Book review of Lessons From the Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth by Kate Schapira


Like so many of us, poet and Brown University professor Kate Schapira is deeply worried about the future of our planet. Rather than fret alone, in 2014 she set up her Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth (inspired by “Peanuts” character Lucy van Pelt) in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, as a means of communication and commiseration.

Now, she’s distilled what she heard, discussed, felt and learned into her debut book, Lessons From the Climate Anxiety Counseling Booth: How to Live With Care and Purpose in an Endangered World. Schapira, who writes in a voice resonant with empathy, encouragement and fierce determination, recommends the book be read “in order and together” because “the progression of stories, questions, and practices is designed to unwind tightly tangled grief, frustration, exhaustion, and inertia . . . into a followable path of courage, capability, and strength.”

Such a path was far from clear when her booth debuted in 2014: “No one I knew seemed to want to discuss it at all,” she writes, “and that made me feel frantic and alone.” But as her network of climate-conscious compatriots grew, Schapira developed a process to help readers “transform what [they] feel, with others, into connection and action,” which this book details across eight chapters rife with information and analysis.

Schapira also takes on capitalism and white supremacy, which she believes create and perpetuate climate change. For example, she describes so-called sacrifice zones, “places where ecology, including human well-being, is sacrificed for power and profit,” noting residents “are usually people culturally devalued by their city or nation.” And she cites the work of activists she encountered, like Mark, who walked a cross-continent barefoot pilgrimage to Brooklyn-based BK ROT, a compost-hauling service whose hiring practices ensure “some of the people hit hardest by capitalism and white supremacy feed themselves, their families, and the soil.”

Ultimately, Schapira writes, her book is “not the last word on anything—or the first word either,” but it’s certainly a valuable reading experience for those seeking shared solace as well as motivation for positive, productive communal action. An extensive contributors and resources section, as well as a glossary, nicely bolster Schapira’s smart, heartfelt and inspirational efforts.

Read original article here.

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