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.)

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In RI? Testify 5/29 to support the Water Security Act!

The Water Security Act ensures that income level isn’t a barrier to safe, clean drinking water, and requires management plans to be accountable to the public. It will help prevent corporate control of water, protect water as a human right regardless of income, and start putting in place ways of handling water equitably and responsibly as the climate changes.

The hearing for this bill is on Wednesday, 5/29 at 4:30 pm. Can you come and testify? If not, can you call the senators on the RI Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture (especially if one of them represents your district) and tell them why you want them to pass it?

Tell them how important healthy water and healthy public land are to your and your family’s life and well-being!

Tell them about problems you’ve had with drops in water quality or rises in water costs!

Tell them how the water system where you live has been affected, or could be affected, by flood, drought, sea level rise and erosion, high heat or storms!

Tell them how a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (where your water rates are a fixed percentage of your income) would reduce financial strains on you and/or your family!

Tell them why it’s important for water systems to be accountable to the public, and for water users to have input into how water is managed!

Tell them why it’s important for water systems to take into account economic, social and environmental justice in the communities they serve, when they’re making improvements and plans for the future!

I feel like often (and more recently), when we in the US have a need to interact with the people who govern us (to govern is to control, remember), we are trying to stop them from passing a horrible law. This is a chance to encourage the people who make the laws in Rhode Island to pass a law that’s really not too bad!

Here is the bill itself, RI S0820, so you can see what it requires from the towns/cities, agencies, departments, districts, etc. that are responsible for getting water to the people who use it. Please come testify if you can!

Getting back in the saddle with the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge

I decided to do the Food Solutions New England 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge because it seemed like a good idea, relevant to this work, potentially useful, and potentially connective to other people who I could learn with and from.

It’s been winter, so I haven’t been doing the booth (starting up again in May!); recording my responses to the challenge here seems like a good way to get back in the habit of posting here. (I might un-decide to do it, though. We’ll see.)

If anyone wants to do it with me, let me know! I’m fine with people jumping in whenever. If I like doing it and the organization runs it again next year, I might try to do it with people in a more organized way, but I found out about this too late to set that up this time.

Here are some peas that my mom sent me, soaking in preparation for planting.

20190331_113513

 

“We will keep fighting for the health and safety of South Providence”

Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate–basically, the necessary permit–for National Grid to build a natural gas liquefaction facility on the Southside of Providence. If you know me or have been reading this site for a while, you know that I’ve been working with No LNG in PVD to stop this plant from endangering the people of the Southside and (through contributing to climate change by increasing the extraction, transport and consumption of natural gas) the world at large.

lng plant panorama

Here is our statement.

No LNG in PVD is committed to fighting for health, safety and justice for all residents of South Providence. For three years, neighborhood residents and committed allies have fought to stop National Grid from building a liquid natural gas plant on Allens Avenue that will increase health and safety risks for residents and contribute to global climate change. On Wednesday, October 18, we learned that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted National Grid a certificate for this project, subject to certain conditions.

FERC’s decision came through 12 days after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in strong terms that ceasing fossil fuel emissions–reducing them to 45% by 2030 and to zero by 2050–is essential to maintaining human life and well-being on Earth. In National Grid’s permit applications, the useful life of the LNG facility is stated as ending in 2030. Meanwhile, on October 3, a truck carrying over 11,000 gallons of gasoline overturned on the Route 95 ramp from Allens Avenue, pouring gasoline onto the road and into the Providence River. Threats to the neighborhood and to the planet are ongoing from activity in the Port.

No LNG in PVD is proud of the work we have done to try to protect the people of the Southside. We are proud of delaying the construction of this shortsighted and dangerous facility for three years. We are proud of our attempts to participate in the public regulatory process despite many obstacles, and we are proud of the Southside: a neighborhood where people live and work, not a sacrifice zone. We wish that our elected officials listened to the concerns of the people they represent. We are grateful to Mayor Elorza for supporting our campaign from the beginning.

No LNG in PVD will continue to fight for the well-being of the Southside. This is only the start of ongoing efforts to make the Port of Providence clean and healthy again, and to make Rhode Island a place where economic and environmental health go hand in hand.

We learned the news yesterday. Today, I went with a friend to East Greenwich, RI to help collect salt marsh grass seed, which the Fish and Wildlife Service will germinate over the winter and set out in the spring at another marsh, in the John W. Chafee National Wildlife Reserve, to help the marsh keep pace with sea level rise.

grasses

[Image: grasses.]

Eventually, if the grass seedlings take, they will mediate between land and water (which helps humans) and provide homes for many nonhuman people there, as they do here.

grasses and mussels

[Image: grasses with mussels hanging onto their roots and the bottoms of their stems.]

I was, and am, so angry. I was, and am, so sad. I was, and am, so scared. And I am not finished. We are not finished.

grasses and beam

[Image: grasses, a sunbeam, and some tidal mud.]

I want to be clear: if the state were serious about the health and safety of the Southside, about “environmental management,” about “resilience,” we could and would work toward a restoration project like this there, too, where people live, where the land meets the water. Right now it’s poisoned by industry and choked by concrete, but Nature isn’t a specific place where you get to go if you’re rich. Nature is us.

When there is more that you can do to help us fight for-profit environmental racism, I will let you know.

Action TONIGHT: End Fossil-Fueled Environmental Disasters in the Port of Providence!

Last night, an 11,000-gallon tanker truck rolled on Allens Avenue in Providence, spilling much of its contents into the Providence River. They’re still working on the cleanup this morning. This is the third accident related to fossil fuel transport in the Port of Providence in 1.5 years. Tonight at 5pm, if you’re able, please join No LNG in PVD at the intersection of Allens Avenue and Ernest St in Providence to demand the city’s plan for preventing environmental disasters caused by the transport of fossil fuels.

lng plant panorama

Two ways Providence* residents can support environmental justice!

*and the surrounding area–Rhode Island’s not that big!

On Thursday, September 27, 4-7pm, join No LNG in PVD in a public action at the site of National Grid’s proposed climate-warming, toxic, explosive liquid natural gas plant (the corner of Allens Ave and Terminal Rd). Now that we know Gina Raimondo will be the Democratic candidate for governor, let’s enlist other RI residents in pushing her to stop the LNG plant on the Southside.

On Friday, September 28, 7-9pm, come to a poetry and performance fundraiser for No LNG in PVD. Help us pay neighborhood organizers and hold community info sessions to fight the above-mentioned natural gas plant. $10-25, no one turned away for lack of funds. Features the great Sussy Santana; click through for the full, fantastic list of performers, including me!

no lng flyer draft 4 lighter better

Two opportunities to take a stand for climate justice in Rhode Island

TOMORROW, 8/30: Come tell the evening commuters on Allens Avenue about the toxic, explosive, climate-warming liquid natural gas plant that National Grid wants to build on the South Side of Providence, with the blessing of Governor Raimondo, and the other risks to public health and safety in the Port of Providence. This is an informational action; we’ll have signs and handouts. Thursday, August 30th, 4-7pm, corner of Allens Avenue and Terminal Road (the site of the proposed facility), Providence. 

SATURDAY, 9/8: Peacefully protest new fossil fuel installations in Rhode Island, including the LNG plant I just mentioned and the fracked-gas power plant proposed for Burrillville. Saturday, September 8th, 6pm, meeting at 282 Main St and walking to the Waterfire sponsored by National Grid.  

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Sankofa World Market/Knight Memorial Library, 8/15/18

Weather: Hot and clinging, okay when clouds covered the sun

Number of people: 3 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 4

Dogs seen: 4

Dogs pet: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.40

 

Observations:

I’ve said before that people seem to be shopping at this market. I noticed today that at least some of them are also hanging out, slowly circulating, talking with the vendors and with each other.

Lots of people had questions for me (because of where the booth is set up, toward the front) about how WIC and SNAP worked at the market.

People really want to volunteer their friends– “She needs it!” “You’re the one who needs it!”–but you can’t do that.

Relatedly: when someone comes to me with something that I absolutely do NOT have the skills to respond usefully to, I try to point them in the direction of someone or someones with those skills.

A wasp landed on the cardboard part of the booth and maybe tried to eat it? A bumblebee and a honeybee also visited, hovering nearby and/or landing.

 

Some conversations:

What have you been noticing?

A lot of heat, disruption of food flow. And also how that’s been developing a lot of groups popping up in different communities, low-income communities, communities of color. We’re actually here doing this survey about the factors facing women of color, what people are dealing with. I hate the label of the food desert because it’s about food never being accessible to us due to structural things, structural colonialism. A lot of people don’t know what’s even in their water.

What are people telling you about as you do the survey?

A lot about food affordability, housing, mental health stuff. Working full time or working multiple jobs in order to sustain your household. Gentrification, pushing people out to the outskirts. Economic separation of the rich and the poor.

Where do you see climate change interacting with all of these things?

With everything. It’s at the intersection. Your environment and where you come from, how many trees are there, how many birds, not getting the right amount of sunlight, fertile land to grow food—all of that intersects with your quality of life. But we’re also seeing new alternatives coming up. Cooperative work, an increase in farmers’ markets, individual entrepreneurship—social enterprise, all these social enterprise models are coming into mainstream language in the business world.

Are you saying that they’re getting excited about something that’s been going on?

Yeah, in response to underground and grassroots stuff that’s been happening. There’s a deeper need for it because of this division [between wealthier and poorer people]–the economic support systems are breaking down.

*

My husband has PTSD, and that puts a lot of emotional and mental stress on him and myself. Some days I feel anxious myself. I want to know on a day-to-day basis what we can do to help ease those stresses. I’m learning what his triggers are, and I’m trying to be supportive and have a listening ear about things that cause him to have episodes. I also worry how it would affect our toddler, our one-year-old son. What are some preventative things I can do for him being in that environment? We’ve been figuring out what are the resources that we have, we try to stay close-knit to them, friends, family, our church family. I worry how it will affect his work life, how we can maintain financial stability. And even more so, despite his PTSD, we want to keep our relationship healthy, not toxic. We really focus on spending time together, getting a babysitter, doing things that we both enjoy.

Who else does he reach out to, besides you, or what are the other things he does to take care of himself?

He goes to our pastor—he’ll text him in the middle of a crisis. He’ll spend time at the gym. He’s a musician, so he’ll spend time recording. He’ll spend time playing basketball—things he enjoys that make him feel better. But then for a week or two those things won’t happen without him doing anything. I like that he talks about things he enjoys to do. And I like that he talks about his past traumas—he opens up to me about things in his childhood, sexual abuse and physical abuse. I feel like that’s a good relief for him. I don’t like when he’s having a really angry moment and it might come out in other ways. He doesn’t enjoy taking his medication and he hates the way he feels when he gets upset, he hates how it affects me, he wishes that he didn’t have this [condition].*

He has a psychiatrist that prescribes his medication, but he has to be consistent with appointments and open with her about the dosage and how it affects him. He took a long vacation from getting his medication and there were a lot of troubling things that happened. Now we’re glad that he’s able to get his medication, but he has mixed feelings about it. He doesn’t like the way that it makes him feel. I’m trying to help him see that the medication helps balance him out, make him who he would be, they’re not controlling him…

You’ve talked a lot about all the work you’ve done to care for him and all the work you’ve done together. What are you doing to take care of you?

There are periods where I can just go go go, trying to keep everything together. But being around close friends, people who care about me and are able to listen. Exercise, I love the outdoors. I love art, creating something, cooking a meal. And I’m seeking a therapist.

You also wanted to talk about your son.

He feels the energy. The shouting the punching the wall, I don’t want these things affecting him in any negative way. I try to just remove him, or me and him will remove ourselves, I’ll take him for a walk. And [my husband’s] learning to take space too when he feels this way.

*I neglected to write down what word she used, that’s why this is in brackets.

*

Gentrification. Seeing it over here, in Washington Park, Providence in general. I was driving my son for ice cream to this place we like to go in East Providence and seeing all the lights, the lights they have for traffic speeding here—I don’t see any over there! I saw in the paper they’re going to add more.

What are the worries you have about gentrification?

That we’re gonna get priced out, that the rent is gonna go up so high that we’ll have to leave. … I saw that the city a few years ago sued Santander for redlining—when Angel Taveres was mayor, the city sued and they won. They settled, but that’s admitting they did something wrong.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/13/18

Weather: Cool, gray, breezy, sprinkling rain; later sunnier and windier, then back to sprinkling

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 4

People who got the Peanuts reference: 1

Pictures taken without permission: 1

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

Dogs seen: 2

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for the Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.15

 

Observations:

Today, artist Becci Davis ran a beauty shop in the park as well.

I made some janky repairs to the booth—replaced the “IN” sign for “THE DOCTOR IS IN”, repaired the big lower sign piece with duct tape, replaced a broken dowel on the small upper sign piece.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a slight rise in people saying, “I have anxiety,” instead of, “I’m anxious about…” (The number of people who mentally edit out “climate” from the sign and just see “anxiety counseling” is about the same.)

I noticed the horse cop in the park behind me at 12:24, but I don’t know when he got there. An older Black lady asked the cop how old the horse was. A park ranger drove by at 12:50.

Someone asked me, “What is anxiety?” on this day, and I should have asked, “Do you have anything you want to talk with someone about?” On the other hand, “I’m not a real doctor, I just listen” is a pretty good short version. Also, I need to remember that while the form of the question matters, there is no magic unlocking question.

 

Some conversations:

 

I just got a job at Wal-Mart. My mom, when I called her to tell her, she was so happy for me, I never heard her so happy. … I gotta not drink vodka. Sometimes I drink vodka to deal with the anxiety and to forget things that happened to me. But then I wake up with a headache, my stomach hurts, I’m vomiting, my stools…

What are you going to do if you want to forget and you can’t drink vodka?

I can text or call my friends. But they’re busy, they have things to do. I can drink a beer. Beer doesn’t have as bad of an effect on me … I want to save some of my money, not for drugs and alcohol but for like, soap and stuff. And I want to give. If I see someone in need, I want to give them money for food, or buy them food. If I had sacks of money under my car, I’d wanna just stop by a person with a sign and give them $900–$500–let’s say $900, and I would say, “Here you go, have a good day, a blessed day.” My friends and I, we give to each other and we give to other people. It makes me happy, too. It feels good to give.

Is it okay to post our conversation online? 

Yes, absolutely. If I had a website I’d put that up there.

 

*

 

[This person has spoken to me before.]

The plastic cleanup continues! You know what I’m thinking about today? Those fluorescent nip bottles. They got like a prismatic thing on them. And here comes a pod of Wright’s porpoises, the babies are gonna eat that and it’s gonna kill them. I took a fishing pole and I threw one in among the lily pads—everything that was alive in that pond came to see what it was about, because of the color.

But I was down in the Bay at low tide and I saw species I haven’t seen in years. Bay scallops! [He makes the size of them with his hands: about as big as an Oreo.]

*

 

 

What anxieties do people have about climate change?

There’s a really wide range. Some people talk about flooding, sea level rise, stuff like that, because we have so much coastline here. Some people are worried about the way it’s going to affect the way we get our food, because of the way changes in the weather are going to affect food production. Stuff like that.

What’s your main anxiety?

Honestly? Ecosystem collapse. That so many things will die that the ones that are left won’t be able to keep going.

That’s something to be anxious about. What should we be doing?

Well—there’s a lot of things to do.

What’s the easiest thing I could do?

Okay, so, none of it is all that easy, but to know what’s going to be easiest for you I have to ask you a couple of questions. Is this something that’s been on your mind a lot?

No, not really. Ten years ago, when Al Gore was making a big deal about it…

Is there something you would like to set right?

Yes. I’d like to see equity across all genders and races.

 

 

Flood the Statehouse!

Tell Governor Raimondo #NoLNGinPVD!

TODAY, 4pm, Rhode Island Statehouse rotunda (the big room when you go inside)

No LNG in PVD is not only concerned with National Greed’s Liquefied Natural Gas Liquefaction export facility. It is unnecessary, unsafe and costly, but as seen by a malfunctioning port alarm, the recent natural gas explosion on Allens Ave and the state’s unwillingness to look at the cumulative dangers of the Port, whether or not this facility is built, the Southside and Washington Park are in danger and unprepared for an extreme weather event and subsequent flood. Both sides of Allens Ave. are overflowing with toxic, explosive facilities: National Grid, Shell, Univar, the scrapyards. All of these are on the wrong side of the hurricane barrier and adjacent to overburdened working-class communities of color.

As storms become more frequent and seas rise, the people living near the Port are in more danger with each passing day. Join us to tell Governor Raimondo and the other leaders of this state that they must stop the LNG plant, end fossil fuel infrastructure in Rhode Island and begin the process of making the Port a safe place to live.