Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/17/19

Weather: Gray, little wind, warm & muggy; cooler, breezier & more pleasant as time went on

Number of people: 10 stoppers, 4 walkbys, 1 map marker

Number of hecklers: 0!

People who got the Peanuts reference: 3

Pictures taken with permission: 2

Pictures taken without permission: 1

Dogs seen: 3

Dogs pet: 0

Postcards against the Plant: 3

Money raised for Tooth and Nail Community Support Collective: $1.50

 

Observations:

It was my last day in this spot. I’ll be at the Sankofa Market (275 Elmwood Ave, outside Knight Memorial Library) starting TOMORROW, 6/19, and Wednesdays thereafter, 2-6pm. I’ll also be at the Miantonomi Farmer’s Market, at Miantonomi Park (named after the Narragansett Sachem of that area) on Hillside Avenue in Newport, Mondays 2-6 starting 7/1.

Cop and park ranger cars both at the west end of Kennedy Plaza when I arrived. The cop car left just after I set up. Another car, or the same one repositioned, parked at the corner of Dorrance and Washington, with two cops out of the car and leaning on it; they too left soon after. Yet another was parked at the old Greyhound bus stop 2:45-3:45.

Nonhuman animal presences: pigeons, sparrows, starlings that I heard before I saw them, tiny fly, even tinier translucent unknown bug who landed on my hand. One of the interlocutors reminded me to look up at the Superman building every now and then for peregrine falcons, who are nesting there, but I didn’t see them.

Of the 10 stoppers, 3 were looking for information—about climate change, about how it could cause anxiety—and demonstrated interest and illumination, which was nice. And one wanted to make sure that I knew about an action opportunity: the DEM’s public hearing for the air quality permit for the Burrillville power plant. Please do come if you can, or send a comment before July 15th if you can’t.

 

Some conversations

I’m not gonna be dead by 2050, and I heard on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” about a study that says civilization is gonna collapse by then.

Do you imagine what that’s gonna look like? What do you imagine?

Large scale epidemics, famine, drought. Government systems becoming more and more authoritarian in order to control the social effects [of those things]… My mom lived through a dictatorship in Portugal, the Salazar regime.

How do you feel when you think about this?

It’s frightening. Very frightening. I was just in New York visiting someone, and they had no issue talking about it, but I didn’t want to, because I was just trying to have a nice time.

Does your mind kind of go to it and go away from it? What do you do when that happens?

Sometimes I just let it run. But mostly I put on music and start singing along—it’s mostly music, or art of some kind, that gets me away from it. It is regularly on my mind, because [my job means] I need to travel. I drive all over the state fairly regularly, and I have to fly to conferences. It’s a requirement of my job and how I can contribute. I can’t just take a RIPTA bus to where I need to go.

What would make you more willing to talk about this with people?

People not being assholes.

Who have you had that happen with?

A cousin…I tried to contradict their points and they were just like, “No, I’m not listening.” And, “You think you’re better than us ’cause you went to college.”

*

[These two came up together.]

Person 1: We talk about it a lot together, and we talk about it with our friends.

Person 2: We’re vegan—I think going vegan is one of the best things you can do.* Factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. If you’re serious about stopping climate change and you’re not vegan, are you really serious?

Person 1: We go to rallies and protests—we live in the Berkshires, so if there’s anything happening anywhere in the country, there’ll be a rally in support. … We do a lot with the Farm Sanctuary, we support them with donations.

Are there things where you’re like, “Oh, I wish I could do more”?

Person 1: You want to do more but you don’t know where to go or what to do or how to do it.**

Person 2: Person 2: We run a gift shop, we really work 24-7. It’s hard to get away even for a weekend like this. It’s hard to go to things. But everything in the shop is vegan, if you see something that looks like leather it’s synthetic. We talk about veganism with people in the store, we sell a vegan cookbook.

Person 1: It’s true, I feel like we’re really more on the education side than the activism side. We’re more about doing the personal part.

 

*It’s a little more complicated than that.

**If the two of you happen to see this, or if any of my other readers live in the Berkshires/Western Mass, here are some “where to go or what to do or how to do it” things:

The Stockbridge American Chestnut Preserve could probably use some financial support and loudmouthed praise! This Twitter thread outlines the role that American chestnuts could play in feeding people, storing carbon & restoring forests; this article focuses on carbon sequestration and is a little more technical.

The Berkshire Environmental Action Team lists community events relevant to conservation, waste reduction and environmental justice.

MA Power Forward is working for a just transition to clean energy in Massachusetts; here are their legislative priorities for 2019-2020. Can you call your reps and senators about the bills listed here?

The fracked-gas infrastructure I mentioned is in Dover Plains, not Amenia, but it appears to be on track for construction; infographic below; here’s some recent coverage. People are picketing it this weekend and every weekend till November, if you want to go.

No photo description available.

[An infographic listing flaws and risks of the Cricket Valley Energy Center, a fracked-gas facility scheduled to be built in Dover Plains, NY in 2020.]

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Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/29/17

Weather: Cloudy, very windy, lowering heat at first, then cool

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 6 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0! Except 1 sort of by proxy? I didn’t get permission to post that conversation, so suffice it to say that it was weird.

Pages of notes: 10

Peanuts references: 2

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.11

 

Observations:

To the kids I didn’t get to talk with, but who wrote “The big tree to the left” on the map of places in RI they’d like to protect: You rule.

I need to fix the part of the booth where my signs fit together—the wind kept blowing it over and I had to use one hand to hold it the whole time.

I’ve changed my spiel slightly: “Climate anxiety is short for the anxieties people might feel about climate change,” I begin. It seems to work a little better to give context.

Two cop cars drove through with flashers and sirens at 3:37. Two cops walked through the park, one leading a man in handcuffs, at 4. Two (different) cops walked through the park at about 5:45.

 

Some conversations:

Climate. Yeah. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, global warming.

How does it feel, to know that?

It doesn’t affect me. Glaciers, rising sea levels, more tornadoes, polar bears, species losing habitats because everything is shifting and animals can’t adapt, plants and animals can’t adapt.

I think I asked the question badly. I mean, you have all this knowledge of what’s happening, how does it feel to live with this knowledge?

When I see more and more cars on the road and not enough people taking mass transit. And cities and states not making that a high priority.* Physically, for me, getting caught in traffic every day. I look out the bus window and I see cars filled with one person. There’s no incentive for people to carpool. I can’t say everybody’s gotta take the bus, because people’s needs are different.

*Doctor’s note: Rhode Island is currently preparing its Long-Term Transportation Plan, dealing with every aspect of transportation in the state for the next 20 years. If you want to let the Division of Planning know that good public transportation, carpool incentives, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are important to you, you can leave a comment here. (Get in touch with me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, if you want some talking points.)

*

People worry: are we going to war? Everybody’s worried about war and terrorists. And inequality, capitalism going on—this new gig economy, start[up] economy, everybody has to adapt to survive.

It’s also like: who is it who wants us to adapt.

The elite! “Adapt. We’re all set, we made our money.” I don’t have anything against capitalism, but there’s a difference between capitalism and just—heartless. Draconian. “Get out of my way our I’ll step on you like a bug.” You can’t afford to go and buy local because you’re on a fixed income. … I’m from Brazil and Brazil is a mess right now. People are very rebellious, they’re not taking capitalism anymore.* People are fighting all over the world for their rights to exist and live a good life. … I don’t hate rich people, they do good things, we need no poor hating rich, no rich hating poor. We gotta come up with something to help each other, because that’s all we got.

*Doctor’s note: I haven’t checked these statements.

*

[This person was one of the first people to speak to me at the booth on my very first day in 2014. He’s the second person down.]

How many people have anxieties about the climate? I think I was more hopeful before. But a lot of people have gone beyond the “it’s a hoax” thing and recognized that this isn’t something we’ve seen in our lifetime. It’s just gonna make things harder, the whole human experience in general.

*

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot of animals that are gonna be extinct soon. Maybe one day we won’t have any animals. I hope not. But it’s like a ripple effect. I don’t know how it would be—it would be weird. We don’t even know all the animals that were here.

But I think change can be good. One you know how change is, how you don’t have control—well, you have some control, but you can’t be mad if things don’t work out your way. Don’t be stressed. Try and keep looking at something else you might wanna save. In life you lose and you get. You shouldn’t be messed up about it, you shouldn’t dwell on it ’cause then you’ll be sad all the time.

*

I’m here with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I meet many people with many anxieties. And I agree. I love the Earth. Climate change is dreadful. But Jehovah’s gonna stop it very soon and get rid of the people who are harming the Earth. There’s a scripture, I don’t have my Bible with me, but it says, “He will bring to ruin those who are harming the Earth.” I look at the ice caps and what’s happening to the oceans and I can’t stand it. I think the difference between you and me is that I have a hope for the future, because I know God’s gonna fix it … I know it’s gonna be soon, because it’s getting so bad. We will ruin the Earth to such an extent that it will be unlivable.

… I feel bad for people with children, and its’s one of the reasons I haven’t had them. It was a conscious decision. I couldn’t bring them into this world. In the new world, when it’s Paradise, I’ll have a football team. They can climb trees, they can roll in the grass. Take a look in the Bible. He made the earth and He’s gonna fix it. And then maybe you and I can climb trees together.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/15/17

Weather: Hot, bright, breezy. Later, cold enough in the shade that my thumbs started to go numb.

Number of people: 5 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 2

People who knew me from previous sessions: 4

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for the Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.22

 

Observations:

Started 15 minutes late today because I was walking with a friend and that seemed more important.

The food truck parked near my spot is very loud, grinding and constant. No one came up to talk with me while it was there, but that could just be correlation.

Three cops walked through Kennedy Plaza at 3:17, I don’t know why.

I always appreciate a good, genuine double take.

When someone not only didn’t want to have a session but didn’t want a card, I felt a stab of real anger.

One of the people who talked with me also showed me pictures they took of the plants in the grounds of the nursing home where their father is staying.

 

Some conversations:

[These two came up together and I later found out they’re a couple.]

Person 1: The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard just flooded … There’s no damage to the seeds but–

Person 2: But because of global warming, this is not a semipermanent solution to saving biodiversity.

Person 1: When it was being planned, things were not as dire.

Person 2: It’s like a museum for seeds. We sequester diversity in museums—we make it inaccessible by preserving it. And relying on them to do it is like—it’s really vulnerable to what it’s trying to prevent. They made the Seed Vault to perpetuate and be sure to save seeds, but the mission and the problem are getting on top of each other and messing each other up.

Person 1: I’m much more in favor of dispersing things and letting people use them, not this thing that you rely on [to preserve them]. And who are the people working in that facility?

Person 2: These aren’t just antiquities, this is something that potentially carries life. Some seeds need specific ways of being planted and being cared for. Lack of knowledge could make them useless. Disseminating knowledge and how to care for them makes more sense than separating them.

 

 

 

*

 

Not like I stay awake thinking about it, but it’s more like when I am awake. I was on a bus yesterday, in a sea of cars and trucks backed up—we need better public transportation that doesn’t have a stigma. When I tell people I ride RIPTA, they get so snobbish, like, Why would you do that? Why don’t you drive? I’ve been driving all my life, but I prefer public transportation. We need it to make things better for our kids. We can’t do anything about us, right this minute, but I have grandchildren, and who knows what their world’s gonna be like. I think we need to—what’s the phrase? Crash and burn before we do anything about it. One thing is good: there are a lot of people who care, leaders, and at least they’re doing something.

What do you think about our own political leadership?

Mixed. It’s mixed. I think they’re more afraid if they’re aiming to go up for political advancement. But I think they have kids and grandkids, so they care.

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.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza, 6/21/16

Weather: Sunny and hot, a small breeze. Okay in the shade. Had to angle my hat pretty sharply toward the end (I was facing west) to keep sun out of my eyes.

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 3 walkbys.

Number of hecklers: 0! Also, see below.

Pages of notes: 4.5

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Picture-takers with permission: 1

Dogs seen: 2

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.30

 

Observations:

Today was a good day for talking with people I’ve met at the booth before. I had one really long conversation with someone I’d met once, which then turned into a conversation between him and someone I’ve met a few times. Someone who had previously been a heckler stopped by, shook my hand twice, and told me, “They doubled my meds, so I’m feeling legit.”

I may have already said that don’t really drink enough water on days when I’m at the booth, because I can’t leave the booth to get up and pee (it would blow away and/or it’s just possible that someone might kick it over or mess it up, though I’ve never actually run directly into that level of irritation with it). Today, that sucked.

 

Some conversations:

More about the environment [than the climate]. It’s a disposable life. It used to be you make something, then you use it till it wears out. Now you buy it again and again, you have to buy water. It’s perpetual–they think they’re making life simpler but they’re making it more complicated. Everything’s changing. I think it’s getting ugly, it’s getting more complicated. Squirrels know enough to seek shelter before it rains–humans are getting dumber.

What would you recommend?

Time machine.

Okay, but–

You gotta get people’s attention to put effort into it–to not be selfish and greedy, to participate. Not, “Oh, let somebody else worry about it.” If we would change it, people would open their eyes and see.

Do you talk to people about it?

A few people–nobody else cares. They’re willing to pollute to get you to buy water. We should have clean water, we shouldn’t have to buy it. And we think we’re growing, we think we’re evolving.

*

Everybody realizes that climate change–it’s definitely happening, the ice caps are melting.

*

I’m worried about climate change and timing. I believe that it’s because of how the earth–I think it’s either going faster and the time goes by slower and the storms, there’s more storms …

You do worry about it?

‘Cause I have no control over it. As a child I learned to let it go [if I have no control]. What are we gonna do about it?

I guess I also think, how do we want to act, knowing that this is gonna happen.

Be nicer to each other. Give a helping hand. Try to reassure people that it’s going to be okay. If you look around, there has been more mental illness–maybe it’s because of that, they’re losing days. And people dying affects people with mental illness more. Everybody’s taking pills to calm themselves down to ignore what’s going on. Just live it–God put you on this earth to live.

*

I was a Green Party councilor in England, for Hertfordshire. I’m concerned about the low-lying areas of most of the world, and pollution, and health. I was pleasantly surprised to find that public transit in Rhode Island is not as bad as I’ve been led to believe–better than in some parts of the U.S. What I would like to see in terms of transport is: I see the freight rail lines, so the infrastructure is there to add to the rail network. It could be linked into the MBTA system in Central Falls. It’s an opportunity to do something about traffic congestion and traffic pollution … Slowly, we’re winning the economic argument as well. People in business are starting to see that there’s a point where not doing something is more expensive than doing something. In Europe, 90% of politicians accept climate science. Here it’s more like 50%, if that. But here business is starting to run ahead of politicians. … Because Rhode Island is coastal, we have the capacity for wind power, but there’s also the possibility of tide power. Someone in the U.S. is gonna lead on that, and Rhode Island has a lot of tidal ranges in various places.

 

Providence 2050

The Providence Public Library, a place and institution that I love so much, invited people living and working in the city to imagine it in 2050, and this is what we said. I’m in there (though I don’t know that I would call myself an “emerging leader”) and so are a lot of people that I also love, and some I don’t know.

Thanks to Kate Wells and the PPL for inviting me to be part of this story.

RI Public Transit Fare Hikes: Public Meetings in November

You can, and should, make public objection to RIPTA’s proposal to raise fares for people on fixed incomes. Here’s when and where you can do that:

Tuesday, November 17th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Warwick City Hall, 3274 Post Rd, Warwick  RI

*

Tuesday, November 17th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Newport Marriott, 25 America’s Cup Ave, Newport RI

*

Wednesday, November 18th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Providence Public Library, 150 Empire St, Providence RI

*

Wednesday, November 18th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

Burnside Building, 400 Hope St, Bristol RI

*

Thursday, November 19th, 6-8pm

Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket RI

*

Friday, November 20th, 2-4pm

Woonsocket Senior Center, 84 Social St, Woonsocket RI

*

Friday, November 20th, 2-4pm and 6-8pm

South Kingston Town Hall, 180 High St, Wakefield RI

*

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the work of this blog, please see the first paragraph of this post.

RIPTA Fare Change Meeting AND #FloodTheSystem: 2 More 10/14 Events

There are two things happening tomorrow that I can’t go to, but maybe you can:

Informational Meeting on Proposed Fare Changes for RIPTA Buses

11:30am-1pm

Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence, RI

RIPTA proposes raising bus fares for people on fixed incomes, many of whom currently ride for free. If you have a chance to go and tell them why they should make a different plan, please do.

Also:

The Environmental Justice League of RI is taking part in a #FloodTheSystem march in Columbus Square, Port of Providence, starting at 4pm, prompted partly by the proposal to build a plant for processing fracked gas on the Southside. You can email them (address is at the page linked above) for more information.

Maybe you should go to these things instead of my things! Maybe I should go to these things instead of my things!

Another Chance to Speak Against Raised Fares for Senior/Disabled RIPTA Passengers

There are meetings today in Providence and Bristol to offer feedback on RIPTA’s fare change proposals, which would increase fares for senior and disabled passengers. Please go today if you can. Living fairly means meeting people’s needs.

11am-12pm, The Commerce Center at The Providence Foundation, 30 Exchange Terrace, Providence

5:30-6:30pm, Burnside Building, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 400 Hope St., Bristol

There were also meetings Tuesday in Woonsocket and Kingston; I’m sorry I didn’t post those here. Someone who attended one said:

I went to the RIPTA meeting at URI. I was one of about 5 people who showed up. There were more RIPTA people around than “voters.” We were asked to read panels with the current fares, panels listing 4 options for other ways to structure fares, and then to vote and comment. Each option would charge disabled and poor seniors something.

UPDATE: I went to the Providence meeting, which was as this person described, except that many senior and disabled riders were also present and did outnumber RIPTA employees/spokespeople. It’s possible to adapt the “voting”/comment structure to demand a plan that doesn’t increase fares for senior and disabled riders on fixed incomes, and that’s what I and a few other people did: we used comment forms to explain why we couldn’t endorse any plan that raised those fares. According to RIPTA, there will be public hearings about the proposed fare increase for senior/disabled rides (with opportunities to make statements on the record) in November, and those hearings will be announced at the RIPTA website, so check back there–and ask about the hearings if you don’t see them listed.

Rally 8/27 Against Proposed RIPTA Fare Hike for Senior Riders/Riders With Disabilities

From the RIPTA Riders’ Alliance:

“Next Thursday at 5pm, RIPTA RIders’ Alliance is holding a rally against the proposal to hike fares on Rhode Island’s disabled people and seniors who are living on limited incomes.

When: 5pm, Thursday, August 27th

Where: Kennedy Plaza”

I’ll be present for at least part of this, because I think that wherever additional money to operate public transportation should come from (and I agree that we need some!), it shouldn’t come from people who are unlikely to be able to get much more money than they have right now. I’m sometimes able to go to things like this, so I will go in lieu of someone who might want to but can’t.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the work of this blog, see the first paragraph of this post.