Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/8/15

Weather: swampy, then a cloudburst, then hot and bright, then another cloudburst

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.25


It was generally a slow market day, maybe because of the heat and the rain.

Lots of people go into Knight Memorial Library from the side entrances rather than walk through the market to go in the front entrance.

I handled a couple of conversations … not badly, but not optimally, and I wish I’d done differently.

Multiple people opened their conversations with me by asking, “So did everyone come to you with their climate anxieties when it started raining?” or “Did everyone run to you in the downpour saying ‘climate change’?” There’s a little more information about climate change and rain in Rhode Island here, and here’s more about heavy rain and climate change generally.

Some conversations:

How we’re gonna make the transition into a new kind of world. I can feel the vision of the new world–I’m ready, a lot of people I know are more than ready, but we don’t know how to make smooth transitions from the way things are now. And I hope there won’t have to be a crisis or a tragedy in order to change people’s habits, which are deeply engrained. I’ve been trying to live my way into it, and I can see the structures crumbling. No one I know has any money, everyone I know is broke. They say the economy’s fine but it’s not fine for anyone I know. I have a lot of things I can offer the world, but I can’t figure out how to monetize them. We have to figure out how to put other structures in place. A friend of mine’s trying to start a Rhode Island mutual aid network*, where people who have real skills could share them with each other. But I owe [a very large amount of money] to National Grid and I can’t barter my skills with them.

Doctor’s note: could the friend be thinking of something like this?


A friend of mine’s son got shot and he died 15 minutes ago. And I have two sons, and one of them’s been shot twice. So violence and repercussions in this city. I just called the mother to say I have her paycheck, we work together, and she was still crying.


Things I should be doing that I don’t do. Like getting rid of my car, moving into very small square footage, buying only clothes made in America and meant to last. But the main reason I don’t get rid of my car is how will I move stuff around for projects? Do I get a UHaul, is that responsible? Is a car share responsible?


I’m kind of a neighborhood rabble-rouser. I helped bring this market to the library lawn. And [the people I work with and I] work with certain guiding principles: social justice, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice. We have less of a voice than other neighborhoods in the city, and why is that? We’re marginalized in public meetings–the South Side gets five minutes to speak, and the East Side gets 45 minutes … I can talk to anybody if they wanna talk, as long as they’re willing to build the conversation and stay in the conversation.


The world blowing up. My brother teases me about it. He says it’s gonna blow up in 2030.

Do you know what makes him think that?

He said he looked it up.

Have you looked it up to see if he’s telling the truth?

No, I don’t wanna.

What do you do when you think about it and you start to get scared?

I play with my dog and eat popcorn.

Does that help?


So now I have a weird question. Suppose he was right and the world was gonna end in 2030. What would you want to spend your time doing?

Living life to the fullest. Going on a really fast ride, doing lots of fun stuff. And being rich too. I know how to sing, so I’m gonna be a singer.

Do you record your songs?

I’m gonna put music on YouTube and see if people like it. One more question.

My last question is, if you were gonna help other kids do what they want to do, how would you do it?

I would do a fund and a company–well, not a company, a program, kinda like a school, or like an after-school program. This sun is smacking me right in the back.


I was thinking about this walking over here: all the water everywhere is polluted. Even the water in the ocean, this water that feels so cleansing and refreshing and [mineralizing?] is polluted. We’re showering in chlorinated water, and I read that chlorine makes you sluggish*–I don’t want to be showering in less enlivening water every day. There’s the loss of species, and not many people even realize it–we’re separating ourselves from the essence of being alive. I don’t think being alive has anything to do with shopping malls and superhighways.

Do you feel this disconnection, or are you worried about other people feeling it, or–

I definitely feel it, and when I get to be in nature [sic], I’m more comfortable, more at peace, less stressed. I lived in a tent for four months, and it was the happiest I’ve ever been. But I like the city, I like people and art and–and restaurants, but I feel like it’s in our human potential to bring together the best of both worlds.


*Doctor’s note: I can’t find confirmation for this. Anyone?

Today’s poem:

Will I be here

will I be here again

will my clothes dry quickly

like this was an argument

will I walk out of here

with a grasp of finance

black cloth accruing heat

paper gathering water

in a good cause the tops

of the tents collecting

from scratch and dust

hanging in the hot air

what do you use

and how do you hover

filthy and drawn out

like all water

sooner or later

4 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/8/15

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

  2. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/22/15 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/7, 7/8, 9/16 | climateanxietycounseling

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