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.

Advertisements

Out of the Woods On Climate/Borders/Survival/Care/Struggle

This conversation with Out of the Woods, a collective investigating capitalism and climate change, gets at the heart of a lot of what I’ve been trying to do with the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, the alternate histories, and the Interdependence Day gatherings (now on hold, but these writings may help us reinvent them).

“To say ‘yes’ to what we want,” they say, “and what is already created in cramped spaces – necessitates saying ‘no’ to the world that dominates save for those cracks or openings.”

I knew about Out of the Woods, but hadn’t spent a lot of time with their ideas and questions. I’m going to do so now.

Interdependence Days return in February!

Interdependence Days are starting up again in February! Let’s meet our neighbors, share food and stories, learn from each other, and learn to work together on what’s important to us.
 
We’ll do our standard opening and closing rituals, story circle, and sharing of opportunities for community participation. We also have variable workshops scheduled through mid-March (which is, frankly, amazing)–look ahead and see if any of these particularly appeal to you! We meet 6-8pm on Tuesday nights.
 
2/7: Sharing our strengths: what are we good at?
2/14: Naxalone/opioid overdose prevention training
2/21: Mapping our networks of help and shelter
2/28: Imagining food justice & food systems that work
3/7: Conceivable Future: climate change, kids & fighting for the future
3/14: Introduction to grant writing
 
As always, these are free and open to the public. They’re somewhat Broadway-centric, but anyone can come on any day; you can also arrive and leave at any time during a gathering, if you want or need to. You can bring some food to share if you want to and can, but you don’t have to.
 
Kate, Emily, Aria, Addie, MacKenzie and Ada are the Interdependence Days planners right now. Write to us at interdependencedays@gmail.com if you have questions, or ask them here!

Actual History: Refusal 6

Last night, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a work stoppage–no JFK Airport dropoffs or pickups between 6 and 7pm–in solidarity with people being detained via the president’s “Muslim Ban”. Here is their full statement.

This is how we need to act, and how we can act, together.

*

If you have money to share, you can share it with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, or with the National Lawyers Guild, who provide legal observation and monitoring to protect protestors’ rights.

If you live in Rhode Island and have time to spare, come to the State House today.

Here’s a list of protests in other places in the US.

Support Providence City Council’s Anti-Power Plant Resolution, 1/19/17

The Providence City Council is meeting TOMORROW (Thursday), 1/19, to consider a resolution in opposition to the proposed fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville, RI–a power plant that Burrillville has already said it doesn’t want, that Woonsocket and Pascoag have already refused to supply water for, that would disrupt or destroy even more of the natural systems that sustain our lives.

The resolution would also enable the City Council to begin blocking Providence Water from supplying (through Johnston, who agreed to sell it to the power plant, but gets their water from Providence Water) the water that the power plant would need.*

If you’re free between 7 and 8 pm TOMORROW (Thursday), 1/19, please come to Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance St., and show your support for this resolution and your rejection of the power plant.

Here are more details, including a link to the text of the resolution, and you can RSVP here as well.

*I know–it’s complicated. But worth understanding!

Rally TODAY for free public transit for people on low fixed incomes

RIPTA’s no-fare bus pass for elderly people and people with disabilities allows people to get to appointments, see families, buy groceries without impacting their fixed–and often limited–incomes. RIPTA has been trying to eliminate this pass, even though doing so would make many people’s circumstances more strained and their lives more isolated. Today, there’s a rally at the State House (82 Smith St, Providence) at 10:30am to protect it.

I’ve posted here before about why this is important: far-reaching, well-used and well-supported public transportation is an important tool in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and sustaining each other is an important practice in both fighting and living with climate change. This is a good time to form the habit of noting and meeting vulnerable people’s needs when we can, because more of us may be vulnerable very soon.

There is also a petition, which for small-scale local issues like this may be helpful.

Hope to see some of you at the rally today.

Public Hearing in Woonsocket about Burrillville Power Plant, 1/6, 5-10pm

In order to build a fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville, RI, Invenergy needs water that they are proposing to purchase and truck to Burrillville from Woonsocket. (Woonsocket was previously considering a water pipeline for this purpose.) If you’re looking for further background, there’s a list of relevant articles at the bottom of the one linked above.

The Woonsocket City Council is having a public meeting on Friday, January 6th, 5-10pm, Woonsocket High School. PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAD THE TIME WRONG BEFORE! If you can, please attend and let the City Council know that this is a bad idea for many reasons:

Rhode Island should be investing in new renewable energy infrastructure, not new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Because of the unsustainability of these forms of energy, jobs related to them are unlikely to last long (and Invenergy may bring in their own people for some of them); the proposed Woonsocket water facility would provide a maximum of three jobs, according to the article linked above.

The pollution, noise and traffic from the trucks, especially on smaller roads and roads through woods.

The pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the plant itself, which contribute to climate change and all its various effects on our food, air, water, weather and safety.

Unless I’m missing something, all that water will be unusable for anything else after they use it for this. (If anyone has information about this, let me know.)

*

This is a complicated situation because Woonsocket is a financially strained city and could use the money (which is, of course, why Invenergy made them the offer). So if you participate in this process by going to the public meeting, which I encourage you to do (I am), consider also participating in other processes that might help support Woonsocket’s human economy and sociality without doing quite so much damage to the nonhuman world. I’ll try to keep an eye out for what those might be and post them here.

 

 

No LNG in PVD: Community Meeting 10/29

Providence friends and readers, I hope you’ll come to this community meeting to keep National Grid from building a dangerous liquid natural gas (LNG) processing facility on the already environmentally-compromised (and environmentally unjust) South Side.

 

No LNG in PVD Community Meeting

Saturday 10/29, 3-5pm

Renaissance Church, 184 Broad St, Providence, RI

 

You can find more information about the risks and injustices of the project here. The Facebook event for the community meeting is here.

Interdependence Days return: 10/4/16, 6-8pm

After a month of consideration and revision, Interdependence Days–community gatherings, based in (but not limited to) the Broadway neighborhood, free and open to the public–are back, every Tuesday night through December. The next one is TODAY, October 4th, 6-8pm at 186 Carpenter St., Providence.
Aria Boutet and Ada Smailbegovic will lead us in walking, noticing, and writing in the streets around 186 Carpenter St (there will be a stay-put version for people who arrive late or don’t walk well).
As always, we’ll use a brief ritual of voice to welcome each other to the gathering and to send each other out into the world at the end, and we’ll share stories and food. We’ll also outline a few additional guidelines for treating each other with respect while we’re there, and ask people about things we might work on together when we’re not there–group efforts that would meet a need or a desire within the community.
Again, that’s tomorrow (Tuesday), 6-8pm, 186 Carpenter St. Bring some food to share if you can and want to (you don’t have to).
Write to the organizers at the Facebook page or at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, if you have questions.

A New Whale

My friend said I’d probably already seen them: the “new species of rare beaked whale discovered in Bering Sea,” according to the headline at OregonLive. I hadn’t already seen them, and I’ll probably never see them in person, but I now know that they dive deep to feed on fish and squid in underwater canyons; that in Japan they have the common name “karasu” or “raven”; that scientists have so far, if I read the article correctly, only found them dead, and determined their newness by comparing their appearance and their DNA to that of other, more familiar beaked whales. If this is the case, there might not be any alive anymore.

The whale isn’t really new; it’s my knowledge of them that’s new. The fish and squid they eat know about them; the water knows about them; they know about each other. The whale this article refers to was found in 2014, and for all I know, human knowledge of this whale has risen and sunk many times over the years. And in order to exist now, these whales must have already existed for a time that seems long to us; that’s evolution for you. Ending them forever could be much quicker.

When I saw the artist’s rendering of this whale, I was seized with the desire to protect them. The OregonLive article, too, quotes Erich Hoyt of Whale and Dolphin Conservation in the UK: “The implication of a new species of beaked whale is that we need to reconsider management of both species to be sure they’re sufficiently protected, considering how rare the new one appears to be.” But to protect a creature you have to protect everything around them: it’s not enough to just stop killing them directly. Whatever they eat–plants, live animals, corpses–has to keep renewing itself; the land, air and water around them have to maintain the qualities and relationships that make their lives possible, with at least tolerable levels of warmth, contaminants, movement and activity.

And some of the forces that affect those things originate hundreds, thousands sometimes, of miles away from the path these whales are thought to swim, from the tropics to the pole and back: currents of warm water, gouts of greenhouse gas, nitrogen-based fertilizers. Typing away on my coal-powered computer, sitting in front of my coal-powered box fan, I am injuring those whales right now, molecule by molecule. I’m injuring the creatures whose predators they eat, and the creatures who eat their corpses after they die.

This is the point at which a lot of us break down, I think: we recognize our interconnection with the systems of life and their defaults, both human-engineered and not, but so many of the systems that sustain humans in particular have abuse of other parts of those systems built into them. So many of our motions do harm we can’t see firsthand, and a lot of people’s response to this–judging by what they say to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, and in conversation, and in a kind of low-grade hum that arises from the ways that people talk in public about complicity–is a moment of stricken paralysis, of suspended motion, and then a resumption of similar actions because there’s nothing they can do about it, after all: there’s no other place for their actions to go, no other way for their actions to lead. The most they can hope for, or so they think, is to do less damage, with things like renewable energy sources and water-saving dishwashers and buying fewer new objects.

What if instead of harming these whales incrementally, my ordinary tasks allowed me to help them incrementally? Could we wean ourselves onto methods of eating, building, burying, that shifted the flow and the burden of work, of waste, of making and mending and breaking down? Where is the give in our relations–what can’t we interrupt without severe damage, and what might be more mutable than we might suppose?

Not every system we’re part of may be susceptible to this, and we may not have time to adapt the ones that are. Climate scientists like Guy McPherson and others say that we probably don’t, that it’s too late not only for the new whales but for us, that talking about conservation, preservation, borders on the insane: what are we keeping, and for whom?

Back in the early days of the booth, I had a conversation that I didn’t handle my part of well; my interlocutor seemed to think that something could only matter if it mattered forever, if it persisted unchanged; that something that ended could not matter. I wish I’d asked that guy a few more questions. I’m still here, and if these whales really are still here–if the last of them didn’t wash up on St. George Island in 2014–I would like to make their life here as possible as possible, even if that time is short. The same is true for your life, you who are reading this: I want your life to be possible for you. I want us to change whatever we have to change for that to happen. I would want it if I knew for a fact you and I and the last of these whales were all going to die within the week. I would want it if we were all going to swim through the world for centuries to come.

*

Jason Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life, which I’m in the early middle of, and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, which I’m rereading, helped with the framing for this writing.