Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/24/16

Weather: Cool, gray, muggy. Started sprinkling around 5, full-on raining around 5:30.

Number of people: 13 stoppers, 3 walkbys, one bikeby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

People known to me, and I to them, from previous sessions: 3

Conversations between people not previously known to each other: 3

Number of dogs seen: 3

Number of dogs pet: 0, not for lack of trying

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $3.30



Because I screwed up a conversation last time, I made an extra effort to assert things as little as possible, but to listen and ask questions (the way I’m supposed to). I think it went well?

I can’t figure out if people are more likely to come up if they see someone else talking with me, or less. Maybe it depends on what they presume about the person based on what they see.

The guy who was worried about keeping his housing stopped by to tell me that they did, in fact, kick him out for smoking pot. On the other hand, K stopped by to tell me that her cat had diarrhea from eating lawn treatment chemicals but is getting better, and that she just signed her lease for another year.

The way people use the map (of places in RI they would like to protect) changes based on the way previous people use it, and the more that’s on there, the more people are likely to add.

A cop walked through the park around 5:05, and two more walked through around 5:15.


Some conversations:

Honestly, I’m living couch to couch. Without [the guy he’s staying with], I don’t know where I’d be … I’m coming over to people’s houses and I’m spending $20 on a bottle and then being like, “Oh, I’m too drunk to go home,” not like, “Oh, I need a place to stay.” You’re doing what you have to do but you’re really hurting the other person. You can’t just ask, you gotta have something they want. It’s hard out here. Family’s tough–everybody has their own issues, they have kids, they have their own lives. My friend could lose his place and I’d be back on the street … I come down here and I see how it is for people, I do, it’s hard out here. That’s why I wanna get rich, I wanna make like a hotel for people who want to help themselves to stay, so they don’t have to be homeless.


[Person 1 and Person 2 came up together; Person 3 was already talking with me]

Person 1: I’m anxious about taxes and I’m anxious about Trump becoming president. I heard on Facebook that he’s trying to start a cotton-picking program for Black children and–if he becomes president I’m moving away or hiding. In my free time I like to read and research government so when I get older I know more about it, like how taxes work and how to file taxes when I have to do it.

What do you do if someone is like, Oh, Donald Trump, blah blah blah?

Person 2: I laugh at ’em!

Person 1: If it’s someone older than me I’m gonna be polite, like, “Well, I disagree.” If it was a kid I would go all day.

Person 3: Do you vote?

Person 1: I’m 16 so I can vote in the city, like for Mayor.

Person 2, earnestly patting Person 1: When you’re 18 you can change the world. Every generation has a chance to change the world. [Changes tones] But ain’t nobody tryna do all that work!


[Writes on map] “Give a piece of land to be used for homeless camp & use as a temporary space until able to find rent.” [Speaks to me] There’s more to it. There could be some problems. There’d have to be–don’t cause trouble, be respectful, don’t make predicaments for other people. If we police it ourselves… People can come around and be like, Come do a day job, I’ll help you get where you want to go.


Bills–rent, utilities, I’m trying to save for a car ’cause the buses are killing me. I spend more time on the buses–I go in for four hours a shift, and I take one bus from almost South Attleboro and then I take the 28, Atwood Avenue. I’m training right now, so I’m getting $9.60 an hour for three and a half, four hours. But I’m grateful for the job. And I’m not anxious right now ’cause I have tomorrow off and it’s gonna be hot.


[Person 2 came up while Person 1 was talking]

Person 1: I feel bad for the animals. I feel like it’s really bad that people are destroying their environment, their habitat. Me and my grandma, we took a walk today and where the woods used to be, there’s all this development, these houses. I was telling my grandma how this is really messed up–whoever did it had no compassion for the birds, their homes, their families. The skunks, the squirrels–all their homes.

How did you get to have that compassion? It seems like you’re really aware of all these animals and their homes.

My first memories was in upstate New York, near Monticello. There was a lot of forest, a lot of nature out there. The house we lived in was out in the middle of nowhere and behind the house was all woods… We moved to Providence when I was four and it was a different environment, it was a different world. That’s what kept me in touch with nature, like I had a comfort with nature. I’m with all these city kids and I’m the one running around picking flowers and tryna catch bees, watching the ants… [Animals] have feelings too, and they have families. Like, they used to say on TV, Oh, animals can’t feel, and we believed it, but the more we’re watching them and analyzing them …

Do you talk about this with people?

I do share my opinions on things, about how I feel about the environment and animals, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind. On Facebook the other day I wrote, “The trees are sick, pay attention.” My friend was like, “You okay?” I was like, Yes, I’m okay, but people have to start paying attention to the vibes from trees, really looking at them–the trees are sick, they don’t feel good. They’re not growing as tall as they should, if I look at trees from when I was a kid and the trees right now, they’re not growing to their full potential.

Person 2: And the leaves are getting smaller ’cause they don’t need to be as big to absorb the carbon dioxide.


It changes the ecosystem, definitely. If it’s happening, things will die, species will probably go extinct, including us. But people try to sugarcoat it, like it’s not our fault. But it’s always gonna be there. Something drastic might happen, and scientists might predict it, but the consequences can never be for sur

Do you think about it a lot, does it freak you out?

I don’t really think about it. People are so secluded in their own lives. Some people make an effort to know what’s going on, it’s all on the internet–there’s someone, a senator or a governor, he’s been working on this since the ’70s and only this year people are taking him serious about it. Now that it’s getting serious all these industries, all these political people are taking him serious … We rely heavily on nature for our resources. There’s something about the bees, I don’t know what it is, nothing pollinates, there won’t be vegetation. We just take and take from it.

Why do you think people don’t take it seriously?
Because nature’s not bothering me, I’m standing here and it’s not doing anything to me–but it hasn’t been the same. Every year it gets crazier in New England … But it doesn’t bother [people] personally in their life. So these industries and people in political office, they’re trying to find ways to do something about it but they don’t have much support. “Someone else will do something about it.” It definitely goes on everywhere. … I feel very small compared to seeing this on the news–bigger people, people in power, our industries, they can do something, not me. But it’s never gonna–the power and resources we rely on, we try to reduce it, but we’re not gonna do that, because humans are always [demanding]. They say by 2050 there’s gonna be 10 billion people. How are the other species that we rely on gonna do? How are we gonna contribute to nature itself? We’re ever-growing, just taking and taking.



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