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



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: 5/11/16

Weather: Warm, sunny, breezy, perfect in the shade at the beginning, a little chilly toward the end.

Number of people: 13 stoppers, 7 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0! One walkby might’ve muttered “it’s not real” but I can’t be sure.

Pages of notes: 8

People known to me, and I to them, from past seasons: 3

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1, returning from last year

Picture-takers with permission: 2

Picture-takers without permission: 2

Number of dogs seen: 2, belonging to a friend

Number of dogs pet: 2

Number of times people called me “honey” but not in a way that made me want to kill them: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.50



Still not always remembering to do these things.

Pushing the handtruck (for new readers, I pack the booth in and out on a handtruck) was surprisingly not that hard.

Not a lot of people talked about climate anxieties directly, but quite a few people brought up climate change, extreme weather, ecological degradation, as if incidentally, while talking about their primary anxieties.

13 stoppers in one session is actually a lot (comparatively), and I’m wondering if this was because it was the first day in a long while–I was a novelty. We’ll see.


Some conversations:

I get anxious on buses. I start coughing, breathing heavy. I used to be on Klonopin but they took me off it now, I don’t know why. They got me on some other pill that doesn’t have a [word I didn’t catch] effect.

When you start to feel it, do you have to get off the bus?

I want to, but I have to get to my destination. If there’s somebody I know on there, I talk to them. Or I talk on the phone, I call people. Sometimes I pretend to talk on the phone when nobody’s there. I’ll say, Hi ______, that’s my daughter.


I love biking, I love working in my garden. Love kayaking. I’m planting celery, melons, some kale. Not doing tomatoes this year … I live in East Providence and we have a lot of squirrels, so I planted onions around everything. If you plant onions, they don’t like that. Or you can use pepper and water. I’m from down South, growing up we didn’t have pesticides, so you just put pepper and water in a spray bottle and spray it around the garden. It kills the grubs and things.

[Talking about fishing from a kayak]

We don’t kill the fish ’cause the fish have toxins in ’em by the time they come up this far. I tell people not to eat ’em. I tell people, there’s three discharge stations up there, three. … We just put ’em back. Stripers, if they stay out of the water too long, they get stressed and they die.



There isn’t much we can do about the climate, honey. That’s all in God’s hands. But the government here in Rhode Island needs a shakeup. Communication, communication is just horrible in this state. I moved here after losing my home in Sandy and I had to go through six months of hoops just to get an ID. I’m a veteran, and they put all the veterans in one box: either you’re full of drugs that are given to you legally or you’re just brushed off … the capitol is right here, and I don’t see the people up there

Have you been talking to people about this?

I’ve been trying to connect with veterans and servicemembers. I got my resume done over at Amos House, and they asked if I had a history of mental illness, and I said, Other than the emotion of losing everything from the storm, from having hundred-mile-an-hour winds pick up my car and drop it…


I get anxious because I’m not anxious–because when you walk around on a beautiful day like today, there’s nothing to remind you of it. When you hear the scientific spokesman for Congress saying there’s nothing to worry about, and then most of the scientific community does say there’s something to worry about–We went to see a movie where this guy took a photo in the Arctic every day and you could see the ice disappearing.

But does that feel close to you?

No, it’s just like watching a war, it’s all happening on TV.

Have you noticed any changes that have to do with the climate since you’ve moved to the States?

Well, this last winter was the most unusual winter since we’ve been here.


I need help. I feel like the fumes from the buses are making me sick. Not only that, but you can’t see the stars from Providence anymore.

Did you grow up here?

No, I grew up in New Hampshire, but it’s troublesome to me that you don’t see the stars. Today I woke up a little sick–I’m biking in Downcity and I feel like the fumes kinda cluster at the lower levels. It makes it difficult to breathe sometimes. I know they’re supposed to be clean engines or whatever, but when a big burst of it hits you right in the face–I worry that it’s shaving years off my life, like when I’m 76 I’m gonna lose a week with my grandchildren … I understand that RIPTA–they’re trying to help people [drive less], it’s not RIPTA’s fault. But I love nature and I love the birds and the trees. I wanna be on earth as long as I can.


[Person 1 started out as a walkby, then Person 2 came up and Person 1 decided to stay a bit]

Person 1: Honey, you would charge a hundred dollars for what I’d have to tell you.

Tell me a nickel’s worth.

Person 1: Three dead husbands: diabetes, diabetes, suicide.

Person 2: This is cool, what is this?

[I explain that I want to know what people in Providence are anxious about, whether it’s climate change or something else]

Person 1: Oh, in Providence.

Person 2: Homelessness, unemployment.

Person 1: Thank God I got a job, thank God I got a home. There’s a lotta issues here and it’s too bad, because it’s a great city, it’s a beautiful city. I have some really good people in my life, and I have my kitty cat. [He tells her story.] My partner and I, we were on the street for three years, I don’t know how we ever survived. It was not a good time. Then we got an apartment–four months later, I crawl into bed and I realize he died. Diabetic shock. Then our upstairs neighbor, who was a crack addict, decided to burn the house down. … I have some great people in my life and I’m lucky because they keep my heart open.

[I give him a card with a hermit thrush on it.]

Oh, I know these! My mother lived in Jamestown, she had a flock of those. They’re buggers. They are buggers.


Today’s poem:


Three dead husbands

Homelessness, unemployment

Three hundred dead husbands

Homelessness because there are no homes

Unemployment because everything is undone

Under the bodies of someones

Who tended someone elses at one point

Undertake, overwhelmed: the number


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


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.


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.

RIPTA Board Meeting TODAY, 1:30pm

I’m going to the RIPTA board meeting today to support the RIPTA Riders’ Alliance in speaking against the proposed increase in bus fare for senior and disabled bus riders. (For more about why, read here.)

It’s at 269 Melrose St., Providence, RI, in the Transportation Conference Room. The meeting starts at 1:30 but the RRA recommends that people show up at 1:15 because seats fill up. You can take the #20 bus to get there.

RRA President Don Rhodes has asked that someone make this statement on his behalf (he’s ill) at the meeting:


I know that this is during work hours for many people, but come if you can. This is a concrete thing that you can do to help transportation and access be more equitable in our city.

RIPTA Fare Hike Public Meetings & RIPTA Riders Alliance Meeting, 7/14/15

Good public transportation helps the MOST people get where they need to go (without cars) when it is widespread, frequent, steadily and affordably priced, and safe to use. Especially in a city, better and more accessible bus service can mean fewer cars, and fewer cars mean lower greenhouse gas emissions, less heat, less traffic and road stress,  and potentially fewer paved/impermeable surfaces (because less need for parking lots) leading to better stormwater drainage and a cleaner water cycle.

Today, there are meetings about bus fares and bus infrastructure in Providence and Warwick. From the RIPTA Riders Alliance:

“RIPTA has more public meetings today about its ‘fare study’, which seems to be intended as a preliminary to getting more money from fares in addition to adjusting some of the details about fare structure and fare collection. There will be another round of meetings later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 11am-1pm

Providence Public Library, 3rd floor meeting room

150 Empire St, Providence, RI

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 1:30pm-4:30pm

Kennedy Plaza Intermodal Transportation Center

1 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, RI

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 5:30pm-7:30pm

Warwick City Hall, Council Chambers

3275 Post Road, Warwick, RI”

There is also a RIPTA Riders Alliance meeting today at 3pm at the RI Foundation:

1 Union Station (Exchange Terrace betw. Exchange St and Francis St), Providence, RI.

Alternate Histories: 6/4, 4/21


We had an unusually cold winter. The homeless problem was worse than ever–people being on the street. The state was doing a good job of giving out food and clothes. Jobs were down, they’re up now for summertime, but they’ll go back down again. RIPTA’s gone up again–it used to be 10 cents for a transfer, now it’s 50 cents. There should be some type of bracelet, I know you can get the 10 ride cards and the 15 ride cards, but there should be two free transfers or something like that, ’cause say it’s late at night and the last bus is here and you only have $1.50 and you need a dollar. You’re stuck, you could be stuck for 7 hours, especially if you have to go to Newport or something.



The next day Q set to work finding people to agree with him. Spring is the time to rustle things up in New England, between the ice melting and the fights starting. Because the weather is always changing, you can always use it as a reason not to do something, so you have to do it when the air is slightly hopeful.

Q texted his cousins what to put up on Facebook and Instagram, and some of them actually did it. The library printed some notices for him. He said to everybody downtown, “If somebody gives you money, give them this.” He asked around until he found somebody whose brother drove on the 56 and 57 buses, and asked them to pass on the plan to as many drivers as he thought he could trust.

The second thing that happened was that everybody got on the bus. Everybody got on every bus. When the people from one stop got off at the next, there was another line of people waiting to get on. Mostly they were polite, except for one or two people who were out of it and started cursing. Mostly they were quiet, except when people who got on at the Hmong church on Dexter started praying, or when a group of kids who got on at Hope High School–they weren’t planning to be part of the ride, they were just on their ways home–tried to force music out of their earbuds for everyone to hear.

The day of riding slowed things down, not only for the better. RIPTA wrote a “doctor’s note” to bosses and school principals that day and posted it on its website, but that didn’t help the woman who had to wait an extra hour for her caregiver to help her clean herself and dress, or the daycare centers that had to stay open nearly two hours later. “We’re who you said this is for,” they said angrily and publicly, “we’ll work with you, just let us know next time.” So Q did.