Sankofa World Market at Southside Cultural Center, 5/5/18

Weather: Bright, breezy, a perfect day to be outside

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 1 walkby, 1 bikeby

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 6.5

People who recognized the Peanuts reference: 1

Photos taken with permission: 2

Dogs seen: 1

Dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.10

 

Observations:

The Sankofa World Market will be at the Southside Cultural Center on the first Saturday of every month as part of Sowing Place. This was the first of these; the next will be June 2nd.

I count someone as a “stopper” if they have a multi-sentence conversation with me, whether or not it functions as a “session” and whether or not they give me permission to post our conversation here (I only post conversations if I ask for and receive permission). A “walkby” or “bikeby” comments but doesn’t stop. This time, I only had two postable conversations, but a lot of people marked the map of Rhode Island with places they’d like to protect (see below).

A theme of the day was isolation—which is both a reason I started the booth and something it’s only medium-good at responding to—and the need to practice communication.

Nonhuman animals spotted: mockingbird, bumblebee, someone singing whose voice I should know but didn’t, pigeons in various configurations, cabbage white butterfly, a small flying insect (not biting) unknown to me, a couple of swallows high up at the very beginning.

 

Some conversations:

My main anxiety about climate change is related to sea level rise, and what it means to live in a coastal community that’s already had major sea level rise in the past. In Olneyville, you get a perfect storm of high tide and full moon and rainfall and the banks of the Woonasquatucket just wash over. I get some hope from the way people pull together when these things happen, but we shouldn’t need a crisis to pull together.

How do you feel when you think about these things?

I don’t want to keep thinking about it. You know you need to, but you don’t want to, so you push it away. I try to sort of stick my finger in the wound every once in a while so it doesn’t close up—answers may emerge over time if you don’t let it disappear.

And what do you do when you think about it?

Some of the smaller things. I take small actions to mitigate my own impact. Even if it’s not appreciable on a seismic scale, it makes you feel better, like, “At least I didn’t drive today.”

Is it also part of the stuff you do with other people, have you made it part of the collective stuff you do?

I feel like in the collective stuff I do it’s more of a constant undercurrent. Like on the board of the public library, we’re talking about how the building could be underwater, and how do you build all the systems that go into a building so they’re not destroyed? I feel like it’s moved into a place of acknowledging the inevitability and doing new thinking about how to respond to it, rather than denial. But denial is a comfortable place to be in, in some ways … How in the things I’m involved with with racial justice does climate justice play a part? How does that always have to include the injustice of climate change? Like this LNG facility, and whose neighborhood is most at risk. It’s not one of the things that you’re always gonna hear me bring up, but I’m always excited when someone else does.

… I think the shift from “global warming” to “climate change” is helpful. And I think that creative people have an important part to play in our conception of the terms, to put pressure on how we’re thinking about it. That’s what I admired so much about Holly Ewald’s work [with UPP Arts], how she’s like, “I’m an artist but I’m also a researcher and I’m a convener. How can I bring other people to this and not just bring it into my [artistic] practice?” … And then as someone with access to resources and how they’re dispersed, how can I support, spot, amplify what others are doing? Contribute to the thing, whatever the thing looks like?

What are some things you’d like to contribute to?

I think–people coming together in intergenerational spaces to build trust and vulnerability. It’s hard to find an affinity around a negative, like fighting something we don’t want—what are we fighting for that we do want?

What would you want to come out of these spaces?

I guess policy is the thing, but local? I feel really paralyzed by a lot of what comes out of the national level, like if the EPA decides it’s just going to take all the regulations off polluting vehicles. And like, what California does on the local level has a much bigger effect than anything we could do. But if we could be part of a groundswell in New England—that’s another kind of collectivity. These nested scales, like people thinking about these questions together, then taking that to the civic and municipal level, the state level—I’m more and more drawn to going block by block than trying to make change in Washington.

*

I’m worried about the soil. It gets more and more acidic all the time. I’m worried about neighborhoods in low-lying places, and I really worried that people are sort of isolated, so if disasters happen we won’t be prepared to take care of each other. If the communication technology that we use gets broken down, especially, I’m afraid we won’t know how to work together. I’m also worried about drought. When I’m farming, my anxiety has to do with what I’m seeing on the farm—unpredictable weather patterns stress me out more. I always thought the longer I farmed, the better I’d get at knowing the pattern, that I’d become someone who can predict weather. Now I’ve been farming for ten years, and it’s more like I’m just more in touch with the chaos. I have a bigger record of how much things have gotten wacky. I started out thinking that farmers were kind of a repository for climate patterns, but we’re just repositories for climate anxiety.

… I have found that paying that close attention also results in observing lots of moments of resilience. Seeing plants under insane conditions thrive—I’ve become more sensitive to wild plants that live in the city. And I know that a lot of them are medicinal, so that makes me happy. There are a few plant buddies that inspire me in particular. Mullein—it’s good for the lungs, and it often grows along the highway, so it’s like it’s the lungs of the highway. And St. John’s wort is abundant in the city, and that’s for depression. I’ve been learning a lot about plant medicine lately and the idea that plants pop up where we need them—partly because my dad is depressed, but also, there’s a pervading sense of anxiety on the planet, and I’ve been realizing that it doesn’t work to cure depression by saying, “It’s gonna get better.” We need a different set of mantras, and plants suggest some—the way plants grow in community.

…Right now I’m my dad’s main connection to the world. And as much as the farm teaches me about the compassionate end of things, it’s different and almost criminal to apply that to my own father. But another thing I do at the farm is let plants and animals pursue their own life cycles, and just try to create conditions that hopefully allow things to thrive, or mitigate the pressures—if it’s a drought, I try to water things. One of the big lessons that plants have for us is reciprocity—there are no sacrificing plants, or martyr plants, although when a tree is dying it shoves its resources down through the mycelium layer so that other plants can use them.

I’ve been learning, when I’m feeling a need, to ask for help. This is kind of what we were talking about at the beginning of this conversation, having the communication patterns in place to support each other. If we practice that in our major or minor crises in our private lives, maybe we’ll be better at it in an environmental crisis. I’ve also been trying to receive care by creating the gatherings that feed me, and going to the gatherings that other people create. I always forget that because I think, “Oh, I need quiet time.” … I’ve been yearning for clarity on what the role of artists is in the moment. I feel in myself that poets have an essential role, in documenting, in mitigating, in envisioning—but it’s not everyday-obvious to me.

20180505_143308

Description: This (somewhat impressionistic) map of the state of Rhode Island says, “Put your worries on the map,” at the top, and “Is there a place in Rhode Island you’d like to protect?” at the bottom. People have written:

I wish the water in Roger Williams Park was clean enough for wading/swimming by the bandstand

Trinity Sq Neighborhood!

SCC [Southside Community Center] RI

Waterman St dog park

Sabins Point

Scituate Reservoir

Lincoln State Park

Little Compton

Two children have also drawn on the map, and one of them has written, “No LNG in PVD or anywhere. Take care of our ancestors.”

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.

 

Snap the Shore, See the Future: 9/28-30 and 10/28-29

A chance to see and show the rising tide, from the Rhode Island Sea Grant:

“September and October have the highest predicted tides of this year, with Rhode Island tides running 1.5 times higher than average. Head to the shore on September 28-30 and October 28-29, 2015 and join the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, URI Coastal Resources Center and Save The Bay to capture this year’s highest tides, often called King Tides, Spring Tides or Moon Tides. These extreme tide levels provide a glimpse of what the state can expect as sea level rise accelerates with climate change, where this could be our daily high tide by mid-century. Participating is easy: simply grab your camera or smart phone and head to the bay, tidal river or ocean during the high tides, install the free MyCoast app (links below) and submit your photos!

If you don’t have access to a smart phone, simply go to MyCoast.org and upload your photos on the website.

All times indicated are for Newport (for other locations see below):

Sept 288:20 AM; 1.4 feet above mean high water
Sept 299:11 AM; 1.5 feet above mean high water
Sept 3010:02 AM; 1.5 feet above mean high water
Tide data provided courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What if I don’t live in Newport?

Check online for your local high tide times. For example, high tide varies at different locations, referenced to Newport High Tide:

Newport: 0 minutes
Wickford +3 minutes
Providence: +13 minutes
Weekapaug: +41 minutes
Bristol: +13 minutes
Block Island – Old Harbor: -13 minutes

If you are in enclosed tidal body or salt pond, the tides can be an hour or more later than in the open ocean/bay.”