I'm a senior at The University of Chicago, majoring in Public Policy. Highly uncertain about how to integrate EA with my career path but trying hard, hopefully through some intersection of policy + narrative change + movement-building.
Something I haven't tried but might be interesting is to volunteer to complete tasks you find interesting/relaxing/fun for EA orgs (e.g. graphic design or copyediting). You can find opportunities on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1392613437498240/), Impact CoLabs (https://www.impactcolabs.com/) and EA Work Club (https://www.eawork.club/)
Spreadsheet for categorizing opportunities: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tJtJ6lpIjE7Dv5hUo_HCXb8mNGYvDgiQSQYvNfJGJyU/edit#gid=1264761950
Note: My answer isn't about the highest-impact thing you could do. I also don't face (EA-related) guilt/anxiety about downtime because I repeatedly remind myself that I need not to burnout.
I reserve an hour each night as 'transition time' between work and downtime, with half of that hour being dedicated either to therapy (which is important in sustaining myself so I can solve important problems) or reading tabs (so I can prioritize them and not waste 'work time').
The latter might be more relevant here. I use Notion to clip tabs, such as Forum posts, that seem interesting and categorize + prioritize new tabs at the end of the night. Then I start going down my reading list until I reach the end of my allotted transition time. This both saves precious non-dead time and seems like a productive, EA-related use of dead time (in that I often learn more about EA during this time).
Really appreciate and resonate with the spirit of this post. Something that's always intrigued me is the distance between the EA-flavored futurism that permeates the current longtermism community, and Afrofuturism. Both communities craft visions of the future, including utopias and dystopias, and consider themselves 'out of the norm.'
I suspect it's in part because the EA community generally does not talk much/explicitly about race and racial justice.
Hmm okay! Thanks so much for this. So I suppose the main uncertainties for me are
Really appreciate you helping clarify this for me!
I know that carbon offsets (and effective climate giving) are a fairly common topic of discussion, but I've yet to see any thoughts on the newly-launched Climate Vault. It seems like a novel take on offsetting: your funds go to purchasing cap-and-trade permits which will then be sold to fund carbon dioxide removal (CDR).
I like it because it a) uses (and potentially improves upon) a flawed government program in a beneficial way, and b) I can both fund the limitation of carbon emissions and the removal, unlike other offsets which only do the latter.
However, I recognize that I have a blind spot because I respect Michael Greenstone. Some doubts:
If anyone has thoughts, would appreciate them!
yes! i've read some of her posts too but alas, forgot about them too (hence the need for this post i suppose). will add, thank you for your fantastic flags!
i also subscribe to those tags so i should probably add the ones that i've enjoyed too : )
ah, great flag, thank you! i've watched Helen's talk before and found it helpful, but forgot to put it in, so i'll add that in now.
also adding a section for resources that i haven't personally viewed, for posterity. very much appreciate this!
On board with you there! I think there's a lot of great people already trying to do that, like yourself or Catherine Low, but perhaps to inconsistent effect. This might warrant me sitting down with my group and trying to figure out how we got motivated to organize in the first place. : )
Completely not surprised by your experience re: community building being rewarding. As someone who's been very connected to non-EA communities in the past, I definitely think community-building doesn't need to compromise non-community-building priorities! After all, you're directly shaping the future of the EA community and testing the messaging of EA on-the-ground and building connections throughout. Truly, community organizers are doing so many things all at once.
Again, very inspired by your + your group's example. So grateful for all the work you do to publicize your experiences and spread best practices!
That makes sense, thank you for expanding on the timeline! I also really appreciate your acknowledgment of other factors. My original comment (intentionally) discounted the many other factors that contribute to a group's success, simply because I am confident that my group has a better-than-average mix of factors and so should not be at its current state.
I 100% agree that it's not a binary trade-off and in fact, if someone is potentially interested in community-building as a career, this could be one of the highest-impact things to do. Even if not, I also agree that exclusively maximizing for EA career prospects is not necessarily the best community norm to set!
Another reflection: I think the belief in community-building as being EA is really helpful in sustaining an effective team. I am fairly confident that has played a significant role in the lack of progress my group has made.
For example, the current organizing team for my group was, as far as I know, 'picked' quite haphazardly. I personally just fell into leadership - I was asked to help lead the Intro Fellowship and I guess the existing team assumed I'd also be helping organize the group - and while I love EA community-building as a cause area, I don't see it as the highest priority. Hence, I've gotten much more caught up in other areas such as improving institutional decisionmaking, which has led me to prioritize my personal career over organizing. I don't know much about my other organizers but I know that, for at least one of them, that seems to hold true (except they are more oriented towards AI).
All this to say - I think the occasional reminder that this work has the potential to be very high-impact might be a low-effort yet significant way to boost an EA group's chances of success! Similarly, if one is in the position to be selective about the next generation of leadership, selecting for people who genuinely believe that would be helpful.