The sign on Kate Schapira’s outdoor counselling table in Providence, Rhode Island reads: ”CLIMATE ANXIETY COUNSELING. 5 CENTS. THE DOCTOR IS IN.”
A poet and essayist but not a trained therapist , Schapira found a role model in the Lucy character in the popular ”Peanuts” comic strips series created by Charles Schulz, and she decided to create an outdoor space where passersby could talk openly with her about their feelings on climate change. Mostly what she does is listen to people, with the ear of a poet, and ask questions, with the gentle voice of a concerned climate activist.
Jeremy Deaton did a long take on her volunteer work for ThinkProgress here, and his piece is just one of dozens appearing on websites around the world now. I expect to read a front page story about Kate Shapira in the New York Times any day now. For a photo of the unusual and outgoing poet at work, see this snapshot here.
Schapira, who is married to the Rhode Island poet James McShane, has an active Twitter feed @kateshapira if you want to get in touch with her. She describes herself on her Twitter page as a “poet, teacher, monster bleeding heart.”
On her “author page” on her own blogsite, the poet says: ‘I’m scared for the effects of climate change on the world I love. Rather than try to think about, save, or mourn for the whole world, I decided to think about my city and state, and the living creatures, including other humans , who share it with me.”
Richard Salit, profiling the Rhode Island poet in a local newspaper article, put it this way: ”Walk by the [local park] these days and you’ll come across a woman sitting at a table with a peculiar yet inviting sign.”
”With her whimsical tribute to Lucy’s psychiatric booth in the “Peanuts” comics strip, Kate Schapira is trying to get people to talk about a subject that troubles her — climate change.”
For Schapira, climate change is a big concern. She is also concerned with the loss and extinction of many species worldwide, something one pundit has dubbed “speciestalgia,” a new coinage for the distress we all feel over the lost of so many species due to climate change now and in the future.
There’s also an important term coined Australian professor Glenn Albrecht which he calls “solastagia” — the melancholy some people feel for the loss of their old homes and outdoor recreational areas due to runaway climate change. He coined the term in 2003 and it was picked up by the New York Times in 2010.
Want to know more about Kate Schapira’s personal feelings? Ever the poet, with an ear to the world around her, she has a blog where she
posts her daily reflections on her experiences as a modern-day Lucy.