but we can edit things as we get to that point. I might also get around to editing the image in the next few days.

This and "tablegate" are clearly the biggest EA issues right now. Moderation team should curate the comment...

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