Climate Anxiety Counseling: Sankofa World Market/Sowing Place, 10/6/18

Weather: Cool and gray with heat waiting

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

People I’ve spoken with before, back for more: 1

Dogs seen: 3

Dogs pet: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.10



Interpreter Eveling Vasquez was with me today; only one person, a walkby, briefly needed her services, but she engaged with some interlocutors in English as well.

Nonhuman animal presences: yellowjacket, carpenter been honeybee, cabbage white butterfly, tiniest spider, pigeons in flight.

Some conversations:

I’m scared. I got kids–26, 24 and 16. I’m scared that the planet is gonna be a horrific mess, that they’re not gonna have good air to breathe. That all the demands to turn things around are gonna fall on them. I’m scared of the chaos and destruction of society, and that there’s gonna be a wall betwen those who are directly impacted and those trying to hang onto their power and wealth. There’s going to be so much violence and suffering throughout–I’m not sure if it’s gonna be winners and losers. These delays for years and decades mean we all lose.

Do you talk with your kids about this?

We talk to them, but those conversations are hard too. They’re in their 20s, they’re trying to figure out their careers and lives and social relationships.

What makes the fear come up for you?

Definitely reading the news, ’cause you get horrified and scared. I have wonderful kids, but sometimes it’s scary what they really pay attention to.


I live in Los Angeles, and for the past three years it’s gotten 15 degrees hotter every year. And everything’s on fire. It impacts our air quality–it’s harder to do things outside. Dogs can’t go outside, there are times of day I can’t take my dog for a walk because the sidewalk’s too hot. And if something’s on fire nearby, that’s scary.

How do people talk about it?

It depends who you’re talking to. People will talk about how it’s scary that everything’s on fire, if it’s encroaching, if there’s currently a wildfire going on. People talk about how it’s hotter than it used to be, there are more fires than there used to be, it doesn’t rain anymore … It feels scary, sort of foreboding and sort of apocalyptic. It’s not so imminent that it’s really gonna impact me. I’m concerned more in the context of people who don’t care. The actual idea that the world’s gonna end doesn’t bother me that much, but it’s sad and disappointing that people don’t care about what’s gonna happen to the environment after they’re gone. I feel it all the time, and I think everybody feels it all the time–everything just feels a little bit worse.

… In my house in particular, we make a conscious effort to be positive so we don’t get mired down in it. We try to share one piece of good news every day. It forces you to be more conscious of things that are not destructive, and what you actually can do to do something constructive or counter the negativity. I think you can always be better–I’m a vegetarian, I’m trying to be a vegan, I spend more money for things that are sustainably produced. We try to use our graywater, we don’t do it as much as we could. I understand that there are structural constraints that prevent people from doing these things. It’s important for me personally to believe that the little things matter–I know sometimes you hear people saying they don’t matter. I do stuff that offsets my carbon footprint, to at least leave no trace, mitigate the impact of my existence.

What are some ways you work together with other people? 

There are many cool local vegan organizations in LA. There’s a lot of community based work. But also in LA, there’s this huge contrast because there’s all these really rich people with huge mansions that all have their sprinklers on, watering their green lawn that shouldn’t exist.


Global warming–you know what bugs me? It bugs me that I work in places where they think passive management of the environment is impractical. I work in a building from the ’60s, and they could have put in ventilation or skylights but they put in air conditioning. … That was how people thought 50 years ago, and they’re still thinking this way. Why is it so difficult?

I have 24 solar panels on my house. I generate more electricity than I use–National Grid has to pay me. I don’t know why more people don’t just cough it up [for solar panels].

Eveling: Was it too expensive?

In the end, it’ll be cheaper. So many people don’t want to think beyond a year or a month. … It’s money and also a sense of, “It’s still impractical.” My uncle–I’m like, “You live in Florida, why don’t more people do solar? It’s the Sunshine State!” I think it’s kind of a brainwashing. Reagan called them “solar socialists.”


I’m just concerned about the changes–like for example, this fall. Yesterday it was cold. The day before that it was hot, and then it was extremely cold. It’s just weird. And then being used to that transition, where you can prepare yourself to get ready for cold weather–you have to add another thing to the schedule, buecase you have to have the right gear.



[Image: map of Rhode Island marked with “Stillhouse Cove,” “Sankofa Market,” and some drawings by kids.]

The person who marked the map with “Stillhouse Cove” said, “There’s an effort to maintain the grasses and the plants, which attracts the birds and the proper fish. After a storm, when debris piles up, it’s gone the next day.”



Alternate Histories: 10/15, 11/14


We’re maybe entering World War III. All the different hot spots of violence. Climate change changes environments, changes natural resources–it’s all connected.



The animals moved first, Z noticed: a red-bodied dragonfly clinging to his clothesline, nutria spotted in the river that divided the city, dead canvasback ducks at the midpoint of their migration when he drove out to pick up a secondhand desk. He pictured the soil under his feet crawling with bacterial motion, adaptation, life and death, migration, flight at a scale he could barely imagine. To them, all borders were open, all bodies were vehicles. He walked by the river and felt the wind splashing against his back, parting around him, pushed ahead of him, Z, the big thinker, the porous obstacle–the wind was changed by people and ducks and the surface of the dirty river, by temperatures of ice slowly shaling off thousands of miles away–that too changes the shape of the wind, the wind’s approach, the wind’s methods.

When at the COP21 convention in Paris participating nations agreed to the dissolution of borders, it was surprising how easily everyone adjusted to the idea, how little borders are felt in the body. Adjusting to the reality was harder: more people here, fewer there. Food, buildings and fields, no waiting, people streaming across, but how was “across” different now? On the other side of the river is the other side of the river. Maybe it’s a little higher or lower, but food was scarce everywhere. Places became “the place where the spiders come out of the ground” or “the place where we need to plug the leaking abandoned fuel tank” or “the place where the pileated woodpeckers used to nest” or “the place where Concepción and Beto were born, but it’s underwater now” or “the place where we’re borrowing the tools to dig the toilet for the Barzanis and the Ghaishes” or “the place where you leave the offerings.”

Near the foundations of the dismantled houses, next to the grave marker for the people who didn’t make it ashore, someone else had raised a grave marker for blue crabs. The water was predicted to reach it within the next four years. Z limped out there with two new neighbors to show them how to tend the seaweed seedlings and to learn from them how to tell the names of the dead to the wind in a way that makes it certain, almost certain, that they will cross the ocean.

Alternate Histories: 6/5, 7/6

This story is by Mia Hooper.


Something that I think about a lot is that — I think about larger systemic stuff too and I don’t mean to make it about me — I’ve found a community here that’s the most important thing I’ve ever had, and I feel so rooted. I want to keep living here, and I feel like I will — it would take something catastrophic to drive me out. But 3/4 of the weather here makes me miserable and holds me back from doing things I should be doing. I come from a place that’s mild, and the seasons I love are spring and fall, and I feel like those last two weeks each. Then either it’s brutally cold or wearing clothes is miserable, and I don’t want to leave the house. I’m kind of prone to hanging out by myself in my room anyway, and that’s not good for me. I need to be around people. I’ve been doing better with that, but that’s partly because the weather has been kind of a pleasant medium, and I know that’s not going to last. I thought I was doing well with winter, getting tougher, but then this last winter was so harsh.


Later, H sits in her house, looking out. It is so hot and bright, or so cold and dark, and she thinks, I can’t. Then she thinks, what is can’t? She tries to stand up, and she can. She tries to wrap herself in woolens, or slather herself in sunscreen, and she can. She remembers all the times she could before. Life adapts. There are lives in the most unlivable parts of the world. Make yourself a tube worm, a lichen. Bring an orchid to the tundra and its chances won’t be good, but H is not an orchid. She sits down again and makes a few phone calls.

She has friends who grew up here, for whom the cold and heat are not such a burden, so the salons begin at her home. Friends come, and even some neighbors who enjoy the rare treat of central heating and air. H is surprised when people take her hosting as generosity rather than selfishness. The snow shows a network of tunnels and footsteps; if she could see it from above, she would recognize a temporary map of permanent connections.

At first the salons are mostly social–food is shared, and warmth or coolness, and slightly halting conversation. Then, soon, she tentatively asks them to share expertise, and resources. Some can’t, or won’t, and for a while the numbers dwindle, but those who do always have more to contribute than they think. Someone says the word skyways, and all of them think of downtowns in cold climates. Skyways make it easier for businesses to have customers, for people to spend money. H talks about them in a different way. Sometimes enclosures have a way of opening things up.

They experiment with discarded jet bridges–a friend of a friend of a friend works for the airport–and the canopies heave and buckle like accordion bellows as H and her companions race the two weeks of perfect weather. Their efforts are not altogether sound; a smattering of knowledge and all-hands-on-deck cannot always serve as a substitute for commercial engineering. Parts collapse under the weight of all their expectations. As the pleasant qualities of light fade and cold sets in again, H struggles with her lack of success. I couldn’t, and I can’t. But, maybe, failure is not failure if you can try again. Time is not wasted if you know something new. There are worse ways to spend two weeks of perfect weather. A physical network is still beyond them, but her invisible network has grown and strengthened. Someone suggests a grant proposal. People will brave snow and smog to band together again, join H in her home, and together, pressing forward the machine of existence doesn’t seem such a hard burden to bear.

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/1/15

Weather: Hot and bright, gusts of wind at first, quieting down later.

Number of people: 9 stoppers, 3 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 9

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 3

People who read the sign out loud from a distance: 3

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.10


The sun was RIGHT in my face almost the entire time, which meant I was trying to keep my hat shading my eyes, which meant it was tough to look at passersby and for them to look at me. I need a better plan.

A roughly normal number of people spoke with me, but stretched over four hours instead of three, so I wrote a lot of poems.

Some conversations:

[These two came up together.]

Person 1: Violence. Everything that’s happening in Providence. I’m worried about my family, people I’m close to.

Are you worried that it’s gonna hurt them or that they’re gonna hurt someone else?

That they’re gonna be victims of something they had nothing to do with. It’s becoming so unpredictable.

Person 2: I think it’s both. It’s easy for people to be manipulated.

Why do you think that is?

Person 1: Nowadays it’s a trend. They think they have to prove themselves to other people to be popular, they wanna fit in, doing what the next person does. They wanna be seen as, “I’m down.”

This is a weird question, so let me know if you want me to ask it another way. What are other things that might help them feel cool that they would actually want to do?

There’s a lotta things that you can do and still feel cool. You can get a job. Having money in your pocket is better than standing on the corner, being a legend on the street and all that. I believe it’s the media.

Person 2: They’re just tryna be like, “Yeah, I did that.”

It is hard to get a job right now, though.

I’m tryna get a job right now and it sucks. Jobs require you have experience, you have to have a car. And it’s summer so you don’t get free bus passes ’cause school’s closed, so you gotta pay to take the bus anyway.

Person 1: Yeah but if somebody really wanted something bad enough they’re gonna go and do it. You’re not gonna be like, “It’s raining,” you do it and it’s raining. Get an umbrella.


The ozone layer, how we destroyed it. The sun is causing more damage to us and it’s because of us destroying the ozone layer. All these new cancers you hear about, people who wouldn’t have died if they just used a little sunscreen. What do other people talk about?

[I give her some examples.]

The government misspending money we pay toward taxes is huge. I have five kids, four in college, and I think people should be paying me, pretty much, because they’ve taken a good path. It shouldn’t be that colleges are costing so much. They’re like, “Too bad, you have to come up with the difference.” There should be a little help for people like me. For the longest time I was a single parent. My kids are not shooting houses up, my daughters aren’t prostitutes or drug addicts … But not just my kids, all kids. Us helping the youth is helping our future. It’s not the old people, all the old people who are in office now, they’re gonna be dead. It’s the kids. Who are they gonna be tomorrow? Education, educating our own, but then we can’t pay for it why? ‘Cause we’re spending our money on war? We send all this money to other countries, but how many kids go hungry here? How many people are homeless here? We should help ourselves first, and it starts with educating our children. Who are these people going to be if we don’t educate them now? I keep telling my kids, don’t worry, it’ll be okay, I’ll pay for it even if I have to panhandle or pole dance–I’m not really gonna do that. It should be easier, not harder.


Pollution in the ocean, and then fish eat it and then we eat the fish.

What kind of pollution?

Plastics, because they’re so small it’s hard to collect them, and that worries me. Wildlife in general. You read about whales or something washing up on shore and they choked on plastic, choked on fishing nets.

Friend: And the turtle thing.

Yeah, the turtle thing! It’s very unnecessary. As a nation, or in the world–we’re so advanced that we’re so ignorant. We’ve forgotten the basic rules of life.

Do you give people a hard time when they throw trash around?

Yeah, and my daughter does too. She’s always holding people accountable. She’s five! and she’s like, Mommy, how come that person just littered? Her dad isn’t like that so she’s always holding her dad accountable when she’s with him.


My main worry is getting a job, but that’s not fun to talk about. I don’t know how to approach–it’s so hard to describe. My generation started the recycle movement, and it’s making a difference kinda, but there’s so many people that aren’t doing it, and so much pollution on the street. We haven’t really made strides to reduce the waste. Why is there no place to get a shampoo refill at the store? We need to take it to the next level, like in Germany, in Sweden, they have really amazing recycling programs where they’re really reducing waste. We haven’t done enough. I saw someone in Providence take–I think it was leftovers–and just put it on the street out of their car, and I was like, it’s 2015! I can’t believe you’re doing that!


Just money. Financial assistance for people who don’t qualify for big bank loans. The security deposit on an apartment–or my storage unit’s about to get auctioned off if I can’t pay them. We need more financial resources here in Rhode Island. If the homeless had money to get a home, there’d be less people on the streets, the streets’d be less dirty–Are you gonna be here next week?

Yeah. So if you come back and tell me more of your anxieties, I’ll try to come back with some ideas for you.

Well, one thing that’s available is the Capital Good Fund. They give these small kinds of loans and they want to work with people who are, people who are less likely to get loans from the big banks. I’m trying to get a loan with them. [Gives me a card; I say I’ll recommend it to people who come to me with financial anxieties.]


Acidification of the ocean. Also, unrealistically, the earth and its gravity field somehow being altered. Basically, earth staying in the Goldilocks zone. But my other worry is that the solutions to climate change have too much hubris. Geoengineering, trying to change the climate change, could have a worse effect. I’m worried that the oceans will rise and probably fifty million people will be displaced, which’ll be a humanitarian crisis.

That’s a lot, so just to take that one, what are some things that we could do now to prepare for that displacement, to keep it from being a crisis?

We could prepare with vertical farming, vertical living spaces. This’d probably mean more urbanization in landlocked areas further inland, spaces that aren’t coastal, which would mean limitations on water resources. We’d need a water infrastructure that would support increased verticalization, and just doing as much as we can to sustainably protect water resources.

Okay, so the next question is, besides making room for more people, what would be the fringe benefits of taking these steps? What could we get out of it even if the additional people didn’t show up?

A greater sense of community? Decreased space in between–literally and perhaps figuratively bringing people closer. But how do you build that kind of structure? I think the goal is something not self-contained but self-containable, self-sustainable–the advantage of that would be stable food production, stable lifestyles, hopefully sustainable lifestyles. And I would hope also increased equity. Increased equity means that people of different socioeconomic classes would be able to enjoy liberties, luxurious liberties, that the richest people enjoy now. I’ve been going to the gym…and they have these hydromassage beds, and they feels so good. It’s a very simple luxury, but I didn’t know about it before. What do the wealthiest members of the world enjoy now that I can’t even imagine? At least being able to imagine it, and access it. Having access to the things that make people happy: what do enjoyment and happiness look like? There’s a distinction between pleasure and fulfillment.


What am I gonna do when my kids are grown? I think I know who I’ll be without them, and it’s not such a good guy. They make me better. I won’t be around them so much, so I won’t have to be on dad behavior. They’re a good gravitational pull.


I really do think there’s too many people on the planet and it’s not gonna work out, but I feel uncomfortable with like “Your children are wrong” or “Don’t have children”. I know a lot of radicals’ solution to this is to say we’ll have enough if resources are more efficient, more distributed and … yeah, maybe, but. And I’m worried about Providence turning into Atlanta. I don’t function in the heat. When it’s 90 degrees and humid, I just can’t, I get sick.

Today’s poem:

Everyone should have

what the worst people have first

the things we can’t even imagine are things

and we should have them in a world

so closed we can never be harmed

a poreless world sunless and worse

we should all be as bad as we can

and speak the first language

I can’t block the sun enough

can’t speak enough language

I won’t burn to travel

I want to stay something

and lie and lie and lie

Alternate Histories: 6/13, 6/25


It would be very sad, because we’re of the generation that actually had a chance to have an engineering impact for future generations. Cheap agricultural production is gonna collapse, and there’s gonna be an expansion of people who are denied their basic human rights.

Do you think there’s structures we could set up now that would reduce the chance of that?

When I was younger, I went to Cuba and I looked at agricultural reform that was part of the reaction of the government to Russia’s collapse. All the imports of things like grain stopped. So they had to move from an agriculture that was focused on producing coffee, sugar and tobacco to a diversified local agriculture that could feed the population of the island. They were overall able to adapt the food supply, shift away from state-run agriculture. If we could facilitate such a shift–but agriculture runs off fossil fuels and glacial meltwater … I got burnt out on international development. Now I’m just trying to make money enough to make sure my family is safe. I’m building nonmilitary drones–they make 3D plans of buildings … I don’t see a total extinction event, I just see a very rough period for human rights. We have a tendency to hunt till there’s no more, drill till there’s no more. I personally think that humans are awesome, because humans make awesome things–humans are grasping the fundamental nature of reality in a way that no other creature has [sic].


Two days later, when Q went to work, he turned on his computers and began going over his schematics. Not everyone can think in shapes and relationships in space, but Q was good at this: shapes unfolded in his mind like wings, like insect legs, like leaves, along their own plans.

A leaf still “works”, up to a certain point, if it has fewer than a certain number of holes munched in it by insect jaws; it does leaflike things still, if not as efficiently. Ants can appear crushed but a few minutes later, unfold and limp away.

Q sees through the seductions of designer-as-savior. He knows those plans go up like the rocket and down like the stick, as people go bug-eyed over the next big thing, and the next, and the next. His imagination moves so smoothly, almost smugly, almost comfortably, from construction to collapse. Shifting it away is a heave, and not just one–periodic, grinding effort. Still, he made it that day, and the next. What’s that? asked his co-worker, stretching out her neck.

Self-raising hydroponic bridge stimulated by rising floodwater, Q said, a little embarrassed.

She frowned. Where are you getting the materials? Look, come over here, I’m working on this map–it’s got the relationship of resource recovery sites to places where people might need to build things out of those materials, and routes, so you don’t have to go as far.

I didn’t know you were working on that, Q said.

I didn’t know you’d be interested. Look, this is the team in Lagos I’m talking with, that’s my brother’s friend from seminary and his cousin and his fiancee, and the man from Ben’s congregation whose idea it was. We still ship a lot of e-waste there and so does Europe, and they have plenty of their own. They’re doing what I said plus also better working conditions for the people who actually take the things apart–that’s what Christopher does, the man from the congregation. And they’re on creeks and inlets and just generally speaking a lot of water, so they might like your bridge idea.

Would this really make sense for a watershed that includes a big city? Q said.

Oh, that’s true. Not for downstream, but for upstream. For the coast you’d need more of a floating estuary. I don’t know anything about that. But someone does.

Fifty years later, all the spring rains fell at once, and late. The growing bridges stretched and arched themselves like cats; the waters dragged at their undercarriages, tearing sections loose to float on their long cords. A few tore loose and drifted into the lagoon, to be recovered later by the people of the city, all of whom were similarly safe and similarly in danger, then and from then on.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/6/15

Weather: Cool, sunny, breezy, pleasant

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 7 walkbys, plus one person who read every word on the sign and map out loud

Number of hecklers: 0, unless you count Christian Proselytizing Dude

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories: 1 blank taken home

People I met through the booth last year, who remembered me: 2

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2

Picture-takers WITHOUT permission: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.80


Lots of police activity in Burnside Park today.

Sometimes people who don’t stop still give me the warmest smiles with, as far as I can tell, zero leer and zero eye-roll, and that happened a lot today.

One guy gave another guy 5 cents to give to me.

Thanks to Dorinda for recording again today, and to James Kuo for making the map!

Some conversations:

My daughter’s 12, and she said to me, “Dad, I wish I was your age so I didn’t have to worry about climate change.” And I worry that she’s inherited a terrible world.

Do you guys talk about it together?

We talk about it a lot. And I always have to be careful how we talk about it, because I want to share my work with her, and I want to talk to her about the worrisome parts, but I also want to talk about the positive things happening, the hope I see. When she said this, I said, We’re going to solve this, because we have to. I still have some hope that we will. The UN negotiations going on–this is a really important year, leading up to Paris in December–there’s a nice dynamic going on where countries are coming in with modestly ambitious pledges. There are problems with these pledges but they’re better than we feared. The U.S. and China were both unexpectedly good–they’re interesting because they’re different, they’re different because China said they’d peak, stop increasing carbon emissions, by 2030, and it may be sooner, and the U.S. committed to a percent–26-28% by 2025. China gives off 31% of the world’s carbon emissions and the U.S. is 16–that’s 47%, almost half the world’s emissions. The EU has come in with a good pledge, Mexico’s is good, they’ll peak in 2026. As long as countries don’t do awful things–Japan’s was weak … And then there’s renewables: the price of solar’s crashing, it’s dropping fast, it’s undercutting coal.

While these big things are going on, I think they seem kinda far away to people and I was wondering what people can do, not just personally, like insulating their house, but something that would be one step up from personal action.

Yes, we can reduce waste and we can do a lot. But more importantly we need to act collectively, act together. We can do that by joining organizations that deal with these issues, we can do it by putting pressure on state legislators, the governor, our congresspeople–they’re not doing much. Well, some are. Some need to do much more.

Are there some paths to that here in Rhode Island, resources people could use to find out who to put pressure on about what?

There’s Energize RI–they’re working with the idea of a price on carbon, essentially a carbon tax, and they have some links for action. There’s Resilient RI–they’re more about adaptation, how as it’s already happening we can plan for sea level rise and flooding. …Doing stuff locally helps it to feel not overwhelming. But I hope people can act on more than one level. I think people can.


[A second person came up in the middle of my conversation with the first person.]

Person 1: Right next to your sign, you should have another sign, “Save the Park.” They’re ruining it. There’s no attention to aesthetics. That part’s blocked off for no reason. They’re putting that fence up–they say Oh, you can have this little spot right in front of the police station. It’s like the stadium they’re building–nobody wants it, but nobody says anything about aesthetics. That’s the only beautiful view left in Providence, and all you’re gonna see is this big giant green thing. The people who are being disenfranchised don’t even say anything about it.

Person 2: Nothing now, ’cause I got my medication! I could go up and punch those two cops right in the face, and then I’d have a place to sleep tonight. But then all this work [holds up manila envelope] would be wasted.

What’s in there?

Housing applications. I applied for every housing for disabled people in this damn state. [Transition I didn’t note] If my granddaughter’s lost, she could ask a policeman.

Person 1: That building [indicates “Superman Building”] is a Tiffany. Let me explain what I mean. The Sterritt Brothers built that, and you know what else they built? The Empire State Building. And now they’re gonna tear this building down because nobody has the imagination, the creativity, to do anything with it. That’s where we should start. Fill it up with people who want freedom back. We lost it in 9/11 and it’s going away little by little. We should start here in the smallest state. That’s how a big wound heals, it heals from the bottom up.


[These two were friends and came up together.]

Friend 1: Girls.

Too many or too few?

Friend 1: I don’t know.

Friend 2: Too many!

What’s the difficulty?

Friend 1: I like both of them.

Do they like you? Is it that they each want you to be only with them?

Friend 1: I don’t like relationships like that.

Friend 2: He’s a one-night stand.

Friend 1: I’m not a one-night stand, they are.

It sounds like they don’t want what you want, and you don’t want what they want, so you might’ve just answered your own question.

Friend 1: They want what I get. They want what I get. They want what I get. … I like both of them though, I’ve known them a long time.


Life is so fast and crazy. Technology is gonna kill us one day. The world’s gonna go down. I just deal with it every day, nothing I can do about it. This country’s terrible, don’t you think? We’re gonna go down one day.

What’s one thing you’d like to be different?

Peace, world peace. Everybody’s killin’ everybody. Peace to everybody, whoever you are. peace. We need a global president who controls the whole world–a panel of people, they keep the peace within the whole world. Equal opportunity for everybody. …I live in Warwick now but I’m here taking the bus because I had a little problem with my license, but I was a kid in Providence, a young kid, I came from Providence. I’m 37 years old, I never smoked in my life, now I started smoking ’cause of stress.

Today’s poem:

I want to share my work with her shaking

its air down as the dandelion

shares its work with the topsoil

when cut off to rot and return

I don’t just want to look like I’m working

I want to lack everything

give it all up to her later

have I said too much

has everything I’ve said been perfect

Have I left a distinct perfect world

behind me like a trail of spit

a series of campsites perfectly decayed

look me in the eye

tell me you have slept

tell me you are on your way

even if it isn’t true

Alternate Histories: 5/16, 4/4


[These two were a couple.]

HER: I feel like I grew up in the age of environmental anxiety. Food security is a huge thing. These bugs don’t die as much over winter–there are so many bugs on potatoes and cucumbers. It only takes like 5 degrees.


Are you a farmer, or a gardener?


I grow things in small little pots. We had a farm in Philadelphia, but we moved up here because we figured in 20 years it’s going to be colder up here. We don’t own a car–I feel like we lose a lot socially but that’s the one big thing we do. No matter what you do, the weather’s gonna pick anybody. It’s not going to spare the communities that do the most. Everybody’s worried but nobody’s pissed off. I think because we’re not desperate enough, we’re still comfortable. And we’re the largest source of the reason it’s happening. It’s still a question up in the air in the media–they say one out of four Americans don’t believe in climate change instead of saying three out of four do … I don’t think we have the infrastructure for what new world might happen. So much relies on fossil fuels and electricity. Clean water, sewage — if people have a plan, they’re not making it transparent to the layperson. It’s a big spiral.

HIM: The state of RI and the city are super into subsidizing cars, parking garages; they have these half-baked plans for a bike lane combined with a bus lane, I call it the leper lane for people who aren’t in a car. These half-baked people–they drive to work every day and they’re making policy. And the oceans are gonna acidify and kill everything.

You laugh when you say that, like it’s a joke, but do you believe it? Or what?


I believe it. I go between it’s so bad I don’t even know if I can do anything about this, and trying to put enough blinders on to do what I can. Insects and parasites moving but trees can’t move fast enough, so whole forests are just dying. We’re just done, can’t breathe. When I’m optimistic I hope people will be forced to change their ways, but when I’m pessimistic I think people with money will just keep going and people without money will be the ones who have the problems, maybe die. It isn’t like all humanity dies or nobody dies. It’ll be the end of the world for people who can’t get food. I sort of think the world will move on, but I don’t know if people will.



The world is a world of difference.

Later that year, L and L, in love, read about Cyzenis albicans, a fly brought in by humans to eat the larvae of the winter moth–also brought in by humans–that turned the leaves of trees in Blackstone Park and Swan Point Cemetery to skeletons. Hope is like a worm in the heart. How can it possibly learn to live without destroying the heart?

L got a vasectomy. L thought, where else can we undo ourselves, or where can we do more? How far down do you go: the root hair, the microbe, the genome? Do you pull your hand away or do you keep it there, putting pressure on the wound you made? Together they made out the deed that transferred ownership of their house to the Narragansett Tribe.

L and L, getting older now, stole signs from the highway department, and some tarps with bright green grass blades printed on them from a construction site. The lanes they blocked off, one on each side of the highway, looked very official.

L and L died. The saplings began to open up the pavement. The wiry grasses rooted, and the tough lichens clung on.

The great-grandchildren of the people who lived in that house don’t sleep much at night. That’s when they bring the larva to the surface of the trees and pack them up for the bug-protein maker. When you kill someone, even by accident, you have to take on some of their responsibilities. Their piss fuels generators and bacteria transform their shit to fertilizer. They grow pennyroyal in small little pots, to keep the fleas off, and their eyes open widely in the dark. Through the hot days, slung in the shade of the trees, they sleep in hammocks of mosquito net, except in storms.

Expansion of Natural Gas Pipeline in RI/MA: Public Meeting TODAY, 9/25, 5:30 pm in Little Compton

Even if you can’t go, please let people who live in the area know about this: there’s a public meeting tonight to discuss the proposed expansion of a natural gas pipeline in Tiverton, Little Compton and Fall River.

Thursday, 9/25

5:30-7:30 pm

Little Compton Town Hall (40 Commons Rd, Little Compton RI, call (401) 635-4400 for directions)

The first meeting was apparently poorly advertised: here’s more information about it, and about the pipeline proposal and the objections to it. It’s part of this pipeline expansion, and public comment on the project is open until September 29th, so if you can’t go to the meetings, leave a comment: it takes a couple of minutes.

UPDATE: If you want to comment at the FERC, it will ask for the docket number for the project. It is CP14-96-000.

I left this comment, which you can grab if you want: “I am a Rhode Island resident writing to oppose the Algonquin Incremental Market Project’s proposed expansion of a natural gas pipeline running through Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I am concerned about on-site environmental damage, an increase in pollution in already-polluted areas, and the increased potential for burning greenhouse gases.”

Public Comment Opportunity on Natural Gas pipeline in Burrillville, RI

Readers, I missed the boat on this public hearing (last night, AUUUUGGGHH) about an expansion of a natural-gas-carrying pipeline in Burrillville. The articles I’ve linked above, and the public comment link below, contain information about the proposal itself and the objections to it, as well as some links to further information.

Public comment on the project is open till September 29th.

Climate Anxiety Counseling (and MORE) at Providence Park(ing) Day, 9/19!

Artist Carl Dimitri and I will be sharing Parklet #8, between Vinton and Knight Sts. on the southern side of Broadway, for Providence Park(ing) Day 2014.

There will be things to see and things to do! Please come by between 8am and 4 pm. Actual counseling hours will be 8-9 and 2-4.

I’m still looking for someone to babysit the parklet between 12:30 and 2 pm, when neither Carl nor I can be there. Please email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, if that person could be you! You wouldn’t have to counsel anybody.