Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/14/15

Weather: Sunny, breezy, pleasant. Little gusts like a cat knocking things off a table.

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 3 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories: 1, sort of, in a great way: see below

Dogs seen: 1

Ducks seen (and heard): 1

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Pictures taken without permission: 1

Flyers for other concerns, accepted on a previous day, passed on to someone who seemed interested: 1

Instances of hat appreciation: 3

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.35


Lots of police activity in the bus station, and some in the park, today. One officer walked past the booth and asked what I was doing.

I made an effort to look up more today–not spend quite as much time drawing or otherwise looking down–and once again saw a lot of what appeared to be warm, genuine smiles.

One more resounding thanks to Dorinda Fong for recording (with permission), astutely observing, and coining the phrase “hat appreciation.”

Some conversations:

I went to the Climate March in New York and it was incredible. I’m starting to cry just thinking about it. My mom’s first protest was here, my grandma marched for the Civil Rights Movement, and my great-grandma chained herself to the White House–she was a suffragette. And my daughter is the president of SAGE at URI, she’s a junior. I was part of Occupy here … the Climate March was so amazing, so beautiful. I went with some people from here, it was a little Occupy reunion, we took the $10 bus down. We thought there was gonna be maybe 40,000 people and all of a sudden we see all these people coming out of nowhere [sic]. We didn’t even make it to the end, we were carrying this huge banner. I’ve done a bunch of Wal-Mart actions in the last three years. I’m in love with public speaking now, activism, speaking out. I think ’cause I saw my parents protesting–when they were doing it, I didn’t see change. My mom was protesting nuclear power plants when we lived in California. But they actually got a lot done. I used to sit here and do an info booth, I’m still an admin on the Occupy page.

What do you think you can do, activists can do, to keep grounded?

Like to keep from feeling defeated? I think I always feel slightly defeated. Especially with these Wal-Mart actions, I’d go to them and there’d only be a few people there. I always feel like one is better than none. If I stop, then who’s gonna be there? But I do think there’s been a lot going on. I’m trying to concentrate on mental health care, ’cause lack of mental health care can lead to drug addiction, homelessness, cuts to mental health care cause more violence–they cut back on the one thing, well not the one thing but a main thing, that would help. … There are 4 of us–the other 3 are over 60–we get together every month and read things. We just read the Communist Manifesto, we watch documentaries–we just watched a documentary about putting in a pipeline, the man who let people go climb in the trees to try to stop them from cutting them down. We need to get together, bring DARE together with Jobs With Justice… I think we’re moving towards that–I’ve seen it with the police marches, just a group of people coming together. If we all stand together–


I’m anxious about everything. I guess I’m anxious about the next big storm. We invest in stormwater management issues and infrastructure with the Coastal Resources Management Council, and given the rising sea levels, residents have really built too close to the water. Especially when hurricane season starts, I think about it. We bemoan the fact that Sandy hits and costs us billions of dollars and in terms of infrastructure and human lives. We need a long-term strategy as opposed to avoiding it.

What do you think would shift people, get them to stop avoiding it?

There’d need to be a change in the public sentiment that it only happens once in a blue moon … After the initial incident, people regroup and forget about it. And then that change would need to translate into political will, social will, to find the money to invest in long-term planning. Increased awareness in everybody’s mind, more particularly in people who are most impacted by that … And eventually it would have to become a priority for taxpayers. The type of housing, the money spent–people will say, “You choose to live there, so it’s your problem,” and it is a combination of all those things, the wisdom of choosing to be near the water, near the coast, wanting to live there. We’d need to rethink whatever zoning or regulations that determine that. Getting people to see that, to be that selfless.


To get old–no, to get adult.

What worries you about that?

Restriction of freedom. Freedom to have other possibilities–to be open to other possibilities.


[I’d talked with this person before and given him an alternate history.]

You didn’t finish that story–I noticed it doesn’t really have an end.

Yeah, that’s because I don’t really know how it ends. It’s made up, you know, it’s like a “what if” people did this or that.

Oh, I thought it really happened. So how does it end? ‘Cause there was some crazy shit going on. Are you gonna write more? It’s the one about F and O.

I honestly don’t know! You know what you could do, is you could write an ending for it. You could write what you think happens. Email it to me, or bring it back.


Cop: What are you guys doing here? Five cents, huh?

[I explain.]

Cop: No, I’m good. Thank you though.


The climate has changed a lot since I was a kid. Winters are a lot colder and summers–it’s like winter’s going into summer and summer’s going into winter. I’m 47, I’ve lived here all my life, I’m from Burrilville. [I give him a dogtooth violet card.] Oh–I love lady slippers.

Pink or yellow?

The pink ones.


I’m anxious because I’m graduating tomorrow, and my family’s driving up to see me, and they can’t drive, and I’m anxious about being nervous tomorrow, and I’m anxious about my dress being cute enough, and I’m anxious because I don’t have shoes. My sister’s bringing me shoes.


I didn’t write a poem for this day.


3 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/14/15

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/14, 6/9 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/14, 6/11 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 8/31/16 | climateanxietycounseling

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