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


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?


[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


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