Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market! Wednesdays July-September

Starting tomorrow, I’ll have the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth at the Sankofa World Market, Wednesdays 2-6pm, outside the Knight Memorial Library on Elmwood Avenue in Providence. Come and see me, especially if you live around there, or missed me when I was downtown.

You can also buy some vegetables–a lot of neighborhood farmers have stalls at the Sankofa Market, and it’s part of a path to food justice and food independence–or, you know, go to the library. There’s often music and stuff for kids to do.

Hope to see you tomorrow, or if not tomorrow, a Wednesday after that.

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Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 7/1/17

Weather: Hot and muggy turning cool and muggy

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 3 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

Pictures taken without permission: 1

Dogs seen: 2

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $3.11

 

Observations:

A thinner crowd today in Kennedy Plaza and the park overall, and fewer people talking with me.

Lots of people wanted to tell me their ideas about things today. A former printer and sign-letterer and self-declared Trump voter talked to me for around an hour today (mostly to, not with) and ended up by outlining his idea for taking money from wealthier towns and giving to poorer towns to pay for health care.

Much less overt police activity today. I noticed one car parked at the Dorrance Street end of Kennedy Plaza at 4:22, but it could have been there for much longer.

I ran into someone who talked with me earlier in the season and I was able to give him some information I forgot to give him the first time, but he also asked me, “How are your anxieties?” and I didn’t tell him how grateful I was that he asked me, so: C, I am so, so grateful. And the moral of this story is that even when you get a second chance, sometimes you need a third one; and the moral of this story is that so much more could happen if we all had and used the chance to know each other, slowly, over time.

 

Some conversations:

I have United Healthcare. It’s not easy with this Affordable Care Act—a lot of people can’t get health care at all. You shouldn’t force people to get health insurance. But this what they’re doing, it’s the baby with the bathwater. Adjust it, sure, it could use adjustments, but it seems like it’s gonna make it worse. Seems like every word out of Trump’s mouth is a lie.

What would you like to see in a president? What would make you want to vote for someone?

It seems like they all kinda lie a lot. They make promises and they know they can’t keep it, they have no intention of keeping it. Donald Trump lied about his belief system, and a lot of evangelical Christians bought into his lies. My old pastor is in Dallas, I still follow what he’s doing, and I’m shocked at how much he supports him. People hate Hillary so much that they become blinded. Hate blinds us, we become blinded. [Donald Trump] believes greed is good …

*

I think it’s terrible, I think the climate change is terrible. I don’t know much about it. I’m an ex-garbageman, and I saw how in New York what they do with all their rubbish—the just drop it in the ocean! That can’t be good for the climate change. [Holds up the cap to his water bottle.] Plastic. Plastic will be here for millions of years. It’s the only thing we’re gonna leave that will be here for millions of years. I ran a rubbish business for nearly 30 years, and I came up with the recycling program [for my company]. I started with cardboard, paper, newspaper, and I made them $1.2 million in the first year. I liked my work. I came up with the idea. They didn’t stick with it–$1.2 million was not enough for them to keep the recyclable part of it … I hate [climate change], I don’t like it, and I’d wanna fight it if I can.

*

[These two are friends with each other, and also friends with me. They came up together.]

Person 1: [Person 2] and I were just over there smoking a cigarette, and I was thinking about the policies of smoke and secondhand smoke, and the recent criminalization of smoking.* Whose interests is that in? Smoke is so complicated. The people who manufacture cigarettes are the worst people in the world. Cigarettes are targeted toward the most vulnerable people—I was reading how they’re targeted toward queer youth. They’re simultaneously really bad and really important to many people’s survival. [My partner] always carries a pack of cigarettes and they’re mostly to smoke, but they always give one to anyone who asks. It’s awful to be addicted—I’m not addicted, I don’t smoke that often—but it also feels like an act of resistance [to smoke and drop the butt], even though I’m complicit in the destruction of this greenery, against this demand that I take part in beautifying this space, this system of beauty that’s a way of reifying whiteness and [keeping] this park for the rich.

Person 2: And the law is directly aimed at people who are waiting for the bus.

Person 1: Which directly impacts poor people of color and people with disabilities. Whose environment is it? Why should I protect the environment for rich people? The law isn’t there to protect you, it’s there to target you.

Person 2: [I’m worried about] constant expansion. Specifically, “Oh, we’ll just add one more thing, that won’t detract from the wildlife.” Until you have a million new things and then you have a city. My older brother lives in [REDACTED] and there’s a little bit of swampland in our backyard, and the neighbors dumped construction refuse into the mineral spring that feeds into it. It’s turning into a meadow slowly. When I was up there, I went around collecting all the garbage, but I know other houses on my block have been actively littering. The biggest thing I found in there were these kids’ motorized fake plastic motorcycles. Bottles and cans, lawn stuff, like the tubing for gutters—just a ton of stuff …

Person 1: Who does that?

 

*Doctor’s note: There’s been a smoking ban in the park for a while, and there is now a ban on smoking outside it but near the fence.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/30/17

Weather: Hot, bright, breezy, cooling and graying toward the end

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $3.11

 

Observations:

At 2:13, two cops in uniform and a cop in button-down and tie demanded ID from a man resting in the shade. They looked at his ID, then left. At 2:50, a cop in a suit and a cop in uniform walked by with a man in handcuffs between him, and the person talking to me told me that the man they arrested had exposed himself to a kid—I don’t know how they knew.

So far my booth repair—a new piece of cardboard to firm up part of the sign so it can hold the other part of the sign in place—mostly works, except in a sharp gust of wind.

A non-zero number of people read the “¢” on the sign as “$”, and I don’t know why.

 

 

Some conversations:

 

I feel like I’m chasing my tail. I’m shoveling shit against the tide. I’m trying to get back with my family. I went up to DCYF today and I stayed for an hour, I ain’t no deadbeat dad, but my appointment never showed. I’m trying to get back with my girl. I just got an apartment, but I’m on SSI and SSDI, and it takes almost all my money for rent. I have to struggle, I’m struggling.

What would make a difference?

If my girl dropped the restraining order. But her mother don’t like me, and she’s holding the house over her head.

Like, “You can’t live here if you get back together with him?”

Yeah. I got a one bedroom apartment, but there’s a parlor that could be made into a bedroom. I don’t think she wants to live in [REDACTED]. We were living in [REDACTED], then [REDACTED], then I went to jail, came out. I’ve met her on the DL a couple times. People are barking down her throat about me. I told her, When two people are in love, a lot of people are jealous. It’s easier for her to just rise out of the [can’t read what I wrote] and just patronize her mother. When the cops came and DCYF came, she lied to them for me—I didn’t ask her to. She says she’s proud of me, but she changed her number, or she didn’t pay her bill. I haven’t talked to her in over a week and I’m starting to get worried. My little boy is with her, and she already lost him once, drinking and not thinking. She drinks, she goes to AA meetings and to a group, but she still drinks. It’s not fair to my little boy, it’s robbing him of his father and mother.  … My [other] son’s in for ten years for gangbanging. I let my first son down—he got in a fight, he retaliated, and I’m sitting in the ACI. I wanna be there for all my kids …

(Seeing that someone marked the park’s beech tree on the map of beloved places yesterday)

I been going under that tree since I was a little boy, 7, 8 years old, when I started riding the bus. I got a history with that tree.

*

That fricking global warming shit is crazy. How much it’s changing! All the smoke that goes in the air, it does make a difference. I watched a movie about global warming. The South Pole already dropped so much—who knows if it’s gonna flood, if the North Pole is already breaking up. Look at all the stuff that’s going on already.

*

What are you anxious about today?

Money. I’m so stressed out about money. I wanna start school but I don’t wanna put myself into debt. I wanna be a teacher. My parents don’t have college funds, we’re regular middle class, we struggle sometimes. I get good grades but not enough for scholarships. I wanna go to CC[RI] but I didn’t want to ask my parents for help. I can’t even afford a car. Insurance is so expensive. How are they saying you have to have a car, pay taxes, go to school—How? How? Don’t even get me started on health insurance.

Now I’m gonna get started on health insurance. My parents are immigrants from Portugal. They didn’t have papers at first, and the process takes decades. They’re still waiting on their papers and they’ve been here since I was two. People are like, Why don’t you try to get papers? We have been trying but there’s millions and millions of people! My mom’s paid a lawyer thousands of dollars to move us up on the list and we still have to wait five more years. So they’ve been here almost 20 years and they haven’t had health insurance. My mom’s teeth are falling apart, she’s in pain 24/7, it would cost thousands of dollars to fix. She had one cavity, and to fix a cavity it costs $454.67. That was both my parents’ paychecks for one cavity, and she had three young children. That one created another cavity and another cavity, and now her mouth is decaying. And now I have a cavity and I can’t afford to fix it.

… So when my parents came here they signed me up for DACA. I get a social security card, I can get a job and a license while I’m waiting for my papers. But it doesn’t give me health insurance! If I get sick, I can’t miss a day of work because I can’t afford to go to the doctor. I can’t afford birth control. I went to the pharmacy, they said I had to go to a doctor. I asked what could they give me over the counter, it was thirty bucks for a month’s supply. I know that doesn’t sound expensive, but when you have to pay for food and bills and Ubers every day–

… When you’re an immigrant you don’t tell people. You’re scared 24/7. I got pulled over, and I have a license, but I was so scared, because if you’re an immigrant they can send you away.

… My mom started her own [REDACTED] company, under the table … She’s my biggest role model. She’s the biggest entrepreneur that I have ever known … After we got here, my dad was the family’s only source of income, so if dad’s not working, we’re not eating. My mom was like, I gotta do something. So she built up her client base, she got references. Now she just hired two girls to work for her. She’s becoming a boss a little bit. As soon as she gets her paperwork she’s gonna make her business legal. My mom dreams of owning her own house one day. My dream is becoming a preschool teacher.