Climate Anxiety Counseling: Exit Interview

Weather: muggy and warm, with sun and clouds

Number of people: 13 stoppers, plus a few people who remembered me from last time and stopped to chat

Number of hecklers: 0!

Number of climate change deniers: 0

Pages of notes: 8

People who recognized and commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

People who asked (and received) permission to take a picture: 2, 3 if you count Carla Ricci, who filmed us for the first hour!

People who did not ask permission and took a picture anyway: 1

Business cards proffered and received: 1

Tracts proffered and received: 1, in exchange for an organism card

People who want to know more about the climate action resource library: 4

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $13.65. One person put in $10! Don’t forget that if you donate to a local ecological organization, you should let me know and I’ll post it here.


Some conversations: 

What do you love about Rhode Island?

I love it that Roger Williams’s spirit is alive and well. He was an independent thinker and he wanted to make sure that other people could be independent thinkers. Maybe that’s why we all disagree so much. But you know, as often as Rhode Islanders complain, you’ll notice they don’t move. Independent thinking means more creative thinking, and we need some creative solutions. All ideas should be considered.


I was in DC in the ’90s, working on [the] Kyoto [Protocol]. We got crushed like bugs. … I was going around the world with the undersecretary of state, talking to people in these town halls who thought ozone was the same as carbon, trying to figure out the law part of it. Those conversations — people go home and what, they change their light bulbs? So I thought I’d go with the cities, take a city like this, it’s the right scale, it’s near water. 7 billion people on earth and what, 4 billion of them are in urban areas? You can make dense places a nice place to live, but you gotta have infrastructure. You gotta make it pleasant, because cities are the best bet. You’re not gonna get money for green spaces because they’re carbon sinks, you’re gonna get money because the community wants them. 


I grew up in RI, and where we used to play on the beach is now water. I’m now thinking if it gets bad, I’m gonna gather my most favorite people and say, let’s go live somewhere landlocked for a while. I think our planet kind of recycles itself — once humans damage it it kinda fixes itself. When it’s safe enough to come back, we’ll come back. … I love it that in 10 minutes, I can go to the ocean or go to the woods. I love both. That’s pretty much what runs everything — the ocean and the woods.


More education is key — a sense of hope and that we can actually make a difference. The possibility is there to address emissions. But it’s frustrating — when we were working on the legislation and talking to Republican senators and representatives, a few of them were denying climate change existed, though they were a minority — only six reps voted against the bill. But the bill is watered down. It’s not perfect.


Jobs — I have a business right now, but who knows. Jobs, working. The rest is less important to me.

You mean if you have a job, you’re making enough money to live, you’re happy?

Yeah. I don’t wanna get rich — well, I can dream.

Do you share what you make with your family?

Well, it’s a family business, so if they do good, I do good. But I wanna do better. I’m a hairdresser, and eventually I wanna have a spa, that’s my main dream. Right now we gotta work, save some money. Rhode Island isn’t that good for jobs — I thought about moving, but now I’m working with my family.


[This was the child of someone really terrific I’ve come to know through the booth]

The grass around here looks like it never gets watered, or if it gets watered, maybe global warming is heating it up too much.

How can we take care of our stuff, like grass and trees?

Maybe take more time out of our day to care for it?


The reason I don’t worry about it is whatever happens to me is gonna happen to everybody, so we’re all in it together.


I’m collecting community. That tipping point everybody talks about, it’s gonna happen like that. Everybody thinks we’re still gonna have farms, we’re still gonna grow food, and it’s not gonna be like that. We’re gonna be looking at our neighbors for fresh water, for anything we can eat. We’re building a community root cellar — it’s very bunker-like — and we’re guerilla farming, sowing seeds in public places so instead of having lawns we will have food … Transition towns, that’s another thing. Who in your town is a seamstress, who’s got the horses if we need to move things — reskilling, learning the skills that our grandparents had. We’re going to have a town toolshed.

These sound like things people could do right now.

Yes, we’re doing them right now.


The day’s poem:

My own sanity which is somehow

dependent upon hers he said

with an arm around her and an attempt

to put the fear on someone else

the fear dependent upon

everyone not being already dead

we hope the dead fear nothing

we hope the dead need no one

and we may think of this with longing

a continuous state wingless

the world you want to bring out

the dead world out of the living

the searchless out of the seeking

I feel it waiting like a twin

like it too is already here

I want to feel toward my emergent world

I want to push until I feel its bones


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