Climate Rallies in RI/MA 11/29: Peacedale, Foxboro

The COP21 international talks on climate change in Paris have canceled many public demonstrations, and people throughout the world have been organizing responsive marches in their own places. Here are two:

Twilight Climate Rally, Sunday, 11/29, 3:45pm, Foxboro Common in front of Boyden Library, Foxboro, MA (RSVP/more info)

Global Climate March, Sunday, 11/29, 11:30am, Unitarian Universalist Church of South County, 27 North Rd, Peacedale (RSVP/more info)

You can also sign up to show up on someone else’s behalf, or ask someone else to do that for you, at March4Me. This is great if you can’t physically get to a march, have responsibilities that prevent you from going, or have bodily or mental needs that a march or demonstration jeopardizes.

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Reparation Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving, also known as Reparation Thursday! If you are a  descendant of the Europeans who settled the place now known as the U.S., and you don’t have a farm to give back this year, here are some smaller options.

Especially if you live near it, you can donate to the Tomaquag Museum, or a museum of Native art, history and culture in your area. I’ll even look one up for you if you leave your region in the comments!

You could donate to the American Indian College Fund and help someone who wants to go to college go to college.

You could support language restoration, preservation and revitalization efforts, like ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, Liicugtukut Alutiiq, the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, the Euchee/Yuchi Language Project, or another in your area/region (this is just a small sample–search for the bolded phrase above + the name of a tribe or nation in your area). Not all of these sites have links for donation, but if they don’t and especially if they’re in your region, it’s worth writing to them and see if they can accept donations from individuals.

You could help fund indigenous activism that is also explicitly ecological activism, like the Indigenous Environmental Network, or other projects that work toward sustaining Native peoples and cultures, like Running Strong, or projects that seek justice for Native peoples and cultures, like the Lakota People’s Law Project. Again, these are starting points; there are plenty more, and it’s good to look for something associated with the people whose land you’re living on.

This, is, pretty literally, the least you can do.

Leave other ideas in the comments! Or if there’s a problem you know of with any of these organizations, let me know about that too–I cross-checked where I could, but have no direct experience with most of them.

Today is a good day to give back.

 

Alternate Histories: 10/14, 11/25

10/14/15

When my son was seven, he heard there was an asteroid heading toward the Earth and he could not sleep. So we talked about it, and he read about it a lot, and he learned 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 causing this, the construction industry, the hospital industry–they’re not worried.

 

11/25/15

Now W is twenty-five; he has a job with the state foresters. Now he is thirty-three, training deer hunters and guerilla protectors of the state’s forests in the Arcadia Management Area. Now he is six, learning the deep names of the plants and landforms from his grandmother and aunties. Now he is thirty-five and the seedlings he and his cousins planted have reached hip height and then succumbed to an illness that drifted up from the south. Now he is seven, staying up all night, reading books about craters and trajectories and blast radii and impact sites; the flashlight they keep handy for when National Grid turns the power off is like a bright heavenly body that should not be there, and his mother comes in to sit with him. Now he is forty, leaning off a ladder to help his other cousins encrust a disused coal plant with solar cells and vine grafts. Now he is fifty-nine and chewing culen, which drifted up from the south, to manage his diabetes. Now he is twenty-one, dancing in honor of his history, in the presence of his future.

There is no construction industry anymore; there are people who build things, and people who advise them on building things, old people who squat beside heaps of excavated earth or lean on a piece of reclaimed lumber or roll up, nudging the controls of their balloon-tired power chairs with their chins, or are carried on the back of a stalwart grandchild. There is no hospital industry anymore; there is, sort of, a pharmaceutical industry, since some medicines and medical supplies are best made at a factory scale, but people care for each other’s bodies and minds on a case-by-case basis. They are tender, vulgar, exhausted; they don’t see death as anybody’s failure. Every year, the time comes to send some of them on their way. It doesn’t matter which year it is.

 

 

 

Fracking and Ecologically Motivated Art at the Providence Athenaeum, Half Life at the Columbus Theater

I can’t go to Cloud Eye Control’s performance of Half Life at the Columbus Theater tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8pm, but I wish I could. It’s “a mix of projected animation, theater and music that examines the psychic fallout of global disaster.” Tickets on a sliding scale, $10-$30. Before the show, Ju-Pong Lin will be there with her conversation project Wicked Questions.

The Providence Athenaeum, with ecoRI News and FirstWorks, are holding two events that readers of this site may want to know about. I’m in the second one. Both are free in money.

Friday, 11/20 (that’s tonight), 5-7pm: While fracking has lowered current gas prices and made us less dependent on foreign oil, it has some negative consequences. Ground water can be contaminated, and a dramatic incidence of small earthquakes has resulted from the injection of waste fluids produced by fracking. For example, Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than California. The potential for more, even larger man-induced earthquakes looms as the Department of Energy begins “carbon sequestration” – pumping carbon dioxide down disposal wells to attempt to reduce future climate change. Join Brown University Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences Terry E. Tullis, Chair of the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, to discuss the potential effect of our present practices on our future.

Friday, 11/27, 5-7pm (this is the one I’m in): As demonstrated in the Cloud Eye Control performance on 11/21, artists have always engaged with, responded to, and reflected their environment in their artwork, whether inspired by pristine wilderness or the densely built city. Join us for a conversation with RI artists, including photographer/sculptor Scott Lapham and writer Kate Schapira, whose work addresses a variety of environmental issues and instigations, and learn how they use their work to calibrate, celebrate, test, and protest the evolving consequences of human interaction on the physical environment.

When the program coordinator wrote to invite me, she started the email, “Hope you are well in this beautiful weather and terrible world.”

Rally Against RIPTA Fare Increase, Thursday 11/19

From the RIPTA Riders’ Alliance:

A protest against bus fare hikes will be held
4pm Thursday Nov 19 (next week) at the Smith St
side of the State House.

We are also asking riders to call state leaders
to tell them to fund RIPTA and stop these fare hikes:
Speaker Nicholas Mattiello 401-⁠222-⁠2466,
Governor Gina Raimondo 401-⁠222-⁠2080,
Senate President Teresa Paiva-⁠Weed 401-⁠222-⁠6655.

The event page is here.

I posted RIPTA’s schedule of hearings about the increases here.

A Child for No Seasons

How long will we be able to start a story, one that we tell or write, with, “I was having a drink with a friend when …”? How long will we be able to say, “It was fall,” and have the person we’re talking to share more than a meaning, a physical consciousness, a follicular and olfactory consensus? In this November in New England, the wind is warm, and some of the trees still have not only leaves, but green leaves. The Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland streamed with water all summer. “Before it’s too late,” the articles say, but they don’t say too late for what, and they’ve been saying something similar for what feels like years.

It was fall, and it felt like fall, what fall feels like; I was having a drink with my friend in a bar near both our houses. We were talking about the ways in which, on most days, this fall hadn’t felt like fall–the feeling of going outside at the end of the working day, into a dark evening, and feeling the air caress instead of bite. Seasons are not an aesthetic luxury: they are a human bodymind necessity as well as a necessity for the other parts of the ecosystem who live and die according to whether it’s cold or warm, rainy or dry. For city-dwellers in particular, seasons are one of the ways the world gives us information about itself that we can hear, smell, feel whatever else is happening, however many or few plants or animals we see during a given day, however cut off our view of the sky. Receiving unexpected signals, I feel rudderless, unsettled.

“I wonder about the people growing up now,” my friend said. “I feel like a sense of the seasons, what each season is, was such a huge part of my sense of the world growing up, and people who are being born now might not ever have a chance to experience that. Or people who are like–eight to twelve–now, they’re old enough to recognize when something is different than before, and they know that they’re different than before, but they don’t have a way to understand what that means–especially people growing up in context where it’s not possible to talk about this.”

One thing people often say to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth is how frustrated they get, talking with people in their own families who won’t acknowledge that global climate change is human-caused. “This project would have to be really different if you did it in Nebraska, where my in-laws are from,” said another friend, also a writer. “Every time I try to bring it up with them, the conversation turns very quickly to God’s plan–how God would not allow anything to happen that humans couldn’t survive.”

In Texas, one of three states with the largest influence on the textbook industry throughout the U.S., an organization called the Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition was as recently as February 2015 negatively reviewing textbooks that describe climate change as human-caused and threatening. They hoped by this to influence textbook sales, and thus contents, throughout the country. Two researchers examining four middle-school science textbooks from California (another of the three) found that the textbooks made the link between human activity and global climate change tenuous or invisible, and used language that cast doubt on scientists’ consensus that climate change is real, human-made, and dangerous to the web of life on earth.

Textbooks have never been a great teaching tool. Every kid hates them, and they are at best one-sided and dishonest depictions of the world and at worst tools of continued domination; they attempt to describe a fixed world, to fix the world, to pin it down. This is particularly stupid and terrifying now that last year’s polar ice cap may be this year’s pool of cold water, when the permafrost opens to reveal huge caverns in the earth and release huge wafts of heat-trapping methane, when next year we may no longer be able to say when monarch butterflies begin their migration because there are no more monarch butterflies. And these are the big things, the things that involve giant currents of air and water moving far above and below us. In our presence, in our sensory experience, we know that it’s just too warm, that as yet another friend wrote, “the wrong things are living, the wrong things are dying.” Will our children know that green leaves still on trees are all wrong for early November, that mid-November is too late for the first hard frost? How can what’s happening be so wrong? How can it be allowed to happen?

I say, “Our children,” like I’m directly responsible for any (I’m not), or like all children are all of ours (they are). I’ve written before about the temptation  to talk about climate change in terms of “the future,” “our children,” “the next generation,” kicking the can of suffering from it–and, in some cases, of adapting to it or “solving” it–a generation down the road. (I’ve also written into why “generation” may not be the best or only way of thinking about these things.) Many people who’ve spoken to me at the booth have done so in terms of their children, one or two while actually standing next to the child or holding them in their arms. It’s not wrong to ask what our present conditions of living may be preparing for our children, especially if we already have some, but we are wrong, factually wrong, if we mentally and emotionally place climate change in the future.

When will it be too late? Too late for what? To put it another way, will this be the year we remember as the last sweet year, in spite of the sick weather–the last year we could have a drink with a friend at a bar (whiskey, lighting, refrigeration, time, freedom of movement, food security), the last year the vine made grapes, the last year that James and I stayed in bed all morning and had sex and made breakfast and cleaned up the rotten grapes from the backyard and worked on the computer and ate cake and then watched a show about people who make cake? Whatever opinions you have about that list, substitute your own pleasure, something neither innocuous nor actively cruel, something fragile to systems of money and supply and status, systems of air and earth and water, as we all are fragile.

My mom sometimes suggests that I not tax myself with forethought of grief. My mom likes to quote Pema Chodron. My mom wants to know how to live, and sometimes I want to know how to live, and sometimes I want a microchip that sends me messages from the sea ice as it breaks. We are really something.

I check the forecast obsessively and forget it instantly: the near, near future, where I’ll be soon enough. I whisper to the air, “Be cold.” On days and nights of seasonable weather, I give extravagant thanks, but to whom I don’t know.

Alternate Histories: 10/15, 11/14

10/15/15

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.

*

11/14/15

The animals moved first, Z noticed: a red-bodied dragonfly clinging to his clothesline, nutria spotted in the river that divided the city, dead canvasback ducks at the midpoint of their migration when he drove out to pick up a secondhand desk. He pictured the soil under his feet crawling with bacterial motion, adaptation, life and death, migration, flight at a scale he could barely imagine. To them, all borders were open, all bodies were vehicles. He walked by the river and felt the wind splashing against his back, parting around him, pushed ahead of him, Z, the big thinker, the porous obstacle–the wind was changed by people and ducks and the surface of the dirty river, by temperatures of ice slowly shaling off thousands of miles away–that too changes the shape of the wind, the wind’s approach, the wind’s methods.

When at the COP21 convention in Paris participating nations agreed to the dissolution of borders, it was surprising how easily everyone adjusted to the idea, how little borders are felt in the body. Adjusting to the reality was harder: more people here, fewer there. Food, buildings and fields, no waiting, people streaming across, but how was “across” different now? On the other side of the river is the other side of the river. Maybe it’s a little higher or lower, but food was scarce everywhere. Places became “the place where the spiders come out of the ground” or “the place where we need to plug the leaking abandoned fuel tank” or “the place where the pileated woodpeckers used to nest” or “the place where Concepción and Beto were born, but it’s underwater now” or “the place where we’re borrowing the tools to dig the toilet for the Barzanis and the Ghaishes” or “the place where you leave the offerings.”

Near the foundations of the dismantled houses, next to the grave marker for the people who didn’t make it ashore, someone else had raised a grave marker for blue crabs. The water was predicted to reach it within the next four years. Z limped out there with two new neighbors to show them how to tend the seaweed seedlings and to learn from them how to tell the names of the dead to the wind in a way that makes it certain, almost certain, that they will cross the ocean.

RI Public Transit Fare Hikes: Public Meetings in November

You can, and should, make public objection to RIPTA’s proposal to raise fares for people on fixed incomes. Here’s when and where you can do that:

Tuesday, November 17th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Warwick City Hall, 3274 Post Rd, Warwick  RI

*

Tuesday, November 17th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Newport Marriott, 25 America’s Cup Ave, Newport RI

*

Wednesday, November 18th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Providence Public Library, 150 Empire St, Providence RI

*

Wednesday, November 18th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Burnside Building, 400 Hope St, Bristol RI

*

Thursday, November 19th, 6-8pm

Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket RI

*

Friday, November 20th, 2-4pm

Woonsocket Senior Center, 84 Social St, Woonsocket RI

*

Friday, November 20th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

South Kingston Town Hall, 180 High St, Wakefield RI

*

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the work of this blog, please see the first paragraph of this post.

Alternate Histories: 10/15, 11/6

10/15/15

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.

*

11/6/15

H began by setting aside an hour in her day to imagine the worst: her woods withering, emptying, growing silent, trees leafless at the height of summer, standing like gravestones with nothing left alive to eat them and break them down. The air dry, her mouth dry. When she opened her eyes she was almost surprised and fully humbled to see rain dampening the leaves outside her window, though the air was too warm and too soft for November.

At the Center a class followed her around–20 students fourteen years old or so, some of them with little moustaches or hunched shoulders, some bright-eyed, one with a leg brace, some of them clearly bored, some still caught on the last thing they looked at or the thing before that. One of them said, “Miss, does that mean it’s the end of the world?” He sounded serious.

H took a breath. She said, “Probably not the whole world. The world is pretty smart and pretty complicated. But let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say that most of the humans are going to die pretty soon and a lot of what’s normal right now is going to go away. What do you want to do while you’re still here? What matters to you and what maybe doesn’t matter anymore?”

One kid whispered something to his friend, who snorted and snickered into his hand. Another kid rolled his eyes at them. Two girls stared at H luminously, each waiting for the other to speak. From the back of the clump, by the turtle tanks, a voice said cautiously, “I would take one a them spaceship jawns and go look for another planet.”

“Stupid!” scolded another, thinner voice. “How you gonna know how to fly it?” She poked her head around a friend’s shoulder to face H. “Miss, I wouldn’t worry about like getting into college and like getting a job. Maybe I would go to California so I could see it before the end of the world.”

“How you gonna call people stupid if it’s the end of the world. I wouldn’t be rude like that, that’s the last thing you gonna do on this earth, is be rude?” Now the kids were talking. They would tell their moms not to pay rent anymore, they said. One boy said he would wear whatever he wanted. One girl said she would punch her stepdad in the face. They would quit school and just chill with their grandma, or they would just walk around with their friends, or they would just come out here, Miss, and look at the stars all night and wait. What about you, Miss, would you let the turtles out, if you knew you were gonna die and they were gonna die?

It was getting to be night now, the early darkness at odds with the late warmth, and she walked them and their teachers out to the bus. “Hear the crickets?” she asked them. “They should be asleep by now.” They all stood and listened.

A Great Face for Radio

UPDATE: I apparently can’t read and don’t know what time is.

Andrea Zhu interviewed me for a story about Climate Anxiety Counseling, and this story AIRED at 11pm Eastern Time (U.S.) on WBRU 95.5 FM LAST NIGHT and I didn’t hear it.

I don’t know yet from Andrea whether you’ll be able to hear this at any other time or in any other way, but if I find out, I will tell you here.