Climate Anxiety Counseling TODAY at Sankofa World Market, 2-6pm

Come and share your climate and other anxieties with me at the Sankofa World Market today (8/16), outside the Knight Memorial Library on Elmwood Avenue. I still have some organism cards to share that are made by other artists, and they are very beautiful and you should come get one.

I’m sorry I haven’t yet posted records of the two most recent booth sessions. I will soon.

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Climate Anxiety Counseling at Foo Fest TODAY, 1-7pm!

AS220’s Foo Fest is today, and you can come and share your climate anxieties and other anxieties with me from 1 to 7.

As usual, if you talk to me, you’ll get a drawing of a Rhode Island organism to keep. Normally those drawings are by me. This time, my sweet and generous friends have shared their work and their time to draw some Rhode Island organisms for you. If you visit me, you could get a drawing by…

Alexis Almeida

Mimi Chrzanowski

Kate Colby

Zaidee Everett

Preetilata Hashemi

James Kuo

Adeline Mitchell

 

Come and see!

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market TODAY; Public Meeting TONIGHT

Come and see me today at the Sankofa World Market. I’ll listen to your climate-change-related and other anxieties, and you can take home a picture of one of our nonhuman neighbors.

I’ll also have some information sheets about tonight’s public meeting about the LNG plant that National Grid wants to build on Allens Avenue, near people’s homes, hospitals, and schools. This meeting is a chance for Providence residents, from the neighborhood and elsewhere, to make it very clear that we don’t want this plant in our city. Digging up the site to start building the plant will disturb years of industrial toxins; the plant itself, in addition to increasing the planet’s fossil fuel burden, poses a threat in the form of leaks and explosions that would level the neighborhood. Building this facility, at every step, would put the neighborhood at risk. 

Meanwhile, as it is (undisturbed), the site doesn’t pose an acute hazard, which means it doesn’t qualify for the kind of permit that National Grid is applying for.

If you can’t go to the meeting, you can still submit a comment to the RI Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM), along the above lines. Send them to joseph.martella @ dem. ri. gov.

If you want more detailed points, or have questions, email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, and I’ll do my best for you.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Sankofa World Market, 8/2/17

Weather: Hot, bright, humid; later, got windier and cooler, but no less humid

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 1 walkby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Number of children from BRYTE Summer Camp who crowded around me gleefully asking questions: 8

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island: $2.12

 

Observations:

The clover in the library lawn, which last week was mowed short, is somewhat back and so are the honeybees. The hula-hoop providers are also back, and the kids are stoked.

There was a small amount of dogshit near one of the benches, and everyone was constantly warning everyone else about it.

My shoulder and arm continue to hurt, and the proprietor of The Curve and Line Co. helped me lift the handtruck down onto the sidewalk.

I ended up having to spend some time texting to try to coordinate doorknocking for No LNG in PVD and the community meeting this Wednesday, which meant there were many times when I wasn’t looking up.

The first person I talked with today had a lot of overlap with me in the way our climate anxieties affect us. In a way I feel like she’s where I was when I started offering Climate Anxiety Counseling, and yet I don’t know that I’ve made much progress, exactly.

I chickened out again on telling the real reason I’m not having kids—this time, it was a kid who was asking, and I felt like I’d be telling them I didn’t think they’d survive.

 

Some conversations:

You see a lot of things changing. We get more natural disasters going on. It’s scary, because I didn’t think I’d see it in my lifetime. The whole thought of it—you see people polluting and doing things—maybe it’s too late, but we could do things now to keep it held off. You hear people saying “The world’s gonna come to an end” who are not crazy. But I feel like the government doesn’t care.

Do you talk about this with people?

My sister has some of the same problems and the same fears and I talk about it with her. But I don’t get any answers from talking about it. It doesn’t make me feel better.

When you say “the end of the world,” o you imagine it, how it would be?

Everything would fall apart. Something similar to what you see in movies—people start freaking out, panic. Maybe I shouldn’t think that, but when you watch the news—Would I be strong enough or would I give up and hide? People turning on each other—I’m afraid that if something ever did happen, no one would wanna help anyone else. It’s so hard to trust people, so I stick to myself … You tell people how you feel about this and they look at you like you’re crazy. But I’m not. The weather’s different. Those rainy days we had, that’s not normal. If people stopped littering, started caring about the environment—we gotta stick together.

*

[This was a parent and their two kids]

Parent: Lots of anxiety around water safety. We have okay drinking water but with all that lead poisoning that’s cropping up—even with the filter on we’re probably getting something. I had lead poisoning when I was really young, from paint chips, and I turned out okay, but if kids have ongoing exposure–

Have you looked into Clean Water Action at all?

I haven’t yet. I’m just starting to get back out of the house … They [indicating kids] just went to two weeks of nature camp.

What did you guys see?

Kid 1: I saw a red-tailed hawk at Conanicut Park and a bald eagle circling.

Kid 2: I saw plovers. They looked like puffballs.

Oh, did they have part of the beach roped off?

Kid 2: Yeah, so you don’t walk in their territory.

*

 

Most recently I’ve been thinking about Waterplace Park because of sea level rise—that’s just because it’s what I’ve been talking about at work this past week. All the nonpermeable surfaces and stormwater runoff—I do not, unfortunately, see many people addressing that. Asphalt is easy—people don’t even question it. And I’m worried about this all the time, yet my driveway is giant. I should chop it up—yet have I done it in three years? No. I don’t know how to do it myself—it’s not knowing how to use a jackhammer, not really having a plan. I need someone to work through it with me. And of course I don’t have a lot of time or money.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Armory Park Farmers’ Market, 7/27/17

Weather: Gray, warm, damp, then straight-down rain thinning and thickening throughout the shift

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 1 walkby

Pages of notes: 7

People who got the Peanuts reference: 1

Photos taken without permission: 1

People who recognized me, and I them, from a previous session: 1

Dogs seen: 13

Dogs pet: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.50

 

Observations:

It’s insulting of me to be at this particular market, a busy one where a lot of people attending speak Spanish more than English, without an interpreter. I apologize for this and will reach out to someone for my next stint here, in late August.

I asked a couple of good questions– “What do you already know about yourself that could help you?” and “What do you already know about the situation that could help you?”–that I want to make sure to use again.

One of the dogs I pet also lay down on my foot, which is a nice place for a dog to be.

One person who spoke to me mentioned current and upcoming attempts to clearcut Rhode Island forests to build solar farms. I think this is something that I need to talk about here, but I need to learn more about it first.

 

 

Some conversations:

I had a meeting today that was set up for me, but the other participants hadn’t been notified. I started crying at work. It’s a new job. I have a problem with crying at work, not ’cause I’m wimpy, it’s just the tears—I find it very difficult, especially in situations of authority.

What do you know about yourself that could help you prepare for these situations, like if something like this comes up again? How could your self-knowledge help you?

I get frustrated and I can’t blindly follow someone I know is doing the wrong thing. I get very angry, I get very upset when I’m not taken seriously.

Okay, and what do you know about the way this office works that could help you kind of prepare for these situations?

I don’t work in offices very often. I’m a chef, and I’ve mostly worked in kitchens, and you’re right, I don’t react like this in kitchens. They try to make you do dishes if you’re a woman, and they’re always ready for a fight. I have techniques to get past that moment without making me cry. You can’t let anything stop you. In an office it seems like all anyone wants to do is correct other people’s behavior, impact other people’s behavior. I’ve avoided working in situations where I have someone who’s my boss. I really bristle at people trying to take authority. I live a righteous life, there are certain things I do not do, and people think I think I’m better than other people, but I just don’t give a shit about what other people thing. I don’t think I’m better than other people. I think I’m pretty broken.

*

Living in a toxic relationship [and having] a child. Believing that it’s my reality. I never thought that would happen.

*

I feel like I’m getting used to the idea that the world is falling apart. I’m less reactive, I’m more complacent. I was wanting to talk about it more and be more active in different ways, to do stuff with organizations and change my behavior to be more conscientious about it. But more and more I’m just feeling like we’re fucked. I don’t have a lot of hope. It feels like numbness, like complacency. … I want more to take care of myself and take care of my community in whatever capacity I can—I’m drawn more to local efforts, hyperlocal, I’m less and less wanting to look at the news. I open it up and I’m just like, “No.” I’m seeking out tangible things—it’s too overwhelming to tackle the coral reef and the melting of the ice sheets. My ecosystem that I can impact is a hyperlocal one.

I think there’s a burnout. It’s difficult because in order to get things done, you need a good dynamic, you need to be able to put ego and personality aside—which is ironic because that’s why we’re in this mess to begin with! Even when there’s really good intentions, there’s a lack of accountability—people need to be pulling their weight [and] caring about the relationships, and the thing you’re not doing might add stress to [someone else’s] life. Even though it can be seen as kind of frou-frou, I think those things like team-building, spending time, can be really—Do senators have any relationship with each other? I feel like in the center is a huge ego. So many of us get distracted by ego …

It does spiral me downward. Some of my friends, and my sister, are thinking of having kids, but they don’t want to raise a child in this world because it’s going to be painful. After the [2016 US presidential] election, I would see a pregnant belly or a newborn baby in this grayness, this cloud that was cast over us all, this new life in such a somber setting. And I’d think about the shit hitting the fan for this fresh life who’s totally naïve to everything. It’s kind of mindblowing to me. One friend spent years saying she wants a kid, and it’s like, “What, are they gonna die of dehydration? Malnutrition?”

We don’t know even for our generation what it’s gonna be like, and I don’t think I’m being dramatic, I think I’m being extremely realistic. We’re looking at a pretty steep decline once we hit a certain point. The ecosystem, whatever it is that’s holding us together, is gonna crumble. My sister was visiting and one morning we woke up, we’re making eggs and toast, having a nice morning, and I’m like, “I wonder how many more mornings like this we’re gonna get to have.” Especially if you’re privileged in certain ways—are things gonna blow up in our face? How much longer are we as humans gonna have access to all these things?

… We have to say something, we have to think something. I used to climb a lot, and I’d see trees growing on the side of cliffs and be like, “How are you even doing this?” Like they’re saying, “You can’t tame me. This is where I’m meant to be.” How do we embrace it?

*

My worry today is that there’s been a lot on the news about [Secretary of the Interior] Ryan Zinke reducing the borders of national parks and monuments. You keep hearing and seeing things and it’s like, “Oh, almost forgot about that.” We don’t have enough untouched and wild land to begin with. I was just out in Colorado and Utah and I spent some time in national parks there, and it’s alarming that anyone thinks there’s too much of it, or they just see it as potnetial for more human exploitation.

What do you feel when you read those articles?

First I feel despair: what can I do, just me? It feels pointless to even react. It’s a full-time job just to react to everything. I have been writing to senators and congresspeople who are representing my interests– “Thanks for standing up to the administration”–and that makes me feel like I did a little something. My sister is in Colorado, my cousin is in Pennsylvania—I wish I was closer to people in red states.

*

I’ve been anxious lately not about the natural world but the built environment. If you look at downtown Newport, there are these structures from the 1600s that are gonna be underwater. They’ve been there such a long time—it’s such a stark thing. If you look at the sea level rise maps, the whole historic district in Newport—when you think about sea level rise along the coast, the beach, it’s not as tangible, but when you see 300 buildings that have been there for 400 years—that’s where I feel it. …

The natural environment is resilient in a way that the built environment isn’t. In the pre-settler time, hurricanes came through, and there was a certain level of impact—but now all the systems we depend on, pipes, utilities, raw sewage, buildings are facing utter destruction. My family has gone to Block Island since I was a kid, and I haven’t seen the maps that combine coastal erosion and sea level rise with additional wave action and storms. This has the power to erase our past—things that have survived for so long as permanent things in our history.

Climate Anxiety Counseling TODAY, Sankofa World Market, 2-6pm!

Bring your climate anxieties and other anxieties to the Sankofa World Market (outside the Knight Memorial Library on Elmwood Avenue) today between 2 and 6pm. You can also buy a vegetable or two from people who grow them right here in Providence! Bitter melon, potatoes, many kinds of greens…

I did something to my shoulder and I’m in pain and it sucks, but it’s my left shoulder so I can still write down what you tell me (with your permission) and draw you a Rhode Island organism to take home with you.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Sankofa World Market, 7/26/17

Weather: Hot (but not crushingly so) and bright, with a small breeze

Number of people: 10 stoppers, no walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7.5

Pictures taken with permission: 1

People who recognized me, and I them, from a previous session: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.20

 

Observations:

I think I’ve figured out a good sunbrella configuration.

More people overall were shopping at the market today than during the previous weeks I’ve been there.

They mowed the library lawn and the clover, which was alive with honeybees last week, is gone. I saw one wasp butting against a dried flowerhead.

I still need to be better about switching from listening/questioning mode to talking/advice mode—I did it too soon twice today.

At one point, a giant bus with a graffiti painting on the side including “Powered by Youth, Run on Veggie Oil” pulled up and about 15 kids and a few adults got out. A couple of them did come over to talk with me, and many more clustered around to listen to one of the ones who was talking.

In the last conversation, I was out of my depth.

 

Some conversations:

I’ve been thinking about you! I saw you what, two years ago? My life has changed. My brother moved out, so now upstairs is my mom, my boyfriend and me, and downstairs is my sister and her kids, and it’s so much better, because we all have enough space. Now whenever I meet someone who’s going through it, the first question I ask is, “Do you have enough space?” I was ready to push my brother down the stairs and be like, “And don’t come back.”

*

My long beans are not growing this year. I’ve noticed this summer has not been as hot, but there’s extreme hot, like the last few days, and drastic cold. Last year there were so many veggies, but this year things aren’t growing.

*

 

 

I live by the bay and [the stretch where I live] is entirely controlled by Johnson and Wales. We can only go in the summertime. And the JWU students are destroying it, they eat there and then just dump everything on the ground. The blunt wrappers, I’ve seen so many blunt wrappers–When I first moved in, I saw our other neighbors picking up trash, and that’s how I started picking up trash. And now we can only go in during the summer. During the [year] we cannot get in there—and there’s an actual walkway, a state-run greenway … But the students are ruining that place.

*

A lot of the climate stuff I think about is more around food. I totally feel like I hear this all the time, talking to farmers, thinking about the resiliency of—things that people have done for years, start times for things, things that used to be indicators are now out the window. We haven’t gotten to the point where frost dates have shifted, but moisture, temperature, that’s where we’re seeing it, especially people who’ve been doing it for a while. It’s not even “a good season”, it’s just there’s no predictability. … Clearly there are always fluctuations in weather, but when it gets warm and a tree is starting to bud and then it freezes—a late frost will just wipe out the buds.

How do you see farmers reacting to this, are they just like, “We’re going to try to pull out of this in five years,” or are they like, “We’re going to try to figure out how this works…”

I don’t see that community being like, “Throw in the towel.” What’s hard is it affects—you try to look for patterns, but patterns are harder to see now. And for example, if there’s a warm winter, then pest pressure next year is much higher because they didn’t get killed off. How do you adapt to this? There are a good number of plants that can adapt to relative extremes, but they’re still gonna show signs of stress. I guess there’s the human comparison: yeah, we can tolerate it, but there’s these stresses, and at some point you’re gonna start to see shifts. There’s already been some talk of [growing] zones shifting, and then also we could see invasive [species] that [currently] can’t survive in New England—The plant profile will change. There’ll be stressors, and then at some point certain things won’t bounce back or won’t be able to survive in this microclimate. That, to me, is always the interesting one—you can say it’s “natural evolution,” but what’s hard is, it is not exactly a natural transition. It’s much more of a shock transition.

*

Oh, I’m anxious about everything today really. I just have to stop paying so much attention to the news. Today I’m anxious about transgender rights in the military. I heard an interview with this woman, she’d been in for 18 years, she was a staff sergeant. That’s her whole career. It’s tragic on a personal level but also for morale, for the people in the military who feel that they themselves could be the next target. It could be any group, anything. My dad was a military officer, a decorated pilot in the Second World War, so I grew up in that whole atmosphere. But you can’t let it ruin your day. There isn’t much I can do about it.*

… [My dog] Lucy has end-stage heart disease, and her medicine is so expensive. It’s been the best year of my life, having this incredible animal. I had to go all the way to Massachusetts today for her medicine—touring the countryside for dog medication.

*Doctor’s note: I wrote out a version of the list in this thread for her.

*

Education and school. They give us too much work, there’s too much pressure. They want us to get all As.

Why do they say they want that? I mean, why do they say that’s important?

They say, “Oh, if you don’t do this you gonna be like the people on Broad Street.”

They say that?

They don’t say that, but that’s what it sounds like. “Oh, you’re not gonna be anything, you’re never gonna succeed. Oh, you’re not gonna go nowhere in life.” It’s not me, they say it to other people. But they don’t know what’s going on in their daily lives.

*

My parents dying. Growing up, me and my parents don’t get along, and now I’m starting to get along with them, and I start thinking about how they’re not gonna be here. How when I need someone to talk to, they won’t be there. I have anxiety and I have depression, and I get panic attacks. Once in a while I try to commit suicide.

Do you know what brings the panic attacks on?

It just comes. I freeze and I just start crying, then I randomly just start laughing, like a crazy person. Then after it passes, I take deep breaths and listen to some music and just stay there, just frozen. And just thinking.

Do you see a counselor?

I went to the Providence Center, but they had no interpreter. I like to talk in both Spanish and English. I went to the guidance counselor at school, and they took me to the vice-principal and he said he would try to get me a therapist for the fall.

That’s great. Is this something you would tell your parents about or do you want to keep it private?

I keep it private. I only have two or three friends who try to keep me calm … I call my friend, and he breathes with me and talks with me. What I like about him is that he listens and he tries to help the best way he can. Not a lot of people would do that, they would talk about it. He keeps it to his self.

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market TODAY, 7/26, 2-6pm!

Come and see me! The market is outside the Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue in Providence. I’ll be there to hear your climate anxieties and other anxieties 2-6pm today.

In other news, if you live in the U.S. and you want people to be able to get actual mental (and physical) health care and not just well-intentioned listening from some lady in a booth made of cardboard and plywood, call your senators today. You can also encourage other people, in states where a senator’s vote might be moved, to call theirs.