Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/6/15

Weather: Cool, sunny, breezy, pleasant

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 7 walkbys, plus one person who read every word on the sign and map out loud

Number of hecklers: 0, unless you count Christian Proselytizing Dude

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories: 1 blank taken home

People I met through the booth last year, who remembered me: 2

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2

Picture-takers WITHOUT permission: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.80

Observations:

Lots of police activity in Burnside Park today.

Sometimes people who don’t stop still give me the warmest smiles with, as far as I can tell, zero leer and zero eye-roll, and that happened a lot today.

One guy gave another guy 5 cents to give to me.

Thanks to Dorinda for recording again today, and to James Kuo for making the map!

Some conversations:

My daughter’s 12, and she said to me, “Dad, I wish I was your age so I didn’t have to worry about climate change.” And I worry that she’s inherited a terrible world.

Do you guys talk about it together?

We talk about it a lot. And I always have to be careful how we talk about it, because I want to share my work with her, and I want to talk to her about the worrisome parts, but I also want to talk about the positive things happening, the hope I see. When she said this, I said, We’re going to solve this, because we have to. I still have some hope that we will. The UN negotiations going on–this is a really important year, leading up to Paris in December–there’s a nice dynamic going on where countries are coming in with modestly ambitious pledges. There are problems with these pledges but they’re better than we feared. The U.S. and China were both unexpectedly good–they’re interesting because they’re different, they’re different because China said they’d peak, stop increasing carbon emissions, by 2030, and it may be sooner, and the U.S. committed to a percent–26-28% by 2025. China gives off 31% of the world’s carbon emissions and the U.S. is 16–that’s 47%, almost half the world’s emissions. The EU has come in with a good pledge, Mexico’s is good, they’ll peak in 2026. As long as countries don’t do awful things–Japan’s was weak … And then there’s renewables: the price of solar’s crashing, it’s dropping fast, it’s undercutting coal.

While these big things are going on, I think they seem kinda far away to people and I was wondering what people can do, not just personally, like insulating their house, but something that would be one step up from personal action.

Yes, we can reduce waste and we can do a lot. But more importantly we need to act collectively, act together. We can do that by joining organizations that deal with these issues, we can do it by putting pressure on state legislators, the governor, our congresspeople–they’re not doing much. Well, some are. Some need to do much more.

Are there some paths to that here in Rhode Island, resources people could use to find out who to put pressure on about what?

There’s Energize RI–they’re working with the idea of a price on carbon, essentially a carbon tax, and they have some links for action. There’s Resilient RI–they’re more about adaptation, how as it’s already happening we can plan for sea level rise and flooding. …Doing stuff locally helps it to feel not overwhelming. But I hope people can act on more than one level. I think people can.

*

[A second person came up in the middle of my conversation with the first person.]

Person 1: Right next to your sign, you should have another sign, “Save the Park.” They’re ruining it. There’s no attention to aesthetics. That part’s blocked off for no reason. They’re putting that fence up–they say Oh, you can have this little spot right in front of the police station. It’s like the stadium they’re building–nobody wants it, but nobody says anything about aesthetics. That’s the only beautiful view left in Providence, and all you’re gonna see is this big giant green thing. The people who are being disenfranchised don’t even say anything about it.

Person 2: Nothing now, ’cause I got my medication! I could go up and punch those two cops right in the face, and then I’d have a place to sleep tonight. But then all this work [holds up manila envelope] would be wasted.

What’s in there?

Housing applications. I applied for every housing for disabled people in this damn state. [Transition I didn’t note] If my granddaughter’s lost, she could ask a policeman.

Person 1: That building [indicates “Superman Building”] is a Tiffany. Let me explain what I mean. The Sterritt Brothers built that, and you know what else they built? The Empire State Building. And now they’re gonna tear this building down because nobody has the imagination, the creativity, to do anything with it. That’s where we should start. Fill it up with people who want freedom back. We lost it in 9/11 and it’s going away little by little. We should start here in the smallest state. That’s how a big wound heals, it heals from the bottom up.

*

[These two were friends and came up together.]

Friend 1: Girls.

Too many or too few?

Friend 1: I don’t know.

Friend 2: Too many!

What’s the difficulty?

Friend 1: I like both of them.

Do they like you? Is it that they each want you to be only with them?

Friend 1: I don’t like relationships like that.

Friend 2: He’s a one-night stand.

Friend 1: I’m not a one-night stand, they are.

It sounds like they don’t want what you want, and you don’t want what they want, so you might’ve just answered your own question.

Friend 1: They want what I get. They want what I get. They want what I get. … I like both of them though, I’ve known them a long time.

*

Life is so fast and crazy. Technology is gonna kill us one day. The world’s gonna go down. I just deal with it every day, nothing I can do about it. This country’s terrible, don’t you think? We’re gonna go down one day.

What’s one thing you’d like to be different?

Peace, world peace. Everybody’s killin’ everybody. Peace to everybody, whoever you are. peace. We need a global president who controls the whole world–a panel of people, they keep the peace within the whole world. Equal opportunity for everybody. …I live in Warwick now but I’m here taking the bus because I had a little problem with my license, but I was a kid in Providence, a young kid, I came from Providence. I’m 37 years old, I never smoked in my life, now I started smoking ’cause of stress.

Today’s poem:

I want to share my work with her shaking

its air down as the dandelion

shares its work with the topsoil

when cut off to rot and return

I don’t just want to look like I’m working

I want to lack everything

give it all up to her later

have I said too much

has everything I’ve said been perfect

Have I left a distinct perfect world

behind me like a trail of spit

a series of campsites perfectly decayed

look me in the eye

tell me you have slept

tell me you are on your way

even if it isn’t true

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