Sarah Spikes (Stardust)

is creating The Berkeley Rationality and Effective Altruism Community Hub

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Berkeley Rationality and Effective Altruism Community Hub

The Berkeley REACH (Rationality and Effective Altruism Community Hub) was founded in March 2018. The REACH has been supported by generous contributions from community members on Patreon since May 2018.
The REACH was founded with the intention of serving the local Effective Altruism and Rationalist communities. The space hosts many events:
  • Weekly meetups
    • Tuesdays 8:30pm: Rationalist Meditation
    • Wednesdays 7pm: EA Meetups
    • Thursdays 7pm: Rationality Meetups
  • Bi-weekly meetups (on alternating Tuesdays at 7pm)
    • Bio-Risk meetups
    • Job Hunting meetups
  • Daily co-working in the space
  • One-off community events (Parties, Reading Groups, Game Days, Movie Nights, etc.)
  • Guests staying in the guest bedrooms about half the time

The space also provides:
  • Relatively inexpensive beds for EAs and rationalists visiting Berkeley from out of town
  • Projector/screen for talks and watch parties
  • Piano and guitar available to practice and give/receive lessons
  • Lending library of books, board games, staple clothing items

The REACH is for you

Come visit REACH! You can find out about what’s happening in the space via the Facebook Page, online calendar, or Discord server (ping Stardust on facebook or via email to request an invite).

We strongly encourage community members make suggestions about ways to improve REACH including feedback about types of events you’d like to see, either by chatting with Stardust or by giving direct feedback!

If you would like to run an event at REACH, the first step is to find a REACH Host to agree to co-facilitate, then fill out the Event Request Form. If you’d like to workshop the idea with someone before filling out the form, please feel free to reach out to Stardust or any of the hosts to discuss the idea! We give preference to events that are open to the community, but private events are also possible depending on scheduling.

We also facilitate the REACH panel, which was created to respond to reports of bad behavior from community members. Anyone can report behavior to the panel; if the reporter desires, a sub-committee of panel members will do a detailed investigation of their report.

REACH was originally funded in March through the personal savings of the REACH manager, Sarah "Stardust" Spikes, who was able to sublet the space from the residents of the group house upstairs on a month to month basis. In April, this Patreon was created, with the first payout in May. In July, there were enough recurring contributors for Stardust to commit to the current lease (8/2018 - 9/2019).

Since then, various organizations have awarded grants to REACH.

In October 2018, BERI (Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative) awarded a grant of $24k toward REACH operations for 2018-2019. So far, $10k of that has been dispersed as salary for the REACH Manager, Sarah “Stardust” Spikes.

In November 2018, the EA Meta Fund awarded a $5k grant to for work on the REACH Panel.

In December 2018, CEA (Centre for Effective Altruism) awarded a $14k community building grant toward rent for REACH, which has been dispersed in full to the REACH Bank account.

We have also received a pledge of $40k from an anonymous EA donor, which has not yet been fulfilled. With these grants combined, we can pay the rent and keep the doors open through the end of the lease at the end of August 2019. If the Patreon remains stable, we can also afford to pay a modest salary for managing REACH, as well as potentially paying contractors for part time work.

Please sign up for one of the roles listed, or if there’s some other way you want to help out, REACH out to Stardust directly :)

Note: If you would prefer making a one-time donation rather than recurring monthly donations, use this link or reach out to Stardust about alternative donation options.

Endorsements and Testimonials

In total, over 900 unique people have visited the REACH. You can read what some people have said in support of REACH here:
  • Thoughts on the REACH Patreon, Raymond Arnold
  • Scott Alexander, giving advice to visitors to the Bay Area: "Your best bet is to check the schedule for the community center and show up there when something interesting is happening (or just drop by whenever and hope for the best)."
  • Last Chance to Fund the Berkeley REACH, Cody Wild, Tessa Alexanian, and Ray Arnold
  • Individual Testimonials:
    • I spent a week and a half at REACH during an unusually tumultuous part of the application process for my first full-time software development job, and it played a huge role in helping me to sort through that time. In the weeks that followed I entered the final stages of that application process, (much of the preparation for which continued to happen at REACH during its public coworking hours,) and I was ultimately hired! It's hard to give exact specifics yet, but a significant portion of my salary from this position will go to EA cause areas, and I intend to use the stability and resources this job offers me to reorient toward more impactful work contributing to an EA cause hopefully in the next 1-2 years. In short, REACH has meant so much to me, and it has played a major role in helping me to achieve my dream of having the resources to appreciably improve the lives of others.
    • REACH has definitely made me feel more involved with the EA community and more likely to work on AI safety in the future. I met a bunch of people working in AI safety at EA Global when I was volunteering at it, which I did because Stardust mentioned it at REACH. I’m currently applying to an AI safety role at OpenAI and was referred by some of those people.
    • I work at CHAI, and moving out here I had some logistic issues. When I was in the process of moving to Berkeley from San Fran to be closer to my job, I was able to stay at REACH instead of having to commute another two hours home. This allowed me to search for a new house, which I thankfully found. Without reach, I may have had to stay in San Francisco longer, which would have impacted my work effectiveness and long term health (the commute was a major drag). Also, the events and co-working times have helped me integrate into the community and feel more at home.
    • I moved to Berkeley last year to manage operations for a startup and was familiar with SSC but not with EA. Spending time at REACH when I first arrived introduced me to EA, and I'm now donating more, spending more time in the community, and thinking about working in EA after reading about the need for operations management on 80000 hours.
$2,927 of $5,000 per month
This would allow us to pay rent and do basic upkeep of the space, assuming an average of ~$1000 in income from guest rooms per month.
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