Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 28 / Day 5 of the Washington County Fair

Weather: Warmest day yet. Sunny and slight breeze, downpour around 1pm, then clear again.

Time frame: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., so as not to get caught by end-of-fair traffic. At 5:30 I put up a sign that said, “I’m leaving at 6. If you want to know what this is, ask now!” but only two people stopped by after that.

Number of people: 14 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Pages of notes: 8

Number of hecklers: 0!

Number of climate change deniers: 2

People who read the sign out loud in an incredulous, wondering, suspicious or amused voice, without stopping to talk: 30 

People who took a picture without permission: 1

TOTAL Money raised for South Kingstown Land Trust, all five days: $31.80! Thanks, people of the WCF!


Fair foods consumed: None. I wanted corn fritters but forgot to get them.


Best non-booth times today:

1) A little boy who walked by yesterday and said, “A map!” walked by again today and said, “There’s the map!” to the people he was with. I said, “Oh yeah, I remember you noticed that yesterday!” and he smiled a little smile.

2) Someone I met at the booth up in Providence stopped by and introduced me to their sister, brother-in-law and niece.



Of course, the last day is when I realize I can put the “Out” sign over the “In” sign when I walk away from the booth, instead of taking out the pushpins, switching signs, putting the pushpins back.


I also realized only today the ways that the conventions of botanical illustration influence the way I draw on #RIorganisms of the plant variety. For example, when you look at a flower, usually you see the whole thing from the top (if it’s short and/or you’re standing or walking) or the side (if it’s tall or you’re squatting down). But nature guides will show you the stem and leaves as if from the side, the flower as if from the top.


Do I need to start redirecting people when they start talking about trash? I don’t like the oceanic garbage patches either, and some methods of mitigating climate change might also mean mitigating the amount of trash we produce, but the amount of conflation I’m hearing is starting to worry me.




Some conversations:


Not really, just takin’ it day by day. 


Him: You don’t think it’s just natural.


Her: I try not to think about it, which is stupid.


I think something can be natural and still be frightening. You think we’re arguing, but we’re really not. I do believe the science I’ve seen that says it’s caused by what people do.


Her: What do we do?


[I tell her a very basic version of how it works.]


Walkby, white, stout, older: There’s no such thing as climate change.

Me: Sorry, I can’t hear you, what?

Him: There’s no such thing as climate change.

Me: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you because of the music. If you want to tell me something you’ll have to come over here.

[He did not.]


[This is the first person who spoke to me at the fair — she said she loved it and wanted to take a picture, but didn’t come back … until today!]

This [the booth sign] reminds me of like — tonic you could buy in the Wild West that would cure everything. The color of the sign, everything — you could have a hat* and a big beard. The colors are out of that late 1800s palette. The sign, “The Doctor Is In” — they didn’t have pushpins, though. But it touches on the idea of panacea, and that’s what people want — they want something to make them feel better, something to make them feel like everything’s gonna be okay.


pH levels in the ocean. Whenever I think about it I freak out. I went Antarctica as part of these climate classes. It was really intense learning about it in Antarctica because it’s so extreme there, you can really see the changes.

Do you talk to people about it?

It depends on who the person is, what their argument is. A lot of people, you want to just throw statistics at them, but usually they won’t know what you’re talking about. You have to talk about it based on who the person is and figure out your argument. The main thing I try to tell people is that if we do things to promote the environment they’re not gonna hurt, they’re only gonna help us do better.

[I offer her a #RIorganisms card]

You don’t have any invasive species on there, do you?



[This young man was a volunteer firefighter, and gave extra $ when he found out it was going to the SKLT.]

I have Type 1 diabetes. I wanted to go into the military like a lot of people in my family, but they said do you got any medical issues, I said diabetes, they said nope. There’s a lot of things my friends do that I can’t do, and I have depression because of it. I see a psychiatrist, yeah. She gives me medicine, which I hate taking, but it helps — I hate to do it because it’s another thing I have to do when I get up in the morning, it stresses me out to remember. … We fight forest fires too. You remember that big fire in Bradford? I was there. 


I worry about it. I worry, where does all the trash go? We have a disposable environment — we throw away and throw away. We don’t think of the consequences, the impact it’s gonna have. It used to be one crib stayed in the family, everybody used that crib — now everybody gets a whole new set of furniture and leaves it on the side of the road. It’s more of a gripe than a worry.


Climate, definitely. The air we breathe — how bad or good is it for us.


How did you come to get worried about that?


Just breathing it in, and other people mentioning it to me.


Do you talk to people about it?


I start conversations about it with people, with friends, but mostly they’re like, “Yeah, that sucks.” I feel like everyone’s talking about it, but not everyone changes — and not everyone’s actually aware, or they’re aware of a little bit of what’s on top of the surface but they’re not fully educated. If people knew more, maybe they’d do more. Simple things like not wasting water, recycling — well, those aren’t really air things, but they’re things people could do in their towns.



The world’s going down. The media is a distraction so the government can do all these horrible things.


What do you think they want? What’s in it for them?


Power, money, the more they can get. There are more of us than there are of them — we could overpower them.


What would we do if we overpowered them? What would be the first thing we could do?


I haven’t thought that far.




Maybe you can tell me if this is true, what somebody told me. I’m a chef at [REDACTED] in Misquamicut and somebody told me that in 20, 25 years, it’s gonna be underwater because of global warming. Is that true?


All I can say is it could be true. One of the things that makes global warming so hard for people to think about is that we don’t know how bad it’s gonna get how fast.


Somebody was telling me that the property line, the owners own up to 10 feet out in the water because 80, 85 years ago the property line was there and now it’s 10 feet out in the water.


Today’s poem:


Can you tell me

if it’s natural

if it’ll all

be the same in

a million years or

wreak or wrack

such changes

to all our kin

with all our care

or almost none

the line may be

ten feet out in

the sour water

the sore air spit

out and sucked back

the more you start

at the taste in

your mouth the worse

it won’t bother to be

for you being ready

enough and more

bringing water in

lifeless and sipless


View from the booth:

wcf817 - fairgoers from booth


 I’ll be posting bonus material from the Fair throughout the week — including pictures of oversized and misshapen vegetables — as well as reflections at the end of next week. 


One thought on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 28 / Day 5 of the Washington County Fair

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 8/17, 5/17 (A Group Effort from Frequency Writers) | climateanxietycounseling

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