Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 17

Weather: Gray and muggy

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 1 walk-by

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People who asked (and received) permission to take a picture: 1

People who performed their songs for me: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.73



Today was the first day I felt — not exactly scared, but like discretion was the better part of valor.

People tend to lump GMOs in the “environment” category I mentioned yesterday, with one notable exception, who pointed out that they might present an opportunity to feed a lot more people. Note that this is absolutely not the hill I want to die on — I don’t know enough about it. My point is that to me it’s a debate, something I would need to learn more about, and that made me wonder how many people are genuinely in that spot (not falsely in that spot for political expediency) about global warming itself.

Other themes today: the harsh winter, people being directly responsible for animals.

Some conversations: 

We had an unusually cold winter. The homeless problem was worse than ever — people being on the street. The state was doing a good job of giving out food and clothes. Jobs were down, they’re up now for summertime, but they’ll go back down again. RIPTA’s gone up again — it used to be 10 cents for a transfer, now it’s 50 cents. There should be some type of bracelet, I know you can get the 10 ride cards and the 15 ride cards, but there should be two free transfers or something like that, ’cause say it’s late at night and the last bus is here and you only have $1.50 and you need a dollar. You’re stuck, you could be stuck for 7 hours, especially if you have to go to Newport or something. 


Since having him [indicates baby], I’ve thought about the world that’s gonna outlive me. I’ve been reading all these science fiction dystopian novels, like Oryx and Crake, and there’s all this genetically modified organism stuff we’re flirting with now, and in the books that leads to chaos in individual and environmental health. And in all of these books New York, Boston, other big cities are underwater, people can’t go out in the middle of the day because it’s too hot — and they’re set not that far in the future … 80 years from now is probably beyond my scope, but he’ll still be alive, hopefully — and what are his kids gonna see? Kids put it in a longer frame. … [My husband] comes at it from a different political angle than I do, a sort of Libertarian direction. He has this survivalist edge. I put my foot down about having a gun in the house, but he’s got a water purification system, he bought gold, he bought seed starters — things he thinks will be good in these times of collapse. And I’m thinking, “Oh, the water purification system will be good for camping, the seed starters will be good for gardening.” But because of him I’ve started thinking, what would we do if there was this crazy collapse? I’ve sort of taken stock of: What would my skills be? We make beer and wine, we could trade those with people, and I’m not a big gardener but I know how to grow things. I grow tomatoes every year. Just thinking what things we could do to sustain or be part of some sort of localized trade.

Do you ever do stuff like that now? Like, do you ever trade the beer you brew?

I have done something like that. I baked a bunch of bread for someone I was taking laughter therapy classes with. And I’ve traded public speaking lessons for stuff, though I don’t know how much demand for that there’ll be in the dystopian future. And we’ve traded beer with a friend of ours who roasts coffee, not out of necessity but just like, “Hey, have some of this …” Being aware of the community around you, like, I’ll look out for my neighbor and if something’s awry, I’ll tell them so they can do the same for me.


Uncertainties about next year–a new city, a new job, housing. I’m anxious, but it’s exciting. I’m hoping to work in some kind of nonprofit context — my work with refugee communities here has been really important to me. Maybe a caseworker? 


If they could just shut down all the coal plans in the country this year — I mean, I know people would lose a lot of power. But like, Germany generates 4 times as much solar as us, and they’re a cloudy country. Why don’t we just take all of Nebraska and make it one big solar panel? I don’t really mean that, but little ones here and there, like every time you build a new house it has to have solar panels. And we’re blessed with many rivers. I know they do have some hydroelectric power. They have a pool of energy, right? If there’s more than they use, they can put it back into the grid …

[He points out the mallards that hang out in the park, and we look at them together.]

I don’t feed pigeons, I don’t feed sparrows, they’re invaders, right? From England? They drive away bluebirds, you almost never see a bluebird around here anymore. I was in a shelter once in Cranston and there were all kinds of animals there. Groundhogs, the fattest squirrel, a lot of sparrows. There are a lot of hawks near there. I saw a red-tailed hawk right outside my window, he was looking at himself in the window. 


My parents. My dad is 100 years old, we almost lost him 3 times. My mom is not too good either, she’s 94. They’re in a nursing home in Providence. I come from another country — Puerto Rico — and people there respect their mother and father. Here, I see kids talk back to their mother, hitting their father. In Puerto Rico that would never happen.


Something that I think about a lot is that — I think about larger systemic stuff too and I don’t mean to make it about me — I’ve found a community here that’s the most important thing I’ve ever had, and I feel so rooted. I want to keep living here, and I feel like I will — it would take something catastrophic to drive me out. But 3/4 of the weather here makes me miserable and holds me back from doing things I should be doing. I come from a place that’s mild, and the seasons I love are spring and fall, and I feel like those last two weeks each. Then either it’s brutally cold or wearing clothes is miserable, and I don’t want to leave the house. I’m kind of prone to hanging out by myself in my room anyway, and that’s not good for me. I need to be around people. I’ve been doing better with that, but that’s partly because the weather has been kind of a pleasant medium, and I know that’s not going to last. I thought I was doing well with winter, getting tougher, but then this last winter was so harsh.


Today’s poem:


I grow in the ground

I am written down

I find myself rooted

I’m bearded and etched

I’ve secreted my shell

some of these things are true

I rot a bird

I listen to music

I wear myself down

I scare myself out

some of these things are true

I’m a three piece suit

I make irritant oil

I’m a gift and a theft

some of these things are true

my dander is up

my voice is rough

some of these things are true

some of these things are true





3 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 17

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Reflections on Week 4 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 6/4, 4/21 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 6/5, 7/6 | climateanxietycounseling

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