This season, I asked Climate Anxiety Counseling booth interlocutors to donate their nickels (often, in practice, more–as much as $20.00 from some people) to the Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective. Their commitment to healing and nourishing work as a key part of fighting oppressive forces and enacting a livable, possible world is powerful and necessary, and I wanted to support it. I thank you all for supporting it too.
I’m pleased to report that the people who spoke with me at the booth shared a total of $116.85 (rounded up to $117.00 because GoFundMe doesn’t do decimals). If I do any rogue booth sessions this fall, I will add to the total.
You can read a little more about Tooth and Nail’s principles and projects at the above link, and if you didn’t get a chance to stop by the booth this summer but would like to support their work, I encourage you to do so.
[IMAGE: Hands digging in brown leaf mulch, mostly oak leaves, a few beech leaves.]
The Tooth and Nail farm also has work days; after I post this, I’m going to put my shoes on and head out there.
While I only had one conversation today, A) it was a great one, as
you’ll soon see, and 2) the market as a whole seemed busier than the
previous few markets. I didn’t check with other vendors to see if
this was the case for them.
Nonhuman animal passersby: cabbage white butterfly, bumblebee, sparrow, dragonfly, tiny ant, starlings, wasp, pigeon, and a butterfly that I didn’t see but that apparently landed on my hat.
Being Native American, we never think about the land and water as ours today. It’s always for the next generations. So it’s extra stressful, not only because of the change that is happening here and today, but because you can already see that Mother Earth—every living creature is like an embryo in her womb, and all living creatures are slowly dying. If I think of what my grandchildren or great-grandchildren’s lives will be, I can’t—will we have to live in constant bubbles and not breathe anymore than half an hour outside of a building? These sci-fi things. It’s so stressful. As much as I would love to be a grandmother, the idea of bringing a child into that world… And coming from a culture where you only live if you reproduce—it makes me really sad.
something you talk about with your kids?
We talk about it a lot, with my daughter especially. She’s extra health-conscious, especially when it comes to foods—she’s the one that’s very sensitive to all of these issues. …One of my sons will get a glass of milk and she’ll be, “Do you know what’s in that milk?” She makes it a main topic in the house. She’s like, “Why are we committing slow suicide.” She’s thirteen.
….How do we make a neighborhood aware of these things and able to deal with these things? It’s almost like you have to recondition everyone. This started years ago, and it’s going fifty times faster than they ever expected. How much quicker is it going now? To make the public be aware of what’s actually happening, they’d actually have to try to do things about it. My son is really into marine life—he’s the Save the Bay kid. Every time we go to the beach he’s like, “Mom, where’s the trash bag?”
Are there any ways that cultural knowledge has helped you and your family deal with this time?
I’ve always taught my kids to pay it forward. To have compassion, to have empathy, in our interactions with others. I don’t know if I set them up to be hurt a lot. But on the other hand, I’m like, “One day humanity’s going to need people like you.” And they know that all living things, from a tree to a flower to a human, [are] just as important as each other. Without one thing, the other will die, until there’s nothing.
… I tell them, feelings and thought are matter, and matter carries energy. Hate’s energy kills, but love’s energy helps things to thrive. … My daughter out of all of us is the most balanced. She sees me looking at people in pain, and dealing with the trauma from ancestral empathy, carrying the spirit of my ancestors, and she says, “Mom, your heart is too big.” I’ll see someone and I’ll be like, “Just let me give ’em a hug,” and that turns into opening the door to them, and that turns into them living with us, and then that turns into their kids stealing from me. My kids over the years have been displaced by other people’s needs. I’ve taught them to give, but how much did I teach them about self-love?
So many people think that [care] has to come back as a direct thing.
But what happens is, you’ll give way over here and you’ll get back
over here. But you’ll know that it’s part of your cycle, because
you’ll be at peace.
… I have to let go of who I was and embrace who I’m going to be. I’m 43 years old. I’m not afraid to recognize that I need help, but it took me a long time to say, “It’s okay. It’s all right to breathe. If you further your education, you can put yourself in positions to open doors.” …If I don’t shut down the old me, I’ll never get to my full potential.
In a way that’s
what the book I’m writing is about: how do we become the people we
need to be in this frightening time?
It’s an emotional burden that I can’t explain. A lot of people don’t think about it because they don’t live in a conscious way. They’re not going to think about it until that last bottle of water costs $300. It’s so heavy.
[IMAGE: A cabbage white butterfly, like the one I saw on this day, on a yellow flower.]
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.
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 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 email@example.com if you have questions, or ask them here!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.