Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 26 / Day 4 of the Washington County Fair, 8/16/14

Weather: Sunny and calm, turning gusty and dusty and cooling off later.

Time frame: 10 a.m.-12:10 pm, 1:30 pm-9:45 p.m.

Number of people: 26 stoppers, 20 walkbys

Pages of notes: 12

Number of hecklers: 1, sort of

People who read the sign out loud in an incredulous, wondering, suspicious or amused voice, without stopping to talk: 41 (that is not a typo)

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 5

People who asked for, and received, permission to take a picture: 1

Money raised for South Kingstown Land Trust: $2.25



Fair foods consumed: A very long pulled pork sandwich.



Best non-booth times today: Another tie!


1: Walking in Potter’s Woods with Susana and Stella, looking at mushrooms with Stella, which I then drew for #RIorganisms cards.


2: Walking around with dreamboat James McShane and looking at the fair together.





People really liked to say that the person they’re with “needs some counseling.”


A lot of people at the fair also had crowd claustrophobia that they wanted to talk with me about.


Hair theme: short, brightly dyed mohawks on kids and a few adults.

I’m not sure the heckler in question was really heckling, though both James and Susana thought so. I’ll tell you what she did: she walked by, laughing, which a lot of people do, and then she called back over her shoulder, “It’s too late!” I felt heckled, up to and including rage-crying, but what do you guys think? Leave a comment or tweet at @kateschapira.



Some conversations:


There’s no support for people with bipolar disorder in Rhode Island. I started one, but it shut down when I quit. There were 18 people in it, and I did it for three years, but you get fatigued. I’d committed to doing it every month, and I was ready for somebody else to take it on. But outside of NAMI, which is for everything, there’s nothing in RI.


[I give them a #RIorganisms card with an un-ID’ed mushroom on it, and explain the circumstances of its making.]


We’re mushroomers! [Looks at other mushroom cards] That’s just a common mushroom.


What about this one? It had a brown top and a brown stem.

Was the stem kind of spongy?


I think so.


If it has a brown top with a nice cap on it, kinda like a portabello, and you touch the bottom and it’s spongy, it’s a bolete




[These two were a couple.]


Him: I don’t worry.


Her: The kids going back to college. The money is an issue. Our daughter’s 24, our son’s 21, and our other daughter’s in law school, and she just got laid off from what was gonna be her job. You know, you worry about them when they’re little, and then they grow up and you worry about them. It doesn’t stop.




Prudence Island — is that on here [the map]? That’s my happy place. I like that you can be the only person on a beach the size of any beach in Rhode Island. Take the ferry out, and you can do some clamming, and just —




(A little boy and I look at a large black probably-bee or wasp. He says, “It must be called a pincher bee because it pinches with its fangs.” But it also sounds like he says, “It can’t be a bee, it’s not extinct.” Is this possible? )




I just finished a 6-week pre-college program at RISD, and it was intense. I don’t want to go to the wrong place and waste my parents’ money. My sister wants me to go to a therapist and I don’t want to talk about my issues, if you want something to write down.




Him: As far as climate, I have a couple concerns. It’s gonna be gradual, but the changes are gonna be horrific, because there’s gonna be more storms starting in more places. Like hurricanes are gonna start, instead of starting in the south Atlantic they’re gonna start in the north Atlantic and come through here. But on the positive side, Rhode Island is one of the best places with everything that’s going on. We haven’t had a tornado come through here — the one that came through Boston was a fluke.




Him: California, I was just there, it’s charred. And it stinks — where the water is channeled, it’s all muddy and it stinks.


Her: It doesn’t get me down, is that what you mean?


Him: When you’re talking alternative sources of energy, whether it’s wind — there’s not always gonna be wind, there’s not always gonna be sun. But still, in Europe, I was just there, they have wind and solar set up everywhere they can.


Why do you think we’re not doing that here?

Him: I think it’s wealthy people going, “Not in my backyard.” We could be getting power from a variety of sources, but we’re dependent upon coal, gas, oil. There’s too much wealth tied up in them — if we didn’t use that energy, they wouldn’t be wealthy … It’ll take a big catastrophe to tip the scales, and I think it’s coming up … I travel a lot for work — I work as a plastic injection molding technician. I see these 30-year-old machines, and people can cut their power consumption in half, or even to a fifth. We [the U.S.] had the edge in manufacturing and didn’t use it. We need better technology, better education.




What she loves about Block Island: Biking along the coast in the sunset. It gets me.




We have family property on the water, in Point Judith, that was damaged by Sandy. In 2010, our basement in another property we owned in South Kingstown flooded, and we lost a lot. Then our whole first floor in Narragansett was flooded, so we had two damaged properties to deal with. I’ll never forget it.




Job security. I just got a new job.


And it sounds like you’re worried about keeping it — a lot of jobs are fragile right now.


Especially in Rhode Island.




We’re in the process of purchasing a house. And the other thing that has me anxious is work on Monday. I’m dreading it.




I think the problem is overpopulation. I think that leads to everything else, all the other problems. Too many people.




Today’s poem:

I bet you’re making

a killing here

I would love a parabolic

microphone to pick

a bone of whisper

out of a crowd

seeded with people

who fear crowds

unless crowds are code

even to yourself

for something you keep

like a giant plushie

bigger than yourself

winning every time

running into code

finishing last and cast

into a state of confusion

scooping behind you with both

hands to bring the past

closer to catch yourself

up with drowning or being

buried while drawing

a snake remembering that

they’re thicker in the middle

and have blunt face-fronts

and wanting the cool-looking people

to come talk to me

which nobody needs

to know where the bathrooms

are and where

the exit is when

the world’s gonna end


View from the booth:

wcf816 - fairgoers from booth 3



4 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 26 / Day 4 of the Washington County Fair, 8/16/14

  1. Hi again this michael from foo fest i was curious in getting your advice on something, ive always wanted to do something involving a strong conection between people on a personal level like what you do but everytime ive tried something it just seems to. backfire on me where. do you think i should start, ive wanted to try an old custom but with a new twist on it

    Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:58:55 +0000 To:

    • Hi again, Michael. If there’s more to your idea and you want to tell me about it publicly (so that other people could get excited about it, potentially) you could do it here! If you want to tell it just to me, you could email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex. Either way, I would love to hear more about it.

      Maybe you could tell me more about what you mean by where you should start? Do you mean, what should the frame or “theme” of your activity or ritual or encounter be?

      • I have tons of stuff i like to do with certain times, my problem is when i think this activty starts out tobe the thing i could use to help connect with people, like i’ve tried a podcast, suicide hotline but they seem to backfire on me, lately ive been interested in meditation and other kid like art in my spare time like chalking up a doodle on the street or homemadde masks so latelyy ive been interested in tryingg to discover the next thing in trying to connect with people on a personal level like what you do.

      • Cool, lots of ideas there! So here are some things you might want to ask yourself / take into account:

        – What do I (meaning you) hope this project will do for me?
        – What do I hope this project will offer the people who talk with me / draw with me / meditate or do a ritual with me / whatever?
        – How can I make that offer clear to them in a quick, inviting way?
        – How much do I want to talk? How much do I want to listen? Is this more of a call-and-response thing? Is it an action we do together, or take turns doing?
        – If I want to listen, what are a few open-ended questions, relevant to what I’m offering, that I could use to invite people to talk?
        – Do I want the project to have other lives (like documenting it / writing about it / taking pictures / whatever) or are the conversations where the project’s happening? If I want to make one of these “other lives” public, how can I make sure I have people’s permission?
        – What are my boundaries? What will I do if someone crosses them? What will I do if I start feeling scared, angry, embarrassed or impatient?

        Once you have thought about those questions, you can think about what kind of setup might make those things feel really possible for you and other people. Also, I think it’s good to keep in mind that your answers to those questions may change a lot as the project unfolds — mine have.

        I might turn this into a full-size blog post because there might be more to think about than I’ve put here, and other people might be into hearing about it — is it okay if I refer to you & this conversation in that post?

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