Two opportunities to take a stand for climate justice in Rhode Island

TOMORROW, 8/30: Come tell the evening commuters on Allens Avenue about the toxic, explosive, climate-warming liquid natural gas plant that National Grid wants to build on the South Side of Providence, with the blessing of Governor Raimondo, and the other risks to public health and safety in the Port of Providence. This is an informational action; we’ll have signs and handouts. Thursday, August 30th, 4-7pm, corner of Allens Avenue and Terminal Road (the site of the proposed facility), Providence. 

SATURDAY, 9/8: Peacefully protest new fossil fuel installations in Rhode Island, including the LNG plant I just mentioned and the fracked-gas power plant proposed for Burrillville. Saturday, September 8th, 6pm, meeting at 282 Main St and walking to the Waterfire sponsored by National Grid.  

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Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market TODAY; Public Meeting TONIGHT

Come and see me today at the Sankofa World Market. I’ll listen to your climate-change-related and other anxieties, and you can take home a picture of one of our nonhuman neighbors.

I’ll also have some information sheets about tonight’s public meeting about the LNG plant that National Grid wants to build on Allens Avenue, near people’s homes, hospitals, and schools. This meeting is a chance for Providence residents, from the neighborhood and elsewhere, to make it very clear that we don’t want this plant in our city. Digging up the site to start building the plant will disturb years of industrial toxins; the plant itself, in addition to increasing the planet’s fossil fuel burden, poses a threat in the form of leaks and explosions that would level the neighborhood. Building this facility, at every step, would put the neighborhood at risk. 

Meanwhile, as it is (undisturbed), the site doesn’t pose an acute hazard, which means it doesn’t qualify for the kind of permit that National Grid is applying for.

If you can’t go to the meeting, you can still submit a comment to the RI Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM), along the above lines. Send them to joseph.martella @ dem. ri. gov.

If you want more detailed points, or have questions, email me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex, and I’ll do my best for you.

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.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/12/16

Weather: Warm, sunny, breezy, perfect in the shade; gusty at 4; warmer and stiller again toward the end

Number of people: 8 stoppers, 3 walkbys, 1 excellent couple double-take

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 6

People known to me, and I to them, from past seasons: 3, one very important (see below)

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2, both voluble, walking together

Number of dogs seen: 3

Number of dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $3.35

 

Observations:

One of the people I saw that I knew from a past season was the 3rd person who spoke to me on this day. She’s still in her apartment–the place she showed me the key to–and it’s going well, and she still has her cat. She said to me, “I’m finally out of boxes.”

Today went better than yesterday overall–the conversations were better, and I think I inhabited the booth better.

The booth’s complement includes a map of the state of Rhode Island that asks, “Is there a place in RI you’d like to protect?” (Used to say “Is there a place in RI you love?” but I think this works better.) It often doesn’t see a lot of use, but it did today.

There were some more evangelists today, a team of three. They were vocally homophobic and transphobic, and one of them gave me the same spiel to my face as I’d just heard him yell into the microphone, but none of them scared me personally this time.

 

Some conversations:

[Marks the Woonasquatucket River on the map]

The Woonasquatucket actually comes out of North Providence, then behind Manton and Route 6 it goes underground, and in Roger Williams Park there’s actually a freshwater spring. But it’s too clogged to recycle the water in the park, so it gets backed up. Then it splits off again just below the Providence VA, and the other part is that river you see downtown. And in the park, you know the Temple to Music? That water behind it is where the spring wells up. And then it runs into Pawcatuck. People don’t realize. My grandfather was Narragansett, and we use to walk the old way, all the rivers, up by 146, up where Purgatory Chasm runs into the Blackstone River. We’d go for two months in the summer, and you know what we’d do? If we found a tree down, we wouldn’t cut it, but we’d push it and use it like a canoe–just find something that floats and just get on either side. We used to fish in the river, brook trout and other kinds of fish, but there’s no longer any fish in the river. But I did see some fish in the park area that are maybe indigenous to the park.

*

My wife’s an RN and she just lost her job. So then you have bills, bills pile up, and that causes anxiety and stress.

*

I think I’ve found a way to be nimble and present in situations with multiple humans–that’s my role. I had some anxieties earlier this week: Am I listening hard enough? Am I listening to everything, listening to everyone? Sometimes it’s overwhelming in itself. I’ve been thinking about roles in life, roles, places, jobs. We have all these conversations, but we also need to act–it’s a luxury to be in conversation. It’s fulfilling, but it’s frustrating when it doesn’t lead to anything. What is action, how does change manifest?

*

I’m not that concerned with the environment. I think there’s not enough parks for the kids, we need more city parks, more places to play. In Providence there’s not a lot of people with backyards, so kids play in the street.

Are there places where you’d especially like to see more parks?

The South Side needs a lot more. But there’s no space to put them.

But there are some abandoned buildings and stuff, that maybe they could tear down.

Those are my same thoughts! They could just tear ’em down. But you know why they don’t? You see these abandoned houses, they don’t want to tear ’em down ’cause they want the taxes on it. They don’t have the money to fix it up, they might as well use it for taxes. …Everything [for kids] is far. Chucky Cheese is all the way in Warwick. You could put a swingset right here [indicates Burnside Park]. It’s for the kids that don’t have what normal kids have. And city pools, for kids in the summertime–I don’t have a car, that’s why I ride RIPTA, and when I was young I didn’t have a car, I was poor, I couldn’t bring my kids to the beach all the time. It doesn’t even have to be a pool, just a water thing in the park.

*

[Marks the South Side of Providence on the map]

Can you say what about the South Side you want to protect?

The people. Protect everyone.

*

I’m totally anxious about climate change. I usually have to dig a little to find out that what I’m anxious about is the survival of beautiful people and plants and animals. Usually it takes the form of more mundane stuff, like rent. But I particularly have anxiety about beasts and green things and water.

Do you imagine it, that changed world?

It’s really hard to put my mind there but I forced myself to. It’s almost impossible by myself. I kind of have to be with someone else, either it’s a lighthearted space or really trying to do it. I get temporarily hopeful, but it doesn’t–the kind of pall of discouragement rolls back in pretty quickly.

Oh, I get it–you’re talking about a brighter vision, but I was actually wondering if you also imagined a darker version of things.

Oh. Yeah. Heat, dryness, really sick people, kind of barren landscapes. A lot of–as I’m listing things off it looks a little bit like what’s happening right now, in terms of economic and cultural devastation. A lot more complete separation of folks with resources and folks without resources, a lot more violence and globalization from below–people joining forces, people finding commonness where they couldn’t before because they thought they were in competition.

That part sounds–not exactly hopeful, but like something that you would like to see.

Yeah, that is.

So what’s the fear part?

Starvation?…but when you go to identify it, it’s different than what you think. I like to think of the world as an ecological system. Basically the fear is that turned on its head and nothing being able to sustain anything else. I don’t even know how to file that, where to put that. The opposite of communication and love and ecology.

*

I take medicine for anxiety and depression. I lost my mother, my father, my brother, and my niece committed suicide. My sister’s got a brain tumor. I just come from the hospital right now. They’re doing surgery tomorrow. She said, Go home. She’s in good spirits, she got her girlfriends there, the pastor’s there. I don’t wanna be in the way … I got a good support system. Last time, I was isolated, that wasn’t good. I didn’t reach out. I got a good support system, I’m in a good place.

*

I’m worried about the economy in general. People getting jobs, people getting paid for the work that they do. [HER JOB] offered us this horrible health care plan this year, and it’s so bad that the staff agreed to make up the difference out of our own pocket, 12% out of pocket, when there’s no salary increase. Even with the last plan you had people going, “I just didn’t go to the doctor,” and this one’s even worse. … I see so many of our patrons and they have it so much worse, at least I have healthcare.

 

 

 

Climate Anxiety Counseling at the Sankofa World Market: 7/8/15

Weather: swampy, then a cloudburst, then hot and bright, then another cloudburst

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.25

Observations:

It was generally a slow market day, maybe because of the heat and the rain.

Lots of people go into Knight Memorial Library from the side entrances rather than walk through the market to go in the front entrance.

I handled a couple of conversations … not badly, but not optimally, and I wish I’d done differently.

Multiple people opened their conversations with me by asking, “So did everyone come to you with their climate anxieties when it started raining?” or “Did everyone run to you in the downpour saying ‘climate change’?” There’s a little more information about climate change and rain in Rhode Island here, and here’s more about heavy rain and climate change generally.

Some conversations:

How we’re gonna make the transition into a new kind of world. I can feel the vision of the new world–I’m ready, a lot of people I know are more than ready, but we don’t know how to make smooth transitions from the way things are now. And I hope there won’t have to be a crisis or a tragedy in order to change people’s habits, which are deeply engrained. I’ve been trying to live my way into it, and I can see the structures crumbling. No one I know has any money, everyone I know is broke. They say the economy’s fine but it’s not fine for anyone I know. I have a lot of things I can offer the world, but I can’t figure out how to monetize them. We have to figure out how to put other structures in place. A friend of mine’s trying to start a Rhode Island mutual aid network*, where people who have real skills could share them with each other. But I owe [a very large amount of money] to National Grid and I can’t barter my skills with them.

Doctor’s note: could the friend be thinking of something like this?

*

A friend of mine’s son got shot and he died 15 minutes ago. And I have two sons, and one of them’s been shot twice. So violence and repercussions in this city. I just called the mother to say I have her paycheck, we work together, and she was still crying.

*

Things I should be doing that I don’t do. Like getting rid of my car, moving into very small square footage, buying only clothes made in America and meant to last. But the main reason I don’t get rid of my car is how will I move stuff around for projects? Do I get a UHaul, is that responsible? Is a car share responsible?

*

I’m kind of a neighborhood rabble-rouser. I helped bring this market to the library lawn. And [the people I work with and I] work with certain guiding principles: social justice, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice. We have less of a voice than other neighborhoods in the city, and why is that? We’re marginalized in public meetings–the South Side gets five minutes to speak, and the East Side gets 45 minutes … I can talk to anybody if they wanna talk, as long as they’re willing to build the conversation and stay in the conversation.

*

The world blowing up. My brother teases me about it. He says it’s gonna blow up in 2030.

Do you know what makes him think that?

He said he looked it up.

Have you looked it up to see if he’s telling the truth?

No, I don’t wanna.

What do you do when you think about it and you start to get scared?

I play with my dog and eat popcorn.

Does that help?

Sometimes.

So now I have a weird question. Suppose he was right and the world was gonna end in 2030. What would you want to spend your time doing?

Living life to the fullest. Going on a really fast ride, doing lots of fun stuff. And being rich too. I know how to sing, so I’m gonna be a singer.

Do you record your songs?

I’m gonna put music on YouTube and see if people like it. One more question.

My last question is, if you were gonna help other kids do what they want to do, how would you do it?

I would do a fund and a company–well, not a company, a program, kinda like a school, or like an after-school program. This sun is smacking me right in the back.

*

I was thinking about this walking over here: all the water everywhere is polluted. Even the water in the ocean, this water that feels so cleansing and refreshing and [mineralizing?] is polluted. We’re showering in chlorinated water, and I read that chlorine makes you sluggish*–I don’t want to be showering in less enlivening water every day. There’s the loss of species, and not many people even realize it–we’re separating ourselves from the essence of being alive. I don’t think being alive has anything to do with shopping malls and superhighways.

Do you feel this disconnection, or are you worried about other people feeling it, or–

I definitely feel it, and when I get to be in nature [sic], I’m more comfortable, more at peace, less stressed. I lived in a tent for four months, and it was the happiest I’ve ever been. But I like the city, I like people and art and–and restaurants, but I feel like it’s in our human potential to bring together the best of both worlds.

 

*Doctor’s note: I can’t find confirmation for this. Anyone?

Today’s poem:

Will I be here

will I be here again

will my clothes dry quickly

like this was an argument

will I walk out of here

with a grasp of finance

black cloth accruing heat

paper gathering water

in a good cause the tops

of the tents collecting

from scratch and dust

hanging in the hot air

what do you use

and how do you hover

filthy and drawn out

like all water

sooner or later