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 TODAY: Armory Park Farmer’s Market, 3:30-7pm

Today is the last, the very last, session of Climate Anxiety Counseling for 2016. The booth and I will be at the Armory Park Farmers’ Market (just off Parade St.) from 3:30-7pm. You can share your climate-change-related and other anxieties with me, take home a drawing of one of your nonhuman neighbors, donate 5 cents (my fee) to the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, and pick up a flyer for the Interdependence Days we’ve started holding again. You can also buy some vegetables. Come see me!

No LNG in PVD: Peaceful Demonstration, 7/13

To learn the details of why it’s dangerous and environmentally unjust to build a liquid natural gas facility on Allens Avenue in Providence, you can read this statement.

To lend your voice to resisting this facility, you can come to the corner of Eddy St and Thurbers Avenue on Wednesday, July 13th, 4-5:30 pm. Bring sunscreen, water and signs, and RSVP here.

This is part of taking care of each other; this is part of living in the same world as each other; this is part of bringing the world we want out of the world we have.

Resist Liquid Natural Gas in South Providence: Demonstration TODAY

National Grid wants to build a Liquid Natural Gas facility in the floodplain in the already environmentally compromised/environmentally unjust neighborhood of South Providence. There’s a demonstration against this plan today at the proposed site:

670 Allens Ave, Providence, RI

Wednesday, June 8th,  4-6 pm

Bring water, sunscreen, and signs


Get more information and RSVP here.

Here’s some more information about why this plan is bad for Providence and its people.


If you live in Providence and you have felt helpless about climate change, ecological degradation and environmental injustice, this is something you can do to resist those things, today.

Alternate Histories: Port of Providence


Note: I wrote this alternate history after attending a community forum on environmental hazards in the Port of Providence and nearby neighborhoods.



Routine releases means emissions in normal operation, emissions that might happen daily or more rarely, and they’re frequently regulated by permits … In accidental releases, planning is very important. –Barbara Morin, Providence Department of Health


We’re always planning. We’re looking at every event. –Michael Borg, Providence Emergency Management Agency





The next day, the hazmat teams descended on the Port of Providence, because they were responsible for reducing harm from hazardous materials. They were just doing their jobs when they gave the Univar and Motiva facilities and the staff at the Enterprise propane and National Grid liquid natural gas tanks a timeline and a protocol for distributing or neutralizing their fossil fuel and chemical holdings. The people working there were glad to cooperate, knowing that every day of dismantlement increased the chances of survival for a third-grader or an old man on oxygen or a school of fish, and knowing that as they did this work, their livelihoods were assured in the neighborhood.


There’s no good way to put natural gas or coal back in the ground–not every process is reversible, not every wound can be healed. A council of South Providence residents doled out the natural gas and propane out to the rest of the city household by household, rationing it for heat and cooking, knowing that there would be no more when it was gone. They built big, ramshackle structures out of scrap metal and wood from dismantled houses across the train tracks, and colored them with chalk and festooned them with fabric to make sure the drivers could see them from far away.


The people of South Providence made room for the people who’d worked in the Port, and learned from them and the hazmat teams how to work with the chemicals without harm. Sometimes they were able to reduce them to harmless compounds, or suspend them in substances that would neutralize them. Sometimes the best they could do is parcel them out into smaller quantities, to be stored above water. Filtration, solution, transformation. Prevention: better than cure. The people who’d worked in the Port, and the hazmat teams, learned from the people of South Providence other sets of skills: arguing, running repairs, improvisation, rapid calculation, code-switching, field medicine. They all breathed more easily.


The next hundred-year storm hit before the tanks were fully emptied. A lot of fish and seabirds died, too many to count, and two humans trapped in a car, and an entire long row of windbreaking saplings that the people of South Providence, old and new, had planted a couple of years before. They succumbed to the chemical-infused saltwater; they stood like thin gravestones.


It could have been worse, it could have been better. The rest of the city’s people took the people of South Providence into their houses elsewhere and took turns cleaning and airing the flooded buildings, breaking down the ones that were too badly damaged or too far into the floodplain to make sense saving; they took it in shifts so that no one had to have too much exposure to the poisonous debris. They noted and charted the lie of the land, where the water wanted to go. They thickened and lined the walls of their homes with torn fabric, scavenged wood, leftover office paper, dry grass; they cooked on tiny solar stoves outdoors in summer, and saved their gas and wood for winter.


The people who were young during that storm were almost old when the next one hit, and things went very differently. All the tanks were long empty of poison; some were reefs for the shellfish that were just starting to come back. Long sections of train track ran quietly under the water, coated in algae that had evolved to digest the tar and creosote that soaked the railroad ties. People’s weather senses were better now, and with the help of predictive technology, they knew when to leave and let the water rush through what was left, if that was where it wanted to go. The city’s high points had food stores and hospitals; the city’s low points were thick with marsh grass shading into waterweed, and tiny crabs, and sand fleas, and lugworms, hunkering down to wait out a cleaner tide.

Environmental Justice in the Port of Providence Community Forum

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island is hosting a community forum on the Port of Providence, one of the city’s most environmentally compromised sites. It already affects the health and safety of people who live and work nearby, and it’s vulnerable to projected consequences of climate change like sea level rise and storm surges.

The EJLRI says, “This will be our first event focusing on the Port of Providence. Panelists will be asked to address the history of pollution in the port, existing facilities and the hazardous materials stored at the location, potential health impacts, and efforts residents can make to keep themselves and their community safe.

Port of Providence Community Forum

Monday, April 18th, 5-7pm

Juanita Sanchez Education Complex, 182 Thurbers Ave., Providence

Learn more or RSVP.

How to Object to Fracked Gas Processing in Providence before 10/26

National Grid wants to liquefy fracked natural gas from other states in Providence. You can read more about this, and about why Rhode Island residents object to this liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility, here, here, here and here. If you also object to it, you can sign a petition to Mayor Elorza, Senator Whitehouse and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

You can also write to the FERC directly, and I encourage you to do so before October 26th. Here’s how:

At, use the eComment forms to send in your comment. You’ll need the project docket number, PF15-28-000. It’s in the CP Docket (Applications for Authorization to Construct a Natural Gas Pipeline, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Other Facility). It also asks for your name, street address and email address.

You can also mail paper comments to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington DC 20426. In your letter, you should refer to the project docket number, PF15-28-000.

The links above can furnish you with lists of reasons why the FERC should not approve National Grid’s attempt to build this facility in Providence, or anywhere. I hope you’ll add your voice to the objections before 10/26.

RIPTA Fare Change Meeting AND #FloodTheSystem: 2 More 10/14 Events

There are two things happening tomorrow that I can’t go to, but maybe you can:

Informational Meeting on Proposed Fare Changes for RIPTA Buses


Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence, RI

RIPTA proposes raising bus fares for people on fixed incomes, many of whom currently ride for free. If you have a chance to go and tell them why they should make a different plan, please do.


The Environmental Justice League of RI is taking part in a #FloodTheSystem march in Columbus Square, Port of Providence, starting at 4pm, prompted partly by the proposal to build a plant for processing fracked gas on the Southside. You can email them (address is at the page linked above) for more information.

Maybe you should go to these things instead of my things! Maybe I should go to these things instead of my things!

Environmental Injustice in Providence: Resisting National Grid’s Liquid Natural Gas Terminal

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (which is where your nickels go, if you’ve ever stopped at the Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth) explains why we should prevent National Grid from using Providence to process fracked natural gas:

National Grid is planning to expand their operations to include a natural gas “liquefaction facility” in the Port of Providence, where they would convert fracked gas brought in by pipeline into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for export. The Port already has a high concentration of toxic and dangerous industrial facilities next to a low-income community of color that suffers from high rates of asthma and environmental related illnesses…

While National Grid supplies gas to the whole state, the community next to this facility is one of the poorest in the state and residents are routinely faced with utility shutoffs, and have to make decisions on whether or not to pay utilities or pay for other necessary things such as food or transportation to employment. National Grid will pass the $100 million dollar price tag onto consumers by adding the cost onto their gas bills. The LNG produced in South Providence will be exported to Massachusetts by truck. The limited number of temporary jobs created during construction of the facility will be specialized positions from out of state, since construction will be managed by the multinational firm Kiewit.

You can sign a petition to Mayor Elorza, Senator Whitehouse and the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) opposing this plan.

If you can, it would be good to go to the FERC hearing on Thursday, October 8th, at the Juanita Sanchez Education Complex, 182 Thurbers Avenue, Providence. At that link, there’s more information about what we can usefully do at this meeting to resist this unjust and damaging plan.

Alternate Histories: 5/29, 6/13, 9/28


[After asking his nana for permission to talk to me]

I’m worried that I’ll never get to see my dad and he misses me and I miss him. And I miss nature, I miss everything.

Your nana’s over there, you don’t miss her, right?

No, she’s right over there, and my mom, and my auntie, except for my dad.

Are you guys in touch? [Shakes head.] Do you like to draw?


Maybe you could do some drawings and save them for him, I bet he’d like that.

I like to draw Minecraft. I make a comic book and I turn it into a comic book and all I do is make Minecraft, that’s all. Can I have a piece of paper? [I give him a piece of paper and he folds it.] Do you have a scissor or can you rip it? [He draws a line to show me where to rip, and unfolds a one-sheet booklet. He then goes and lugs his little cousin over to meet me and they draw together for a while on the backs of some of the alternate-history blanks, except he’s having a competition for how much paper he can cover and she’s not. I give him a marker, a clipboard, and the rest of the alternate-history blanks to take with him.]



I worked at Apeiron, I worked in Woonsocket. Life is so totally out of balance, so disconnected. We’re all implicated. It makes me so unutterably sad.

What do you do when you feel that sadness?

I try to put parts of my body on the grass and connect with Mother Earth … A lot will survive, but I think it might not be us. I try to breathe. I think about the bad things I do and how they contribute … I believe that everybody cares, given the opportunity to care.

I’ve been trying to think about what sadness might make possible.

Sadness leads to the desire for connection. Sadness informs reaching out. But I don’t share sadness often, because I want to make opportunities for people to perform their own responses, to facilitate a journey to authentic response.



When you see a sad eight-year-old, you may feel an impulse to reach out to him, to enfold him. If W could see T, small and matter-of-fact, willing to talk to a stranger provided he had permission from his family, her attention and her yearning might condense around him until he became the world. But W can’t provide what T, according to him, needs: she can’t bring his dad back to him. What she can offer he might not need–he has a mother, a nana, an auntie, cousins. And a sadness that seems as big as the world isn’t the same as the world–healing one is no substitute for healing the other, though it might feel like it.

W would like to see T live to grow up, and she adds, in her small ways, to the things that may make that more likely. She doesn’t just work with Apeiron’s programs in schools, she’s helped to insist on safe school sites; she stands with efforts to hold police accountable and develop community justice alternatives. She protests fare hikes and cuts to library services. Her fear is for T, and everyone his age, and for herself, and everyone her age, and for the grass–the whole, old world.

And what does T want? He misses his dad–he wants to know that he’ll see him someday, in a day that hasn’t come yet. He misses nature–maybe he’d like to lie on the grass, too, or smell a different set of smells. But he’s not going to get in a stranger’s car and drive out to a meadow or the woods. And he might not get to see his dad again.

So in this story, what W and T need, and thus what they have, is a place to be wholly lonely even in the midst of love, to touch the face of their helplessness. A time of day, a signal to send to a satellite that sends back to everyone who calls to it all the voices together, amplified and textured into a deep note. It’s not comforting, but it’s solid. T’s auntie lets him use her phone to call out and to listen back.  And this –combined with the meeting of their bodily needs, combined with the equalizing of their relative safety–lets them rest a little, lets them work, lets them enjoy, lets them change what they do.