Tomorrow is the first day of the new Climate Anxiety Counseling season–I’ll be in Burnside Park, opposite Kennedy Plaza, 3-6pm tomorrow and Thursday. Here are some things I want to remember to do and ways I want to remember to be while I’m there:
LISTEN, first and throughout.
ASK QUESTIONS, many, before (or instead of) offering suggestions.
ASK PEOPLE MORE ABOUT WHAT THEY’RE FEELING AND WHAT THEY DO WHEN THEY FEEL THAT WAY, before asking them to move into imagining or “solution” mode. I think I and sometimes also my interlocutors want to get to that point too fast, because staying in the painful feeling is, well, painful. I want to keep things open, not try to seal them off.
BUT ALSO: BE RESPONSIVE, not formulaic; LISTEN well enough to know what questions might help a person talk and think more, maybe reach for words they haven’t thought of yet.
MAINTAIN A FIELD OF CALM for myself and them; don’t get agitated and definitely don’t escalate.
If I do offer a suggestion or prescription, make it both PARTICULAR to them and CONNECTED to people, creatures, forces and things outside but nearby or intertwined with them; REVEAL CONNECTIONS that are already there
Sometimes I call this whole booth thing a “project,” and I think the various offshoots of the booth thus far have been a project, but the booth itself is more of a practice. I am practicing the world I want: a world where we observe and trust, where it is safer to be more vulnerable, where we improvise responsively, where we listen. A shared world in which sharing is possible. A world where we take care of each other so that amplitude and hardship ebb and flow but are never fixed in any one person, place or role, a world that doesn’t destroy the carer or the cared-for. I want to enact that world here. I hope you all will help me bring it out of the world we know.