Dion

160SingaporeJoined Mar 2022

Bio

Community organiser at EA Singapore and Communications officer at Pandemic Prevention Network.

diontsh@gmail.com

Comments
4

Hi Jonathan!

I'm Dion from EAGxSingapore, one of the two community contact people for the event. I'm sorry you felt this way during the conference and wanted to clarify some points.

  1. We did not monitor attendee interactions or 1-1s during the conference. The only exception where we kept track of attendees was for the underaged participants, as alcohol was served during the event. This was explicitly stated to the affected individuals.
  2. It was a priority for us to have a local community contact person. (Me!)  However, I (personally) felt that our other contact person was valuable as he had much more context on the EAs flying in from outside the region than any other person on the team. The decision was also partially made because the two of us were the most likely to be contactable since our responsibilities during the conference allowed us to be on our phones/laptops more than the others.
  3. The community contact persons did not work in isolation. Whenever an issue was raised, we would consult each other, the rest of the team, and sometimes CEA's Community Health team or the local group organizers relevant to the situation to get as much context as possible. For the cases in EAGxSingapore, we preferred to have people sort it out themselves unless we were explicitly requested to step in.
  4. The staff for the conference were probably walking/looking around a lot more than at other events. However, this was because we underestimated the required clean-up crew and were on the lookout for trash lying around.

Happy to discuss any other feedback that you have about the conference!
 

Thanks for pointing this out, it is an important consideration, and this might not be a good exercise depending on the audience present.

For EAGxSG, it was definitely being more afraid that the audience would err on the side of not asking for help. I also checked with some experienced EAs at the conference on whether or not this was something I should mention. Context: The attendees of EAGxSG were mainly from areas without large established EA communities (Africa, Asia, Middle East), and many of them would likely not be able to go to other conferences due to visa issues or other factors. This meant they would have to reach out directly to other EAs solely based on their (scarier) internet profiles without opportunities to build rapport or meet people in more casual social settings. 

Part of it was also because this is a talk, and asking a longer question with caveats might mean that I lose the audience's attention. The initial thought was probably more of 'If you had the emotional bandwidth, time, work capacity and ability to help an EA, putting aside any imposter syndrome, would you?' 

Answer by DionMay 18, 20221

My favourite thing about using the word retreat (that also comes with the downside of point 2) is a sense of intentional community building that other terms like workshop and summit don't capture. On top of this, it seems pretty clear that EAs relate to and run retreats quite differently from the average person. My sense is that we might run into similar issues with any other term we pick, e.g. parties at a 'workshop' or intense work rooms at a 'team-building event'.

It might be worth coining a new term similar to how we have made EAG/x a common word instead of relying solely on the word 'conference'. I don't have any meaningful creative inputs on this yet, but the low bar would probably be something along the lines of EA___.

Adding onto this, the Virtual Programs (Introductory) currently has 3 weeks dedicated to Longtermism, Existential Risks and Emerging Technologies whereas there are little to no compulsory content on poverty, global health or climate change. (except Pandemics) Many of my participants have voiced out on this. If facilitators are not able to give a good answer, it can be easy for newcomers to have a skewed perspective that EA is just longtermism and x-risk.