Climate Anxiety Counseling TODAY: Last day of the season in Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park!

Come visit me downtown today! It’s my last day at the entrance to Burnside Park, across from Kennedy Plaza, and I’ll be there 2-5:30 approximately.

Bring me your climate anxieties and other anxieties, write a postcard to a regulatory agency to stop a fossil fuel project, and take home a drawing of one of our nonhuman Rhode Island neighbors.

I’ll also be at the Sankofa World Market this Wednesday, June 19, 2-6pm, and most Wednesdays throughout the summer. Come see me there, too! A Newport slot is in the works as well, probably for Mondays.

cecropia cj

[Image: Detailed line drawing of a cecropia butterfly by CJ Jimenez.]

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Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/15/19

Weather: Bright and fiercely windy

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 1 walkby, 1 map marker

Number of hecklers: 0!

People who got the Peanuts reference: 2

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Pictures taken without permission: 1

People I’ve spoken with before, back for more: 3

Pages of notes: 4

Dogs seen: 16

Dogs pet: 1

Money raised for Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective: $0.15

 

Observations:

Downtown was tooling up for the Pride parade. There were lots of people wearing or carrying one-use plastic rainbow objects, which infuriated me. There was also one person wearing a rainbow clown wig that looked like it had seen a few seasons of service, and another person carrying a little made-at-home trans pride flag, both of which I found touching. Older couples and groups were nice to see.

While eight people spoke with me at length today, none of them wanted me to take notes or share the conversations (which were also not about climate change but about other concerns and strains in their lives). So I won’t.

Today also had an unusually large number of people saying that they thought the booth was cool, a great idea, etc., but not stopping.

Around 4:25, one of four white people I’d seen walking around together with a muzzled dog beckoned a cop car over to the park. That cop and two others searched a Black man with an orange-striped shirt and made him get in the car, then stayed around questioning other people. Three white women (not me) went over together to speak up for the guy they arrested, but with no success. Later, someone else told me that the dog was biting people and that the guy they arrested had tried to defend himself.

Someone wrote, “My kids’ safety” on the whiteboard map of Rhode Island, where I ask people to “put their worries on the map,” but I can’t get the picture of it off my phone. So here, instead, is a picture of a small friend of mine feeding blazing star to his shark. Let’s work together to make sure that joy, not violence, is waiting for him. Let’s work for the thriving of the plants, the sharks, and the humans.

 

Climate Anxiety Counseling TODAY in Burnside Park/Kennedy Plaza!

I’ll be in Burnside Park today (6/14), 2-5:30pm, to listen to your climate anxieties and other anxieties. Come see me!

My friend Corinne came for a session and took this nice picture of me at the booth.

kate booth 6-11-19

[Image: Kate (a white woman with big eyebrows, square glasses, and a sun hat) at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth at the entrance to a city park. Superimposed text says “Received some v important counseling in Kennedy Plaza.”]

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Burnside Park/Kennedy Plaza, 6/12/19

Weather: Warm & bright, wind picking up

Number of people: 5 stoppers, 3 walkbys, 1 map marker

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7.5

People who got the Peanuts reference: 1

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Dogs seen: 4

Dogs pet: 0

Postcards against the plant: 0

Money raised for Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective: $0.00

 

Observations:

Slow day today, not sure why; only got permission to post one conversation.

To the filmmaker who spoke with me, if you see this: You might like reading Brandon Taylor‘s and Keguro Macharia‘s writings. They are very different writers and thinkers, but what we talked about shares some elements with each of them. Good luck.

Noticed a cop car by the old Greyhound stop at 4:45 but have no idea how long it had been there; a second car arrived at 4:55, left soon after; two more marked cars and one unmarked drove through on Washington St but didn’t stop.

The map marker marked the map with “Hakuna Matata” and it is the only thing I have ever wiped off the map before taking a picture. If you’re not worried about climate change, okay (I mean, not okay, but I’m still going to treat your worry with respect) but you don’t get to tell people not to worry at a thing that’s about worries! This is not the thing for you! Go to the “no anxieties” booth!

 

A conversation: 

I think I feel anxious about how everything gears up toward not thinking about it. Our culture is one of denial, continuing to exist as if nothing needs to change.

Is this something you see in yourself, or you see it in other people and worry about that, or both, or what?

Yeah, it happens in me, but if it happens in me, everything in the world around me tells me it’s fine. It’s a first-world, not-in-current-climate-catastrophe privilege. It lets you be a doer of all the things you do as a consumer in fossil-fueled capitalism. There’s nothing that makes you uncomfortable about these decisions.

For you, what’s the relationship between feeling uncomfortable and what you do next?

I think I have my internal conversation about what I do. Things like bike [instead of drive], eat less meat. I make art about species loss and climate change. There are ways that I as a creature, as a person in the world try to consume less and question more. In my work I’m interested in what are ways that we can hear different conversations about climate change—there’s such crisis language about it, I feel like the emotive and the affective has no space. So having space for the emotional realities of climate change, and how it’s intertwined with global capitalism and poverty. We don’t have space in our culture for a public ritual of mourning.

So you mentioned the emotional reality of climate change, what is that reality for you?

Yeah. I’m like devastated about species loss—it feels irreversible and awful. That we’re a species amongst many—those of us engaged in capitalist structures—and we’re the worst stewards every of others, and other species, and of land. I’m desperate about the state of water. It’s this essential life force and we’ve toxified it and weaponized it against the poor, and changes in weather and temperature are making water dangerous, with flooding and storms. It’s the intersection of climate change and global capitalism—the precarity of poverty… Hurricane María was so devastating in Puerto Rico because of the lack of infrastucture and because the distribution of resources was profoundly inequitable.

What usually happens when you feel those things, or know about those things?

I feel heavy, I feel anxious. But I think we live in a world of such distractions that my environment is always inviting me to escape from that feeling. I can pick up my phone, look at something, or call someone. I’ve been trying to work on not doing that, on sitting with it. It’s good, but it’s really depressing! It feels so honest—I think that there’s devastating things happening in the world and I want to be honest about that devastation. … It feels kind of meditative. Sometimes it’s reading—my partner is currently reading the climate report and they’ve been telling about it, so not looking at anything else after that. Or writing in response, or just sitting in response. … I’m terrible at not being honest. But we’re all self-deceptive—we live in a very deceiving culture. Like the “right to work” law, which is the most anti-worker law. Or just propaganda, the way we’re lied to all the time. We self-deceive about so many things—maybe it’s necessary to deceive yourself a little bit, just to move on with your day.

Do you think about climate change every day?

I don’t do it every day. I guess I think about it—do you know the meditation practice tonglen? You breathe in suffering and breathe out relief. So you generally start with easy things, maybe an acquaintance who’s having a hard time. Then you can move through more complicated things, someone close to you, or a stranger. That’s maybe one of the ways I think about sitting with it—breathing in, taking in the suffering.

How do you interact with other people about it?

I teach about it with students. I talk about it with friends, but that often feels like a hard conversation to have—where does it go? What solutions are there? I’ve gone to protests and rallies, like the climate justice rally. I went to Standing Rock.

What was that like?

It was unsettling. Like [undoing] settler colonial structures. It was a very Indigenous space that I experienced strongly, being an ally but being a white person walking in, knowing it was not my space. It felt like a very—both like powerfully joyful and powerfully sorrowful space.

Are you looking to find that kind of powerfully joyful and sorrowful space again?

The thing that I’m really looking to find again that I felt there is the experience of being in powerful community, ’cause that is who you share joys and sorrows with. I was part of a worker-owned collective for five years, and that collective political existence, building and breaking in community—I miss that shared experience. What does it look like to be in a collective? Who would it be with? I’m engaging in a lot of collaborative projects right now and that feels good, like it could be the beginning of those things.

What are the environmental justice fights where you are? 

There’s the Line 5 fight, to interrupt a pipeline, and there’s mining in Superior National Forest, which is very complicated. I’m just now learning about it. I’ve given money but I haven’t done other things. I live in a city with the third largest Indigenous population in the country, and I know that for example on the White Earth reservation there’ve been struggles about getting land ownership back to members. For a project I’m working on now, I’m interviewing a few Indigenous folks who are doing work around food sovereignty, and interviews feel like a good way to begin getting to know the place.

booth interior 6-12-19

[Image: the interior of the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, a turquoise plywood tabletop with a binder for notes, a jar for donations and pens/markers, and a box of cards featuring Rhode Island organisms.]

Climate Anxiety Counseling in Burnside Park/Kennedy Plaza TODAY, 2-5pm!

Come visit me in Burnside Park today (Wednesday 6/12) between 2 and 5pm, share your climate anxieties or other anxieties…

booth 6-5-19

[Image: A small turquoise booth made of cardboard and plywood, with “climate anxiety counseling 5 cents” and “Here to listen” written on it, next to a map of Rhode Island with people’s beloved places marked on it, at the entrance to a park.]

…take home a piece of art featuring a Rhode Island organism (here’s one showing some of the plankton that help to make the air we breathe)…

phytoplankton 1

[Image: a line drawing of phytoplankton species Ceratium furca.]

… and fill out a comment postcard to stop the fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville.

20190608_112157

[Image: an orange postcard with a space for people to tell the Army Corps of Engineers why it’s important to New England’s waters and wetlands not to build this power plant.]

Come and talk with me. I’ll be glad to see you.

 

Climate Anxiety Counseling at PVDFest: Guest Artists, Postcards Against the Plant, and more

I’ll be at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth in Burnside Park for PVDFest tomorrow, starting at 12pm and going as long as I can (probably till dark, anyway).

In addition to listening and talking with you about climate and other anxieties, I will also have postcards that you can fill out for RI DEM, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Facility Siting Board to register your objections to the fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville. (The EFSB is no longer officially taking public comments, but they can’t unsee a postcard.) The postcards will be addressed and stamped, and I can put them in the mailbox for you if you like–all you’ll have to do is write a comment explaining why this plant should not be built.

If you talk with me, you’ll be able to take home a little piece of art featuring a Rhode Island organism–sometimes with an action suggestion, if that’s where our conversation leads. I drew a bunch of them, like this one in honor of World Oceans Day (phytoplankton exhale between 1/2 and 3/4 of the oxygen we breathe).

 

phytoplankton 1

[Image: drawing of phytoplankton species Ceratium furca, found in Narragansett Bay.]

For PVDFest, I’ll also be giving out organism drawings donated by these other artists:

May Babcock (who also donated handmade paper!) drew ajidamoo, aka Eastern chipmunk.

chipmunk mb

Zaidee Everett drew a marbled salamander.

salamander ze

Julia Gualtieri drew a big brown bat.

brown bag jg

CJ Jimenez drew a cecropia moth.

cecropia cj

James Kuo drew a pickerel frog.

pickerel frog jk

These and other beautiful portraits of our nonhuman neighbors could go home with you if you come talk to me tomorrow. I hope you will accept this invitation for connection and action.

 

 

 

 

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.)

Climate Anxiety Counseling TOMORROW, 6/5, 2-5pm, in Burnside Park!

The Climate Anxiety Counseling booth got a paint job today, because tomorrow is the first day of the new season!

booth repaint 3

Come and share your anxieties about climate change, or other things, between 2 and 5pm in Burnside Park tomorrow, 6/5. I’ll be on the side facing Kennedy Plaza, near the middle entrance to the park.

If you talk with me, I’ll listen to you and and ask you some questions, and give you a small piece of art (featuring one of our nonhuman Rhode Island neighbors) to keep. Depending on what we talk about, you might also walk away with a suggestion for what to do next.

 

Climate Anxiety Counseling in June 2019!

If you have anxieties about climate change and its effects, you can come talk with me at these times and places in Providence. These are the ones that are for sure right now; I will add more if I can set up more.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park (opposite Kennedy Plaza)

Thursday, June 6th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Saturday, June 8th, starting at 12pm and going till… in Burnside Park as part of PVDFest

Wednesday, June 12th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Thursday, June 13th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Friday, June 14th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Saturday, June 15th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Sunday, June 16th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

Monday, June 17th, 2-5pm, Burnside Park

*

Wednesday, June 19th, 2-6pm, Sankofa World Market (275 Elmwood Ave)

Wednesday, June 26th, 2-6pm, Sankofa World Market

(I’ll also be at the Sankofa World Market in July and August!)

*

If you come and talk to me, I’ll listen, ask you some questions, possibly make some suggestions and give you a little piece of art to keep, featuring one of our nonhuman RI neighbors.

ri organism card front

You can also mark your worries about specific places on a map of the state and nearby waters.

map 8-29-18

If you want me to come to your Rhode Island town (or even further afield, up to a point), email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, or talk to me on Twitter. (Climate Anxiety Counseling has a Facebook page too but I don’t use it very much.)

Some other things that are coming this summer and that I’ll post more about soon:

*Write to the Energy Facilities Siting Board and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to stop Invenergy’s fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville! You’ll be able to fill them out at the counseling booth, and I will send them in for you; you can also do them online for the EFSB (a petition with explanations and a comment that you can adapt) and RI DEM (instructions for submitting comments and the email address where you should send them).

*GUEST COUNSELORS! If you would like to be one, please let me know.

*Climate anxiety support group? Maybe? A couple of people have told me they’re interested; let me know if you’re interested too.

Guest Post! Climate Anxiety Counseling with Julie Beman: City Wide Open Studios, New Haven, CT, 10/14/28

[Note from Kate: Julie Beman held her first ever Climate Anxiety Counseling session last week in New Haven, on the sidewalk next to Violet Harlow‘s studio sale and across from Edgewood Park Farmer’s Market. Here is her account of the day.]

 

Weather: Sunny and cool

Number of people: 7 stoppers (3 sitters) and many walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0

 Pages of notes: 0

 Dogs seen: many

 Dogs pet: 2 goldendoodles

 

 

Some conversation recollections:

 

1. Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re here! I need to talk to someone like you! I just bought this painting of a whale, I’m upset about the report that came out, I use so many plastic pens and I saw all those animals with stomachs full of plastic and there are so many plastic pens in my office…

I was thinking about the pens and remembering that I have fountain pens from my father and grandfather and I’m going to have them cleaned up and give them to younger people in my family and say “here’s a gift from your ancestors.”

(Then we talked about how ancestors don’t have to be from ancient times. Just a generation or two ago people didn’t use plastic, cooked at home, tried not to waste food, used hankies…)

*

2. What’s wrong with the climate? Why should I be anxious about it?

Well, some people think that the climate is changing and causing a lot of problems, and some people don’t. Have you thought about that?

I don’t care about anyone here. I saw a video of people in a cafe and then a tsunami came in and flooded everything. I cared about those people.

So you feel compassion for those people?

Yeah, people on islands. Not here. I think about the environment. I try not to buy a lot of things. I don’t need a lot of things. People buy too many things. We don’t need that many things.

(And that was about how it went until he said “Yeah, I see why you’re doing this. Cool. You made me think. Cool.”)

*

3. A man and a woman. He talked about the government and multinationals and career politicians and “follow the money.” She talked about all of the things she’s trying to do – organizing, making donations, calling/writing politicians. He just kept going and going – very ‘splainy – and concluded with “Well, are you supposed to give us advice before we leave?” I asked if that’s what he wanted, and he said yes, so I said “OK. Try to spend some time with your feelings.”

 

Other folks stopped by who didn’t have time to sit and talk, but said that they would have if they could. A couple of people said they were moved by the question. One bicycler shouted that she’d be back later.

 

On Instagram a woman asked if I’d be doing something similar locally (Hartford area rather than New Haven), and I said I was trying to figure out where to do it.

 

 [This is Kate again. If you’re interested in figuring out a version of Climate Anxiety Counseling that works for you and the people in a place where you live or spend much of your time, let me know at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, and I will help you get set up.]