My good friend Scott Killingsworth has been living in the MCS community of Snowflake, Arizona full-time for over a year (and part-time for many years prior to that). He has written reviews of two new books that just came out involving Snowflake. The first book “The Healthy House Quest: Finding and Building Housing for Someone with Chemical and Electrical Hypersensitivities” was written by Jerry Evans, also an old friend of mine from when I lived in Snowflake. He knows his stuff and has built his own DC (12 volt) electric home to accommodate his severe electromagnetic sensitivity.

Scott writes:

“Jerry Evans’ first book ‘Chemical and Electrical Hypersensitivity —
A Sufferer’s Memoir
‘ described his first becoming sick and learning to cope with severe Environmental Illness (EI). His new book ‘The Healthy House Quest: Finding and Building Housing for Someone with Chemical and Electrical Hypersensitivities‘ picks up right where that left off, and focuses on his search for housing that he could tolerate chemically and electrically. Because there was nothing available that was both safe and affordable, Evans successfully built a safe off-grid solar home in rural Snowflake, Arizona.

Evans provides interesting descriptions of the towns of Dolan Springs and Snowflake, AZ, where a number of severe EIs migrate. And he provides a wealth of useful information about searching for safe housing and all stages of construction, along with the many pitfalls to avoid (such as assuming that “green” materials are safe for EIs). The information about safe off-grid solar living should be interesting to anyone with electrical sensitivities.

Evans is an engineer who approaches this challenge with a problem-solving approach that seems logical and systematic. He points out that ‘there is no method and no set of materials that is guaranteed to work for everybody,’ but the information he presents should undoubtedly help anyone interested in environmentally safe housing make healthier choices and avoid common mistakes.”

Snowflake, Az

The second recently published book by a different author, “Snowflake, Az,” is fictional and addresses entirely different themes. Scott shares:

“Young adult (YA) author Marcus Sedgwick has published a new novel called ‘Snowflake, Az that’s actually set in the Snowflake Environmentally Ill (EI) community with EI characters as it’s protagonists.  Marcus–who’s a really good guy and entirely sympathetic to EI–visited the community in May of 2018 because he has severe Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and thought that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) might be a part of his illness.  After spending a few days there he decided that while he doesn’t have MCS, the Snowflake EI community might provide a good setting through which to expound upon some larger themes related to illness and the environment that have interested him for years.

I’m a member of the EI community in Snowflake, so I began this novel with some trepidation about how our illness and the community would be portrayed.  But I needn’t have worried, because–while this is very much a work of fiction–Sedgwick portrays Environmental Illness with great compassion, showing the impact of a poorly-understood (but very real) illness that isolates the characters from the larger world to a small community in rural Arizona.

But ‘Snowflake, Az‘ has much greater ambitions than simply being an exposition of illness. Sedgwick uses the experiences of his EI characters to frame a provocative philosophical and scientific narrative about the state of mankind and what we’re doing to the planet.  It was really cool to see ideas that have interested me, like mind-body medicine, tribalism/in-group-out-group dynamics, the role of bacteria in our health and behavior, etc. incorporated into a story that is both entertaining and has a bigger message.  I read mainly non-fiction, where the communication of ideas is more direct, but this makes me realize how effective fiction can be for communicating important ideas, and what a special talent it takes to pull that off.”

The author of this second book, Marcus Sedgwick, interviewed my friend Scott about living with environmental illness for his blog ‘Undiagnosis.” Scott did a fantastic job of answering the questions and helping to spread awareness of this life-changing condition.

Please note: Scott has absolutely no financial interest in either of these books.

  • Earthwalker

    Earthwalker is the username that PT founder Julie Genser created for her online interactions so many years ago when first creating Planet Thrive.

    Julie's (Earthwalker's) life was derailed over twenty years ago when she had a very large organic mercury exposure after she naively used a mouth thermometer to measure the temperature of just-boiled milk while making her very first pizza at home. The mercury instantly expanded into a gas form and exploded out the back of the thermometer right into her face. Unaware that mercury was the third most neurotoxic element on Earth, Julie had no idea she had just received a very high dose of a poisonous substance.

    A series of subsequent toxic exposures over the next few years -- to smoke from two fires (including 9/11), toxic mold, lyme disease, and chemical injuries -- caused catastrophic damage to her health. While figuring out how to survive day-to-day, and often minute-to-minute, she created Planet Thrive to help others avoid some of the misdiagnoses and struggles she had experienced.

    She has clawed her way over many health mountains to get to where she is today. She is excited to bring the latest iteration of Planet Thrive to the chronic illness community.

    In 2019, Julie published her very first cookbook e-book called Low Lectin Lunches (+ Dinners, Too!) after discovering how a low lectin, gluten free diet was helping manage her chronic fascia/muscle pain.

1 Comment

  1. Carolyn Killingsworth

    Great reviews! Beautifully written!

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