Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 24 / Day 1 of Washington County Fair, 8/13

Weather: POURING for the first half of the session (including setup), clearer and cool for the second half.

Time frame: 10 am-9:45 pm

Number of people: 13 stoppers/interlocutors, 4 walkbys

Pages of notes: 18, but most of them are poems, or just me scribbling and blathering to stay alert.

Number of hecklers: 0!

People who read the sign out loud in an incredulous, wondering, suspicious or amused voice, without stopping to talk: 3

Money raised for South Kingstown Land Trust: $3.34


Fair foods consumed: Fried pickles

Best non-booth thing I did today: tried spinning on a drop-spindle with the help and instruction of a patient, expert and determined spinner.



From my spot (a bay at one end of a roofed-over structure with lattice partitions), I could see the following trees: red oak, white oak, eastern pine, and some kind of ornamental tree I didn’t recognize with a stout, silky, multi-lichened trunk.


If a kid is interested (even a fair-sized, talking kid) and they’re with a parent and the parent isn’t interested, no one’s stopping.


I can’t figure out what to do with my eyes when someone is standing and looking or pointing, but not approaching.


Some conversations:


The first interaction I have: a woman says, “I love it! I wanna take a picture!” but leaves and doesn’t come back.




[These two were a couple]


Her: Would you like me to help you with your attitude?


My attitude?


Her: You must have anxiety, there’s nobody here!


[I explain the booth.]


Him: Birds — I used to raise ’em. Then I used to shoot ’em, though I didn’t shoot too many. I hit one, I didn’t want to hit him, but I had a load of horses on , and I couldn’t stop.




My problem with the state is it’s not welcoming enough. We’re giving away donated resources, like Arcadia Pond and Beach Pond. They closed the Welcome Center, they closed the picnic stands, they took the trash cans out of the beaches. They wanted people to carry their trash out, which is a good idea, but they don’t offer services, and they don’t put money into recreational opportunities. My ex-husband was in wastewater treatment so I know they do look after that, they try to keep the waters clean. Our highways and our road systems — our towns aren’t wide enough, literally not wide enough to accommodate wider roads.

[After I give her the card] When I was a Girl Scout at camp, we all had to have a bird name and I was Red.




I grew up in RI, and why do all of a sudden we have all these flood alerts, all these flood warnings? 20 years ago we didn’t have these 10-foot puddles. Also Wood River for pollution. I could tell you things … I don’t have time.




I wish Robin Williams could’ve seen you.


That was a shame.


He must’ve had really bad depression.


He must’ve just thought things were never gonna get good again.


I know how he feels. I’ve had some of that, depression.




[These two were friends.]


Friend 1: World tensions — Iraq, Iran, Russia. Escalation. You never know when it could go.


Friend 2: What’s that thing, the cold places are gonna get cold and the hot places — no, they’re gonna reverse? There’s a name for it.


Friend 1: I have inherent faith in science to mitigate some of these privations. That’s the other thing, I think the changes are gonna be gradual.




[These three were friends.]


Friend 1: Being able to get jobs. It’s unsure.


How much of that is in your control versus not?


Friend 1: I can be super ambitious, harass [employers]. I wanna be a doctor, a physician’s assistant or a pediatrician.


Friend 2: What I wanna do — I just wanna have fun. I don’t wanna waste time in a profession I don’t like. I’m not gonna go into the National Guard, I wouldn’t enjoy sitting in an office, or government work. I want to help people, to work with people.


Friend 3: Transportation, overpopulation. Beach traffic. I don’t like feeling crowded.




I’m not anxious about much anymore. I’m 82, I’m a retired veteran, I’m just happy to see another day.




Like, big things? I guess the way communities react negatively to other cultures, other ideas entering [them]. I would like to be more supportive — I try to show support through music. Sometimes I’m silenced as a voice, I feel unable to inform others, or they won’t listen — their upbringing or their understanding doesn’t allow them to fully grasp why it’s a problem. And there can be repercussions if you speak up. My ultimate goal is to get out of there, get into a community with better ideas, more informed.


How did you gain the understanding and the accepting attitude you’re talking about?


I’ve kind of always had a broader spectrum, and I’ve always listened. If I’m talking, I’m also listening. I’ve always had the ability to take in others’ ideas.


Today’s poem:


All these flood alerts, flood warnings,

flood alerts, wandering around

our attention on their own gain

praying the same songs over and

over to test the system doing what we made

it to do or if not us the people

to the people even when they

made things were they even alert did they

constantly flash and gust all of them every

single time clear-cutting or donating

what seems so unlikely nothing

don’t hide the “about” in nothing

don’t hide behind that thick-seeming

multipurpose temporary structure

I look at the clock in my phone

to see when I can allow myself

to have some food to divide the time

between the people of now and

the people of never

keep it going a little longer

but going like doing is only for certain

or only for certainty as it passes

like minutes that feel more

able to be known by belaboring

a way of living that involves football

played in the mud and camping without electronics

overheard as though these things’ main place

or weight wet in time and if the times just changed

or were in some way hastened

prefabricated is the word I was looking for


The view from the booth:

 wcf813 - rain from booth





3 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 24 / Day 1 of Washington County Fair, 8/13

  1. Message from John Brett

    Hi Kate,

    a few weeks ago at the Millerton farmer’s market, I saw your father offer art buttons to a woman and her two children; the two children were immediately engaged and excited about picking out a button, while the mother calmly said “No thanks, I’m OK” almost as if to say ” I don’t need or want a button, if I did something might be wrong, ( at least that’s my projection on “No thanks, I’m OK” ).

    The next time someone strolls by the climate anxiety counseling booth, offer them an art button and let them know that by wearing it, signifies that you are OK, you’ve come to terms with your climate anxiety. Your father has quite an inventory of art buttons that even in his role as Johnny Appleseed, would I’m sure be willing to share distribution duties with you.

    Anyway, I admire your blog, your message and putting yourself out there for the environment. I’ve always admired and liked your poetry.

    Keep up the good work!

    John Brett

    • Thanks for responding, John, and for your idea! I love my dad’s buttons and would love to share them, and I might try to find a way to do that. But I don’t think I want to “tie” it to something else, like the booth, because I feel like part of what’s special about the art buttons is that they are not “tied” to anything but themselves — and the person who’s wearing them! They are beautiful round whole nuggets of themselves, and all their potential is contained within them.

      And the other thing is, I don’t know if “okay” is really what I’m going for here. The things that make people feel sad and anxious and angry about climate change are real — I don’t want to diminish them, but to share them, to help people feel that they are not alone or taking their feelings away.

      All of that said, I am grateful for your thoughtful response to this project and your support!

  2. Pingback: Bonus Material from Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Washington County Fair: Pride and Joy | climateanxietycounseling

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