#ResilientPVD and #NoGasPlant

A reminder that you can sign up for the #ResilientPVD Lab, especially the Community Workshop (which is outside 9-5 work hours), to share your climate anxieties and your neighborhood’s needs with Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Also, FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas) is organizing a #NoFrackedGas rally during Governor Raimondo’s “State of the State” address on Tuesday, February 2nd, at 6:30pm, to oppose three fracked-gas proposals in Rhode Island: a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in South Providence and a new fracked-gas power plant and pipeline expansion in Burrillville. You can find out more and RSVP at FANG’s Facebook page.

At present, the Doctor cooks and heats her house with fracked natural gas. She would like to find ways to use less of it, so that there are fewer excuses to add new gas infrastructure.

Alternate History: 1/23

Normally I write alternate histories in response to one or more climate anxieties that people share with me at the counseling booth or in some other context, but the idea for this one came from hearing our radiators bang and hiss, I think, mostly.


It took the people of the states neighboring states with oil, coal and natural gas economies about three years to get everything together, and in that time, the burning, the trucks passing over the roads, the leaks, the excavations, continued to do their damage. Many people died of them–salamanders and mosses, canvasback ducks and grasses, cactus wrens, honeysuckle bushes and humans. Some of the blockades during this time kept coal trains or LNG trucks from reaching their destinations, and others kept them from collecting new loads by standing across the railways and roadways and chanting the names of the dead. Meanwhile, people in neighboring states adjusted their budgets, in some cases altered the interiors of their houses or apartment buildings and increased the capacities of their septic systems, spread the word, and at last announced that they were ready.

Anybody who had made their living working for these industries–as riggers or as administrative assistants, as claims filers or miners or geologists, could leave their job and a person or family in another state would make themselves responsible for them, just as if they were cousins coming from another country. Some called it “adoption” and others “asylum”, but everyone called the people on the giving end “responders.”

Some humans moved in with their responders, right into the house, helping them build adaptively after storms, remediate their soil, remember to charge the batteries of their power chairs, or doctor their dogs. The people and plants and insects in that place adjusted to the presence of additional people: a new set of eyebrows for the mites to colonize, a new pressure on the ground above the roots.

Some of these living arrangements lasted years, some months; a few dissolved almost immediately, but the responders continued their interracination–their inter-rootedness–sending money, answering questions–as long as the newcomers wished it. “Interracination” because it needed a new word: it wasn’t patronage, since they weren’t patronizing; it wasn’t support, which can mean too many other things, and doesn’t acknowledge the work of entanglement, the constant recalibration, unease and shifting. Even those who remained to nurture their home places, with packets of money, kids’ clothes and nonperishable food arriving weeklyish via the still-functioning mail, or to pick up monthly at the fair days that were starting to spring up in disused parking lots, felt the stiffness, the difference, the pull, and had to work it off in their own ways. Teenagers attached harrows to their ATVs, now sunpowered, and shrieked their way around the edges, tearing up asphalt, and older people strolled or shuffled after them, scattering the seeds of tough grasses, elderberry or scrub pine or nasturtium, whatever they thought might be able to endure it.

The hardest months were the cold months. A lot of people living on high ground or in dry zones moved into their basements then, running vents to the outside, and some became seasonal migrants, learning the new and shifting patterns along with traveling birds, for whom they left sustenance in exchange. In cities, people got good at making paper waste into pellets and logs, and in the country there was the wood of trees that hadn’t weathered the changes. But there really is nothing you can burn for warmth that doesn’t add particulate matter and carbon molecules to the air, and people lived, as they had in the past, with the knowledge of what they were making worse. They sang songs of mourning and gratitude for the pulp and the ashes, for trees that had died last year, or twenty years ago, or fifty. They moved on to stories of the people of the past: giant insects, dinosaurs and ground sloths, rheas and dodos, moose and bowhead whales. These weren’t exactly adventure stories, since most of them had no humans in them, but they were stories of the thrill of being a living creature. When childrens’ eyelids got heavy, the adults–born family, gathered family, and responders– switched to stories of small people: close-to-the-ground animals, quick birds, the frogs that were slowly coming back to some of the streams near the tracks, though the mining and fracking sites wouldn’t support life until long after everyone listening was dead.

Resilient PVD Community Workshop

The Mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza, and the Providence Office of Sustainability are inviting anyone and everyone who lives in Providence to both talk and listen about the ways climate change might effect the city, and what the city might do to respond to it.

There will be experts on city sustainability and city planning there, and opportunities for anyone to speak.

This “Resilient PVD” Community Workshop will be on Monday, February 1st, at 6pm, in the cafeteria of the Providence Career and Technical Academy (41 Fricker St. between Westminster and Broad). It’s free to attend and if you drive, there’s a parking lot.

If you’ve ever spoken to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, you can tell this meeting exactly what you told me, or share other fears and questions you have about the effects of climate change on Providence and your life here.

Microbiology for All: 1/12 and 1/19

Cybele Collins is holding two events to introduce us to our tiniest tenants and neighbors.

Two workshops: 1/12/16 and 1/19/16, 7-9PM. Attendance of both or neither, walking in and out are fine

Microorganisms, the oldest and most diverse kinds of life, are visible through their actions. They make life possible but are also responsible for disease and decay. Bacteria, archaea, viruses and protists exist on a scale millions of times smaller than ours, in our bodies as the microbiome and in extreme conditions of heat, salt, pressure and cold. Most are one-celled organisms that share a common language of DNA and biochemistry with our cells. Our microbiome affects our health and mind, while pathogens can penetrate our cells with tiny motors or toxins and are in an arms race with antibiotics. Bacteria are used to ferment alcohol, make food, and to produce drugs and biofuel while the cyanobacteria and algae of the ocean produce most of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

In two sessions, we will see the microbes in their range of forms, habitats and behavior, cultivating our own microbial colonies from soil in a Winogradsky column (from mud, calcium from eggshells and cellulose from newspaper) and the mouth microbiome. We will cover the basics of biochemistry in order to see the world of beings that live in intimacy with molecules, as well as to understand issues with antibiotics and photosynthesis. Drawing as a way to learn is encouraged but experience in science and art are not necessary.

Soil bacteria have a complex relationship with the climate, and warming oceans threaten the oxygen-producing bacteria Cybele mentions in her description. I’m going to the 1/19 one. Learn more and say you’re coming!