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


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.


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

  1. Pingback: Alternate Histories by Other People: 10/14, 10/15 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories by Other People: 10/15, 10/15 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 10/14, 10/14, 10/15, 10/31 | climateanxietycounseling

  4. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 10/15, 11/6 | climateanxietycounseling

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