Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 3

Weather: Gray, humid, cool.

Number of people: 14 stoppers, 6 walk-bys, 2 drive-bys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 12

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

Number of people who asked (and received) permission to take a picture: 1

Business cards proffered and accepted: 1

Flyers for other events proffered and accepted: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $4.44



Groups of high school friends are 100% beautiful.

When someone who looks white and affluent walks by without stopping, I catch myself thinking you have no excuse.

At 4:36, four people rolled by on Segways.


Some conversations: 

[I could barely hear this person, who stood back, tucked inside their hoodie, and gave me a dollar.]

It’s getting harder and harder / hotter and hotter.

It’s gonna be more than we / I can bear.


[A woman and her two sons came up to the booth.]

Her: The economy. Jobs. I’m going to Florida because I’m living in a shelter here. My mom lives down there.

Do you get along?

Her: Yeah, as long as I can find a job down there —

[The boys are looking through the organism cards.]

Boy 2: I don’t like that one.

[I hand him the woodchuck.] Is this one good? 

Yeah. What is this? Can I have this pencil? [goes to take the dollar out of the donation jar.]

Boy 1: Do you have any good ones? Can I look at these? Do you have any sharks?

How do you feel about a spider? 

Boy 1: Yeah, a spider.

Boy 2: Do you have any other spiders?


[This person came by two days ago and is back.]

Did you wanna know what I’m anxious about with the environment or what I’m anxious about in my life?


I’m very concerned about the environment. I think people are ruining everything, and not really all people. I think it’s capitalists. I’m worried that my son’s not gonna have clean water.

[She gave me a flyer for a Coalition to Defend Public Education event on May 29th, 5-7 at the Elmwood Community Center.]


I was just reading in the paper, the ticks and Lyme disease is gonna double because of the cold winter. It was 732 and now it’s over 1400. 


I’m worried about the food, food production. I’m worried about extreme temperatures and flooding. I’m worried that the people who seem to have the power to make these decisions don’t. I’m worried that it’s too late to institute changes that will halt the state that we’re in, melting ice caps–how anyone can say nothing’s going on, after what happened in New York … I’m worried about places like Mumbai, where there are millions and millions of people. It’s paralyzing. The only thing I feel like I can do is be an example–the way I live is the only thing I can do to effect any kind of change. Nagging doesn’t help. I feel more efficacy when I do things that help a little bit. Simple recycling of things–trying to live a little lighter where I can. Talking to people about it that seem open to it, without being preachy and frightening. The only power we have is the way we respond to things–listening to other people, responding in a way that’s as gentle as possible. Not everyone is as blessed as I am. I have no responsibilities, I don’t have to worry about anyone else, and not everyone can do that … My I propose or just suggest that you not be too hard on yourself. You don’t need to carry it. You can share it with other people. All these things add up. When the sadness and the panic and whatever are overwhelming, look at the things you do have control over. It’s not good to be knocked over by a tidal wave of misery. I feel much more positive now than I did 10-12 years ago. What happens in life, in the world, all I can control is how I respond. I can’t be affected by all these other people’s stuff.

What if we were affected by other people’s stuff?

How much do you want to try to balance that? Do I pick up other people’s trash? Sometimes I do. All of these little decisions–I’m only one person and there are giant corporations and corrupt governments that are running the show. I join organizations, I give money to organizations. I vote. I’m not gonna take anyone on verbally unless they’re physically harming another person. Intention is everything, I think that’s kind of the way I’m rolling. I spent a lot of time just feeling bereft–you can’t really help if you’re feeling such despair. 


I’m trying to get a room in a sober house. What can you do when you’re not safe, when you’re in a place that’s not safe, like Kennedy Plaza, and you can’t get a place to sleep?

[Other woman who’s talking to me: Did they give you a time frame?]

No, they just said there’s a waiting list, kick rocks, kid.


A big wave, a tsunami. 


Probably the water goes inside of Rhode Island, you know?


I have to walk three miles each way to pick up my daughter, and I worry about getting hit by a car. I worry about student loan debt, I worry about work-life balance. It’s hard because I feel like I do good work, but then I have other things that need me.


I work in a boatyard. We’ve seen some damage from storms. But I know some rich people who live on Nantucket and they moved their house back 150 feet because in 10-15 years the house is gonna be in the water. All these people with waterfront property–in 10 years, who knows if the boatyard’s gonna be above water. Where’s the water all gonna go? The state’s not gonna help, the federal government’s not gonna help–120 employees, they’re not gonna do anything for that. There’s definitely something happening. The colder weather doesn’t mean anything.


I lost my place to live, so I’m homeless, and my girlfriend broke up with me.I’ve been clean for 95 days.

Is there anybody you can ask to stay with?

Nobody trusts me anymore because of my heroin addiction. I’m looking at jail time, I don’t want to go to jail but I’m looking at jail time because of some things I did … So what is this?

So the thing I’m worried about most is what climate change is gonna do to Rhode Island, because I live here and I love it here. So I wanted to find out if other people are worried about that, or what are other people in Rhode Island worried about.

80% of the summer days are humid now because of fluctuations in climate. If you raise the ocean a single inch it can kill thousands of species. The John Curran Reservation, you know that? I grew up in those woods. Every year it’s more garbage, more pollution, deforestation. They wanna build more cell phone towers. What I hate the most is people who say, “What is me littering gonna do?” People who say, “The earth and everything are gonna be here in my lifetime, fuck everybody else.” If you and every other person made the difference, it would make a difference. 


Today’s poem:

I want each person who stops to tell me how I can become something else, something that will flow like nourishment into the veins of dying leaves and their world. I want to become a transfusion, to remove all my structure and reduce to my nutrients and water. I want someone to tell me the secret of this, someone with wisdom locked in them, maybe something that isn’t even wisdom for them, but will unlock my marrow and unknit my sinews, something that will precipitate the heavy metals to the bottom, making me useful, used, undone.

4 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 3

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Looking Back and Looking Forward | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/15, 4/3 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/15, 4/26 | climateanxietycounseling

  4. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/28/16 | climateanxietycounseling

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