Looking for stories about the way climate change is changing you

Friends, I am looking for some help.

I want to know, and to talk about, and to write about, how we live with the knowledge of climate change: how we bear it, and how we act on it.

I’m working with a Rhode Island organization to create a manual of concrete actions for fossil fuel drawdown and community building in the state, called “Livable Rhode Island”, and so I’m looking for stories from Rhode Islanders specifically. If you have such a story, I can take it via email at any time: publiclycomplex at gmail is my address.

And I’m also working on a series of writings that will be a more general tool for transforming ourselves in response to the transformation of our world, so I want to listen to people about that. This, I’d like to do in person and in groups if possible.

The climate anxiety counseling booth isn’t really set up for this–for one thing, I want those conversations to be about what the person talking to me chooses and needs. I’m still working on the structure, trying to learn from the arc of Interdependence Days and other things I’ve been part of. Let me know if you think you might like to be part of this, and please ask me questions.

Talking is weird because it’s somewhere between feeling and doing–it’s a necessary prelude to action, but it isn’t itself action (though the amount of effort it takes to do it can trick you into feeling like it is). But it still seems to me to be a key part of making a possible, livable world in the present and for as long as we can–we need to listen to each other in order to know how we can work together.

Sorry about that “we”–I know it’s not as simple as that–but in its complication and variation is strength, too.

I hope you will stay with me.

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Climate Anxiety Counseling: To Keep In Mind

Tomorrow is the first day of the new Climate Anxiety Counseling season–I’ll be in Burnside Park, opposite Kennedy Plaza,  3-6pm tomorrow and Thursday. Here are some things I want to remember to do and ways I want to remember to be while I’m there:

LISTEN, first and throughout.

ASK QUESTIONS, many, before (or instead of) offering suggestions.

ASK PEOPLE MORE ABOUT WHAT THEY’RE FEELING AND WHAT THEY DO WHEN THEY FEEL THAT WAY, before asking them to move into imagining or “solution” mode. I think I and sometimes also my interlocutors want to get to that point too fast, because staying in the painful feeling is, well, painful. I want to keep things open, not try to seal them off.

BUT ALSO: BE RESPONSIVE, not formulaic; LISTEN well enough to know what questions might help a person talk and think more, maybe reach for words they haven’t thought of yet.

MAINTAIN A FIELD OF CALM for myself and them; don’t get agitated and definitely don’t escalate.

If I do offer a suggestion or prescription, make it both PARTICULAR to them and CONNECTED to people, creatures, forces and things outside but nearby or intertwined with them; REVEAL CONNECTIONS that are already there

Sometimes I call this whole booth thing a “project,” and I think the various offshoots of the booth thus far have been a project, but the booth itself is more of a practice. I am practicing the world I want: a world where we observe and trust, where it is safer to be more vulnerable, where we improvise responsively, where we listen. A shared world in which sharing is possible. A world where we take care of each other so that amplitude and hardship ebb and flow but are never fixed in any one person, place or role, a world that doesn’t destroy the carer or the cared-for. I want to enact that world here. I hope you all will help me bring it out of the world we know.

Alternate Histories: the month of September

This fall, I’m going to post one or two alternate histories a week. I teach college and I need to give some of my mind to it, but I also want to keep thinking this way–here’s why–and I believe that doing so will help me teach better as well.

Each of this month’s alternate histories will bring two anxieties together and write a future that’s responsive to both of them. Choosing our battles is important; so is recognizing when one isn’t really a battle, but a machine, or a school, or a navigational device, or open water.