Drafting a Workbook for Change

Normally at this time of year, I’d be repainting the booth and setting up the season’s first Climate Anxiety Counseling shifts. COVID-19 makes it unsafe to talk to multiple people face to face at close range, so I won’t be rolling out the booth this season.But our climate anxieties haven’t gone away and the systems that drive climate change and distribute its effects unequally–environmental racism, extraction, capitalism, colonization–are also worsening, and distributing unequally, the effects of COVID-19. It is a good time, I think, to adapt our minds, feelings & relationships to the kind of action that climate change and other, related crises require of us, and I’ve started developing a workbook of ways to do that.

The questions and practices in this workbook are to help us imagine and practice living in, with, and through the changes that climate change is bringing to our lives, and to become who we need to be to meet them together. The questions are to expand our sense of what’s happening, how we’re reacting, and what’s possible. The practices are to—well, practice—thinking, feeling and acting in ways that may benefit us differently than the ways we’re used to.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting exercises that have already been tested–either by me with a group of people I’m part of, or by a group of people that doesn’t include me–as well as some explanation of how I’m putting them together and some guidelines for trying them out yourself. If you’re interested in trying an exercise with a group you’re already part of, write to me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, or comment here with your interest, your questions, and a way to get in touch with you. I will be grateful for your help in making this workbook more usable and useful.

IMAGE: Photo of flat land with water, grass and a few trees. A white woman with glasses and long dark hair is standing in the foreground on cracked, dry mud, taking notes on a piece of paper. Photo is by Dezaraye Bagalayos.

Stop Poisoning the Southside: Doorknocking 2/29

Another polluting business wants to operate on the Southside. On 2/29, 12-3pm, meeting outside the Washington Park Library, you can doorknock with No LNG in PVD to let people in the neighborhood know what’s going on and what they can do about it. Spanish and English speakers needed! RSVP-ing would be good: use the Facebook event to sign up or email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, with questions.

WHAT IS IT THIS TIME?
Truck exhaust and toxic dust in the air, and garbage juice in the water, from a new scrapyard company that is trying to build on Allens Avenue—unless we stop them.

TRUCK EXHAUST?
188 or more trucks–probably diesel trucks—would go to and from the scrapyard every day, on and off the highway. When they can’t unload right away, they will circle the Allens Avenue area, pumping even more toxic exhaust into the air that we and our kids breathe.

TOXIC DUST?
Digging to build the scrapyard will stir up over a hundred years of polluted dirt, containing lead, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. The construction garbage that the scrapyard wants to process is also full of materials that it’s dangerous to breathe.

GARBAGE JUICE?

Leachate is garbage juice—liquid that comes out of the things that people throw away, including machines and moldy things, and collects in the trucks. Leachate can sink into the soil and get into the water, and the company has even said they’re going to spray more of it to keep the dust down!

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Tell your friends, family and co-workers about it, especially if they live in the neighborhood.

Doorknock with No LNG in PVD on 2/29!

Attend the City Planning hearing on March 17th at 4:45pm at 444 Westminster St, Providence (the big brick building at the corner of Westminster and Empire, downtown).

A construction and debris demolition operation has been proposed for this nearly 4-acre site between I-95 and Allens Avenue in Providence. (Google Earth)

Resilience Celebration and Climate Justice Report for Providence

Today, join Providence’s Racial and Environmental Justice Committee in celebrating our city’s resilience and sharing the Climate Justice Report for Providence. Providence residents have worked with the REJC and the city’s Office of Sustainability to put together a plan that doesn’t treat any place like a sacrifice zone, or anyone as disposable, but makes the well-being of our city’s people a priority.

If you have questions about what the plan will mean for you, your family or your neighborhood, or how you can participate in carrying it out, this is a great place to ask them! If you don’t know the people of your city that well, this is a great place to meet them.

12-3pm, Davey Lopes Recreation Complex (227 Dudley St), Providence. Spanish-English interpretation will be available, as will food for the first 100 people. I’ll be there with the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth.

There’ll be music (live and DJed) and stuff for kids too. Please join us.

Image may contain: text

Racial Justice and the Climate Movement: an opportunity for learning

As more and more people recognize the need to respond to climate change with multiple forms of action and transformation, we need more tools for working together in a way that doesn’t replicate unjust power structures, but undoes them within as well as outside our activities. If you live in Rhode Island or can easily get here, here is a way to start doing that! It requires some time but is free in money. I’m going to do it and maybe you would like to do it also, especially if you’re part of an environmental or climate organization whose members are mostly white! Sign up here by September 19th for the dialogues described below.

“Join White Noise Collective, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) RI, No LNG in PVD and the FANG Collective for a dialogue series on understanding racism in the climate movement. This 5-part dialogue series is designed to support white climate justice activists and other white co-conspirators in the Rhode Island area in making connections between climate justice and racial justice and how to incorporate anti-oppression into our movements and organizations. Participants will commit to 4 three-hour sessions and will be guided through readings, exercises, and dialogue to reflect on the ways that white supremacy and other forms of oppression show up in our culture, organizations, relationships and within ourselves.

Some of the topics discussed will include: white supremacy culture and how it impacts our organizations, how non-native people can show up in solidarity with indigenous movements and leadership, accountability with front-line communities, Jemez Principles, Green New Deal, and strategies for shifting organizing culture to address oppression when it shows up.

We use these dialogue spaces to develop greater self-awareness, literacy, and accountability in order to show up with more integrity to the movement work in which each of us is involved. We also investigate larger patterns and systems of racism including white supremacy culture, intersections of race, class, and gender, and practices of allyship.”

Again, registration is here, along with dates and locations, descriptions of the organizations leading the dialogues, some core values, and some opportunities to request particular topics of discussion.

Climate Anxiety Counseling TODAY, Sankofa Market, 2-5pm! & Two Climate Action Opportunities!

Come and visit me at the Sankofa Market today (Wednesday, 7/10) between 2 and 5:30pm. The market is outside the Knight Memorial Library (275 Elmwood Ave, Providence), which now has air conditioning on the ground floor!!! You can talk with me, buy vegetables and baked goods from neighborhood farmers and vendors, and then step inside and cool off.

At the Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth, can share your climate-change-related and other anxieties, get a little piece of art to keep, and potentially find some paths to action that work for you. There are also a couple of things you can do TODAY to contribute to climate and environmental justice:

TODAY, 12-2pm, 234 Thayer St, Providence: Community rally to protest Chase Bank’s practices of bankrolling fossil fuel industries and contributing to climate change. Details at the link; email shutdownchaseri AT gmail DOT com for more information.

TONIGHT, 6-7:30pm, CCRI, 1 Hilton St, Providence: The Shell Oil terminal is reapplying for an air quality permit that they shouldn’t have: the legal limits for chemicals released into the air are higher than the quantities of those chemicals that make people sick. Let’s go to the RI DEM hearing and point this out to them. Childcare, snacks & talking points provided.

*

My sister and I found these Rhode Island neighbors, (what we think are) black trumpet mushrooms, on a walk in Roger Williams Park. Send me pictures of the mushrooms & fungi near you, if you want!

black trumpet mushrooms

[IMAGE: Black, brown and gray mushrooms shaped sort of like curly funnels, growing on the ground among moss, dead oak leaves, grass, and tiny broadleaved plants.]

“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, 6/20/18

Weather: blue blue sky, veils of cloud giving way to hot direct sun

Number of people: 5 stoppers, no walkbys [? check]

Pages of notes: 4

People I’ve seen before, back for more: 1

Dogs seen: 2

Dogs pet: 2 (this is the correct ratio)

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.71 plus a penny from Guyana

 

Observations:

This was the first instance of this market this season. I left halfway through to go to the rally for immigrant families, and when I left the crowd was just picking up.

I invited vendors to come and mark the map.

Nonhuman animal presences: brown cowbird, chimney swift, sparrow, bumblebee, honeybee, cabbage white butterfly.

Four kids whom I recognized from last summer at this site came to the market, but didn’t stop and talk with me.

I forgot the goddamn fucking Narcan and talked with one person who could potentially have used it, and I was supposed to have made a plan with a Spanish-English interpreter by this day, and there was at least one and possibly two people who would have been able to talk with me if I’d gotten it together.

 

Some conversations:

[After marking “affordable housing” on the map] With Boston moving down here, we’re moving in the direction of all this urban sprawl, but the pay doesn’t increase here. Ten to twelve dollars an hour is not a living wage, so if rent’s gonna constantly increase—when we were looking to move, everything that we looked at was either slummy or too expensive. I don’t think it’s gonna get better. And it’s also applicable if you have a business in mind—there’s no incentive for them to keep prices down. I feel like wages and respect for people’s lives just never keep pace with housing costs and food costs. And I—I mean, I did it all myself but I have a lot of things going for me. English is my first language, I’m a white female so that helps—obviously it’s worse for people who don’t have those advantages.

*

 

The mounting racial tensions in this country. Everything is so amplified by the media, and it’s bringing out emotions people didn’t know they had, unconscious bias—you learn things about people you know, people you thought you knew. It’s also, for me—I’m in a biracial marriage and it’s really coming out how opposing our families’ views are. We’re not always prepared to deal with it. [Between the two of us] there’s a lot of topics we don’t talk about, because we get so emotional. It’s hard when someone can’t see it your way.

And also, it’s not exactly the same for each of you.

Yes. And to talk about the unfair advantage—you know, you love your husband so much, and you also know he’s had this advantage over people who are just as deserving, but if you point that out you’re diminishing his accomplishments. Or things that they consider massive trials are just a walk in the park for some people … There are these questions in relationships that weren’t there before. It’s exhausting even though it’s important.

*

 

[This person helped me carry the booth to my car when I had to leave.]

I’m definitely worried about climate change and sort of what we will do as the water rises and people have to leave their homes. All the cities that I love are on the coast. In Miami, they have to pump seawater out of the streets. And yet there’s a huge development boom there. It’s unsustainable. But how much time do we have to relocate people and where do they go, especially people with less means—are we gonna have this huge refugee crisis?

… In Houston they had these floodplain maps and they knew they weren’t developing responsibly. They knew all the possible bad things that could happen. And the houses that got hit the worst there were owned by low-income people, who were tricked—I mean, the American Dream is buying a home, for some people this was maybe their first home, or they were the first ones in their family to own a home, it was exciting, and they were exploited.

I’m trying to learn more. I read about this in a couple of news articles—it’s different in Miami and in Houston and I want to learn more about that difference, focus on specific communities, learn more about community-specific issues and policy proposals by people who know more than I do. We need to have big conversations about tribalism, and how the way something is phrased to you tells you what you’re supposed to think, so people [repeat the things that their group says and] don’t learn that much about the nuances of specific issues … But I’m not going to talk to a climate denier and be like, “Let’s see what they have to say.”

map 6-20-18

On the map of worries, people wrote:

drought and food shortage (a seed from me)

Lincoln Woods

Affordable housing

South Beach