The community I love

One thing I really love about the Effective Altruism movement is the sense of community.

This is really optimised by my experience last week.

On the Tuesday the Effective Altruism Brighton group were crowded around a table in a local, vegan friendly pub debating what we would do if we won £10million on the lottery. In conversation I mentioned that I was travelling to Basel, Switzerland with my work at the end of the week.   A few of our members enthusiastically suggested I should try and meet up with the Swiss EAs. They had after all, rather strangely,  brought some of us in Brighton together, introducing us at the EA Global conference.  I may not have found them but I was not surprised to find so many other people in Brighton committed to doing the most good possible.

Having only met the Swiss EAs once, among a sea of numerous faces at the conference I wasn’t sure about the suggestion but I thought hey I’ll send a message and see what happens.

What do you know I got a reply inviting me to the Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus for lunch.

The Stiftung für Effektiven Altruismus is an independent think tank tackling the most pressing ethical questions of our time. They have an empirical approach to improving the quality of life for as many sentient beings as possible.  They write discussion papers and tackle projects on:

  • Evidence-Based Poverty Reduction
  • Reduction of animal suffering, particularly from factory farms
  • Opportunities and risks of future technologies (for example: artificial intelligence)
  • Promoting Effective altruism in German-speaking countries

Home_Projekte1

Following detailed instructions and Google maps across Basel I found their office and was invited in to share in a batch of Thai curry for lunch among colleagues and other visitors.  This experience was much akin to when I have visited the Giving What We Can offices in oxford in the past;  sharing vegetarian food and lively discussion.

I learnt about their impressive campaigns  to improve conditions for farm animals through their sentience politics project promoting a plant based diet for the moral, health and climate change benefits this provides.  We discussed their highly successful fundraising through the creation of Raising for Effective Giving (REG).  REG encourages poker players to donate a proportion of their – often substantial – winnings to effective causes.

We shared ideas on how to campaign to make government spending on international development more effective, including the work of RESULTS who run targeted campaigns and advocacy on key issues in global poverty.

Finally I got tips for good tourist spots and the best places for wifi to fill what was left of my free afternoon before we wished each other farewell.

It is this sense of community I love.

The idea that I could message relative strangers from another question and be invited to lunch to discuss how we could all do the most good for others in the world.

The EA facebook group is filled with requests for advice and contacts and the forums are a great place for more in depth discussion. There’s an EA self help group to provide a space to support each other and at the EA Global conference in Oxford we were encouraged to share not only what we wanted to get out of the conference but also what we could give.

This community showed me how much more good I can do if I spend my time and money wisely, introduced me to some amazing people and even encouraged practicing skills like blog writing.

We are all united by a desire to make the world the best it can be and we can do that best working together .

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