Weather: sunny and brisk shading to gray and chilly
Number of people: 22 stoppers, 4 walk-bys
Number of hecklers: 0!
Pages of notes: 12
Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 2
Business cards proffered and accepted: 1
Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $10.00 even! (Most people donated a lot more than a nickel–one guy put in $5.00!)
When people don’t stop but look, they provide a wide range of facial expressions.
The handtruck works great, but it’s heavy. My forearms will be awesome.
I can’t say I feel better, but I’m glad to be doing this.
I’m worried about the financial situation. In the whole country. I’m embarrassed to say this: I work part time so I can qualify for food stamps so my son and I can eat. I was working full time, but I couldn’t afford food. Daycare was $800 and I was taking home $1600 after taxes, health insurance, everything, but my rent was $600, and then utilities. So I would pay a little rent each month and buy food … I went to college, I wanted to be able to sustain myself.
Can I ask why it’s embarrassing?
I just feel like I should be able to support myself. Everybody struggles, but people just don’t talk about it.
What do you imagine when you imagine that kind of future?
That everything’s melted and burnt. So hot that you can’t go for a second without drinking water. Doomsday scenarios. And we know that humans made it, that it’s because of our use of natural resources.
I’m filled with climate anxiety all the time. It doesn’t bother me on a day-to-day basis, because my life is fine right now. But we’re gonna have a planet that’s going crazy–deserts, no food, storms. I feel embarrassed to say that it bothers me, because everything is working fine for me at the moment. But it’s hard to have hope.
What about stuff that you could do to ease things for people who’d be less okay?
What I could do to ease things for people — well, I volunteer, I vote. I do stuff with 350.org.
What about taking someone into your house who was displaced by flooding, something like that?
Well, I don’t even have a house of my own right now. There’s limits to how much I really wanna do. I mean, I like my own personal space. Then you get guilty that you’re not doing more.
(This was part of a long conversation with two people, friends)
Friend 1: It seems like that’s an important thing, scaling down from thinking about the world. There’s some potential in people feeling connected to their homes.
Friend 2: I just learned the difference between a phoneme, which is the smallest unit of sound, like Mu Ih Ll K, and a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning, like MILK. So like the world, that’s a phoneme, but what the crap is the world? It’s not the smallest unit of meaning. How do you break that up–world, countries, communities?
Friend 1: Maybe people need to find their morphemes for themselves — “I’m only gonna think about planting trees in my neighborhood.” And, “What do I want to protect?” … And that could also mean learning the history of the neighborhood and the community, meeting people and learning about people. Do we wanna help each other or help ourselves more?
Friend 2: That freaks me out so much.
I’m worried about the future. I lost my passport two days ago. Also I’m worried about my kids for the future, my family back home, politics, corruption, health.
Is there anything wrong with your health?
Sometimes you feel something … Anxiety itself, if it’s gonna harm me, or someone. My end in this world. My friends. My younger sister, her future.
Do you feel all of these all at once or do they take turns?
All at once.
What do you when you feel all these anxieties?
I sing to myself, or I pray. Mostly I pray.
Today’s poem (from a four-way conversation between participants that went by a little fast):
It’ll all come to us
when we’re gone
30, 40, 60, 70 years
when we’re gone
it’ll come to pass
the north, the south, all gone
humans and animals
will come to pass
will never last
will be a loss
a dead loss and acceptable
where we’re going
it will all be changed
be lost as a whole
or partially the lesson
under the icecap
on the wing and leaking
and getting rich
and giving what you can
to everyone and let loss
and get less
and be given
to everyone in trust
for less and less
held in bewilderment
by someone a stranger
a passerby openly
stepping over the doorsill
as over a body
the livelong day
an invading vine
or a blank isle
what’s the wrong question
how will you give
what’s the right ocean
the living one spelling out
what remains to us
since you asked me
I’ve sat here for over
two hours of people
and passage and seeming
not to stare or staring
like a hole
in a coat
I don’t bother to hide
like a bald spot
a garbage animal unseemly
how they make a living
how to make someone or
something else living
how to make a living thing
how to make a living thing dead
how to make a living thing die
by turning to me
we’re basically dead
we’re basically already gone
no we’re basically dying