Alternate Histories: 10/14, 10/14, 10/15, 10/31

10/14/15

Because of where I live, the disappearance of my home. I live in Wellfleet–we’re not on a FEMA flood zone, but we’re damn close.

10/14/15

I live in Gloucester, MA, right on the edge of a river and there’s the ocean on the other side. I realize the disappearance of the cove, being swallowed up by water. I can’t see it but I know it’s happening … It’s just a beautiful place. It’s just insane to think about.

10/15/15

I’m anxious about changing weather patterns and disappearing coastal wetlands. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and that’ll disappear if climate change continues.

*

10/31/15

As soon as they got home, G and V and O walked the bounds of the places they loved. O had to take a plane to do it, and then walk through water and muck, ankle-deep, knee-deep. He took a garbage bag with him, collecting plastic debris and crying as he went. V touched rocks at the waterline. G picked ticks from her skin after brushing past the beach grasses. Each year they do this now, walking the new line and the old line, noting the growing distances between them, learning their scabs and leaks, their places of surprising strength.

The ghosts of places replace places. At the hallow of the year, the old contours of the land and water hover over the new ones, almost solid, almost real, and that’s where people go. If they have to wade, the able-bodied carry on their backs anyone who can’t keep upright in the heavy surf. If they have to go in boats, they go in boats–more people who live on the coast are better at boats now, more intimate with the unruly muscle of the water, the big live animal that sometimes lashes out in pain.

When they reach the sites of their old homes, or their grandparents’ homes, or their great-great-grandparents’ homes, they let down the sounding lines. As the weights touch the bottom, the hills, the inlets, the insects, the clam flats, the bird tracks, the blades of grass become present to them, known to them. The air smells like soil as well as salt. They stay as long as the old land stays, rocking with the water. When it subsides, they leave their home to go home.

Alternate Histories by Other People: 10/15, 10/15

This is the second of two alternate histories from the Alliance of Artists’ Communities conference: the climate anxiety comes from one person, and the alternate history from another person, neither of whom are me. Here’s the first one.

10/15/15

All my favorite beaches are gonna disappear. I scuba-dive, and I can see that it’s already changing. The coral reefs are bleaching, the diversity is disappearing. I don’t see all the schools of fish that I used to see even ten years ago. And the other thing is in Colorado–the pine beetles, the dead trees.

*

10/15/15

While the building of islands in Dubai has seemed nothing but exploitative and blatantly, disrespectfully selfish, new technology for curbing erosion and inspiring reclamation of beaches and coral reefs is discovered. International relations are improved by this partnership to bring this new venture to other countries. Ecological restoration becomes lucrative and a driving force of industry–balance of resources the new paradigm.

Alternate Histories by Other People: 10/14, 10/15

This is one of two alternate histories from the Alliance of Artists’ Communities conference: the climate anxiety comes from one person, and the alternate history from another person, neither of whom are me.

10/14/15

I’m worried about people in developing countries who are already having trouble getting water, or food–everything that they need. We’re a rich country, we’ll be able to help ourselves. It just feels so unfair. They’re not the ones causing it–we rich nations are causing it, and they’re the ones who are gonna suffer for it.

*

10/15/15

Despite the physical distance between places on the planet, residents on one side feel the real, deep, even cellular-level connection among all beings and things on the planet. We think consciously how we can provide for each other as we see ourselves in the other–we are one. Human consciousness has been raised.

Climate Anxiety Counseling in Burnside Park, 10/15/15

Weather: “It’s fall weather, I can’t explain it.”–a young woman, on the phone

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5.5

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Conversations between people who didn’t know each other previously: 1

Self-induced hair colors spotted: old turquoise, new hot pink, deep purple braids, lavender pixie cut

People who I recognized from last time, and who recognized me: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.25

Observations:

I’ve found that during “for one night only” appearances, relatively few people come up to me–maybe they need time to get used to me being there?

Also, a Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy music-and-beer event was happening in the park itself, so people were maybe mostly in a different mode.

A woman who spoke up for me once when someone was harassing me was there, but she didn’t give any recognition of me.

Some conversations:

[These two were friends.]

Friend 1: Is it like people are worried about the climate?

Yeah.

[To friend] That’s smooth, right? I like that.

You got any anxieties?

Not about the climate. But it just goes to show there’s somebody for everybody that needs somebody.

Friend 2: Is it like global warming and the glaciers are melting faster than they’ve ever melted in the history of the earth?

*

I’m having trouble getting a bed. I have an apartment, but in the place I was staying in before that, they had bedbugs and roaches. I moved and I had to leave everything behind. I’m sleeping on a futon and it’s real uncomfortable.

*

I’m a little concerned about the lack of rain. It’s different from what I’d expect this time of year.

Are you a gardener?

I do garden, but in the long term I’m worried about the trees.

*

I’m discouraged by a lot of things outside of my control.

What do you do when you feel that discouragement?

I do something else–I think I circulate the anxieties. I leave the house, I do another job. It’s like the way I think about deep space–I think about deep space too much.

Do you talk about it?

I talk about it with my housemates, but there’s a lot of science I don’t understand, information I don’t have or don’t know how to approach. There’s a book [about climate change] I haven’t read yet… There are concessions I can make–it’s not that hard. I don’t have to have a car, I don’t have to use a lot of heat. I read an article that was talking about shooting this chemical cloud into the atmosphere–rather than solving any of the issues we’ll attempt to build some more technology, like, Oh phew, the scientists will save us. Like, We made the problem and now we’ll make the solution. It’s just this idea of progression.

*

Work. I work for a nonprofit organization, [NAME]. Fundraising can be stressful, but when you meet the families it’s worth it. We don’t receive any state funding, we’re all donor based.

*

Everyone in the world today recognizes that we’re on a path that’s not sustainable, except here. Even if somebody else recognizes it, nobody’s willing to take the drastic steps that we really need to take, but at least we could take half-steps and we’re not even doing that. I start thinking about where I could move that I could be more in control of. When you live in a large city like Providence, pretty much everything is out of your control. I rely on electricity that comes from thousands of miles away.

Today’s poem:

“Why should I cry” the music keeps saying

well if you won’t I can’t make you

any making I can do would wear

away the second we all turned

from each other into meat and bone

pick up our detritus with a grabber

something to make sure you never touch

word on the park is barrier after barrier

send the bums to that side

do you want the park or

do you want fast music or

to hold yourself in the back of the heart

some piercing point or other for the sun

to enter but never escape

after we matter and are all over

Tell the FERC: No Fracked Gas Processing/Liquid Natural Gas Plant in Providence!

Today, October 26th, is the last day to submit a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, telling them why they should not permit National Grid to build a Liquid Natural Gas plant on the Southside of Providence.

More information about why they should not build it is available here, here, here, and here, if you need to catch up or want ideas for your comment.

FERC has a comment form here. You’ll need the project docket number, PF15-28-000. It’s in the CP Docket (Applications for Authorization to Construct a Natural Gas Pipeline, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Other Facility). It also asks for your name, street address and email address.

If you live in Providence, love it or love anyone here, and/or if you want to make it harder for people and companies to process fossil fuels with extractive technology anywhere, and/or if you’ve ever said to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth, “I wish there was something I could do,” please help us all in this way.

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities Conference, 10/14 and 10/15

Weather: Weirdly, heavily air-conditioned.

Number of people: 12 stoppers over 2 days, forgot to count walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: I used a slightly different procedure this time, described below

Alternate Histories: 2; I’ll post them later this week.

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Pictures taken without permission: 2

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 2

Flyers/cards for other concerns proffered and accepted: 7

Dogs seen: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.85, plus the $150.00 stipend the conference gave me for being a presenter

Observations:

Because I was indoors, because the booth was one of a few attractions, and because the conference coordinators thought it was a good idea, I tried to add an additional form of visual interaction to the booth this time. I made a display (out of a yoga mat, a bolt of green fabric from somebody else’s stash, a borrowed folding table, and two pieces of wood from RISD 2nd Life, if anyone’s curious). My idea was that instead of writing down people’s climate anxieties in the big binder, I’d write them on cards that would also have room for someone else to fill in an alternate history, and then I’d put them up on the display, connecting related ones with gold thread. This … sort of happened. In any case, because of how I wrote them down, the climate anxieties people shared with me are more compressed here than they would normally be; I did the sorting while taking notes instead of after, and I didn’t include anything I said or asked.

In addition to Flannery and Deb, special thanks is absolutely due to Lori and Caitlyn at the Submittable table who were generous with their conversation and their donuts, and to Meg who helped hold up the display while I attempted to lash it into place with bungee cords.

Incidence of really excellent jewelry was higher than at any other booth site. Because it was a professional conference, mostly of people representing arts organizations and wanting to look it, I would say in general that most people were dressed up right.

This event appeared on the ARTCOP21 Map and you should look there for other events, actions, performances, convergences leading up to the Paris climate conferences in December.

Some of the conversations below have alternate histories supplied by other conferencegoers, and I’ll post those another day.

Some conversations:

I’m worried about people in developing countries who are already having trouble getting water, or food–everything that they need. We’re a rich country, we’ll be able to help ourselves [sic]. It just feels so unfair. They’re not the ones causing it–we rich nations are causing it, and they’re the ones who are gonna suffer for it.

*

I live in Gloucester, MA, right on the edge of a river and there’s the ocean on the other side. I realize the disappearance of the cove, being swallowed up by water. I can’t see it but I know it’s happening. We recently had it named in honor of somebody, and it’s just a beautiful place. It’s just insane to think about.

*

When my son was seven, he heard that there was an asteroid heading toward the earth and he could not sleep. So he started to learn about it, he found out more about it, and talked to me about it. In high school he took an environmental science class and it was back to the not sleeping. And that’s what he’s doing in college right now, and I say, “I’m sorry this is the planet my generation is leaving you.” I think the wrong people are worried about it. My effort to do all this is nothing. The people who are doing this are the construction industry, the hospital industry–they’re not worried.

*

I have a [residency program at a] family farm in upstate New York. The land has been fallow in the years that I’ve used it. It’s a mixture of fields, woods and wetlands. I’m looking for an appropriate succession plan. I would like to find an ecological curator who can figure out how to sustainably, ecologically and entrepreneurially farm these 75 acres.* My mission is twofold, one is culture and the other is environment.

*Doctor’s note: If this describes or could describe you, please get in touch with me at my g mail address, publiclycomplex–this person has given me permission to share information about the position with people who might like and be able to do it.

*

The problem of feeding people. The food supply is completely unbalanced, and even if some countries manage to feed people, the food quality is generally very bad. And antibiotics in the food supply–and climate change is a huge factor. Even if the community wants to engage, there is not always enough land available to farm on a smaller scale … I’m really frustrated with the older generation–do something about it yourselves.

*

Because of where I live, the disappearance of my home. I live in Wellfleet–we’re not in a FEMA flood zone, but we’re damn close.

*

I’m anxious about changing weather patterns and disappearing coastal wetlands. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and that’ll disappear if climate change continues … It’s hard to have in your own life a sense of efficacy. A lot of people are stuck in “someone else has to do it.” We are all in this together, but not everyone sees it that way.

*

We’re maybe entering World War III. All the different hot spots of violence. Climate change changes environments, changes natural resources–it’s all connected.

*

It’s so hot now, and I always sweat. It seems like there’s nowhere anymore that’s cold. Now I live in the Bay Area and when it’s like 60 degrees [Fahrenheit] out people are like, “Oh, it’s cold,” but it’s not, it’s not.

*

I’m in Western MA and there’s a proposed pipeline coming through. We’re in this environment and we can see the stars, smell the air, hear the birds, and all that is threatened. It seems really big and out of reach and we’re trying to get people to understand that it’s not just a little town in Massachusetts, it’s a bigger thing.

*

All my favorite beaches are gonna disappear. I scuba-dive, and I can see that it’s already changing. The coral reefs are bleaching, the diversity is disappearing. I don’t see all the schools of fish that I used to see even ten years ago. And the other thing is in Colorado–the pine beetles, the dead trees.

*

I work at a nature center. I feel especially anxious when I’m trying to empower young people to believe that it’s not hopeless, and I don’t always believe that.

What do you do when you start to feel like that?

I go for a walk in the woods, but I know too much to just go for a walk in the woods.

Climate Anxiety Counseling AND Alternate Histories at a Creative Medicine Lecture, 10/14/15

At the end of this lecture, I invited the people in attendance to write down their own climate anxiety, trade with or pass to the person sitting next to them, and write an alternate history for that anxiety. I’d explained as part of the lecture what an alternate history is/does, and read a sample one–this one. Many more people wrote than handed me what they wrote.

This is a relatively new format for the booth (though I’ve invited people to do it before) and I’m still working out how to set it up well and not try to control it too much.

The people attending this free lecture included some Brown students, some Brown professors, some who were neither, some friends of mine, and some strangers; I was distracted/relieved by being done speaking and didn’t notice who handed in which writings.

CLIMATE ANXIETY: I fear that the world my children inherit from my generation will be overtaken by loss, violence, brutality, exploitation; and there will no longer be wild landscapes to which they can retreat.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: Have you ever read the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy? It’s a book of the apocalypse, in which a father and son try to survive in this “new world”–the only world the son has ever experienced. The son finds beauty in this world, because it’s all he has ever experienced, and in turn he makes the world that much more beautiful. I think with this mentality, we can create a society of sympathetic minds, which may slowly rebuild a new image of a wonderful world.

*

CLIMATE ANXIETY: I’m worried about the attitude toward refugees all over the First World [sic]–what’s happening in Syria and Europe right now–what’s happening here on our border with Mexico–Trump’s poll ratings and his idea for a “giant wall” on the border. Why can’t we accept fellow humans just because they are beyond an imaginary border? What will we do when more people are homeless and need a place to go because of climate, war or otherwise?

ALTERNATE HISTORY: Educational policy changes so that understandings of psychological and psychosocial dynamics are taught at early stages–especially the way people project internal anxieties onto others. And there is a genuine move to make international law more robust and to make national borders more practical than infused with bad patriotism.

*

CLIMATE ANXIETY:

All of the environmental

changes associated

with global warming–

different coastlines

different weather

different wildlife

more life stress living

with these changes.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: You seem to be afraid of change. Maybe a place to start is to look at the possibility that change can be productive and positive instead of doom-filled. We don’t know yet how this will turn [around? can’t read their handwriting] but people who are creative and determined to “use the change” will help us realize our potential to change for the better.

*

CLIMATE ANXIETY: I fear the sensation of not being able to breathe clean air, someday soon, and of not trusting the water I drink is safe.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: The new world that could be possible will include more public awareness of the needs of our planet and how it supports us. Through faith leaders (Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, etc.) speaking on it, as well as civic leaders, more focus, effort and energy will be devoted to global health in a way that can improve life for individuals and environment. Better not to deny–

How to Object to Fracked Gas Processing in Providence before 10/26

National Grid wants to liquefy fracked natural gas from other states in Providence. You can read more about this, and about why Rhode Island residents object to this liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, here, here, here and here. If you also object to it, you can sign a petition to Mayor Elorza, Senator Whitehouse and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

You can also write to the FERC directly, and I encourage you to do so before October 26th. Here’s how:

At www.ferc.gov, use the eComment forms to send in your comment. You’ll need the project docket number, PF15-28-000. It’s in the CP Docket (Applications for Authorization to Construct a Natural Gas Pipeline, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Other Facility). It also asks for your name, street address and email address.

You can also mail paper comments to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington DC 20426. In your letter, you should refer to the project docket number, PF15-28-000.

The links above can furnish you with lists of reasons why the FERC should not approve National Grid’s attempt to build this facility in Providence, or anywhere. I hope you’ll add your voice to the objections before 10/26.

Points of Service: Responsive Art-Making & Intimate Public Discourse

Maybe you couldn’t come to the Creative Medicine Lecture I gave on October 14th. I thought you might like to see the basic words of it. Throughout the week I’ll post the collaborative climate anxieties and alternate histories that people wrote after the talk. Thanks to Jay Baruch, Kit Salisbury, the Cogut Center for the Humanities and everyone who asked such good questions.

*

In the fall of 2013, I read an article predicting the near-future extinction of coral reefs, and by the winter of 2013, I started feeling very bad all the time. I had no language for how bad I was feeling and why. When people asked me what I was crying about, I said, “I’m crying about climate change and ecosystem destruction,” and they were nice about it but they looked at me funny. One person said it wasn’t normal to feel as bad as I did about it, and that made me wonder if other people were feeling the same way, or if they were hiding it, or what was the thing that felt like this to them. I tried to think how I could find this out, and I thought of Lucy’s booth in Peanuts—I’m married with a cartoonist—and that’s how Climate Anxiety Counseling was born.

I now know that a lot of people are anxious about climate change, both from people who talked to me at the booth and from articles that people have written since then. Psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren described it as “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” with anger and panic and obsessive, intrusive thoughts. Climate scientists are expressing their anxiety at a website called Is This How You Feel?, and in interviews with Rolling Stone and Slate. Adults feel it, kids feel it. Organizations have sprung up to address it–the Rhode Island Dept of Health hosted a talk with someone from the Resource Innovation Group’s Transformational Resilience Program who spoke about the stresses of climate change, its effects, and the knowledge of it. There’s the deep terror that goes beyond fearing your own death, fearing the world will not go on without you. There’s the human-apocalyptic scenarios–food shortages, infectious water, desperate people turning violent. There’s the feared discomfort of hot summers, the inability to sleep. There are questions that feel aesthetic but that I think are actually our way of acknowledging our interdependence with the species and systems of our world–will we still have the crisp fall weather that I love, in which I can feel the world I live in saying certain things to me? Will this bird, which I’ve never seen in mutual personal presence, but which I find so beautiful, survive? And with all that there’s the helplessness, the sense that there’s nothing I, or I, or I can do to slow this down, to stop it, to reverse it–that it’s out of our hands.

People brought all of these up to me at the booth. They also, as I pretty much expected, brought up a lot of other sources of worry and anger and fear that might have the same roots as climate change but didn’t have to do with it specifically. Many of them already have no safe place to stay, already don’t know where their next meal is coming from, are already angry and potentially violent or the targets of violence. Many of them, many of us, live within a fearful state of mind and being, one that shrinks and hardens our personal borders–there are so many things to which we’re vulnerable no matter how hard we resist, and so many barriers that are raised against so many of us, that it’s tempting to raise barriers wherever we can.

From the very beginning I knew that I wanted it to be easy for people to talk to me, and that I wasn’t going to try to control too much what they said—I wanted them to be able to talk about whatever was pressing on their minds the most. I wanted to create a shared language for talking about climate change, and I also wanted to figure out what might prevent people from worrying about it and, thus, acting to try to minimize it—not that I really had any idea how they would do that. What might be paralyzing them, or causing them to feel stuck, as I did.

People told me all kinds of things, both climate-related and not, and if you want to know more about what they were you can definitely look at the project website where I keep a record of all the booth sessions, but what I want to focus on for the moment is the fact that I was there at all, and that they told me things at all. There were two things that happened with the booth—interactions with people I know, who were mainly there because it was me, and interactions with people I didn’t know, which mainly happened because they were intrigued or appealed to. Both of them resulted in me listening to and asking questions about things that I doubt they would have shared with me in any other context.

I made the booth small so I could move it without a car and so it would be nonthreatening, and I made it at all because I thought it would provide a framework, a kind of mini-room, for our conversation. Something that protected me, that armored me, but not completely; something that revealed me, that made me available, but not completely. Sort of like a doctor’s office, except that you don’t have to wrangle insurance or get yourself to an appointment or prove you need help. All you have to do is encounter me, by accident, in the space you inhabit, and decide to talk with me. If you don’t need to talk to me, fine—I won’t bother you. If you do need to talk to me, here I am, sitting behind a plywood-and-cardboard construction. And while you are talking with me, you are my focus–my attention is yours, and your distress is close to mine.

So that’s one thing the booth made me think about that I didn’t expect, which is how we can take care of each other differently by turning some of the dials of expertise, intimacy, effort and protection to different levels. My expertise is really low, but the sunk costs on both sides for talking to me are also really low. Talking with me at the booth is not a big investment of anyone’s time or energy or money. The booth’ s drop-in structure means that some of the things that are exhausting or demoralizing about feeling like you have to “keep up with” your own care are absent. It’s clear, because of what it’s about, that it doesn’t “all depend on you”—it can’t. If anything is happening, if anything is working, it’s happening while we’re talking at the booth together, in the moment of the interaction.

But what is it that’s happening and how do we know? I know that for me, becoming the person I am at the booth is good for my mind and body. That person’s fuse is longer; she asks more questions; she listens better. She’s more alert to interaction. Who does the person talking to me become, while they’re talking to me? Do they know that person, like that person? Do they feel eased? Our interactions are fleeting. It’s an upside—they’re low pressure. It’s a downside: I don’t know if they matter outside of the moment in which they take place. I don’t know if they allow anyone else to feel better, be kinder, be braver—these are the things want, the kinds of things I’d like to see happen, to enable if I can.

I do know that there may be people here in the audience who when they hear “easier access” or “fewer boundaries” or “availability” freeze up—maybe you can’t imagine giving more than you already give, have already carefully calibrated what you CAN give, or have had bad experiences with being “available” and “accessible”?

So much of the way we talk about care is the way we talk about food and land and water and space and time: a language of scarcity, of being grabbed at, protecting ourselves from a thousand hands. In some ways this is true and in some ways it feels true. Another way to say this is that there are more needs than any one of us can meet, and that each person who talks to us about one of their needs is bringing us all of their needs–a tremendous weight balanced on a tiny point of contact. And I think this is especially true when the pain is really bad, and it’s especially true when it’s been really hard to get to the person who you think can help you, and it’s especially true when that is or seems like your only chance for that kind of help, and it’s especially true when you think of yourself as alone, beleaguered, beset.

In my little cardboard ramshackle booth, I don’t look like I have a lot of power over other people—I don’t look official—and I think for some people that might be what frees them to stop, and to speak. On my side of the booth, it seems like the fleetingness and strangeness of the interaction also protect me–it shelters different parts of me than, for example, a receptionist might, or an obligation to serve a certain number of people each day. It allows me and the person speaking with me to share a different kind of moment, maybe more direct, less threatening–I have more power than some of them, but I have no power over them in that moment, nor am I responsible for them in the way I imagine I would feel if I had an ongoing, official relationship with them. The structure of the booth–and also my own great social good luck, the fact that I get to go home and eat something and that my home is relatively safe and filled with love–helps me walk between peace and intimacy, detachment and involvement.

So is all of this fake, then, just fake and feel-good? Calling something art sometimes makes people feel relieved, like, “Oh, it’s just a movie”–that feeling. The “gallery wall” feeling. Am I signaling to people that talking with me is enough, putting a stupid band-aid on energy that we could use for action and change? Talking with me about your addiction doesn’t help to ease the pressures and pains in your life that make that addiction appealing. Talking with me about your fears for warming seas, ecosystems gutted and homes washed away isn’t going to dismantle the economic and social practices that contribute to global warming, toxins entering the water supply, deforestation.

Saying that you miss and long for your mother doesn’t bring her back, but it acknowledges that the burden of her loss was never wholly yours to carry. Acknowledging those things together, even just saying them out loud, can–it does for me, it’s one reason why I keep doing the booth. I’m not saying it definitely works this way for everybody, but it does feel right to me to talk about our losses and our fears, even though I also totally hate it and resent it and wish it would go away–I do this because I know it can’t go away. Roy Scranton, who wrote Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, speaks of setting aside time and space in his day to fully, darkly imagine the worst, and the way this frees him to be more present, active and powerful in the rest of each day.

Just as we use art to matter and not matter, we use it to deal with what we can’t deal with. Ursula K. LeGuin wrote that “fiction says in words what cannot be said in words.” And it can also help model and imagine what we could do that we’re not doing right now. If moments like the ones I sometimes have with people at the booth were more widespread, more frequent, more possible, would we see a change? What if such moments, such structures, were a recognized part of a complex network of ways of dealing with your mind in the world that might also contain—depending on your life, your needs—family, doctors, religion or meditation, medication, education/learning, changes in other aspects of the world itself?

You might still be having a hard time, because some things are terrible, but maybe there would be room for you. Maybe some days the point-of-service counseling would be enough, maybe there’d be walk-in services in several places, maybe a guaranteed basic income or a single-payer health care system would make it easier to see someone with deep training. The booth is not set up for deep healing–if anything, it offers microhealings, sort of the opposite of microaggressions, things that are small on their own but that I hope have the potential to add up. Maybe because they are small there can be a lot of them. Maybe if they could be combined with access to deeper, more painful or joyful practices, they would free a person to engage in that deeper kind of healing–including for a person who already monitors and facilitates deeper healing for others. What kinds of structures, what kinds of houses, can we build for these various interactions? What kind of edifice, what kind of pattern, what kind of time?

These “maybes”, these imaginings are part of how I extend the booth: I write alternate histories, imagining near futures where the sources of people’s anxieties are undone, removed, changed; stories that show us shifting our social priorities, stretching out our hands to benefit different people and structures than the ones we benefit by default right now. If we can imagine it, maybe we can build it. A good thing to remember here is that how we feel is inside us, but how we act is outside of us. Responding to the feelings that climate change and other forms of distress instill in us is good, but responding directly to the distress is good too, if we can. The booth feels like action to me, but insufficient action, but maybe a way to model habits and interactions that can make our present more livable, more open, whatever it does for our future.

These ideas and practices are weak, partial, meant to be critiqued and picked up and adapted and adjusted and reimagined by other people. Nothing we do alone matters, but we don’t do anything alone. And we have the luxury of being in this room together, of shared space and time. So before we do questions, I want to take a moment to respond to each other’s climate anxieties. I’ve left a piece of paper and for each of you, and I want you to write your climate anxiety on the paper, at the top. Then pass it to your neighbor–all you need to do is end up with one you didn’t write–and write a vision of a future in which their fears are no longer necessary and their needs are met. Change whatever you have to to do that.

RIPTA Fare Change Meeting AND #FloodTheSystem: 2 More 10/14 Events

There are two things happening tomorrow that I can’t go to, but maybe you can:

Informational Meeting on Proposed Fare Changes for RIPTA Buses

11:30am-1pm

Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence, RI

RIPTA proposes raising bus fares for people on fixed incomes, many of whom currently ride for free. If you have a chance to go and tell them why they should make a different plan, please do.

Also:

The Environmental Justice League of RI is taking part in a #FloodTheSystem march in Columbus Square, Port of Providence, starting at 4pm, prompted partly by the proposal to build a plant for processing fracked gas on the Southside. You can email them (address is at the page linked above) for more information.

Maybe you should go to these things instead of my things! Maybe I should go to these things instead of my things!