Climate Anxiety Counseling at PVDFest: Guest Artists, Postcards Against the Plant, and more

I’ll be at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth in Burnside Park for PVDFest tomorrow, starting at 12pm and going as long as I can (probably till dark, anyway).

In addition to listening and talking with you about climate and other anxieties, I will also have postcards that you can fill out for RI DEM, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Facility Siting Board to register your objections to the fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville. (The EFSB is no longer officially taking public comments, but they can’t unsee a postcard.) The postcards will be addressed and stamped, and I can put them in the mailbox for you if you like–all you’ll have to do is write a comment explaining why this plant should not be built.

If you talk with me, you’ll be able to take home a little piece of art featuring a Rhode Island organism–sometimes with an action suggestion, if that’s where our conversation leads. I drew a bunch of them, like this one in honor of World Oceans Day (phytoplankton exhale between 1/2 and 3/4 of the oxygen we breathe).

 

phytoplankton 1

[Image: drawing of phytoplankton species Ceratium furca, found in Narragansett Bay.]

For PVDFest, I’ll also be giving out organism drawings donated by these other artists:

May Babcock (who also donated handmade paper!) drew ajidamoo, aka Eastern chipmunk.

chipmunk mb

Zaidee Everett drew a marbled salamander.

salamander ze

Julia Gualtieri drew a big brown bat.

brown bag jg

CJ Jimenez drew a cecropia moth.

cecropia cj

James Kuo drew a pickerel frog.

pickerel frog jk

These and other beautiful portraits of our nonhuman neighbors could go home with you if you come talk to me tomorrow. I hope you will accept this invitation for connection and action.

 

 

 

 

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Climate Anxiety Counseling with the Manton Avenue Project, 6/29/18

The students and teachers of the Manton Avenue Project did me the honor and kindness of inviting me to do a guest workshop with them. As part of that, I did this model climate anxiety counseling session with one of their teachers, and some students asked her questions too.

They’re writing plays about climate change and “saving the world” this summer: you should go see them, on August 2nd and 3rd at 7pm at 95 Empire Street, and on August 4th at 6pm at the Waterfire Arts Center, both in Providence.

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I look at weather patterns and I start feeling like, sad to the point of angry, because I feel like we’ve known [about climate change] for a long time, but there’s a large population of people that keeps insisting it’s not real, just because they want to keep driving cars and making money the way they’ve always done. I can’t believe we’re so shortsighted, with no sense of [how it will affect] the next generations. Our policies aren’t generous—it’s the policymakers. They have access to experts. They have control over how much information goes out, especially with social media. They should know better, but they’re on the side of a small population of very wealthy people who are probably not grounded in a lot of fact…

Do you talk with other people about this?

Yeah, but all we do is just voice our worries. I talk about it and then I try to get quiet. I try to think: how much space do I personally take up in the world? Even if I’m just one person, how can I pull back on fossil fuels, not live a live full of disposable things? I can write to companies and be like, “I love your product because it uses recycled material,” or whatever. When I talk to people, we’re complaining, but nothing gets done.

What would you like to see happen?

I’d love it if someone could tell me it was going to be okay, like, “Don’t worry.”  … It would be nice to be able to talk out plans and to be encouraged by actions we’re taking so that we can do more.

Can we go back for a second to what you’re feeling?

Sure. Especially about things I can’t exclusively control, I start feeling very alone. … It affects my energy to do things, my energy or willingness to try. I’m an anxious person anyway. When it gets really depressing, like a thing in the news makes me feel sad, I try to be what sometimes people call present. Petting my dog helps me do that—she doesn’t care, she doesn’t have an opinion other than, “Uh, it’s hot.” All they want to do is be with you …

I’m okay for the moment, I’m alright. I’m comfortable, I have clothes, I have food, I have a community of friends, and I realize that I can talk to them.

A student: How are you feeling right now?

I’m enjoying—it’s nice that it’s a nice day. Also the fact that it became summer. It was chilly earlier. I’m always feeling a complicated mix of feelings about that, but the smell of the air and the vitamin D make me feel good.

A student: What do you do to help with anxiety?

I try to look at the things that I feel I’ve been trying to do. After Christmas, for the New Year, I tried to get plastic bags out of my life, see how much I could use paper bags. I have cloth bags I keep in the car. I got compostable waste bags for the dog. So, what have I done [that is helpful]?

A student: What’s the connection between plastic bags and climate change?

It all gets bundled up to how our relationship to the world is. Plastic doesn’t break down when it goes in the garbage. And petroleum products, mining petroleum, those are unsustainable resources, just like the gas we put in our car, the fuel we use to heat our homes.

Me: What’s your takeaway from this conversation?

Taking it and keeping track of some sort of progress will encourage me to keep on with it or to explore different practices.

Children, Meaning, Transformations

A few things by me/with me in them and relevant to this project appeared online this week, so I thought I’d share them here.

I wrote about climate and political change, having or not having kids, and record-keeping for the present at Catapult.

Kate Colby and I talked about mattering, meaning, and ecology at Ploughshares.

And Jonah-Sutton Morse talked about stories, transformation, attention and Annihilation at Cabbages and Kings.

 

Climate Anxiety Counseling: World Oceans Day Eco Fest, 6/8, 5pm

The Climate Anxiety Counseling booth will be outside the Cable Car Cinema in Providence today at 5pm as part of the World Oceans Day Eco Fest. Come see the documentary A Plastic Ocean, hear live music and poetry, see things that people have made out of garbage, and learn ways to tend and sustain the waters that tend and sustain you.

It costs money to get into the show, but not to talk with me and the other people outside.

Philly Climate Story

Through my friend Christina at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, I just found out about Philly Climate Story: they’re collecting people’s stories of climate change, in part to demonstrate to Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania (who has not acknowledged that climate change is human-caused) that Philadelphians are aware of and worried about climate change.

Philadelphians can share their stories, and anyone else can read them.

Fracking and Ecologically Motivated Art at the Providence Athenaeum, Half Life at the Columbus Theater

I can’t go to Cloud Eye Control’s performance of Half Life at the Columbus Theater tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8pm, but I wish I could. It’s “a mix of projected animation, theater and music that examines the psychic fallout of global disaster.” Tickets on a sliding scale, $10-$30. Before the show, Ju-Pong Lin will be there with her conversation project Wicked Questions.

The Providence Athenaeum, with ecoRI News and FirstWorks, are holding two events that readers of this site may want to know about. I’m in the second one. Both are free in money.

Friday, 11/20 (that’s tonight), 5-7pm: While fracking has lowered current gas prices and made us less dependent on foreign oil, it has some negative consequences. Ground water can be contaminated, and a dramatic incidence of small earthquakes has resulted from the injection of waste fluids produced by fracking. For example, Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than California. The potential for more, even larger man-induced earthquakes looms as the Department of Energy begins “carbon sequestration” – pumping carbon dioxide down disposal wells to attempt to reduce future climate change. Join Brown University Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences Terry E. Tullis, Chair of the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, to discuss the potential effect of our present practices on our future.

Friday, 11/27, 5-7pm (this is the one I’m in): As demonstrated in the Cloud Eye Control performance on 11/21, artists have always engaged with, responded to, and reflected their environment in their artwork, whether inspired by pristine wilderness or the densely built city. Join us for a conversation with RI artists, including photographer/sculptor Scott Lapham and writer Kate Schapira, whose work addresses a variety of environmental issues and instigations, and learn how they use their work to calibrate, celebrate, test, and protest the evolving consequences of human interaction on the physical environment.

When the program coordinator wrote to invite me, she started the email, “Hope you are well in this beautiful weather and terrible world.”

Points of Service: Responsive Art-Making and Intimate Public Discourse

I am “giving a talk” tomorrow. It’ll be about Climate Anxiety Counseling, vulnerability, boundaries, low-gatekeeping mental health care. It’s open to the public, which is you, and it’s at 5:30pm, Wednesday 10/14, on the Brown University Campus (Pembroke Hall 305). Mild, non-obligatory audience participation. I hope some of you can come.

points of service

Also tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities conference, in association with ARTCOP21, doing Climate Anxiety Counseling there. And ALSO on Thursday the booth and I will be in our favorite spot, the Washington St. entrance to Burnside Park, 3:30-5pm. Please visit. I’m always glad to see you.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: Some Links and News

The Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, plus some extras, will be at the Alliance of Artists’ Communities Conference on October 14th from 11:30 to 1:15 and on October 15th from 8:30 to 3.

This booth session appears, along with other performances and activities and actions, on ARTCOP21‘s map of events leading up to the climate change conferences in Paris in December (video autoplays at that link). You can look for something near to you.

Because it costs money to get into the AAC conference, I’m also holding a booth session in the traditional Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park location on October 15th, from 3:30 to 5pm, while the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy sets up and starts its Beer Garden. It will only cost the normal nickel to talk to me there.

Also on October 14th, at 5:30, I’m talking about Climate Anxiety Counseling, responsive art-making and intimate public discourse as part of the Creative Medicine Lecture Series (scroll down a bit). It’s open to the public, which is you.

More people are talking and writing about the weight that the knowledge of climate change and its effects can exert on our bodies and minds. I’m in this article; here’s another one; here’s a whole website.

For those who want to act as well as feel, have a look at the Climate Disobedience Center–they’re new, so let’s see what they’ll do, and let them know if we want them to do something more or different.