Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/8/15

Weather: Warm and breezy, cooler later.

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 4 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 1: the evangelist from last time graduated to heckling

Pages of notes: 6

Alternate Histories: 0

People I met through the booth last year, who remembered me: 4

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2

Picture-takers with permission: 1

Puppies pet: 1

Flyers for other concerns proffered and accepted: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.45


Two separate people, strangers to me, came to my aid when the heckler-evangelist wouldn’t leave me alone, and I am so very grateful to them. I’ll write more about this tomorrow.

So far this time around, there’ve been more people who give me money without even asking what the booth is about.

At around 4:30, the sprinklers came on all around me. I was able to adjust the booth to not get sprayed too much. They also popped up out of the ground within the park, which would soak anyone who was trying to lie peacefully on the grass.

Smells of today: Several colognes, pizza, booze breath, hot grass, wet grass.

Fashion theme of today: Stripy maxi dresses.

Some conversations:

I saw a thing in the paper about how a sea level rise of 3 feet is going to destroy the marshes and salt ponds, down in South County, that are breeding grounds for lots of fish and birds–plovers and stuff like that.

What do you think we can do to protect these places?

See, because it’s coming from the melting of the Antarctic and Arctic ice caps, I think that humanity has to learn a different way of doing a lotta shit. We need to get away from the use of fossil fuel. … Energy is what the power structure at the top of humanity uses to keep control. … I think the time is coming when humanity will rise up en masse, and that is the only way it’s gonna happen. I would hope that it would be a peaceful uprising. … When it comes to the future with climate change, where do we go from here? I was on a bus this morning and I saw a religious pamphlet, and it said, “Is the end near?” The same old fear crap–it keeps people embedded in the way things are, and that’s the way they control us. People gotta wake up and come to the conclusion that it’s all bullshit, that we have our own power, spirit power. I’ve been thinking more and more about moving back to the country. My dad was born in 1895 and my mother was born in 1909. I know how to garden, I know how to milk a cow, I know how to drive a tractor.

What do you imagine when you imagine that life?

Well, minus the cows–I’m not gettin’ up at four in the morning. Gardening, vegetables, maybe chickens for meat.

Would it be just you?

It’d be more than just me, more than likely. I’m a social animal. I’ve become one.


Just my pain. I was in a car accident so I can’t move around as much. Hopefully it’s gonna get better. But the climate too. Have a good day.


Like molten lava? Like earthquakes?

Here in RI it’s more likely to be flooding and storms that could wash away the beach, the shore–

And the houses.

And the houses. So that’s what freaks me out.

It freaks me out too.

So can I ask you, where did you hear about this stuff?

[At this point his mom called him, and he had to go.]


ISIS killing us and all that shit! I hear about it on the news.

Do you worry about that day-to-day?


What do you do when you feel worried?

Smoke some weed and take a drink.

Does it help?

Hell yeah.


I’m a counselor myself for teenagers with addictions, and I’m concerned that my kids aren’t improving.

What are the things that get in the way of their improving?

Lack of motivation, peer pressure–and they’re at a time in their life when life isn’t too serious. It’s just the arrested development, the developmental stage of being an adolescent. Impulsivity, immaturity.

What helps people become mature?

Age. Experience–for some of them, dire and serious experiences. In my community, those who are incarcerated, for example, are at the extreme end of the bell-shaped curve. That’s not the norm.

You’ve talked a lot about what’s inside them, and about doing the work on what’s inside them, that they can control. But what about the stuff outside them that they can’t control might be getting in their way when they try to make those changes?

Oh, we can talk about poverty, we can talk about gangs. The addiction itself is a barrier. Are you saying we should work on changing those things?

I guess I’m asking about this because, if someone is sinking in quicksand, you can tell them what to do to keep themselves from making their situation worse, like don’t thrash around, spread your body out, but it also helps if you can get them a tree branch to hold onto. So what could be the tree branch?

I don’t know if there is a tree branch.


Six months with six feet of snow. The other thing that worries me is when you click on those links that show what’s gonna flood, and they always say Oh, you don’t wanna live in New York, you don’t wanna live in Florida–but no matter where you live, if New York floods, you’re in trouble. But you were talking about tree branches–I think my tree branch is I went to the RISD thesis show, and I was looking at all the landscape design and urban planning displays, and they were strategizing about other ways to live in the world, to live in an altered world. And I thought the world is gonna be different, but creative people are thinking about how to live in it. I think about like the Romantics envisioning our world–“How could you live in such a place?” But we do. We love high-rises.

Today’s poem:

In a breeding ground for fish and birds

I’ve become a city

I don’t belong here

and yet I am built

and yet I can feel my feet sinking

and yet I think I’m an exception

who’s come a long way

whose worries are old

bedded down in thick rot mat

site of so many exchanges

we can’t name to know

and don’t ask and don’t come here

you come here

don’t come here

you digging machine, you accretion, withdraw

your power to change is no more

chemical than anything


2 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/8/15

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/8, 6/8 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/8, 5/15, 9/8 | climateanxietycounseling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s