Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/1/15

Weather: Hot and bright, gusts of wind at first, quieting down later.

Number of people: 9 stoppers, 3 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 9

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 3

People who read the sign out loud from a distance: 3

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.10


The sun was RIGHT in my face almost the entire time, which meant I was trying to keep my hat shading my eyes, which meant it was tough to look at passersby and for them to look at me. I need a better plan.

A roughly normal number of people spoke with me, but stretched over four hours instead of three, so I wrote a lot of poems.

Some conversations:

[These two came up together.]

Person 1: Violence. Everything that’s happening in Providence. I’m worried about my family, people I’m close to.

Are you worried that it’s gonna hurt them or that they’re gonna hurt someone else?

That they’re gonna be victims of something they had nothing to do with. It’s becoming so unpredictable.

Person 2: I think it’s both. It’s easy for people to be manipulated.

Why do you think that is?

Person 1: Nowadays it’s a trend. They think they have to prove themselves to other people to be popular, they wanna fit in, doing what the next person does. They wanna be seen as, “I’m down.”

This is a weird question, so let me know if you want me to ask it another way. What are other things that might help them feel cool that they would actually want to do?

There’s a lotta things that you can do and still feel cool. You can get a job. Having money in your pocket is better than standing on the corner, being a legend on the street and all that. I believe it’s the media.

Person 2: They’re just tryna be like, “Yeah, I did that.”

It is hard to get a job right now, though.

I’m tryna get a job right now and it sucks. Jobs require you have experience, you have to have a car. And it’s summer so you don’t get free bus passes ’cause school’s closed, so you gotta pay to take the bus anyway.

Person 1: Yeah but if somebody really wanted something bad enough they’re gonna go and do it. You’re not gonna be like, “It’s raining,” you do it and it’s raining. Get an umbrella.


The ozone layer, how we destroyed it. The sun is causing more damage to us and it’s because of us destroying the ozone layer. All these new cancers you hear about, people who wouldn’t have died if they just used a little sunscreen. What do other people talk about?

[I give her some examples.]

The government misspending money we pay toward taxes is huge. I have five kids, four in college, and I think people should be paying me, pretty much, because they’ve taken a good path. It shouldn’t be that colleges are costing so much. They’re like, “Too bad, you have to come up with the difference.” There should be a little help for people like me. For the longest time I was a single parent. My kids are not shooting houses up, my daughters aren’t prostitutes or drug addicts … But not just my kids, all kids. Us helping the youth is helping our future. It’s not the old people, all the old people who are in office now, they’re gonna be dead. It’s the kids. Who are they gonna be tomorrow? Education, educating our own, but then we can’t pay for it why? ‘Cause we’re spending our money on war? We send all this money to other countries, but how many kids go hungry here? How many people are homeless here? We should help ourselves first, and it starts with educating our children. Who are these people going to be if we don’t educate them now? I keep telling my kids, don’t worry, it’ll be okay, I’ll pay for it even if I have to panhandle or pole dance–I’m not really gonna do that. It should be easier, not harder.


Pollution in the ocean, and then fish eat it and then we eat the fish.

What kind of pollution?

Plastics, because they’re so small it’s hard to collect them, and that worries me. Wildlife in general. You read about whales or something washing up on shore and they choked on plastic, choked on fishing nets.

Friend: And the turtle thing.

Yeah, the turtle thing! It’s very unnecessary. As a nation, or in the world–we’re so advanced that we’re so ignorant. We’ve forgotten the basic rules of life.

Do you give people a hard time when they throw trash around?

Yeah, and my daughter does too. She’s always holding people accountable. She’s five! and she’s like, Mommy, how come that person just littered? Her dad isn’t like that so she’s always holding her dad accountable when she’s with him.


My main worry is getting a job, but that’s not fun to talk about. I don’t know how to approach–it’s so hard to describe. My generation started the recycle movement, and it’s making a difference kinda, but there’s so many people that aren’t doing it, and so much pollution on the street. We haven’t really made strides to reduce the waste. Why is there no place to get a shampoo refill at the store? We need to take it to the next level, like in Germany, in Sweden, they have really amazing recycling programs where they’re really reducing waste. We haven’t done enough. I saw someone in Providence take–I think it was leftovers–and just put it on the street out of their car, and I was like, it’s 2015! I can’t believe you’re doing that!


Just money. Financial assistance for people who don’t qualify for big bank loans. The security deposit on an apartment–or my storage unit’s about to get auctioned off if I can’t pay them. We need more financial resources here in Rhode Island. If the homeless had money to get a home, there’d be less people on the streets, the streets’d be less dirty–Are you gonna be here next week?

Yeah. So if you come back and tell me more of your anxieties, I’ll try to come back with some ideas for you.

Well, one thing that’s available is the Capital Good Fund. They give these small kinds of loans and they want to work with people who are, people who are less likely to get loans from the big banks. I’m trying to get a loan with them. [Gives me a card; I say I’ll recommend it to people who come to me with financial anxieties.]


Acidification of the ocean. Also, unrealistically, the earth and its gravity field somehow being altered. Basically, earth staying in the Goldilocks zone. But my other worry is that the solutions to climate change have too much hubris. Geoengineering, trying to change the climate change, could have a worse effect. I’m worried that the oceans will rise and probably fifty million people will be displaced, which’ll be a humanitarian crisis.

That’s a lot, so just to take that one, what are some things that we could do now to prepare for that displacement, to keep it from being a crisis?

We could prepare with vertical farming, vertical living spaces. This’d probably mean more urbanization in landlocked areas further inland, spaces that aren’t coastal, which would mean limitations on water resources. We’d need a water infrastructure that would support increased verticalization, and just doing as much as we can to sustainably protect water resources.

Okay, so the next question is, besides making room for more people, what would be the fringe benefits of taking these steps? What could we get out of it even if the additional people didn’t show up?

A greater sense of community? Decreased space in between–literally and perhaps figuratively bringing people closer. But how do you build that kind of structure? I think the goal is something not self-contained but self-containable, self-sustainable–the advantage of that would be stable food production, stable lifestyles, hopefully sustainable lifestyles. And I would hope also increased equity. Increased equity means that people of different socioeconomic classes would be able to enjoy liberties, luxurious liberties, that the richest people enjoy now. I’ve been going to the gym…and they have these hydromassage beds, and they feels so good. It’s a very simple luxury, but I didn’t know about it before. What do the wealthiest members of the world enjoy now that I can’t even imagine? At least being able to imagine it, and access it. Having access to the things that make people happy: what do enjoyment and happiness look like? There’s a distinction between pleasure and fulfillment.


What am I gonna do when my kids are grown? I think I know who I’ll be without them, and it’s not such a good guy. They make me better. I won’t be around them so much, so I won’t have to be on dad behavior. They’re a good gravitational pull.


I really do think there’s too many people on the planet and it’s not gonna work out, but I feel uncomfortable with like “Your children are wrong” or “Don’t have children”. I know a lot of radicals’ solution to this is to say we’ll have enough if resources are more efficient, more distributed and … yeah, maybe, but. And I’m worried about Providence turning into Atlanta. I don’t function in the heat. When it’s 90 degrees and humid, I just can’t, I get sick.

Today’s poem:

Everyone should have

what the worst people have first

the things we can’t even imagine are things

and we should have them in a world

so closed we can never be harmed

a poreless world sunless and worse

we should all be as bad as we can

and speak the first language

I can’t block the sun enough

can’t speak enough language

I won’t burn to travel

I want to stay something

and lie and lie and lie


3 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/1/15

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 7/1, 7/8 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 7/1, 7/8, 7/10 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 7/1, 7/13 | climateanxietycounseling

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