Part-time Community Health Coordinator at EA NYC
Full-time social worker
Be more kind.
Are you new to the EA community? Are you super-interested in the movement, but worried you might not fit in? Maybe you've been around for a while, and you have some concerns. Talk to me; I'm a non-cookie-cutter EA and it's okay for you to be one, too.
Are you interested in/currently doing EA community building? I want to hear from you, too! This work can be hard and we need to learn from each other and lift each other up.
Are you thinking about visiting (or moving to) New York City? Let me tell you why this is a) the greatest city in the world and b) an amazing place to do effective altruism! Or at least, let me help you connect with the local EA group and find the best vegan food.
Are you an EA-inclined social worker/considering a career in social work? (Look, it could happen! There's at least three of us.) SAY HI! I've been doing this work for ten years and I still love it.
I'm heartened to hear that this project is underway, and I'm looking forward to being able to use this information to make our communities (local and global) better. Thank you, Catherine, Anu, and Łukasz!
Please feel free to reach out to me if I can be helpful. I don't have data to share at this time, but I want to support and encourage you in this work if I can.
I agree! Thank you to the Forum mods and the CEA Community Health Team for doing the hard jobs that make our community possible.
That said, I'd like to suggest that the absolute best way to thank them is to please not make their jobs any harder.
Even if you're "one of the good guys", think about how you can extend and expand that goodness through the community by promoting norms and values that steer us away from future problems. We all have a part to play in supporting a healthy EA community.
Seconding this. As someone who grew up with a strong Christian identity that I no longer hold, my conversations about faith and EA with JD and other EA for Christians folks have been very positive.
Enthusiastic agree! I would also love to see this at an EAGx, and to see basic financial literacy information brought to student groups as well.
It doesn't have to (and probably shouldn't) be super-advanced, but giving folks a basic understanding would go a long way.
Be honest with your mentees. Share your feelings of concern and diminished confidence. Your value as a mentor isn't that you have nothing left to learn; it's that you're slightly further along the learning process and you're willing to share.
So, here you are, learning your way through the current crisis (as we all are!). To my mind, the advice and guidance that you can offer now is even more important, because the lessons that you're learning (against hubris, towards greater humility and carefulness) are worth sharing.
Model the behavior you want to see in your mentees. Don't quit now. Learn and try to to better.
I was on the fence between posting this under my name vs. using an anonymous account. I decided to go ahead, because this is something I've discussed with other folks and it's something I feel pretty strongly about. I wanted to write this comment both to validate your experience and to say a few words about how I see the path forward.
I've had those experiences too: feeling dismissed, shut down, or like I'm not worth someone's time.
But - and maybe this is because I have a stubborn, contrary, slightly masochistic, "oh yeah? I'll show you" streak - I stuck around. I'm not saying that this is the only way to go; if hanging out with other people in the EA community is causing you pain, I don't want that for you and it is 100% OK to go and do your own thing.
But if you can: stick around.
Because here's the thing: not everyone is like that. I'd go so far as to say that folks with the attitude above are in the minority. There are SO many humane, warm, kind people in this movement. There are people with a sense of humor and a healthy bit of self-doubt and a generous willingness to meet others where they are. When I hang out with them, I feel inspired to work harder and do more good and to continue to be part of this community. And I've made it my task to find those people, encourage them, and make sure they stick around too.
If you (and I'm addressing anyone reading this, not just James) have a vision for what you want a given community to look like, you can stick around and help bring it to life. We get to create the communities we want to be a part of - how awesome is that? For my part, that's what I'm striving to do. And I'm here to encourage others to do the same.
Thank you for this post! I'm a loud-and-proud advocate of the "big tent". It's partly selfish, because I don't have the markers that would make me EA Elite (like multiple Oxbridge degrees or a gazillion dollars).
What I do have is a persistent desire to steadily hack away at the tremendous amount of suffering in the world, and a solid set of interpersonal skills. So I show up and I make my donations and I do my level best to encourage/uplift/motivate the other folks who might feel the way that I do. If the tent weren't big, I wouldn't be here, and I think that would be a loss.
Your new GWWC member's EAGx experience is exactly what I'm out here trying to prevent. Here is someone who was interested/engaged enough to go to a conference, and - we've lost them. What a waste! Just a little more care could have helped that person come away willing to continue to engage with EA - or at least not have a negative view of it.
There are lots of folks out there who are working hard on "narrow tower" EA. Hooray for them - they are driving the forward motion of the movement and achieving amazing things. But in my view, we also need the "big tent" folks to make sure the movement stays accessible.
After all, “How can I do the most good, with the resources available to me?” is a question more - certainly not fewer! - people should be encouraged to ask.
Thank you for writing this and for posting it here. Thank you for sharing your own story and experience.
We all have a responsibility to this community, and to every community we're part of. I've been thinking for a while about bystanders, and how to encourage folks to think about "community health" not as law enforcement or emergency services, but as the atmosphere that we are all engaged with (for better or for worse, whether or not we realize it). The metaphor of a collectively shouldered burden is really good.
I hope your post is widely read. Please know that I appreciate it.