Weather: Medium temperature, muggy, cloudy; later, breezing and brightening up
Number of people: 12 stoppers
Number of hecklers: 0!
People who got the Peanuts reference: 2
Pictures taken without permission: 1
Dogs seen: 11
Dogs pet: 0. This ratio is terrible. Do better, Newport!
Money raised for Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective: $1.05
One of the conversations that I didn’t get permission to post, I don’t think I mishandled exactly but I think there was probably a way to do more in it/with it, with more honesty and more compassion.
On the other hand, I had a five-person conversation (including me) that I think went really well? See if you think so too!
I was in the back corner on this day, but it didn’t seem to slacken traffic any.
Nonhuman animal presences: Big housefly, monarch butterfly, somebody who I’m almost sure was a silvery blue, crows, white butterfly of some kind, robin, sparrows and a doe who wandered around the edge of the park. I don’t know if she was okay or what she thought was happening.
I feel like as a species we’re in a constant battle between good and evil—maybe more like greed and wanting to help. Will we ever be able to improve our ongoing battle or will it continue as long as we’re on this planet? Whether you believe in climate change or global warming [or not], a greener world makes sense just from a health perspective—but we’re locked in this eternal battle. I used to work for Greenpeace, [but] the environnmental issues aren’t where I put everything these days. I try to help where I can. There are only so many battles that you can fight, there’s only so much time in a day.
Are you willing to talk a little more about your time with Greenpeace and what you did with them?
I was part of the action team, so I helped organized protests, we went and put our hands on nuclear subs, we climbed smokestacks. We tried to shift the political agenda—both policy and grassroots education. Then I realized I was living in a city where I didn’t know any kids, and I was drawn to see what was going on—[working with kids] seemed to make more sense for what I wanted to do. In the space where we work, I was there the other day after class and there was just this Hansel and Gretel trail of candy wrappers. It’s so much about the demographics—who you grow up with, where you grow up. From an environmental perspective, youth are a product of how they’re brought up with their families. Schools have some influence—well, schools with more resources do.
Can you tell me what the goals are for the kids in your program?
To grow their confidence. They learn how to make stuff—sewing, coding, design—and in doing that they develop skills, they learn to collaborate, they meet people. I’m thinking of one kid, a rising junior, a smart kid, hard-working—he’s doing three jobs. And a lot of kids, people … will try to push them toward certain careers, like, “Do cybersecurity”–kind of fear them into it, make them fill a slot in a program. They can make anything they want—we want them to work at it and be excited by it too.
[These four came up together, and Person 3 was semi-in-charge of People 1, 2 and 4, who are kids.]
Person 1: I don’t really think about it, but sometimes when I see it on the news I start thinking about it. When I see it on the news I get a little worried.
Person 2: Whenever I go to the beach I look at the—what do you call it—the high water marks on rocks, like when we went on the cliff walk.
How do you feel about it—is it scary?
Person 1: It kinda scares me sometimes.
Person 2: It doesn’t scare me that much. It’s not gonna happen in my lifetime.
Person 3: Yes it is.
Hold on a second. Right now, it sounds like you guys are disagreeing. But how can we find out if that’s even true, and if it is true, how can we find out if you could still work together?
Person 2: We can look for the similarities in what each other’s saying.
Totally, that’s a great idea. Also I think it might help us to slow down, see what the other person is saying and if you even are disagreeing, because we go fast when something is important to us. Both of you are saying what you’re saying for a reason, so maybe it would also help to tell us where you got your information from.
Person 2: We did a project at the end of the year and we looked at sea level rise projection. We were looking at a map that showed where the water would be in 2050, how high the water would be in 2080. That’s what, 61 years from now, so the odds of us being alive then are—actaully they’re pretty high. But I can’t really worry about it.
Person 3: I learned my freshman year at [college] from my biology professor about things that are happening—everything we’re doing that’s affecting the environment. Since that class … I stopped eating meat to conserve water, I stopped using single use plastic. I try to thrift my clothes and not purchase unnecessary things. I feel like it is happening because there’s been snow in the spring that we used to get in the winter–
Person 1: The weather is all mixed up.
Person 4: I notice that it’s like kind of been getting hotter during the years. A couple years ago we had so much snow and each year it’s getting smaller and smaller. There was barely any snow this winter. And I noticed this weekend that it was hot at nighttime. The cats outside and my cat have been hiding because it’s so hot.
Person 2: With our camp, we bike a lot. We biked to [ILLEGIBLE, SORRY] today and it was the first year ever that I got sunburned. I didn’t recognize it, I was like, “Why does my skin hurt?”
Person 1: Like sometimes I’ll be sleeping and I’ll dream about stuff that’s happening in real life.
Person 2: Like that movie Crawl, where the water is going over the land. And now there’s a lot of flooding.
What would make you feel more comfortable to talk about it with people?
Person 1: People that know a lot about stuff that you don’t know.
Person 2: And people that think about it the same way as you.
[Seeing the sign] No. No. So much to worry about.
Would it help to talk about it?
No. Believe in the science. That’s my contribution. Just believe in the science. And believe insurance agencies, because they know that it’s happening, and they’re raising their rates. Be a good capitalist and believe in science.
[IMAGE: Three drawings of snails that live in Rhode Island: the forest disc snail, the rotund disc snail, and the wild hive snail. I gave these cards out to people who talked with me.]