Re: Environmental sensitivities in community?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2018 07:16:06 -0800 (PST)
> On Dec 20, 2018, at 11:59 AM, MJ Phillips <mjphillips [at]> wrote:
> I’m curious about how different communities may be encountering and/or 
> addressing issues of environmental sensitivity (chemical, electromagnetic 
> fields, mold, other?) among members. Is this coming up at all? If so, what 
> are some of the dynamics around it? What, if any, solutions have you found? 
> Feel free to contact me privately or via this list. 

We had a resident who was very allergic to all perfumes, water-proof marker 
fumes, etc. Basically anything you can smell. There never was a formal 
agreement about how to handle this but “everyone” was concerned about 
environmental stuff and few wore perfumes or after shave, etc., anyway.

She also had allergies to some plants and informed the gardening group about 
plants to avoid.

It has worked well for us to just talk about these things and not make rules. 
When you create a rule, you automatically create a crime. A rule is a line that 
no one is supposed to cross — or else? In cohousing we generally have no “or 
else's” to enforce rules, so it is an empty rule. But it makes everyone feel 

We do have a rule about no animals in the CH or the guest rooms except for 
working dogs. So if an animal appears, someone will ask that it be removed 
immediately. The dander is just too hard to clean up. Anyone who walks in the 
CH would be affected. Perfumes are more transient.

Magnetic fields are more iffy. They aren’t generally acknowledged as a danger 
unless it is a huge electrical installation or power grid. We would probably 
try to isolate anything that someone was afraid of, but we have wireless 
throughout the community and I doubt if anyone would give that up. We have a 
microwave in the kitchen.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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