Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market, 7/12/17

Weather: Started out sunny and hot with sporadic showers, then POURED

Number of people: 3 stoppers, 0 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 2

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.00



As in previous years, I don’t get as many walkby comments at the market as I do in Kennedy Plaza. If people are going to interact, they stop. At the market, I also look more like the things around me—other people have tables, signs, etc.–so I’m less of a visual surprise and it’s easier to just kind of skip over me.

Also, nobody (other than the vendors) has to be at the market, so the total number of people around tends to be smaller. This was especially true today, when the torrential rain kept a lot of people away (and made most of the vendors pack up early) …

… but I didn’t even care because the vendor next to me allowed me to hold her 9-month-old, and I sang to him while she went to buy some sweet potato greens, and he fell asleep in my arms.

Should I start asking people what they think they’ll take away from the conversation? I did that today, but it was with someone I know.


Some conversations:

I used to, but then I got over it.


Because it’s long-term, I think we miscalculate the impacts of some of these things. We tend to deescalate some pretty seismic shifts—famine and disease and resource wars. But it seems so distant still. I think we minimize and don’t face hard or tough decisions: “If I stash this away, it won’t affect me.” …

Do you picture it?

I can picture a couple neighborhoods in Providence flooding, a couple neighborhoods in Chicago. There are those days in winter where it’s unseasonably warm. I don’t really think about changes to crop rotations, food supplies.

You clearly know about them, though. What’s the difference between knowing about them and thinking about them?

I’m really disconnected on average from where my food comes from. I know that data is out there, but it hasn’t been in front of my face. I don’t see that information about how this is gonna change how we raise crops. And even things that people don’t think of—terrorism and terrorism recruitment. I’m pro-refugee, but an increased refugee crisis …

I did debate in high school and college, and climate change was the basis for lots of arguments about issues that are gonna come up. The recent EPA secretary is atrocious. After Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreements, I know all these mayors and governors have gotten together, and it’s defnitely endearing but it might be too little too late, sad to say.

Is it? I mean, are you sad about it?

Maybe sad is the wrong word for me to use. Disappointing wouldn’t be right either. But it’s-we’re all on this globe together. You’d think we could agree to—not “save the planet” but at least work to make it habitable. Like, what are we really here for?


I work in forests and forestry, so I think that’s something that can help be part of the answer. I work with the Rhode Island Woodland Partnership, so we work with professionals and woodland owners on land conservation, recreation, water supply. Forests can be a source of oxygen, they can counter heat islands. We just put out a position statement on the value that the forest brings [to the state]. Rhode Island is the Ocean State, but we’re still 50% forested, and we want that to be at the table along with coastal communities and energy.

Is it okay to put this up online?

We have a website that expresses it more eloquently than I can do right now. It’d be great if you could link to that.

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