(Andrew is a pseudonym because he is a little worried about showing up in an internet search; please respect that and do not use his real name when posting below).

Andrew is an established and valuable member (link to highest voted post) of the LessWrong community. Sadly, he is without a tribe; he lives in a relatively small city where he has not found a tribe to belong to despite considerable effort. Being part of a tribe would improve Andrew's life considerably. Andrew is not attached to the area and quite willing to leave, doesn't know how to taskify getting himself a tribe. 

Big decisions like moving are often easier and better executed when made with outside input. Therefore, I am putting together a Special Relocation Task Force to aid his efforts. 

Besides helping Andrew, I am also interested in answering the question 'will rationalists be good at this?'. They should be; rationalists should win. If they are not, something is wrong and I want to know about it. This experiment seems like a good way of answering that question.

Here are some basic facts about Andrew:

  • He currently works in aerospace
  • He has a mechanical engineering degree
  • He currently lives in Texas
  • He would prefer a job that more fully uses his intellectual skills and pushes him to his limits 
The Special Relocation Task Force will consist of 5 or fewer people (including Andrew and myself), and will attempt to help him figure out how to find a tribe that fits him well and figure out how to get him there. Andrew does not expect this help to be handed to him on a silver platter, he expects to be the most involved member of the task force and to do most any hard work involved. 
The Special Relocation Task Force will need to answer questions such as the following:
  • Should Andrew move?
  • If so where?
  • How does one go about finding a good job near a satisfactory tribe? 
  • What kind of job should he get?
Here is my initial plan for the task force: 
  1. Select 5 or fewer people (including Andrew and I) for the task force.
  2. Choose how to coordinate task force. Forum+skype, email-list+video chat, etc. ? 
  3. Initial meeting
    1. Discuss the details of Andrews issue
    2. Discuss the contours of the issue (hold off on proposing solutions)
    3. Propose broad directions 
    4. Select overall direction(s)
    5. Break up mission into tasks
    6. Assign tasks to people 
  4. Work on assigned tasks
  5. Meeting
    1. Share results of tasks
    2. Further taskification 
  6. Return to step 6 unless done.  
Now is your chance to help Andrew win! If you would like to volunteer to be on the taskforce, please say so below.  If you have relevant experience, mention that. What skills/experience/knowledge is useful? Two things that come to mind are 1) having moved a lot 2) knowing about finding engineering jobs.
If you have advice but do not want to volunteer that is also welcome. 
If you have questions about Andrew, feel free to ask those as well.
EDIT: I tentatively intend to select the task force Tuesday evening (PST).
I expect participants will find this fun.



New Comment
26 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:04 AM

I'll volunteer (I have the extra benefit of having met Andrew before), with the caveat that the quality of any contributions I make may fall off a cliff around May 17th.

It looks like you already have 3 volunteers, but if it doesn't work out, or for whatever reason at all, consider me volunteered as well.

I've moved a few times (on my own), though I'm just out of college so they weren't super large affairs. I also have an (electrical) engineering degree and have done some searching and applying to engineering jobs, but I don't really have much experience. Another possibly useful bit of knowledge is that I've been in the San Francisco Bay Area for about 4 months, getting to know the area and community out here. We aren't New York yet, but the community out here is good and getting better fast.

I don't check my lesswrong messages often, the best way to get in touch would probably be frank dot c dot adamek, at gmail.

Great! I will do that.

Can you keep some sort of record of how this goes? You do mention privacy concerns, which could be an issue, but it's likely that many other people could benefit from whatever you learn about how to do something like this.

Yes, I fully intend to do this.

I am volunteering to be considered. I don't know anything about engineering jobs, and I've moved a few times, but not a ton. I'm good at organizey stuff, and I know a little about low-cost living strategies which make "getting a proper job" less urgent when you move. I have had several positive tribe experiences, as well as some negative ones. I don't currently live near a LW meetup.

I'd expect that there are other people better qualified than I to help, but I am willing, and so I wanted to give you the option in case for whatever reason no one better volunteers.

In any case, I wish Andrew the best of luck in finding a tribe!

I'm not volunteering because I strongly doubt that I'm in the top three people who can help you, but I wish you a good outcome, Andrew!

So many upvotes and so few comments! I don't know how I can help, but if there's a way I can help, then I'm in.

Well, you know how to get programming jobs, which I'm open to.

Actually I'm not sure about that. Finding good jobs has always been suspiciously easy for me, compared to almost everyone I know. Naturally good swimmers can be awful teachers if they never faced the same difficulties that their students are facing.

I will gladly answer any specific questions, of course. Just not confident that I can give good general advice.

I'm underqualified for both, but I know quite a few engineers in the DC area.

Anything you want me to ask them?

Ask them how to change employers or get connected with a contracting agency ("job shop" in the lingo here).

Could someone clarify "tribe"? Is it synonymous with "established LW meetup"?

If so, I don't know if I'll be much help. If Andrew wants to brave the MN cold, there's quite a few potential job options here: 3M, Honeywell, Boeing, BAE, Alliant Techsystems... I work at one of these and interned at another.

I'm considering MN to be low on the list, though (does 2 = tribe?); if so, then I'm not positive what I can offer as I haven't moved much and can't see being useful at finding out of state jobs.

If this moves to another medium (outside LW), I'd be happy to follow things over there and help if I can, though.

As an aside... I'll be in Pheonix, AZ memorial day weekend... don't know if you know anyone around there that you could go visit, but it'd be cool to meet you in person. I'm there for an in-law's graduation and won't have much travel leeway, unfortunately. Just thought I'd throw it out there...

In this case 'tribe' just means a group of peers he can relate to well and feel like part of a group with. That might be an established LW group or it might be something else.

I don't know anyone in Pheonix, but try searching the discussion board for 'pheonix' and/or making a new post about it.

Edit: There's a meetup group! Arrange to meet them!

Thanks for the clarification. One option to find "tribes," though unreliable, might be to search various meetup.com cities with words like "rational," "skeptics," etc. I'm a member of the Minnesota Atheists meetup and get related suggestions for "Minnesota Skeptics" and "Humanists of Minnesota" and "Twin Cities FreeThinkers" -- just a suggestion. Meetup.com and similar sites might reveal avenues to find similar-minded folks.

Well, i've started a LW meetup for my area ... hoping to draw some more rationalsts out of the woodwork.

That's an excellent suggestion.

I may look into that. I was directing that bit at Andrew, as we have skyped and I thought he was around that neck of the woods. Far-ish, but closer than MN, that is :)

Agree with jsalvatier's reply. Also, I think you could do a referral for 3M positions outside of MN. I probably wouldn't mind MN, if there were a tribe there, except maybe the distance from family. (I actually slightly prefer coldness and sweat easily from heat even when not tired, although maybe that's a thyroid issue I should resolve.)

Thanks for the clarification. As for tribes... not quite sure and trying to find that out myself, actually. There's Minnesota Atheists, Humanists of MN, Minnesota Skeptics, and Twin Cities Atheists (not looking so active). Anyway, that's about all I know -- I'm trying to find a more regularly meeting "tribe" of my own, in fact!

Added: Yes, I can provide referrals, but I find that much easier to do when I know of the opening myself and can have a face to face recommendation based on first order relationships. While I can probably recommend for any plant/site in the country, I think my voice counts more for person-to-person cases. I was able to get a fellow university engineering grad a job in my very own group, in fact! Well, he pulled his own weight too and had to interview against several other candidates, but I like to think that my vouching counted for something.

I'm also not very qualified to help, but I'm very interested in what comes of this venture.

Good luck, Andrew! I'm hunting in the engineering job market too right now, so I sympathize.

Good luck Andrew.

Should your relocation flukishly land you in Sydney, Australia, I will do what I can to help you!

But this is a very cool utilization of the LessWrong community. I'm excited to see how it goes.