Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 8/10/16

Weather: Gray, lowering and muggy, rain just tapering off, gusts of wind.

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 0 walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.20

 

Observations:

The farmers at the stand to my left sell bitter melon, and the drama of the bitter melon is ongoing: the conversation about what it’s like, when you should buy it, how you can eat it, what it’s good for, and the fact that they already ran out of it and you should come earlier next time basically never stops. Speaking as a bitter melon fan, I think all of this is great.

I didn’t eat lunch because I was counting on the food guys from last time to be there. They were not there! I ate a sample of eggplant dip that the SNAP tablers were handing out, thought about going across the road for an empanada, didn’t, sulked.

The “climate change is somewhere else” effect was strong today.

Don’t know yet if this is a good idea or a bad idea, but when people bring up climate change denial as their fear/anxiety, I’ve started pushing them a little bit, like, “What are you afraid will happen if people don’t recognize this reality?”

 

 

Some conversations:

[Talking about cranberry beans] They don’t grow good this year. They don’t grow together. Some of them still green, some of them small, still have flowers on the top.

*

I do, it’s obviously a problem. Did you see the opening ceremony [for the Olympics]? They did it on climate change, they had this simulation of ice caps melting and the rising water level. Seeing it visually was more significant than just hearing about it. The visual simulation was definitely intense … you looked at Florida and you saw how much will be underwater. Long Island–my cousins live there, I’m there all the time–that’s basically ground zero.

*

 

When do I get anxious?–when I’m on the roads, highways or even like streets, when cars come closer. When I was riding my bike when I was younger, I crashed into a moving car. I tense up and look down, I tend to look down whenever this happens.

 

Does that help?

 

It helps me to see that the car isn’t trying to come towards me. I was abroad with my family and I noticed that the cars are going on the left. That helped a little bit because I wasn’t paying attention to the roads–I was mesmerized by other stuff.

 

*

 

 

I’m most worried about people. About people being their own worst enemies. The [U.S.] conservative party is the only party in the entire world that doesn’t acknowledge the science and causes of climate change, and they don’t seem to be too bothered by the fact that they are. I worry about people’s inability to be self-critical … when you’ve got mountains of evidence from scientists from across the globe, it takes humungous balls to say, “That may be so but I’m still right.” It’s the lack of self-reflection that could possibly be major in our inability to address climate change in any serious and urgent fashion. The really sad part is that it’s going to affect us, a wealthy country, less than not a wealthy country.* … Sea level rise or drought or a combination thereof is going to cause a displacement of people that has previously been unseen. I’m worried about other people’s lives. It makes me really sad–this is gonna sound bad–it makes me really sad that the conservative people are not gonna be the ones who suffer. I think we affect other people’s lives much more than we think we do. The smallest change in a community can affect a community on the other side of the world. Thinking that we’re isolated is part of the problem.

 

How did you learn that we aren’t isolated–like, how did you get like that?

 

 

I like birds. I just–like birds. As I grow older, I wanna read articles about birds, and eventually there’s gonna be an article about birds that refers to their habitats. I like birds, I like sea turtles, or I wanna eat this bluefin tuna or I like to eat a cookie–you read a series of things in a row and at the end you’ll be thinking about it and you just start making deductions on your own … My first memories are watching nature documentaries with my grandfather, but I don’t think it has to be something like that.

 

*Doctor’s note: This isn’t exactly true, but it probably depends on your definition of “affect” and I didn’t push this person for theirs.

*

 

 

We don’t have a winter … The heat is because the planet is in a fever, and we’re the parasite. This planet gave us a little gravitational pull to keep us here, a little air, plants, it made us communal animals, and then the fact that the planet’s showing some sickness disrupts everything.

 

It sounds like this is something you’ve thought about a lot.

 

‘Cause we live here! Where else do we fit at? If this don’t work out, where we gonna go? … We all got a debt to repay, right, to Mother Earth? We all gotta go back at some point.

 

*

 

 

I’m anxious that we have a bunch of knuckleheads running this country who don’t care. They just don’t care. I’m mad all the time. I’m in a perpetual state of outrage and fury. I’m running for state rep for this district, from where Elmwood and Broad meet all the way to the park, it’s a big triangle … The whole campaign is “11 for 11”, 11 things the state should do in the district. It’s pretty shocking how many abandoned houses there are in the neighborhood–I live here, my house is down at the other end of the street. This is my last stand, I’m not gonna go anywhere. … People are poor, you can’t make a living at $9.60 an hour, so we start with that.

 

 

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