Re: Multiple chemical sensitivity
From: Racheli Gai (
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 08:31:28 -0700 (PDT)
I'd add to what Sharon says that some things that at some point in time seem like a "cause", can become eventually part of life which isn't designated as such. For example: many communities, I suspect, take on themselves the task of building houses which are handicapped -accessible. Yes, there are laws in place to enforce some level of this, but by now I think our consciousness has evolved to a point that making extra efforts to accommodate wheel-chairs and such doesn't seem like a "cause", but has been assimilated into a fairly mainstream outlook of what spaces, public and otherwise, should be. This is regardless of whether the group has a handicapped person(s) among its members. I'm sure that a couple of decades ago this wasn't the case.

My point is that what gets marked as a "cause" is that which hasn't been assimilated (yet?) into enough people's consciousness, and that this is an ever-shifting state of affairs. Which isn't to say that on every issue there is a change, or that a change is always in a predictable

On Jul 28, 2005, at 7:16 PM, Becky Weaver wrote:

What level of sensitivity do your community members have (mild - moderate - severe)? [snip] Do most cohousing-friendly people take a fragrance-free policy in stride? I'm trying to develop a sense of perspective.

I think these two sentences go together -- some communities may have no members who are fragrance sensitive. Is it important for that community to be fragrance free?

I think it is much better to be "fragrance sensitive." Setting a policy that the community is fragrance free will make the "fragrance unaware" feel very paranoid because they it will not be natural for them.

If you have people who are fragrance or chemical sensitive, then as a community you can determine how far you can go in accommodating them. We have several people who are very sensitive and some not so sensitive and some who believe that the chemicals are negatively affecting all of us but only some are aware of this. We only use cleaning supplies and markers in the commonhouse that are fragrance free, environmentally friendly.

We don't have a policy about people wearing fragrances but I'm sure people have modified their behavior voluntarily. On the whole, more people are aware of this.

One of the things that I think separates cohousing from ecovillages, for example, is that cohousers tend not to form around "issues". While some people will come to the community with a commitment to various practices or convictions, in the end, communities do what works for them. A cohousing community is in the end a good place to live for those who live there. It isn't a school or political movement formed to convince the world of anything. The aim is community and its relationship to other communities, etc. but not specifically to advocate a particular cause unless that community has decided to take it on.

So my answer would be, how do the people in your community feel about this?

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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