Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/27/15

Weather: Hot in the sun, pleasantly cool in the shade, very windy and gusty.

Number of people: 11 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Alternate Histories: 0

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People I recognized from last year who recognized me: 1

People who recognized me from last year whom I didn’t recognize: 1, sorry

Pictures taken without permission: 2

Dogs spotted: 1, in a carrier

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.34


Wind so strong and uneven keeps me tense and alert to it instead of to other things and people–I have to really grip the booth (which, lest we forget, is made of cardboard and plywood) to keep it from blowing over.

Now I’m in dappled shade almost the entire time, where at the beginning of the month the sun was shining directly on my face.

The public transit demonstrators of yesterday were present again, as were 2 police SUVs and some cars convening at the Greyhound/Peter Pan stop and outside the skating rink.

Thanks to James Kuo for helping me figure out a way to end conversations that are based on people’s perception of me as a captive audience.

People had a lot of advice for me today: I should hand out candy (“Life Savers or those miniature Tootsie Rolls”), I should play Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, I should get 50 Cent in as a spokesperson about heat rage.

Today also really made me think about cognitive dissonance and failure to correlate–how when I see it in others I should also search for it in myself.

Some conversations:

When people are not kind because of difference. People don’t respect one another. I was taught to be respectful no matter what–I just see a human being.

How did you learn to be like that? I’m asking because I’m trying to think about how to get more people to do it.

I think you really have to be brought up like that. I grew up in Harlem in the ’60s, so things were very different, and my mother told me that. Once you’re kind, you treat everybody that way … I think what’s stopping them could be frustration. When I first got here it was Cape Verdean and Portuguese, everywhere, now it’s Hispanics [sic] everywhere, doing every job. Maybe some people are scared they’re gonna lose what they have, but there’s enough room and space for everyone. There’ll be a place for you, a spot somewhere. Unless it gets like NY–people there killing each other for space.

How do you think we can make it clear that that space is there for people?

Let it be known–just get the word out. Like in a garden, every flower has its purpose. You’re not gonna catch me working at Starbucks, McDonald’s, but there’s someone who’s not gonna have a problem with that. Or working in a garden, on a farm–my hands are gonna get dirty, no way. But some people would rather do that. There’s a job for everyone, a need for everyone, everybody has a purpose.

What do you do for work?

I work at [REDACTED], and before that, I worked at a training school with child molesters. And people said, “How can you do that, don’t you wanna kill ’em?” And I said no, it’s an illness, and it’s just my nine to five, I can separate it, I don’t let it affect me. But certain things I can’t separate. If there’s blood, things hangin’ out, I couldn’t do that. It’s a balance, it really is a balance, but a lot of people aren’t there yet.


Are you praying?

[I explain.]

My mother. She don’t talk now–she only got a few days to live. She got cancer and the doctors give up and send her home.

Can you go to be with her?

It’s hard, ’cause it’s far. She’s in Puerto Rico. It would be a waste of time, she wouldn’t even recognize me. I’m just waiting for that call and then I’ll go down.


I worrying about killing somebody, raping somebody, lying, cheating. I worry so much when people talk about other people–people always gonna talk. I pray to God to not let me worry about these things. I think about these things but I don’t do them. I try to think like God. I’m not God, but I try to think like him, I prefer to think like God than think like the Devil. These things that worry me, they coming from the thinking of the Devil. God thinks peace, peace, God don’t like raping, lying, killing people. But these bad stuff come to my mind. If I’m gonna preach, if I’m gonna witness, I gotta suffer.

Are there people you can pray with who can help you stay strong?

At the Providence Center–[names some people] help me in the name of Jesus.


Bringing my son out to swim, which he’s been wanting to do. He’s autistic, and I get anxious when I wanna bring him outta the water–I had a lot of problems with that today. And last night we had a little trouble sleeping ’cause we have no electricity, so no A/C. I had to take like a wet rag.

Any chance of getting it turned back on soon?

I’m hoping in the next six months. I work over here at the mall and they’re not giving me enough hours. Matter of fact, climate change messed up my hours at work. I work at [REDACTED] and no one wants to be inside playing games.


Corruption–thieves. When people who are low on the totem pole [sic] get the brunt of everything. Did you see about that guy that worked for Medicare, he and his son stole $23 million in 4 years. Meanwhile I get Medicare and I still gotta pay 20% [of each doctor’s bill]. No! You take everything his family’s got and you sell it and you give it to us. And here at City Hall, “Oh, we’re broke, we’re broke,” how did you have $150 million to lend to some guy in Boston and it disappeared?

What do you think people should do?

Don’t pay taxes. Or put taxes in a trust--if you need it for something, we have a meeting, yes we’ll do this, yes we’ll do that. … How can these people have so much wealth when we’re so poor? In City Hall you can’t even get a cold glass of water. We get tired becase we gotta go to this one, go to that one … Get a good group, things’ll be great, people who’ll take it upon themselves. Transparency in what we’re spending.


[Person 1 and Person 2 came up together, and were later joined by Person 3. Also, note to Providence Arts, Culture & Tourism: you should hire Person 1.]

Person 1: Climate in RI does affect everyone. All winter people are dull, they’re complaining. People let the weather affect their moods. I try to dress for it, adapt to my current situation, but everyone just complains pretty much. We’re in New England, we get all four seasons pretty hard.

What would you recommend to help people deal with the seasons, the stuff that affects their moods?

That’s a good question. Maybe organize a day where you give out popsicles, not like a protest, but let that be the topic? In the winter, let’s get together, let’s go out there and plow, let’s have a snowball fight–maybe plow so that you can have a snowball fight. If it’s really hot, maybe organize a day where you only go out after six? But no one likes to be told what to do, but I think you have to be open-minded. Rhode Islanders are not as open-minded. It’s what we’re used to. People never get to leave their block–I wish they could see that there’s more. My friends and I have been talking about how there’s no scene in RI, and we want to set the theme for ourselves. We need more people involved, more ideas–people who come from out of state love it here. We don’t appreciate it enough ourselves.

Person 2: I’m afraid that the government can control the weather …I’m scared that they will use it against us someday. We should fight against it by rioting. The goal would be to establish–the goal would be to respect the people and not make weapons like that. The earth is more valuable than that shit. They always want to reinforce some kind of order.

[I think I asked some kind of question here like] What should they do instead?

If the government invests more money on solar panels every year, instead of double the money they give to the military, take a cut from that and invest it in solar technology. The gases that we’re using for cars is fucking up the air. Companies that do research on technology, they should invest in those departments–I think they already do that, but it’s not as much as it should be. It should be more than the military.

Person 1: What’s the two things Rhode Island is known for? Dunkin Donuts and Cumberland Farms. They could help us out climatewise–in the summer they could make Coolattas cheaper instead of more expensive, and in the winter, they could make a Box of Joe cheaper, and with Cumberland Farms, the same thing with coffee. But instead they’re trying to make money, so they raise the prices.

Person 2: They got strategic people for that.

Person 1: They’re trying to make money off the climate. They should do the opposite. … There’ve been six homicides already in Providence this year. Kids get brainwashed by rap videos, kids try to imitate–Chiraq, you heard of Chiraq? Kids here try to imitate that. They rep their block. It’s in the summer that most people get killed. People need to keep their cool. The South Side is not that big, but people hate on each other, it’s always in their brain that they’re gonna have to watch their back. [Person 3 came up at this point.] If people maybe spoke to each other more–these kids are all in high school, freshmen and sophomores. They wanna die and be put on a t-shirt and their boys can rap about them.

Person 3: My cousin’s a victim of that. He traps, and he’s like, and my uncles are like, “You don’t know how to make a dollar.” They think I’m the stupid one.

Person 2: You go to school, you’ll get a good job–even if you don’t, just so you can be educated on a lot of things. The more you learn, the more you know about things, the more you’re worth.

[They talk a bunch together about reading a book a day, and about drugs.]

Before I forget, I wanna ask [Person 3] if he has any climate anxieties.

Person 3: I grew up in Saudi Arabia and it was really hot. I don’t know if it affects me–it does, ’cause when I’m in the car and it’s really hot I get more aggressive. Wherever it’s fall all the time, that’s where I wanna live. Springtime’s almost nonexistent anymore. [Transition I didn’t note.] I’m a business major.

How can we use the tools of business to make doing things that are better for the environment more appealing?

I think communism might not be a bad idea–not communism, socialism, socialism. But it’s impossible because there’s always someone who’s greedy.

Person 1: Capitalism just destroys shit. It eats it like a black hole.

Today’s poem:

I’m not the census and I’m not praying.

Wind bangs the handtruck on the fence.

I squirm to know where to place myself.

Just when it seems I know what to look to.


3 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/27/15

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/28/15 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/27, 6/10 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/15, 5/27, 6/21 | climateanxietycounseling

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