I’ll be at the Miantonomi Farmers’ Market on Hillside Avenue in Newport’s North End today, August 19th, 2-5pm. If you’re in that part of the world, please come and share your climate-change-related and other anxieties with me, and buy a tomato like this one.
[IMAGE: A small egg-shaped yellow-and-brown tomato, resting on a half-written notebook page in a three-ring binder.]
Today (Saturday, 8/17), for the first time ever, I will offer Climate Anxiety Counseling in the area where I grew up: in Millerton, NY, just over the state line from my hometown. The farmer’s market there runs 10am-1pm, and I will be there to listen to your climate change anxieties and other anxieties. My father, Joel Schapira, will also be there sharing art buttons, as he has for the past few years, and my mother, Diane Schapira, will be selling the pottery she makes. Come and see us.
I’ll be at the Sankofa World Market TODAY, August 14th, 2-5pm, to listen to your climate-change-related and other anxieties. Elizabeth Malloy from Living On Earth will be there as well, and can record our conversation for a radio story if that’s something you’d like. You can also, as always, talk with me without being recorded and even without me taking any notes.
Elizabeth Malloy of Living on Earth was with me, listening and recording (with permission), to see if there’s a story in all of our stories. Elizabeth will be with me at the booth for the rest of the season, at both the Providence and Newport sites, so come along if you’d like to be on the radio.
I’m worried that I lost the chance for an additional conversation by sticking with an ongoing conversation that didn’t seem to be unearthing any new ideas or feelings after a certain point.
One of my interlocutors today asked me, referring to these records of climate anxieties, “Does this go anywhere? Do you use it to support legislation?” Which is a good question! While I often connect people who talk with me to opportunities for action, including ways to support legislation or regulation, I’ve never used the conversations themselves to support either of those things. If anybody has ideas about how that would work, I’d love to hear about them.
Nonhuman animal presences: Hawk carrying something, bronze dragonfly,
honeybee, bumblebee, long-bodied wasp, little fly, sparrows, big
black bee? Or beetle?
[Before I started taking notes on the conversation, this person said that they’re a yoga teacher trying to incorporate some responses to climate change into their classes, and that people have been asking if they can bring their children to class.]
[My family] spent the last year traveling, so I really was not online or reading the news or anything. When I got back it was like boom, the climate really changed around climate change. It seems so much more pressing, which is good in a way. It’s on the news—well, not on Channel 5 … Being a mom and being pregnant again—if it’s really as bad as they say, what will I tell my kids in thirty years? Will they be able to have kids, or want to? [Yoga gives me] the ability to heal … and find my center, but at the same time I don’t want to do nothing. I could be the cleanest, greenest, most carbon offsetting person…but it’s like trying to lift a mountain by yourself. I have a lot of frustration with political systems.
What are you
seeing in your classes and as part of your practice?
I’m seeing a lot of [people] have high level anxiety and not be able to channel it … [Part of yoga is] practicing discipline—not taking the plastic cup and straw. Small things. There’s a lot of possibilities, [ways] to sequester carbon. … Out of the household, I don’t have control. I’d like to think that getting involved with the political process would be effective, but… I try not to cry about a problem without offering a solution, but at the same time I don’t want to give people—to make it seem like it’s not as important to practice discipline. Not harming anyone, not taking any more than you need. “Are you willing to go without air conditioning in your home? What we’re doing is not enough.
What would doing enough have as part of it?
Seeing people around me also making an effort would make me feel like we’re doing something. Leading by example.
How might you
lead by example as a yoga teacher? For the people who listen to you?
I do have a following, but … if I’m constantly posting [climate change articles], my students would stop following me. The last straw for me was: how can I say this stuff unless I’m doing it 100%? Where they’re spending their money and just doing that research requires discipline. I’m willing to be inconvenienced for it, but I don’t expect anyone to make the choices I make. I do what I need to do to lay my head down at the end of the day and feel good.
What can you
say about being a parent in this time?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have two children and teach them the things that have helped me. I don’t want to bring fear or urgency into [their childhoods].
I work for [AN INSURANCE COMPANY], and I work for the sustainability team. We were the first insurance company to offset carbon emissions. I’m one of thirteen “green teams” in the US, basically corporate sustainability. We lead initiatives on each of our campuses, coordinating our efforts when possible. We’ve partnered with local organizations like Save the Bay. … Our building is LEED certified. We have a big recycling event every year, where we collect e-waste and shred documents.
I don’t feel like anything we’re doing right now is enough. We need legislation to ban single use plastics—plastic bags, straws, cups … You can clean up beaches all day long.
What about lobbying, is that something this company does or would do?
We’re a 151-year-old company, we started as a life insurance company, and they noticed that there were a lot of claims and they investigated and found that there was tuberculosis in the community. The president at the time, it was either Roosevelt or Truman, our CFO was a special advisor [on the tuberculosis epidemic]. So as long as it’s in line with the company’s values—
[I pointed out
that if they do property insurance it’s in line with their values]
Absolutely. Our ops team can show how storm severity has increased. We have all the trends.
… I work in marketing, and I know if I want somebody to do something, it has to be relevant to you as an individual and it has to be timely.
[IMAGE: A slightly impressionistic whiteboard map of the state of Rhode Island. In addition to the worries that people have been writing on it all summer about specific places, the lower half of it is now covered in marker lines and textures, about as high as a 2 1/2-year-old can reach.]
I had Elizabeth Malloy of Living on Earth, with me, listening and recording (with permission), to see if there’s a story in all of our stories. She also asked some questions, so if you see italicized text starting with E:, that’s her. (Italics with no initial are me, regular text is people who stopped at the booth.) Elizabeth will be with me at the booth for the rest of the season, at both the Providence and Newport sites, so come along if you’d like to be on the radio.
Sorry about all the [brackets] and …, I had a lot of fast-talking people today!
Nonhuman animal presences: seagull, ant on booth, monarch butterfly, red admiral??? butterfly, pigeons. Elizabeth saw a hawk.
I was having that discussion with some people [at a recent music
festival] and it was really interesting.
interesting about it?
For one, because some people were there who had kind of the same outlook as me, and then there were some people there who didn’t have the same outlook. I think it helped us us understand—well, it helped them understand the situation and it helped us understand where they were coming from. But it seemed like what they were saying was mostly from what they heard, not from what they experienced, where I’m talking from experience. I think it’s really because they’re not really doing their research—they’re just going by what they’re hearing. I try to pride myself on just having conversations, not believing everything I hear.
What were some
of the things they had heard?
That there’s no such thing as global warming. Maybe they don’t even really think about it to try to figure it out, or maybe they don’t even care because they’re not gonna be around…I want to learn more because it takes so long to say anything. Some people who were part of this conversation knew a lot, and they were answering questions that I might’ve had too. I’m worried about what’s going on. I have a son. I live in Newport, we’re right near the water. I need to start learning, because I live near the water, and the tide might come up, and I might go under.
[This person, who works with the Newport Health Equity Zone, has taken on the assignment of asking market vendors and shoppers a different question about disaster each day.]
So my question of the day is: If the bridges were shut down both ways
and you only had two days of food, how would you survive?
people been saying?
People have been saying they’d fish, grow gardens, trade stuff—a
lot of trading. A lot of people said stealing, taking stuff. One
little girl I aasked, she’s eleven, she said she’d look to her
mom—she can’t really do stuff by herself so she’d look to her mom
to carry her. [We’re trying to] find out what people know, maybe do a
little class on survival. People don’t all have the resources they
should or know everything they should. But the idea is, this is
serious, climate change is serious, so what are you gonna do to
prepare for it?
Do you have
ideas about how you’d deal with it if it brings up new fears for
I would let them know that before this time period, people got
through cold winters and they got through hot summers. There was a
past [where people got through harsh conditions] and we can get
through it, and you can get through it. There’s older people I’ve
talked to and they’ve gone through it, they’re eighty years old.
How are you
feeling about climate change yourself?
I don’t know. I’m personally scared. I’m not gonna lie, I just this year found out what climate change was. Now that I’m seeing it I don’t even know a lot of the things we’re using and we’re doing, but I feel like we’re making it worse. I’m really scared. I can say that.
People are scared to leave the island. You have everything you need
here. But with climate change, we live on an island, so if all of
downtown gets flooded, there’s not enough room for everyone to live
up here. Would I be homeless? I’m scared of that. What if I’m a
person who’s afraid of leaving? I mean, I’ve been places, but only
for a week. This is where I’ve grown up, it’s where I was born, I
went to elementary, middle and high school here. I’ve never had to go
anywhere to work for a job, I’ve always found work here. You can
leave, but why would you want to? I don’t know life outside of
Newport—everything is here, all the resources I need are here, even
though there are some resources that could be more.
What do you do
when you feel those feelings that you just described?
I ignore it, I’m not gonna lie. And I feel like that’s the issue.
What do you
think might make people more willing to not ignore it?
Knowing how to survive. If I knew how people work, how things work with electronics…But with things like washing close with your hands—I’m so impatient. I have a dishwasher, why would I spend time and wash each dish by hand?
E: It seems like for you, climate change correlates a lot with survival.
Yeah, like losing what you need to survive. Are you worried about losing other stuff?
… So like speaking for my future … I wanna help people with substance abuse, and it seems like with climate change that problem would get way bigger. No one would want to use that resource [of healing from addiction] because there would be nothing to live for. My Pop, my grandpa was in I think the Vietnam War, and he was getting high because the tragedy from it was so terrible. It’s like you’re not trying to be there, when you really need to be there.
Would you be
willing to let go of some stuff before you had to?
At this point, honestly I would. Having these conversations [from the daily questions] really started to get me thinking about it. If it’s gonna give me a few years of time…
[This person started by reading the map of worries, which says, among
other things, “Too many hotels and not enough parking.”]
many hotels and not enough housing. We
do have homeless people [in Newport]. I think as a native Newporter,
they care more about the tourists than they do about us.
The city, and the tourists too. It’s just expensive to live here.
Is it getting
My rent goes up, my income doesn’t. … But I’m glad I got a roof over my head. I’m not really complaining, I’m just feeling for some people who don’t have that. I have a friend that just sold her house and she’s looking for a place, but every place has a waiting list. I pay almost $300 a month for Blue Cross. This is the richest country, we should have [affordable health care].
. Why do you think we don’t?
We’re probably spending too much money on—maybe we could bring down Congress’s salary. They’re not doing anything. Republicans right now, excuse my language, are sucking up to Donald Trump.
[Talking about mass shootings] What’s sad right now is you’re scared to go anywhere. I remember in ’77, they were talking about nuclear war–I don’t remember if we had to get under the desk.
Are people here
I don’t know anybody here that’s afraid, but I’m sure they are. This
is happening because people are having problems—they have no job,
they have no place to live. I worked for the government for twenty
years in [CITY], and then on the base for a while, and when you work
for the government you realize how much waste there is. Whatever
money you have for supplies, you gotta spend it or spend less next
year. So you’d see people paying $40 for a hammer.
[Candidates say] “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that,” but they can’t do what they wanna do. When I was younger, we picketed the Housing Authority … I talk to a lot of young people and they don’t vote. They don’t care.
Do you know
why? Do you talk to them about it?
I do talk to them about it. I even have a couple of grandkids who
…People don’t believe in global warming. I watch Planet Earth and a lot of things like that. Look at the polar bears, they don’t have enough ice. … It concerns me, but I don’t worry about it. There’s nothing I can do. I think it’s a bigger problem than I can solve. I mean, I can talk to people about it, which I do. I’m at the senior center a lot, they see stuff on the news—well, they mostly watch soap operas.
I have a strong and long scientific background [that has given me] a sense of inevitability and the fact that humans don’t like to face change until we have to. It’s not anxiety anymore. I do have some [anxiety] that people get fixated on the weather, rather than on vectors in the viral sense, effects on monocrop systems—those things are more of a risk to my children.
… I’m a [MILITARY] officer and I try to lead people, and it’s so incredibly difficult to change someone’s mind through a direct, almost attacking approach… [It works better to be able] to say, “This is what I do.” Do as I do, not as I say … I wish it were facts and logic, but it’s not, and even feelings aren’t going to do it. Your values are indicated by what you’re going to do. But I understand the futility of it.
How does change
work in [your branch of the military?]
We’re usually faced with evolutionary change rather than revolutionary change. Part of the problem with [this branch of the service] is that we’re so technologically tied—we can’t separate our intellects from the technology we use…
The Navy and the Department of Defense understand [climate change] as an existential threat to our economic systems and our health as a country. [The Armed Forces] fundamentally do not do politics. Our strategic goal is to maintain the freedom of shipping and communications. No sailors or soldiers are fighting for a political statement. … They’re massively invested [in preparation]–every Department of Defense housing facility is mandated to have solar. Upgrades to systems…We’ve got bases in places that are going to be wiped out really quick. [When something bad happens], we have all these things we’re gonna be able to do, but until the bad thing happens to the right people …
Who decides who
the right people are?
[The military] is subjugated to the will of the people, which is the civilian authority. … The problem is too big for people to think they can do anything about.
While I only had one conversation today, A) it was a great one, as
you’ll soon see, and 2) the market as a whole seemed busier than the
previous few markets. I didn’t check with other vendors to see if
this was the case for them.
Nonhuman animal passersby: cabbage white butterfly, bumblebee, sparrow, dragonfly, tiny ant, starlings, wasp, pigeon, and a butterfly that I didn’t see but that apparently landed on my hat.
Being Native American, we never think about the land and water as ours today. It’s always for the next generations. So it’s extra stressful, not only because of the change that is happening here and today, but because you can already see that Mother Earth—every living creature is like an embryo in her womb, and all living creatures are slowly dying. If I think of what my grandchildren or great-grandchildren’s lives will be, I can’t—will we have to live in constant bubbles and not breathe anymore than half an hour outside of a building? These sci-fi things. It’s so stressful. As much as I would love to be a grandmother, the idea of bringing a child into that world… And coming from a culture where you only live if you reproduce—it makes me really sad.
something you talk about with your kids?
We talk about it a lot, with my daughter especially. She’s extra health-conscious, especially when it comes to foods—she’s the one that’s very sensitive to all of these issues. …One of my sons will get a glass of milk and she’ll be, “Do you know what’s in that milk?” She makes it a main topic in the house. She’s like, “Why are we committing slow suicide.” She’s thirteen.
….How do we make a neighborhood aware of these things and able to deal with these things? It’s almost like you have to recondition everyone. This started years ago, and it’s going fifty times faster than they ever expected. How much quicker is it going now? To make the public be aware of what’s actually happening, they’d actually have to try to do things about it. My son is really into marine life—he’s the Save the Bay kid. Every time we go to the beach he’s like, “Mom, where’s the trash bag?”
Are there any ways that cultural knowledge has helped you and your family deal with this time?
I’ve always taught my kids to pay it forward. To have compassion, to have empathy, in our interactions with others. I don’t know if I set them up to be hurt a lot. But on the other hand, I’m like, “One day humanity’s going to need people like you.” And they know that all living things, from a tree to a flower to a human, [are] just as important as each other. Without one thing, the other will die, until there’s nothing.
… I tell them, feelings and thought are matter, and matter carries energy. Hate’s energy kills, but love’s energy helps things to thrive. … My daughter out of all of us is the most balanced. She sees me looking at people in pain, and dealing with the trauma from ancestral empathy, carrying the spirit of my ancestors, and she says, “Mom, your heart is too big.” I’ll see someone and I’ll be like, “Just let me give ’em a hug,” and that turns into opening the door to them, and that turns into them living with us, and then that turns into their kids stealing from me. My kids over the years have been displaced by other people’s needs. I’ve taught them to give, but how much did I teach them about self-love?
So many people think that [care] has to come back as a direct thing.
But what happens is, you’ll give way over here and you’ll get back
over here. But you’ll know that it’s part of your cycle, because
you’ll be at peace.
… I have to let go of who I was and embrace who I’m going to be. I’m 43 years old. I’m not afraid to recognize that I need help, but it took me a long time to say, “It’s okay. It’s all right to breathe. If you further your education, you can put yourself in positions to open doors.” …If I don’t shut down the old me, I’ll never get to my full potential.
In a way that’s
what the book I’m writing is about: how do we become the people we
need to be in this frightening time?
It’s an emotional burden that I can’t explain. A lot of people don’t think about it because they don’t live in a conscious way. They’re not going to think about it until that last bottle of water costs $300. It’s so heavy.
[IMAGE: A cabbage white butterfly, like the one I saw on this day, on a yellow flower.]
Bring your climate change anxieties and other anxieties to the Sankofa World Market (275 Elmwood Ave, Providence) TODAY, August 7th, 2-6pm. People who talk with me today will have the option to be recorded–Elizabeth Malloy from PRI’s “Living on Earth” is sitting in on some climate booth sessions this summer! You also can still talk with me and NOT be recorded.
For people who’ve never been to the booth: As we start talking, I ask you if I can take notes; after we’re finished talking, I ask if I can quote you here. Your words only show up here if you say yes to both. The same will be true if we record you today: we’ll check at the beginning if we can record, and check at the end if the recording can be part of the show (which doesn’t automatically mean it will be–radio shows have to be edited, and if you have questions about that Elizabeth can answer them).
Come and find out if this is something you want to do! If you’ve talked with me before, and would like a repeat/catch-up session, today would be a good day to do that! Also, tomatoes are coming in, callaloo is delicious, and Kim Trusty is going to sing, so it’s a good day to come to the market. Hope to see you there.
If your climate anxieties are acting up, and you can spare ten minutes or ten bucks, here’s your chance.
National Grid is seeking approval to construct and operate the E37 natural gas pipeline that would cut through Papscanee Island on the Mahicannituck (Hudson) River. In addition to contributing to fossil-fueled climate change, this pipeline would desecrate a sacred place: Papscanee Island, named for a prominent Mohican chief, is a culturally significant part of the homelands of the Stockbridge Munsee-Mohican people. The island holds the bones of their ancestors, the artifacts of their villages, and the memory of their fertile maize mounds. Papscanee Island is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places because of its cultural significance to the Muh-he-con-neok (Mohican) “People of the Waters That Are Never Still.”
Please contact Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary of NY Public Service Commission, at email@example.com to urge the commission to block the pipeline. Reference “Case 19-T-0069” in your correspondence.
People fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia have been imprisoned, with bail set in the tens of thousands.
Here’s the form to indicate the level and kind of your participation (there are many roles and ways to participate, before and during, for people with many levels of experience and/or comfort with risk), and here are the relevant dates.
TOMORROW, 8/1, 7pm, 319 Broadway: Meeting for those who want to be more involved in planning the event. The entrance is street-level and wheelchair accessible and there is a parking lot for the building in the back.
8/11, time and location TBD: Art build (signs, posters, banners) for the event.
8/12, 6pm, location TBD: Nonviolent direct action training for people who are planning to do that.
8/13, time TBD, Wyatt Detention Center (950 High St, Central Falls): The action itself.
Again, reading the form will give you a sense of the possibilities for participation in this action, and you do need to fill it out in order to participate. For updates and questions, and to sign up to get more information directly about this and other actions, email neveragainpvd at gmail dot com.
[IMAGE: People with their arms linked, facing the camera, in front of the fence and barbed wire gate of a brick detention facility. Cops are confronting the people, their backs to the camera.]
It’s going to be another hot one today in the Northeast. If you have elderly or disabled neighbors and know them well enough to call or stop by, please check on them today–this heat hits physically vulnerable people hardest and first. Using less electricity, especially 4-8pm, makes that electricity more available for people who need it for their health and safety and means that power companies will have less excuse to bring additional, dirtier plants online.
I’ll be at the Sankofa World Market outside Knight Memorial Library (275 Elmwood Ave, Providence) today, 2-6pm, to hear your climate anxieties and other anxieties. Get some locally grown vegetables for salad–why turn the stove on, on a day like today?–and some hibiscus iced tea. Learn about No LNG in PVD leader Monica Huertas’s city council campaign and other ways to increase environmental and climate justice in our city and state.