Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/5/19

Weather: Warm, a little sticky. Wind picked up around 4:15.

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 5 walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Pictures taken without permission: 2

Dogs seen: 3

Dogs pet: 0

People I’ve spoken with before: 2

Money raised for Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective: $5.20

 

Observations:

I’m very very very very very out of practice. And I need to figure out interpretation/language access!

When I got there, there was an unmarked-but-probably-cop car parked where the Greyhound used to stop, and a few small groups of teens walking around. Gradually the groups of teens started to clump up and make motions toward a couple of them fighting (though I didn’t see anyone actually fighting) and someone must have called the cops, because two cop cars showed up and three cops got out of them and stood around. The kids mostly went back into smaller clumps. The marked cop cars left and so did the unmarked one; later, the unmarked one and one marked one came back to the old Greyhound stop.

Nonhuman animals spotted: weird-looking fly, many pigeons, a teen starling, a grackle, couple of sparrows.

I only post conversations if I get permission–that’s why I noted seven people stopping, but only have two conversations posted here.

*

Some conversations:

I have lots of anxiety around climate change. I feel like it mostly manifests in terms of feeling guilty about consumption or behavior. I try to do things well, and I know it’s not about the individual anyway. But I feel guilty when I’m buying something new–really buying anything, anytime I’m participating in capitalism. I feel guilty every time.

What happens after you feel like that?

I try to get everything secondhand, but let’s say it’s for a job interview, I can’t wear pants I got at Savers.* But after—that’s a good question. Usually kinda nothing. Or I’ll go into not doing that type of thing for a while, not changing my behavior but avoiding it. But that behavior’s unavoidable—I’m talking about, like, buying a new towel.

Where is your information about what it’s bad to do coming from?

Primarily newspapers and/or magazines. But also, I’m a textile artist, so I know a lot about that industry and the harm of that industry. I can’t buy new clothing that’s ethically made because it costs a thousand dollars … A lot of it comes from interest [in my field], not from asking, “How can I be good for the earth?”

Is this something you talk about with other artists? How does it go?

It’s good. It can be weird, because people’s ideas about what is good for the environment can be a little white savior-y. But generally other people that I interact with professionally, we have a good conversation, not necessarily agreeing, but talking about more sustainable material choices, using recycled material, making work from older things.

I feel like so far we’ve been talking about you doing less of something. Is there more of something you’d like to be doing?

I’d really like to have more access to the land to do gardening. I do have a farm share, but I’d like to do more in terms of physically gardening and treating the land well, enriching soil and not harming it. If I had all the time in the world I’d also like to get more involved with environmental justice …

What’s in the way of you doing those things?

Access to transportation. I don’t drive. I do have a bike, or I could take the bus, but buses outside of Providence aren’t very good. And sometimes means—time, money, resources—can be difficult, because I work a few different jobs. I wouldn’t be able to be living and doing certain things unless I had more money.

*

I think they should pump up advertising for electric cars. They cut emissions, they’ll stop people depending on fossil fuels, there’ll be a reduction in smog. People don’t want to spend money on gas. … I’ve been researching on it, and it looks sound. I was hitchhiking in Iowa, and this guy picked me up in an EV, and it ran awesome. He talked about how fuel efficient it was and how it made his life much better, how he could get the speed up real fast. It was really really cool. We’ve got so much climate change problems and I think we could start by making EV cars popular**, making more industries electricity dependent …

Why do you think people haven’t done this yet?

Dependence on OPEC. OPEC campaigned to put down electric vehicles … People don’t like change. It makes them feel like they failed. Nostalgia, and lack of information …

It’ll stop once climate catastrophe gets close to home, to their relatives. Once the flood is close to home, they’ll start to understand that weather is a precious commodity. But it takes time. It’s kind of ironic—it takes time, but we don’t have time.

map 6-5-19

[Image: Somewhat impressionistic map of Rhode Island, made out of tape on a dry-erase board. It says, “Put your worries on the map,” and “Is there a place in Rhode Island you’d like to protect?” Last year, people wrote on it, “Norman Bird Sanctuary,” and “Downtown PVD,” and I left those in place to prime the pump. Today, someone wrote on it, “Save the bay,” and circled the East Bay area of Rhode Island.]

booth 6-5-19

[Image: The Climate Anxiety Booth, a small booth made out of cardboard and plywood and painted turquoise. Peach-colored letters say “Climate Anxiety Counseling 5 Cents” and “Hear to Listen.” The map described above is also in the picture.]

*This probably depends on the job and also the pants.

**Buy an electric vehicle by all means if you have the means, but there are some problems with trying to industrially manufacture a livable future.)

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