Check out Episode 20 of The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast!
The title is “Snowflake, Arizona.”
It features a conversation with two long-time residents of Snowflake, a town in the northern part of the US state of Arizona. The community has gained a reputation among people with MCS as a relatively safe place to live, away from chemicals found in urban environments.
You’ll hear Susan Molloy and Scott Killingsworth talk about
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The Chemical Sensitivity and its associated website are made possible with grant funds awarded to Aaron Goodman by Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) under the KPU 0.6% Faculty PD Fund. With the exception of Aaron Goodman as the creator of the Podcast, neither KPU, its directors, officers and employees operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast and associated website. The content, opinions, findings, statements, and recommendations expressed in The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast and associated website do not necessarily reflect the official views of KPU or the students of KPU.
Aaron Goodman 00:06
Welcome to The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast. It's a podcast that amplifies the voices of people with multiple chemical sensitivity or MCS also known as environmental illness, chemical intolerance and toxicant induced loss of tolerance or TILT. Podcast also highlights emerging research about the illness. I'm Aaron Goodman, host and founder of the podcast. This is episode 20. And the title is Snowflake, Arizona. It features a conversation with two longtime residents of Snowflake, a town in the northern part of the US state of Arizona. The community has gained a reputation among people with MCS as a relatively safe place to live weigh from chemicals found in urban environments, you'll hear Susan Malloy and Scott Killingsworth live in Snowflake, talk about their experiences with MCS and settling in the community, what it's like to live there and some of the challenges including the climate, and the steps that people with MCS normally take in order to decide if living in Snowflake is the right choice for them.
You'll hear a bit of an echo when Susan's got speak and it's because they were at Scott's house in Snowflake during our chat he sensitive to chemicals and all kinds of paint and so like many people in Snowflake he's covered his walls with tin foil doesn't have any soft furniture in his living room like a couch and the floors or tile. I hope you enjoy the conversation and find it of benefit. We release new episodes twice a month. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts the review on Apple podcasts. It's a great way to help others learn about the podcast and find us on social media. Just search for The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast or podcasting MCS. Leave your comments about anything you hear on the podcast. And please share the podcast with others. Podcast is also available on YouTube. And you can read closed captions in any language you'd like. You can also support the podcast and help us continue creating greater awareness about MCS, find a link in the episode descriptions of chemicalsensitivitypodcast.org Get in touch, just email email@example.com. And thanks so much for listening.
Aaron Goodman 02:32
Well, Susan, and Scott, I want to thank you so much for taking time to speak with me on the podcast. It's great to connect with you.
Susan Molloy 02:39
Scott Killingsworth 02:39
Thank you glad to be with you.
Aaron Goodman 02:43
I wanted to start with asking both of you about the onset of your illness. So if you could take the listener back to when and where you were living, what were you doing? What were you experiencing at the time when you first started to develop symptoms of chemical, multiple chemical sensitivity, environmental illness?
Scott Killingsworth 03:06
I was 27 years old, I was a graduate student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and worked at an office and was working one day and there had been an infestation of termites in that part of the building. So the department that I was in, psychology, hired a company to come spray for termites, and I'd grown up, you know, our family used pesticides, it just wasn't a big deal. I didn't think twice of it. So, I sat there, the guy came in and spray, and I got really sick, you know, even for for weeks afterward, I tried to go back and work in my office just thinking well, we'll hear out in a couple of days, but it never did. You know, I had to ultimately move to a different office. And so that was my trigger. That was 1998. And it was actually that that pesticides was banned in 2000 for any kind of indoor use. So little too late for me and a lot of other people that that was my trigger. And then it was kind of a gradual progression of getting worse. You know, after that, you know, to the point where I must disabled you.
Aaron Goodman 04:15
Thank you And Susan?
Susan Molloy 04:17
I'm in my mid 70s. And I started getting symptoms of this disease. I think in my late 20s probably. And by the time I was 31, which was in 1981 or so I had symptoms that could not be denied at that point. They got real serious real fast, which was in retrospect that was good. It showed me that I had this illness, whatever it was, we didn't have a name for it in those days that I was real sick and that inciting exposures were very, very clear such as mold, food, indoor environments, you know how that goes plugging in any kind of electronic devices, it all came on at once for me in the space of just a very few weeks. So I didn't have the opportunity to go into denial or to think, how am I going to bargain my way out of this? You know, or I wonder where there's a treatment, it was just, I got sick, and it's time to go right away.
Aaron Goodman 05:27
And when you say time to go, are you you're not referring to are you moving to Snowflake? Right?
Susan Molloy 05:34
Aaron Goodman 05:35
Okay, so that came later. But at the time that both of you got ill, it's some time ago, did you seek out any medical assistance? And if so, how were you met by healthcare professionals? How were you met, received by your people who you worked with supervisors, family members, and others at the time in relation to the illness?
Susan Molloy 06:00
I'd say my medical care was pathetic. The first time I was taken to the emergency room with anaphylaxis, the doctor in charge of my diagnosis and treatment, said a lot of very silly things. He did say that some of this was allergic in nature, and he gave me you know, what people give you, atropine, Benadryl, lots of shots and then see through till morning, that was great for first day treatment. But he did not understand what I tried to explain to him when I came around in the morning. It was it was very disappointing to me. But what are you going to do? You know, you're grateful to be alive and and get out of there. And that happened repeatedly. Over the next couple of years that doctors didn't, they were not able to understand why I was explaining something to them that they knew was false.
Aaron Goodman 07:01
When you look back at the onset of the illness in your case, was it a single event? Or do you feel like it was an exposure to multiple toxins?
Susan Molloy 07:11
I think I had quite a number of exposures they included, I found out many, many years later, Coxsackie B two and three virus, which ever is credited or blamed for triggering ME in the British, among British people and Australians. I'd never heard of that of course. But I've never heard any of this yet. At any rate, I had that virus. I spent about three years in tropical countries in Southeast Asia and Central America and had numerous pesticide exposures during that time. And later, just a few years ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and Ehrlichia. Yeah, and I don't know what part of any of those played in contributing to a body burden. My diet was atrocious. I didn't take care of myself. I was in San Francisco. And it was an exciting time. And I stayed up late as often as I could listening to music. Most of the people I was around are smokers. And a couple years ago, again, I finally had some diagnostic assistance it later in my life come to find out I have very, very serious celiac disease. And that's something that had never occurred to me. I had a genetic test done and inherited it from both parents. And that was revealing to me maybe some of the things I've been eating since infancy had contributed to being, being prone to developing this kind of disease. At any rate, in my case, there were a lot of exposures. I can't blame any one of them. That mentioned, also I had lots of lots of vaccines and inoculations and gamma globulin and so forth when I was traveling before I left the country, and I'll never know if that was a contributing factor.
Aaron Goodman 09:08
I understand. Scott, were you met with same sort of skepticism on the part of medical professionals? And feel free to talk about how work colleagues family members responded and if possible.
Scott Killingsworth 09:25
Yeah, so when I was poisoned in my office, I went the next day to the Student Health Center, and they didn't really know much about you know, poisoning pesticide and all this. They just basically said, Well, why don't you you could call the poison control center. So I called them and they said, Yeah, that could be a problem, you know, a short term issue, but you should be okay. And so of course, I wanted to believe that so I said, great, you know, I'll be fine. But yeah, like I said, I became progressively more sensitive to more and more things. after that. Didn't happen all at once since we're talking really over a period of years.
Scott Killingsworth 10:04
So a few years after that, I went to just my family doctor, and I told her a bit about what was happening. And she was very nice, wasn't really skeptical, but you know, clearly just didn't know anything about it, and didn't really have much to offer. And then about a year after that, I went to a environmental doctor in Atlanta, where I was living. And I just, I don't know, she recommended some treatments that were all really expensive, I didn't really have a lot of money, so I didn't do them. And I never really did a ton of expensive treatments, which, honestly, in hindsight, I don't necessarily regret because I think their track record is pretty mixed at best. And I didn't have the money to do it anyway. So but as far as friends, family colleagues, I mean, people were nice. Nobody really ever. I mean, I think they were they were skeptical, but they were at least to my face, we're, you know, nice about it.
Scott Killingsworth 11:01
Family has been very supportive, totally supportive from the beginning. So I feel very fortunate about that, because I know, that's definitely not always the case. My work was was really supportive overall, they, even though I'm sure they had their questions or doubts about about my illness, they were very accommodating, I was able to work part time from home. And then as I got sicker, eventually full time. Yeah, in a lot of ways. I had a much better path and some of the horror stories that I've heard from others.
Aaron Goodman 11:36
You were a student at the time, I believe, were you able to finish your studies. And you mentioned you stayed with your work for some time. And then what happened? Was there a point where the illness progressed, when you made a decision that you had to leave, and you were also in a relationship at the time?
Scott Killingsworth 11:56
My girlfriend at the time, who was wonderful, but she was skeptical, I think and I think it didn't help that she entered like multiple chemical sensitivity into Google, and most of the stuff that came up, at least this is 20 plus years ago, you know, was was skeptical, it was not favorable to us. So, you know, she read that. And, you know, she eventually came around and was very supportive. But it's a hard one. You know, I think that I remember seeing that the 20/20 piece that John Stossel did I want to say him, I don't know, sometime in the 90's, about MCS, and this was before I had it. And I remember being skeptical and thinking, Well, that just doesn't make sense. You know, I've never heard this, that can't be true. And so I just think that's kind of a natural reaction to something you're not familiar with, with it, or haven't had, you know, some kind of exposure to it. So, you know, I don't I don't necessarily blame people for being initially skeptical. I do blame them for being nasty about it, you know, or continuing to be skeptical after they've been better educated. But yeah, I was fortunate, I did finish my my degree, and was able to work for a company in Atlanta for a number of years. But yeah, I just got progressively sicker and sicker to the point where I would have some good days and just too many bad days where I wasn't productive, and just wasn't able to do it anymore. So filed for disability in like 2008, I think.
Aaron Goodman 13:30
Understood. And Susan in your situation, did you also come to a point where you needed to make a change? Can you bring us back to that moment, if there was one moment, a moment like that?
Susan Molloy 13:42
Sure, there were quite a number of experiences of living for a couple of weeks on whether another friend's back porch in San Francisco, or they might let you sleep in your car, there were a couple places I could go and be inside if I had to when window wide open. And if my face was right up next to the window. It was just a homelessness and a lot of fear. For me. At one point, some very dear friends decided that they would like to get help for me and they were on the verge of doing an intervention, which would have meant I would have been in a psychiatric hospital and people smoked in those days. And that would have done me in once and for all. So eventually I got help from some friends. I got out of town, out of San Francisco, and went up to live in the mountains for a while. I have family there in Northern California. And I was able to stay in cleaner air and have a little bit of control of my food and things like that and helped immeasurably and then when I was getting a little bit of recovery, I realized that what was missing from our situation was accessibility, we didn't have if I was going to have this illness, and I couldn't go in any buildings that had to be changed, and because at that point it was starting to look to me like this thing could go on for years, or maybe be permanent, if it didn't kill me first. So I started working real hard on making a difference in, in naming what was happening for us, I thought, well, chemical sensitivities and environmental illness and so forth, that's almost a diagnosis. And what good does that do us were sick. And in those days, you know, in the in the late 80s, early 90s, we just knew we were sick. And to me, it was was more important to achieve disability status than it was to get whatever fantasy points people think that they get from being sick.
Susan Molloy 15:56
So that became the thrust of my work from then until today, I think it's important for us to turn that that political corner, from being sick people to being people with disabilities, people with disabilities have legal rights to work and live places, and go in public. And that's what I'm on for us.
Aaron Goodman 16:19
Yep. And you're you've been really a leader in terms of your advocacy, and activism. And I want to thank you for everything you've done and continue to do. And I wanted to ask you both about the time, when you first learned about Snowflake, is it some, is it a community that you knew about for quite some time? How did you hear about it? Did you first go and visit with the intention of just checking it out? Or did you when you first went to Snowflake? Did you go with the intention of moving there, what was the first kind of experiences you had with the community?
Susan Molloy 17:00
In about 1992, I was just finishing grad school at San Francisco State, I couldn't walk anymore, my speech was very slurred, and I couldn't take care of myself very well at all. And I was in a wheelchair. And it was just real hard to keep going any farther with my studies. So, I stopped at the master's degree, and wasn't quite sure what to do. I didn't know if I would get any better. If I moved, I felt like I was already in a relatively clean living situation in Marin County, way up on a hill, I thought I had gotten my environment to be as good as as it could get. I had a friend, a telephone friend who I met through our support group system, who lived in Snowflake, and he had come here for air, for clean air. And he encouraged me if I ever got sick enough to come down and see what it was like to see if I did any better at high altitude, dry vegetation and so forth, in a remote rural area. And so eventually, I was, maybe I became frightened enough of my own physical condition, and not knowing how to keep it out of the grasp of social workers who were buying and wanting to help me, they didn't think I could take care of myself anymore. I didn't want to get stuck in that trap. So I came down here to visit that friend. And I was real surprised. I get out of my car, when I first came here, and I could stand up. I didn't need help. I still needed the wheelchair for several weeks, I guess. But not not all the time. I wasn't falling all the time. And my speech was a little better. And I had a little better clarity of thinking and went back to San Francisco. And it all started to get all the symptoms started. When I got close to the city. It came back here Snowflake again to double check my judgment. And sure enough, I was better. And I had no intentions whatsoever in ever in my life of moving out to the desert. In a rural area. I had grown up in a place a little like this. And I wanted to be in the city. I wanted to be around the music and the people and the quickness. But here I was and I knew if I stayed in San Francisco, I would not be able to take care of myself and I might not last that much longer. Outside of a nursing home. There was no debate for me was only one way to go. And that was to come down here.
Aaron Goodman 19:38
When did you first learn about Snowflake, Scott? And was it a quick decision or a gradual process for you in terms of choosing to relocate from Georgia? Right?
Scott Killingsworth 19:49
Right. Yeah. Well, first of all, I think an important point is said there was no Snowflake community when when Susie came out and in '92 was it?
Scott Killingsworth 20:00
1992. Nobody had a bigger role in creating this community than Susan Molloy, with her inviting people to come and visit and explore the area and encouraging people to build houses, and just befriending people from all over the country and probably all over the world. So I think that's an important point that this community would not exist, at least in its current form, without Susan Molloy. So I thank her and I know a lot of us do. So I heard about it. I was part of the support group in Atlanta, about 20 years ago for MCS. And so I heard about people talking about Snowflake, kind of the holy grail for us. So, you know, several years after that, in 2006, I decided my health was really declining in Atlanta. And I thought, well, I better, you know, explore some other options, because I may just not be able to be here long term. And so I don't remember how I got her email. But somehow I got your email and emailed Susie, and I said, Hey, I'd like to come out and visit for a few days, this March. What do you think? And she said, Okay, come on out. We'll see yah. So I did and it all worked out great, except there was it turned out to be an uncharacteristic blizzard right before I came. So there were probably eight or 10 inches of snow on the ground. But I still, I still showed up and Susie couldn't have been more welcoming, and introducing me to people in the community. Introducing me to her dog, Blackie.
Susan Molloy 20:00
Scott Killingsworth 20:01
Yeah, so that was really special. And just her warmth and hospitality, I think was was a huge part of my ultimately being here. So after that, I went back tried to make it in Atlanta for a few more years, but health declined to the point where I said, I've just got to get out. And I lived here kind of part time and in a travel trailer like summers for a number of years. And then I was able to buy a house in 2017. So I lived here full time, like four to five years now.
Aaron Goodman 22:09
I wanted to ask you about the echo in the in the room in the home. Now you're both currently at your home, Scott. Right. And just for listeners, there is a an audible echo. And there's an echo for a reason. And do you want to talk us through a little bit of why that is, and maybe later on, or maybe it's a good time to maybe describe your home?
Scott Killingsworth 22:30
Yeah, so you know, this is the home of a someone really severe chemical sensitivity where I can't, I don't tolerate any paints, even the novio see paints. So in order carpeting or wood floors can be really problematic. So this house, when I after I bought it, it did have painted walls. But I did what a number of people have done including Susie, and I foiled the walls to cover the walls with aluminum foil to provide the most inert surface that I could come up with or think of. And just it's completely odor free. That's what it is. This house has tile floor, the walls are covered with aluminum foil. And I don't have a couch or other soft furnishings in here. So consequently, it's it is echoey. And so I apologize for that. But that's the reason why. And yeah, I mean, the foil is a little different. You know, it's not wouldn't be my preference, aesthetically. But I find that you get used to things pretty quickly. And especially, you know, just being able to live indoors and feeling healthier, certainly helped helped me get used to it a lot faster also.
Aaron Goodman 23:46
Thank you for sharing that. When you first arrived in Snowflake, Susan, you arrived much earlier, you were the first resident with chemical sensitivity, perhaps if I'm not mistaken. And then Scott, you came years later. What were your impressions of the community at the time? You know, if you met folks who had tinfoil on the walls, for example, or took other precautions, what were some of your impressions at that time of the community and of its residents? Maybe Susan, do you want to guess you arrived much earlier?
Susan Molloy 24:22
Well, I have seen a lot of people come through live through that process of being reluctant to come at all. They get bad enough. And then they finally decide, oh, we'll try it. And then some people are so put off by the isolation. We're about 12 miles out of town, and by the make of the landscape and by just numerous things, and then they realize well, they might have to move here. And then they look around at the houses of people who are who've moved here relatively successfully.
Susan Molloy 25:00
And it starts to look to them as though no matter how strange it might seem or look here, the way we do our houses and share certain kinds of chores and duties and so forth. It might look strange, but we're not sick here. We're not sick very much at all. And unless there's a horrible air pollution event, or something like that, we managed pretty well. And that makes it look a lot less strange.
Aaron Goodman 25:32
Perhaps, could you describe the community you mentioned? You're outside of the town itself of Snowflake?
Susan Molloy 25:41
Aaron Goodman 25:41
You've talked about the geography very high altitude the desert? What does it look like about how many people with environmental illness live in the community? Geographically? How large is that? And when you look out your front door, for example, your front doors during the day? What do you see?
Susan Molloy 26:02
Scott Killingsworth 26:06
Yes, Susan hosts a lot of people, but a couple of things. So we're at 5600 feet elevation, this is like what's considered the Colorado Plateau. So I think technically, it's not a desert, we get a little more rain than what meets the strict criteria for desert. But it's desert-like with not a lot of trees. And the trees that we do have are kind of sparse, juniper trees, which are, you know, tall trees that you might think of when you think of trees.
Scott Killingsworth 26:37
So the community is, it's not a any kind of commune, like nobody bought like a huge chunk of land and said, "We're going to subdivide this out". Basically, Susie and several other of the pioneers here, you know, bought properties that were contiguous to one another. And then since then other EI's, people with environmental illness, have bought other contiguous properties. But it's not all contiguous. There are a couple of non-EI's kind of mixed in. And there are the EI's that are further away. You know, it's not, we're not all together, necessarily. There's some in several other parts of town. So I think that's an important point that people come here and they, they buy land and build a house. And you know, more recently, some of the original people who moved here have left, which has enabled people like myself to come in and buy an existing house, which was nice for me, because it's a lot easier to start with a house and to start from scratch and have to build in terms of numbers of people...
Susan Molloy 27:47
The time I counted, people who, who go, I could find or who I could get my hands on if I had to. There were 41 of us, which that's a lot of people. And those of us who moved here early didn't mean to found anything. We were we were just trying to get out of town. And this was a place we could afford, almost, it was overgrazed ranch land.And nobody really could think of anything else to do with it. The grass didn't even grow anymore it was so destroyed by over grazing. So we were able to pick up 40 acre parcels for really cheap. And that was that, that enabled us to stay here and have a little bit extra to share.
Susan Molloy 28:03
And some of the people Scott mentioned who've moved out did that because they got better enough to go back to the, to their own lives. A lot of people who have moved out did so because they wanted to get away from the electricity. So they build off grid houses that are much farther out into the into the country. And I should mention that we are in between Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Nation. We're sort of tucked in between in our our little town. But I think I think that's important, you know, to honor that they were here long before we were Yeah, nobody's lived here for hundreds of years since Native people, maybe villages were moved out or moved out of here. We still find parts of their houses and and pottery and tools and things throughout the area was allowed to be here in that regard.
Aaron Goodman 29:35
And the town of Snowflake is about eight miles away, you said, I believe and there are, I looked it up, there's about 6300 in that community if I'm not mistaken. And so what kind of services do folks in your part of Snowflake outside of the major center have? Where do you do your shopping your grocery shopping? Where do you buy juice? If you want to go to the grocery store if you need some anything at all, you go into Snowflake, I assume? Or do you have things in your own part of the community and does going into town? If people do that? Is that a challenge for folks with MCS?
Scott Killingsworth 30:20
It can be Yeah. And we've kind of answered the first part of your question. The best supermarket kind of in our area is in a town called Show Low, about 40 minutes from where we live here. There's a Safeway there that has a pretty decent organics selection, the town of Snowflake itself has a Walmart and a local in Arizona based grocery chain called Bashes, you know, they're okay. They're definitely more limited. We don't have a Whole Foods, a Sprouts, natural grocer, those kinds of places in the White Mountain area, unfortunately, you know, hopefully someday, but for now, we don't. Some people, you know, online is really a great thing in terms of ordering different, particularly non perishable things. And some people make a trip, say once a month, to Flagstaff, which is about two hours away. And they do have all the big stuff, the Whole Foods, Sprouts and things like that.
Aaron Goodman 31:21
Do people who have MCS, environmental illness in your community, do it? Does anybody work? Does anybody have jobs or go to school, etc.
Susan Molloy 31:31
There's one woman who just retired from being a nurse, her husband is the person who's hypersensitive in their family. There's another family with four children, and they're homeschooling their kids. There, there are quite a number of families and households where people have one member working and the other is at home, and maybe helps more at home chores. Also, I'd like to mention, in addition to what Scott said, we also have a service that that is just wonderful. It's As Your Market, which is a Co-Op out of Oregon. And they do deliveries once a month, and we can order frozen food and bulk produce and then divided up among ourselves. And the big things like the 50 pound bag of rice or whatever, and they they're wonderful, they really help look after us a lot.
Aaron Goodman 32:29
It's interesting to hear you talking about families, because that's something that I wasn't aware of, through my research about Snowflake, I was under the impression that it's predominantly folks who are single, but it's interesting to learn that there are some families. Yeah. And so you mentioned Susan, that it's not like an established commune. But people do some activities or work together. How much engagement do folks with MCS have with one another, what kind of things do you do together either to help keep things going, or for social life, etc?
Scott Killingsworth 33:04
It's kind of as much or as little as you want, which is, is nice, everybody has their own house, their own land, there's no expectation of, we're all going to meet for dinner every night or anything like that, which I think overall for long term living is is ideal, especially with people with MCS at all, we can have very unique needs and challenges, whether it's diet or, you know, whatever. So kind of having your own space, I think is really important. But they're definitely, you know, opportunities to lots of friendships here, and lots of opportunities to get together if for people who want to do more of that. And some people do, and some don't, you know, it's just really depends on their, their personality. And I think their their level of health, some people would probably like to get out and do more, but just aren't able to health wise, you know, we typically have a number of parties every year, that where everybody's invited, we've had really haven't done that for a couple of years due to COVID. It just in the past month, we've had a couple and that's been fun to do that again, and you know, see people that you may not may not be kind of part of your normal group of friends, but you're still happy to see them.
Aaron Goodman 34:21
Is there room for growth in the community? Let's say there are people listening who may have thought or maybe even considering the idea of exploring Snowflake as a place to live. What would you suggest for folks like that? And again, is there room for for growth? Or is there sort of a capacity? Can you reach a capacity in the community?
Susan Molloy 34:42
I don't think that there's a limit on how many people could live here. It's a huge area. It's zoned for the most part near us in 20 and 40 acre parcels, which gives us a little bit of leeway in terms of hosting visitors sometimes. What would be a typical course of events is that someone would come here in a van or a camper, with their own cooking supplies and their own the things that they need to the best of their ability. And they usually feel miserable from driving here. But we expect that we help them try to calm down if it's possible, and then they'll settle in for a few days and see what it feels like to them here. And the people who manage to make a go of it here are typically people who can face the problems of buying 20 acres, and figuring out either had a truck in water, or to build a well, and those are both challenging, but that's what people do. And there are prices that you pay for being out here. And we, you know, those of us who are here have all decided or realized it was their prices that we have to pay to have a life outside of the nursing home and to feel good feel that is only what it will city.
Aaron Goodman 36:04
Can we talk about the prices since you raised that issue? The cost of buying a home? Is it relatively affordable, if you compare it to a major urban center in North America and beyond? And but I wasn't aware that there isn't running water, which makes sense. So that's an extra cost that people have to factor in. Is it an expensive place to settle in?
Susan Molloy 36:29
For us, it's expensive, because most of us are on very limited incomes, but for people used to an urban area or suburban area and the expenses that go along with living there. This is very affordable.
Scott Killingsworth 36:42
Yeah, and I would just say that, you know, I've been rather disturbed by the the increase in house prices, I guess everywhere, probably in perhaps Canada, too. I'm not really sure. But certainly here in the US, even in Snowflake, I mean, I saw on Zillow the other day, the average home and Snowflake is over $300,000 US, which astounded me because five or six years ago, it might have been like $140. So it's just shocking. And it really concerns me a lot because a lot of us with with MCS are disabled or otherwise have limited means and so if you know anything that makes access to safe housing more difficult for people, you know, I think it's a terrible thing. So I personally hope that the price has dropped back down, at least to some degree. I don't, you know, I really don't think that is a good thing at all. But we'll have to see, you know, that's kind of a national trend that's out of our hands. But yeah, certainly, you know, everything being relative compared to a major city, definitely it's going to be more affordable than that.
Aaron Goodman 37:47
Is there an option of living in a camper? And is there any rental housing available that's safe for folks with MCS?
Susan Molloy 37:54
We have for houses that were built as rentals for low income people with moderate environmental sensitivities. They are absolutely not suitable for people who are exceedingly sensitive, they have helped a lot of people, a lot of people have come there gotten a little better and then moved on. That's the best outcome I can think of for those houses, other people are still living there a dozen years later. Other than that, renting is a real problem. Very, very scarce. So if people aren't very self reliant, that by which I mean having a trailer or camper, of some kind, and probably a person to come along with them to handle things like chores and driving and interacting with with the community in town, it's terribly hard, like no one who's extremely sick should assume that they can come here and that they'll be better and that we'll know how to take care of them. Because it's the energy for that kind of thing is in short supply. And we don't really have more rentals than just those four.
Susan Molloy 38:59
I'd like to underscore that neither Scott nor I, especially I, we don't want to be advertisements for moving to Snowflake. That's just not the point. The point for us is if you can get portable before, before you go down too hard, move around and see what suits if you have the possibility and the resources and just see if there's any place else where you feel better now might not be but but we things go wrong here. There are controlled burns in there forest fires, and those are, you know, horrible events for anybody. We face those two.
Scott Killingsworth 39:38
Yeah, and not every body feels great here. I mean, you know, it's a different combination of pollens, you know, it's dustier, if you're used to, you know, if you're being in the east or anywhere that gets more rain, it's a very different environment, different climate, you know, some people feel good here and some don't. So, it's important to kind of test like Susie said anywhere you're considering. Because you just don't know, I know some people really feel good, like on the coast, and I don't, I don't feel good at all on the coast, you know, but there can be real big differences between what's good for for all of us. So the more testing one can do, I think that better.
Aaron Goodman 40:18
So Snowflake isn't necessarily a perfect solution for everyone?
Susan Molloy 40:23
No, not at all.
Aaron Goodman 40:26
And not at all, because of the number of issues you've raised. It's isolated, the climate is could be very different from what folks are used to, but wanted to ask, as we perhaps aim to wrap up our conversation, you mentioned controlled burns. And I think you mentioned climate change, we all know, virtually anywhere, the increasing numbers of forest fires and exposures to wildfire smoke, has that been an issue for folks in your community and Snowflake?
Susan Molloy 40:55
Sure, during those days, some people will go camping someplace else, you know, figuring out which way the winds coming in where the fire is, and where it's likely to go. And they will get in their bed or camper or whatever, and and go to a park someplace else. Some of us are a lot more likely to stand, close up to windows and doors, turn on fan and just stay put. And that's, I guess that's the same thing people do all over the West now.
Scott Killingsworth 41:23
Yeah, I think it's an issue for the entire western US and probably Canada too. You know, with climate change and drying, warming, warming conditions that we now face, it's it's likely just to get worse over the next 40 years. So I think that's a very important thing that anyone considering moving from east to west needs to take into account that yeah, you're going to have smoke sometimes. And if you're trying to get away from, say mold, in the east, you know, you're gonna have some smoke in the west, you may just have to decide, which is worse for me. Because there's not, there's just not a perfect place.
Susan Molloy 42:03
I always tell people to figure out of all their options, which of the bad options are you able to tolerate? Because they're all the options are going to be bad. Moving is alarming and expensive, staying where you are is alarming and expensive, moving someplace and then having to move again, is very expensive. So you don't figure on what's going to be the good option. What's gonna work out really great, because nothing will, you've got this disease, you know, it's gonna be like this for a while. So you, you pick the best of the options, none of which you might like.
Aaron Goodman 42:38
I want to thank you both. Again, I think listeners are really going to benefit from hearing from both of you. So I want to thank you for everything you've shared. Is there anything else you'd like to share with listeners?
Susan Molloy 42:49
Scott Killingsworth 42:50
Yeah, thank you. Thank you for doing this and for hosting us.
Aaron Goodman 42:54
It's a total pleasure.
Aaron Goodman 42:56
That brings us to the end of this episode of The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast. Thank you very much to Susan Molloy and Scott Killingsworth. for speaking with me. The podcast is produced by me, Aaron Goodman, Raynee Novak and Kristy Eckland. We release new episodes twice a month. Subscribe for free wherever you get your podcasts. Leave a review on Apple podcasts. It's a great way to help others find the podcast and follow us on social media. Just search for The Chemical Sensitivity Podcast or Podcasting MCS. Leave your comments about anything you hear on the podcast and please share the podcast with others. And some exciting news, the podcast is available on YouTube you can listen and read closed captions in any language. You can also support the podcast to help us continue creating greater awareness about MCS, find a link in the episode descriptions at chemicalsensitivitypodcast.org. And if for someone you'd like to hear interviewed on the podcast or a topic you'd like us to explore, just let us know email firstname.lastname@example.org and thanks so much for listening.