Resisting the Grid – Electronic Sensitivity

Listen (29 min) from the KPFA archives.

Susan Molloy

Susan Molloy as a young activist

Imagine getting an internet connection in your house and five hours later getting a massive headache.   Or, PG &E installs a smart meter in the morning and you can’t get out of bed in the middle of the afternoon.  You take a walk and begin to feel better, but when you pass the local coffee house or return home, the symptoms start again.  After a few days of feeling bad, you tell your doctor that electronics seem to be making you sick.  The doc looks at you puzzled or orders a psychiatric evaluation.

Being sensitive to electronics is not a psychiatric disability.  It is a common phenomenon experienced by 3% – 6% of people internationally.  Join us on Friday as we talk to Susan Molloy and Steen Hviid about Electronic Sensitivity.   Susan and Steen live in the high desert of Arizona among a community of persons from all over the world who also experience electronic sensitivity.  Listen as they talk about their lives and the challenges they face as they resist the ever-increasing grid.

Cheryl Marie Wade

Cheryl Marie Wade

Plus, Cheryl Marie Wade was a powerful artist with a disability, a woman who lived off the grid of convention.  We offer a brief memorial.   For more of Cheryl’s work, check out these amazing videos:  Disability Culture Rap, Part One* & Part Two*.

Strap on your backpack, put those 4 wheel tires on your wheelchair and come off the grid with Pushing Limits.

This program is hosted by Adrienne Lauby & Jacob Lesner-Buxton.  It was produced by Jacob Lesner-Buxton.


One of our guests, Susan Molloy, was instrumental in the construction of Ecology House in San Rafael, California and an Arizona public housing project for people disabled by environmental sensitivities. 

Both offer a rare opportunity for poor people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivies and/or Electronic Sensitivities to find safe housing.

Possibly Safe Homes, Snowflake, Arizona

Possibly Safe Homes, Snowflake, Arizona

The Arizona houses were not intended for people with disabling electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).  However, since many people with MCS also have some electrical sensitivities, these houses do incorporate several features that reduce the electromagnetic fields (EMF).

These features include:

  • detached housing makes the neighbors’ use of electronics less of a problem
  • rural location, far from transmission towers
  • burial of the electrical lines to the house
  • use of twisted wiring inside the houses.  This was accomplished by using 3-conductor (12/3) wiring, which happened to be factory-twisted.  The extra conductor was left unused.
  • locating refrigerator, stove and electric meter away from the bedroom
  • the stove has simple manual (not electronic) controls and no built-in clock
  • the heating system is in-floor radiant, instead of electric heat.  The pumps and electronics are located in mechanical building
  • the layout allows short direct runs of wiring from the electrical panel to the main electrical consumers (water heater, stove, refrigerator).  The wires do not run near bedroom nor living room.
  • the electrical panel is located on the wall of a room that is rarely occupied.  If wireless “smart” electrical meters are later installed, it may have to be relocated to a pedestal in the yard.
  • natural light available in every room, to minimize use of electric light
  • operable bathroom window so moisture can be vented without electric fan
  • less need for air conditioning through passive cooling design
  • electrical outlet in mud room, so refrigerator can be moved there, if necessary
  • no fluorescent light fixtures

For more about these houses, go here.


*The Disability Culture Rap videos were written and performed by Cheryl Marie Wade, Directed by Jerry Smith, Executive Producers Rick Cardenas & Mary Kay Kennedy, Associate Producer, Peni Hall.

 (original air date: 9-1-13)
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