In RI? Testify 5/29 to support the Water Security Act!

The Water Security Act ensures that income level isn’t a barrier to safe, clean drinking water, and requires management plans to be accountable to the public. It will help prevent corporate control of water, protect water as a human right regardless of income, and start putting in place ways of handling water equitably and responsibly as the climate changes.

The hearing for this bill is on Wednesday, 5/29 at 4:30 pm. Can you come and testify? If not, can you call the senators on the RI Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture (especially if one of them represents your district) and tell them why you want them to pass it?

Tell them how important healthy water and healthy public land are to your and your family’s life and well-being!

Tell them about problems you’ve had with drops in water quality or rises in water costs!

Tell them how the water system where you live has been affected, or could be affected, by flood, drought, sea level rise and erosion, high heat or storms!

Tell them how a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (where your water rates are a fixed percentage of your income) would reduce financial strains on you and/or your family!

Tell them why it’s important for water systems to be accountable to the public, and for water users to have input into how water is managed!

Tell them why it’s important for water systems to take into account economic, social and environmental justice in the communities they serve, when they’re making improvements and plans for the future!

I feel like often (and more recently), when we in the US have a need to interact with the people who govern us (to govern is to control, remember), we are trying to stop them from passing a horrible law. This is a chance to encourage the people who make the laws in Rhode Island to pass a law that’s really not too bad!

Here is the bill itself, RI S0820, so you can see what it requires from the towns/cities, agencies, departments, districts, etc. that are responsible for getting water to the people who use it. Please come testify if you can!

Advertisements

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.

 

Resist Liquid Natural Gas in South Providence: Demonstration TODAY

National Grid wants to build a Liquid Natural Gas facility in the floodplain in the already environmentally compromised/environmentally unjust neighborhood of South Providence. There’s a demonstration against this plan today at the proposed site:

670 Allens Ave, Providence, RI

Wednesday, June 8th,  4-6 pm

Bring water, sunscreen, and signs

 

Get more information and RSVP here.

Here’s some more information about why this plan is bad for Providence and its people.

 

If you live in Providence and you have felt helpless about climate change, ecological degradation and environmental injustice, this is something you can do to resist those things, today.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/25/16

Weather: Hot in the sun, though I was shaded for most of my time there. Set up facing east instead of west so the sun wouldn’t be in my face.

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 1 walkby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 7

People known to me, and I to them, from previous sessions: 1

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 2

Number of dogs seen: 2

Number of dogs pet: 0

Instances of shirtlessness: 7

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.81

 

 

Observations:

 

I can’t tell if facing the other way makes a difference–there were fewer stoppers today, but that could be because of all kinds of things. No one stopped to talk at all for almost the first hour.

 

A cop biked through the park at 3:10, and there was a police car parked beside some utility work starting at about 5.

 

Because it was warm, a lot of people had on their cute summer outfits, which is always pleasing.

 

Should I ask people who are obviously very drunk to come back another time when they’re less drunk?

 

 

Some conversations:

 

I believe it’s real, but I wouldn’t say I feel anxiety about it. If you look at it from a scientific point of view, the climate has always been changing, for millions of years, it’s only now that it’s being accelerated by human activities. It’s gonna happen, I just don’t wear myself out about it … I think people need to question their elected officials. The goal of any elected official, well, let’s say most of them, is to stay in power. I think people do care, so they need to hold their elected officials accountable, and then we’ll see some policy change. There’s an opportunity to do that tomorrow, a public hearing about the Burrillville Power Plant,  which is ridiculous–we’re going backwards! New solar power, new wind power, sure, but coal?* How can they do that? We’re a coastal state, so people need to pay attention to it.

 

*The proposed power plant in Burrillville would be natural-gas powered.

 

*

 

 

 

Money, paying bills. Rent, court, probation, food–they’re cuttin’ my food stamps and my social security now that I’m working. It’s not like I’m gonna die with no money, it’s more like what the hell I’m gonna do with my freakin’ money. It’s more like I do the wrong things with it.

 

Can you see what you would wanna do with it?

I can see it, it’s just tryna get to it. I told my caseworker, I can see the vision, I just don’t know how to get to it.

 

Did they have any ideas for how to help you keep your vision in sight?

Look, the Providence Center wouldn’t make money if they helped people keep their vision in sight. It’s like rehab, if it works, you won’t need them anymore. That’s why I’m talking to you, you have no interest in hand. …

 

I just wanna be financially stable. Not rich, but you see that shirt, you buy it, you see that pair of shoes, you buy it … This guy I’m working for, he pays me in cash, you can’t bank it, ’cause then the IRS is like, What are you hiding from us? I got this cut at work [shows me a deep but healing cut on his finger] and I had to tell ’em it was done at my house … My kids already work all the time. I said to my son, You don’t wanna be 47 like me and tired. My son said, Dad, I’m watching the best.

 

*

 

 

It has been changing. It’s getting longer to get hotter, warmer.

 

Have you noticed any effects that’s had on anything? Plants, other creatures, people’s moods?

 

Yeah, moods, definitely. People being like, Why isn’t it warm yet? People keep talking about it. You compare it to the last ones, from the year before–it’s been nicer sooner and that’s how I noticed that [this year] was different from last year … With fall, you don’t really noticed until you see all the colors popping out. You notice it and then everyone else notices it too.

 

We’ve been talking a lot about it in the present. Does it also make you think about the future at all

Yeah, ’cause next year I’m hoping it’ll be warmer sooner. To help the mood, the attitude. You feel better when it’s going according to plan. When it’s not, it throws people. But it does give people something to talk about. I don’t think people talk to each other enough. Just talking to somebody, just by you interacting with one person, it helps their day and your day. Which hopefully helps the world be a little better.

*

 

 

It’s definitely a very serious situation. Over the past 10 years I’ve noticed dramatic climate changes–from severe storms to irregular climate behavior. Look at these last few weeks, we’ve had snow, rain, cold, 80-degree days. If we look into geography there’s a lot going on, icebergs melting, situations with the carbon dioxide in the air, the chlorofluorocarbons. I see everything rapidly changing. I’d like to see a progression of the last 100 years–temperatures, months and days, I’d like to compare everything in the last 100 years* … My more concern is for my kids, my grandkids, great-grandkids. We’re gonna chew up all the resources. The United States uses up everybody else’s resources so we can be the last ones standing and we can have the power. It’s gonna be the end of the world. What’s gonna happen?

 

*Doctor’s note: If this person is reading this, you can see some of what you’re looking for here and here.

 

*

 

 

[Sees India Point Park marked on map of places to protect] It’s really about the water. I was there in September and there was a whole bunch of dead fish. It was really scary. I’m not talking about 10, 20 fish, I’m talking like 40, 50. And then later I wanted to kayak at India Point Park but I read that they were doing some research and there’s a lotta chemicals in the water. And a lotta people enjoy that park.

 

 

Alternate Histories: 5/11, 5/17

(If you’re a new visitor to the blog, you can read this explanation of alternate histories.)

5/11/16

 

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.

*

5/17/16

Two stories here: the story of H and the story of the fish.

The fish was born in a big river. (I’m sorry, but I have to use human names for the things the fish knew.) It swam with the current. It snapped at tasty fragments first, then smaller fish. Its siblings schooled together with it. The water brought it temperatures, pressures and flavors, currents and other currents. It moved like a muscle inside of a muscle. It tasted metal, plastic, rank things. Older fish of its kind came to the river–big shadows, muscling the water aside–and ate most of the food, but it managed to find enough. It was fish-wise, fish-strong. It inscribed itself on the currents briefly, repeatedly. For lice, it was a country; for smaller fish, it was the end of the world.

Seasons passed. The fish’s third winter, the water cooled less, it didn’t grow as torpid, it stayed hungrier. Some of its schoolmates died and the decay of their flesh flavored the water. When the fish was old enough and strong enough, it moved along a particular current, following the taste and itch of salt, passing the changes in plants and other animals, riding the rapids and pushing through the slow shallows, until it reached vastness.

H is a human, so he knows time and survival differently. His birth is a long time back, in what, up North, he calls the South. He rides his bike, he gardens, he works as a guide for kayak fishing. Sometimes he takes his kayak through the river some humans call the Woonasquatucket out into the bay and beyond, to get to where the stripers are that his fellow humans want to catch.

The fish wants to live and H wants to live. Once, he would have let the fish live long enough to grow big and stout, and maybe mate and make more fishes, before catching, killing, scaling, gutting, cooking, eating. Now he coaches his customer how to put it back without any intention of ever eating it, gently, reverently. It will still probably die from something humans have done–plastic in the water, carcinogens in its own body–but not this human, not this thing

But now trace the stories back upstream. Dredge out the plastic, by hand if necessary, all the able and available hands maneuvering small craft and squatting on the tangled banks; go to the houses, collect the plastic, go to the factories, don’t make any more. Find the places where the sewage outfall or industrial discharge enters the river, diverge some of it or plant them up with the cordgrass or phragmites that will filter the water (we’ll need to rip it out later, since it likes to spread; we’ll need to bind and weave the reeds into boats when our kayaks and canoes spring leaks we can’t fix because we’re not making plastic compounds anymore and the spruce sap won’t stick to the fiberglass properly). Pay the reparations that are due to H on behalf of his enslaved ancestors, before we get rid of money entirely. The window is small; we need to do it soon.

The fish has died, long since, drifted to the bottom to be devoured by the scavenger snails and hermit crabs that have managed to survive the increasingly warm oceans. Other fish spawn in the river, tastes their way to the ocean. They know all that fish know: the water reteaches it to them, along the lateral lines that run down every fish body from generation to generation. A blurred or interrupted lesson is still a lesson, and many fish have come to grief. Others have learned in their bodies how to digest new kinds of food, how to endure greater warmth and less oxygenated water, how to float low and weather out the turbidity and violence of storms.

Humans live longer than fish; H is old in this part of the story, and history has injured him in many ways, but his life is full of sweetness and he has access to all the medical care he needs. He kayaks out for the pleasure of survival; he lets out his line. The fish he hooks late in the day will feed him and six or seven of his neighbors; it thrashes with all its weight, because most things want to live. He says a reverent prayer of thanks for its life and its flesh, knocks it sharply on the head, and paddles back upstream.

 

 

Resilient PVD Community Workshop

The Mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza, and the Providence Office of Sustainability are inviting anyone and everyone who lives in Providence to both talk and listen about the ways climate change might effect the city, and what the city might do to respond to it.

There will be experts on city sustainability and city planning there, and opportunities for anyone to speak.

This “Resilient PVD” Community Workshop will be on Monday, February 1st, at 6pm, in the cafeteria of the Providence Career and Technical Academy (41 Fricker St. between Westminster and Broad). It’s free to attend and if you drive, there’s a parking lot.

If you’ve ever spoken to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth, you can tell this meeting exactly what you told me, or share other fears and questions you have about the effects of climate change on Providence and your life here.

An Alternate History by Rolando Huerta: 12/18/15

Earlier in the year, I asked some writers I know if they’d be willing to write an alternate history for this project in response to a climate anxiety I’d gathered at the booth. You can read some of the other ones by Rachel Schapira, Rachel Schapira again, Ethan Robinson, Mia Hooper and Janaya Kizzie. If you think you might like to write one, let me know. This one just came in, and is by Rolando Huerta; the date at the top refers to the date the story was posted.

12/18/15

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

WESTERN DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND

EASTERN DIVISION

 

SARAH RICHARDS-MALKOVICH and .   Docket No. 1111-ACV-192735-JCSAC

TAYLOR MALKOVICH, IV,        .

.

Plaintiffs,              .   Providence, Rhode Island

.   Monday, July 9, 2057

  1. .   9:00 a.m.

.

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND        .

DEPT. CLIMATE CONTROL,       .

DEPT. GEOENGINEERING, et al,.

Defendants.              .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

 

VOLUME I

TRANSCRIPT OF TRIAL

BEFORE THE HONORABLE JOANNE C. SOLOMON

UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE, and a jury.

 

APPEARANCES:

 

For the Plaintiffs:          Nixon & Carmicle, S.C.

By: MAXSON R. CONNOLLY, ESQ.

42 East Midland Street, Suite 18

Warwick, RI 02887

(411) 929-9911

 

For the Defendants:          State Attorney General’s Office

By: ANSOLM CLARK SABRAHAR, ESQ.

JOHN P. FONTELLE, ESQ.

P.O. Box 78570

Warwick, RI 02887-7857

(411) 294-9544

 

Court Recorder:              Carmen DuPont

District Court Clerk’s Office

1 Exchange St, Room 320

Providence, RI 02903

(411) 244-5156

 

Transcription Service:       Blankpunkt Reporting Co.

801 North Verdaccio Street

Providence, RI 02907

(411) 722-7428

 

Proceedings recorded by electronic sound recording;

transcript produced by transcription service.

 

INDEX

 

OPENING STATEMENT:                                     Page

 

On behalf of the Plaintiffs, by Mr. Connolly            3

On behalf of the Defendants, by Mr. Sabrahar           12

 

Further

WITNESSES FOR THE     Direct Cross Redirect Recross Redirect

PLAINTIFFS:

Bernadette A. Clay       25     49

Louis Fishbourne         70     92     75     129

 

WITNESSES FOR THE

DEFENDANTS:

Malcom Morgan           102   156 (Voir Dire)

Simon S. Moody           108   177

MOTION: Mr. Sabrahar   111 Denied   112

MOTION: Ms. Kennelly   118 Denied   115

 

EXHIBITS:                                     Marked Received

 

1 – Morgan affidavit and extra damages         29     29

summary

2 – Additional extra damages list             38     40

3 – Performance appraisals, 2053 – 2056,       60     64

Smythe-Richards

4 – Performance appraisals, 2047 – 2056,       75     —

Moody

 

ARGUMENT: Mr. Connolly                               165

RESPONSE: Mr. Sabrahar                               172

 

 

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, MONDAY, JULY 9, 2057, 9:00 A.M.

(Call to Order of the Court.)

THE COURT: Good morning, everyone. Let’s call in the jury, unless there are matters to consider first. Mr. Connolly?

  1. CONNOLLY: No, Your Honor, we’re ready.
  2. SABRAHAR: We have nothing to take up right now, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Good. Mr. Bailiff, please bring the jury from their waiting room.

(Proceedings continued in the presence of the jury.)

THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Our first order of business will be brief statements of what this case is all about by Mr. Connolly and Mr. Sabrahar, whom you met yesterday during the jury selection process. Mr. Connolly will speak to you first.

Please proceed, Mr. Connolly.

  1. CONNOLLY: Thank you, Your Honor.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, this is an unusual case, in that we are here to decide whether the long accepted Weather Modification Act should continue to be implemented in the State of Rhode Island. Moreover, we are here to decide whether the State of Rhode Island is directly responsible for the tragic death of a Ms. Elizabeth Malkovich, eleven year old daughter of Sarah and Taylor Malkovich.

Particularly in question is whether the release of cloud-seeding aerosols, such as silver iodide, by Rhode Island’s Departments of Climate Control and Geoengineering directly or indirectly contributed to flooding in West Providence, which occurred at approximately 10:30 AM on the morning of September 5, 2056. This flash flood left thousands without a home, and even more people were left without running water and electricity; it caused over one hundred and fifty million dollars in damage. Worse yet, it took young Ms. Malkovich’s life. She was trapped and drowned at her school that morning. The very building housing teachers educating her on the Global Climate Control Initiative, and the importance of weather modification, Rhode Island’s premier charter school, the Casey-Anne Institute, became this child’s watery grave. And how compelling it is that we be here this morning to discuss this matter and reach the right verdict.

The long since tenured practice of cloud seeding was publicly instituted at the height of our climate change anxiety in the twenty-twenties, 2025 to be exact, and overturned the Clean Water Act of the twentieth century. It has been said that the Weather Modification Act of 2025 is responsible for over 10,000 accidental flooding deaths in the U.S.A. every year since its passing. It’s time that once and for all those responsible for such senseless and negligent policies of death, have their day in court, and that the State of Rhode Island suspend its implementation of the Weather Modification Act of 2025. Further, that restitution and damages be sought and awarded to the Plaintiff, may the jury reach the right decision.

We should do this for Ms. Elizabeth Malkovich, who did not deserve to die at the tender age of eleven, especially, at the hands of those who are tasked with protecting each and every one of us. We should do this not only for the Malkovich family, present today, but for all those parents not present today, who want to see their own children outlive themselves. Members of the Jury, I do not know whether any of you have children, but I do, and I do not want the Rhode Island Departments of Climate Control and Geoengineering to kill them, not by intent, nor by accident, and certainly not by negligent policy.

 

  1. CONNOLLY: I’d like to call Ms. Clay.

THE COURT: Raise your right hand, madam, and the clerk will administer the oath.

BERNADETTE A. CLAY, PLAINTIFFS’ WITNESS, SWORN

THE CLERK: State and spell your name for the record.

THE WITNESS: Bernadette A. Clay, C-L-A-Y.

THE CLERK: Be seated.

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MR. CONNOLLY:

  1. Do you know either of the plaintiffs in this case, Mr. Taylor Malkovich or Mrs. Richards-Malkovich?
  2. Yes, I do know them both.
  3. And what is your relationship?
  4. I taught their daughter, Liz, third grade calculus at Casey-Anne.
  5. How long have you been teaching at the Casey-Anne Institute?
  6. For twenty-three years now. Yes, I’ve been teaching at Casey-Anne since 2034.
  7. Was there anything unusual about the week of September 5, 2056?
  8. Well, yes. On that Monday the 4th [9/4/56], an overwhelming majority, ninety-five per cent, of our students, and ninety per cent of all Rhode Islanders, as I recall, voted for sunny weather, not rain. We were supposed to have [long pause] sunny weather all week.

[mixed voices]

 

Alternate Histories: 5/5, 6/13, 9/21

5/5/15

I’m always mad at people who are happy when it’s warm in winter … In person I’ll be like, “Oh, I’m a winter girl,” or “I like having seasons, I’m from New England.” On Facebook it’s good and bad, because I’m far away and I can’t see their faces, and I get angrier, but I work myself into a frenzy and either I end up writing nothing, or I write something really angry and then I try to edit it so I can actually convince somebody, and then it ends up being too weak so I don’t write anything. Especially with my family, who are on the other side of the political spectrum … They’ll use something you said when you were six against you in a conversation about climate change. It gets so emotional so quickly. Then I want to say things like, “My son!”

Like, “Don’t you want your grandchild to have a future?”

*

6/13/15

Mom: Warming in general. Typical stuff that you hear all the time. We’re connected together, so once one thing gets out of sync, the whole thing falls apart. I live in Pennsylvania, and this past winter was so cold, and a lot of people in the neighborhood suffered–they lost plants or trees. Nobody has any time to do anything. I just keep on going. But–I know how it sounds to say this, but I have faith in the next generation coming up.

Daughter: They say you’ve already screwed it for us.

Mom: Anything they tell me to do, I would do.

Daughter: We learn the limitations of humanity. In Rochester, the winter there every year is like this winter tenfold. I live up here, and this winter, we had federal emergency aid, we ran out of sand twice–if something actually catastrophic happens, we’re hosed. We’re not ready. We’re comfortable.

*

9/21/15

Talking together, B and H and K begin to do something unthinkable: they begin to change the quality of their expectations, the way they expect. It’s hard. It’s like prying up pavement: it wrecks what you had, and it hurts your whole body, and you don’t know what’s underneath. It could be useless. It could be terrible. You could die anyway.

But they are coming to understand that they will die anyway, and the parents among them, B and K, are beginning to know–know isn’t the right word, it’s like a miniature black hole in their flesh–that their children will die. That they can’t protect their children and their children can’t protect them in the way that they thought. That the spring may not come in the way that they thought, that the fall might not cool, that the heat might not fade, that the snow might not melt. And this is what they begin to say to the people they know.

Not surprisingly, the person with cancer writes back I fucking know that, and the person who police flung to the ground only two nights ago writes what do you think I think about?  But the world is changing itself and us, shifting its distribution of matter and its ways of mattering. Here, it manifests as parties, short pilgrimages, where you go outside in the season and listen to its insects and eat whatever it offers and tell it you are willing to hear its new name.  There, it shows up as a wall that doubles as a gravestone, acknowledging on the outside people who’ve already died of heat or flood or famine while on the inside sheltering, for now, people who may not die today.

The person with cancer receives their care for free, and dies quietly without much pain; there is no time to hoard, no reason to withhold. The person who traced a tattoo around the maps of their bruises knows it will be the last mark the police leave on them, because there are no more police: that’s not a good use of resources. The night watch prowls and sings, walking off their anger from the time before. Fear is a companion, the jumpy, sad companion for whom there is no permanent soothing, no lasting comfort. The world really is dangerous and life really is brief. The world really is rich, complex, fragrant, and life really is full. Whether B buries her daughter or H buries her mother (or burns her, eats her, gives her to the scavengers) their sorrow will be full, and it will be real, and they will live in it.

Alternate Histories: 5/8, 5/15, 9/8

[These are two anxieties from two different days; here’s an explanation of why they’re together.]

5/8/15

I saw a thing in the paper about how a sea level rise of 3 feet is going to destroy the marshes and salt ponds, down in South County, that are breeding grounds for lots of fish and birds–plovers and stuff like that.

*

5/15/15

The city–pollution. Buildings, cars, power plants. People just like to litter, it’s just fun to them. Like when I was younger and I did litter, I felt bad about it. Like why would you do that.

What do you think would make people change that, those habits?

More influence. More influences. Maybe through music–I’m a musician, reggae, hip-hop, percussion. Inspirational vibes and dancing. If it’s there, more broadcasting of it, something in there for children–the inspiration needs to be there. Rhode Island is very depressing, people hate it. It’s depressing, it’s boring, there’s nothing to do. All it really is, is an ocean, which, sure, if you have money.

*

9/8/15

The next day, I’m going to ask you to imagine, C listened to D and D listened to C. They saw that each other had said these things; they knew this much, at least, of what each other wanted.

The people living near the edge of the water broke their houses down to make room for some of the water–to make paths for it, to build rising bridges and floating marshes. D’s music gave shape to their work; he toured from site to site, and so did other musicians and bands (not everyone loves reggae, or early-’90s rock, or bachata). Back in the cities and inland towns, some couples in houses too big for them moved in with friends, opening their houses to people from the edge of the water, or people from over the water. Some, to preserve their ability to be alone, repaired houses that had stood empty. There was time to do all of this, time grouped and divided by music and silence.

Twenty-nine years later, the ocean is where music is, at certain times of day: a parade winding like a slow current, a circle pulsing around a performer like the devouring mouth of a starfish, a skein of song nourishing a difficult task. You take care of it because it takes care of you, or you take care of it because it’s where the music is, where the bus-boats fueled by algae stop to drop off people from the city, where the far-traveling boats still dock or rest from time to time. It’s on the platforms that sink and hover with the tide and that everyone works together to draw in or anchor when the storms get bad.

At other times of day, the music drops. It doesn’t stop completely–air doesn’t, water doesn’t–but ebbs to make room for terns and osprey to fish, sandpipers to stab for worms, the ears to recover their quiet. Some people learn the music, or the silence, because of the animals. Some people learn the changes of tide, the bugs, the tiny hungers, because of the silence, or the music.

Sometimes, the music turns somber. There are no more plovers. There are no more moon snails. Your home, your home, the place that you loved, the place where you learned to love, is no more, has become something else–you will never see it again, never. It will never again surround you, as this music does, as these people and other creatures do–known to you only so far, so much–as this air does, as this water does.

Alternate Histories: 5/31, 7/19

This alternate history is by my sister, Rachel Schapira.

5/31/14

I’ve been wondering what the strategic plan is — is there one for storms? I’ve been looking around for some sort of strategic solutions.

*

7/18/15

Twelve days later Notebook went alone to a Community Board Meeting.

On the first page of her notebook it said

What is the strategic plan?

Where is the strategic plan?

Minutes read the minutes. They had tabled the discussion about closing the clinic. Old business. Argument about the clinic. Someone had brought a petition and someone had brought a cardboard trifold.

New business. New guidelines for block party registration, the projected end date for the construction on the canal had been pushed back.

“What is the strategic plan?”

“It is in the public records. Make an appointment with the clerk.” Cardboard Trifold gave Notebook their number, “if you find out what the plan is, let me know”

Notebook made an appointment with The Clerk and in the records it said “in the case of a storm emergency, block party permits would be considered null and void.” The Clerk said “most of that planning happens at the state level.” Notebook called the the governors office, and was directed to a PDF pamphlet that said to Make Sure You Have A Plan. It is very important, it said, to make sure you have a plan.

Notebook called a meeting.

Purple Sweater said “can we trust that state and federal agencies are developing comprehensive plans for all kinds of contingencies?”

Cardboard Trifold said “but even say they are, how can all those plans be the best if they don’t involve us being informed and ready starting now?”

So they all said “Ok” and they started writing their own pieces, and sent them in to the governor’s office with notes that said “I don’t know what your plan is for a [hurricane][sheep illness][local drought][regional drought] but here is how I will be preparing [starting now][in the meantime][with my church][with my family][with the tools I have][in the time I have]. So [like it or not] add that into your plan as starting now.

And from there

“Well if you’re overnight housing for shuttled volunteers… I’ll make sure that’s on my informational fliers. Just tell me what it should say.

“And if you’re daycare and legal aid at the library I’ll make sure you have a bunch of fliers there.”

So when the hurricane got downgraded to a superstorm, then back up to a hurricane, then the phone lines got clogged up with emergency workers, a lot of people already knew what they were going to do.

The color system:

-Spanish/English translators wore blue shirts with “ESPAÑOL” in sharpie

-People who knew where you could find the heads of lots of different teams wore yellow

The mistakes:

-A kid got sick eating tautog fish from the river before Purple Sweater put up signs about how the storm had stirred up contaminated sediments.

-On Tuesday, Petition’s intake team ran out of room and stacked cases of water to the ceiling. Wednesday morning they burst under their own weight.

-Somebody threw out a lunch-worth of hardboiled eggs because they thought they’d gone bad.

What went right:

-The color system

-Sudden emergence of orange and green shirts translating ASL and Chinese

-The thing where the state relief workers showed up 2 days later from an area that was hit harder. They looked around, and talked to the yellow shirts, and talked to Notebook, and some of them changed into blue shirts, and someone could cook pots of chili, and someone could answer questions about replacement food stamps when everything in your fridge had gone with the power 3 times in 4 days. And Purple Sweater grinned like a tautog at Food Stamps, “I’m glad you’re here. You’re part of our strategy. You’re part of our plan.”