Climate Anxiety Counseling AND Alternate Histories at a Creative Medicine Lecture, 10/14/15

At the end of this lecture, I invited the people in attendance to write down their own climate anxiety, trade with or pass to the person sitting next to them, and write an alternate history for that anxiety. I’d explained as part of the lecture what an alternate history is/does, and read a sample one–this one. Many more people wrote than handed me what they wrote.

This is a relatively new format for the booth (though I’ve invited people to do it before) and I’m still working out how to set it up well and not try to control it too much.

The people attending this free lecture included some Brown students, some Brown professors, some who were neither, some friends of mine, and some strangers; I was distracted/relieved by being done speaking and didn’t notice who handed in which writings.

CLIMATE ANXIETY: I fear that the world my children inherit from my generation will be overtaken by loss, violence, brutality, exploitation; and there will no longer be wild landscapes to which they can retreat.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: Have you ever read the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy? It’s a book of the apocalypse, in which a father and son try to survive in this “new world”–the only world the son has ever experienced. The son finds beauty in this world, because it’s all he has ever experienced, and in turn he makes the world that much more beautiful. I think with this mentality, we can create a society of sympathetic minds, which may slowly rebuild a new image of a wonderful world.


CLIMATE ANXIETY: I’m worried about the attitude toward refugees all over the First World [sic]–what’s happening in Syria and Europe right now–what’s happening here on our border with Mexico–Trump’s poll ratings and his idea for a “giant wall” on the border. Why can’t we accept fellow humans just because they are beyond an imaginary border? What will we do when more people are homeless and need a place to go because of climate, war or otherwise?

ALTERNATE HISTORY: Educational policy changes so that understandings of psychological and psychosocial dynamics are taught at early stages–especially the way people project internal anxieties onto others. And there is a genuine move to make international law more robust and to make national borders more practical than infused with bad patriotism.



All of the environmental

changes associated

with global warming–

different coastlines

different weather

different wildlife

more life stress living

with these changes.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: You seem to be afraid of change. Maybe a place to start is to look at the possibility that change can be productive and positive instead of doom-filled. We don’t know yet how this will turn [around? can’t read their handwriting] but people who are creative and determined to “use the change” will help us realize our potential to change for the better.


CLIMATE ANXIETY: I fear the sensation of not being able to breathe clean air, someday soon, and of not trusting the water I drink is safe.

ALTERNATE HISTORY: The new world that could be possible will include more public awareness of the needs of our planet and how it supports us. Through faith leaders (Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, etc.) speaking on it, as well as civic leaders, more focus, effort and energy will be devoted to global health in a way that can improve life for individuals and environment. Better not to deny–


Points of Service: Responsive Art-Making and Intimate Public Discourse

I am “giving a talk” tomorrow. It’ll be about Climate Anxiety Counseling, vulnerability, boundaries, low-gatekeeping mental health care. It’s open to the public, which is you, and it’s at 5:30pm, Wednesday 10/14, on the Brown University Campus (Pembroke Hall 305). Mild, non-obligatory audience participation. I hope some of you can come.

points of service

Also tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities conference, in association with ARTCOP21, doing Climate Anxiety Counseling there. And ALSO on Thursday the booth and I will be in our favorite spot, the Washington St. entrance to Burnside Park, 3:30-5pm. Please visit. I’m always glad to see you.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Some Links and News

The Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, plus some extras, will be at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities Conference on October 14th from 11:30 to 1:15 and on October 15th from 8:30 to 3.

This booth session appears, along with other performances and activities and actions, on ARTCOP21‘s map of events leading up to the climate change conferences in Paris in December (video autoplays at that link). You can look for something near to you.

Because it costs money to get into the AAC conference, I’m also holding a booth session in the traditional Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park location on October 15th, from 3:30 to 5pm, while the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy sets up and starts its Beer Garden. It will only cost the normal nickel to talk to me there.

Also on October 14th, at 5:30, I’m talking about Climate Anxiety Counseling, responsive art-making and intimate public discourse as part of the Creative Medicine Lecture Series (scroll down a bit). It’s open to the public, which is you.

More people are talking and writing about the weight that the knowledge of climate change and its effects can exert on our bodies and minds. I’m in this article; here’s another one; here’s a whole website.

For those who want to act as well as feel, have a look at the Climate Disobedience Center–they’re new, so let’s see what they’ll do, and let them know if we want them to do something more or different.