What is Effective Action/Altruism?
Effective Action/Altruism was developed as a concept in order to better organize the work needed to help others in a way that is most efficient. Within this idea, projects are efficient when they are:
- Great in scale
- Highly neglected
- Highly solvable
While effective action does have a number of issues -such as the difficulties in calculating accurate financial benefits and charitable blind spots caused by having only a select few deciding what is most efficient- it still provides a useful framework to engage with charitable giving and actions to reduce global harm, especially at a time when these issues can feel overwhelming and impossible to adequately solve.
The Stew Crew
The Hood River Forest Collaborative (known colloquially as the “Stew Crew”) was first founded in 2011 as a way for community members to come together and comment on restoration efforts by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). They aim to facilitate engagement and stakeholder discussion in forest management practices within the Hood River USFS ranger district. The Hood River Forest Collaborative is one of 37 public lands collaboration groups in Oregon. In their own words,
“The Stew Crew brings together local residents from the Hood River Valley, watershed organizations, government agencies, tribes, environmental organizations, the forest industry and recreation stakeholders”
The collaborative meets regularly once per month for about three hours at the Hood River Ranger Station and aims to create the best and most effective space possible for individuals and organizations to voice not only their grievances, but their suggestions and meaningful positions related to the management of the Hood River Forest. These suggestions and discussions are then refined and reported to the head of the Hood River Ranger district, where they are taken into serious consideration when final decisions about management are made. The Stew Crew strives to have a powerful and diverse voice that is made up of stakeholders at every level, so that the forest is managed most effectively for everyone that relies on it for their income, for recreation, and as a source of natural beauty.
The Stew Crew compromises between these multiple stakeholders, and as is often the case these compromises can be controversial to individual stakeholders. In forest management there is a complex web of individuals, companies, and land management agencies all with different visions for the land.
Effective Action in the Stew Crew
While the Stew Crew does not directly use the framework of Effective Action, the entire goal of the organization fits with the general themes quite closely. The Stew Crew aims to coalesce the viewpoints of divergent stakeholders through their monthly meetings. Through this the Stew Crew is able to determine the most effective actions to take in order to satisfy the differing needs of their constituents in the most efficient way possible.
By giving everyone involved an equal voice, the Stew Crew has engaged in Effective Action that allows them to refine how to best spend the organization’s time and resources, as well as the voices, time, and power of individuals, to provide the most good to the community. The more people and the more strength behind their initiatives and goals, the more sway they can have when they communicate directly with the agencies responsible for the final decisions about the Hood River Forest. Engagement happens at every level in this case and it shows the effectiveness of people and power when used and directed in the most efficient ways.