Tag Archives: Vancouver Island

PHOTOS: Anti-Smart Meter Rally in Nanaimo

By Kim Goldberg

June 15, 2014

© Kim GoldbergMore than 75 people turned out for Nanaimo’s rally against smart meters yesterday, on the sidewalk in front of MLA Leonard Krog’s office downtown. The event was part of a multi-city Day of Action Against Smart Meters occurring across British Columbia and Quebec.

Speakers described the risks of fire, surveillance, and illness associated with wireless smart meters. And some described their own personal health ordeal triggered by the installation of a smart meter on their home—from headaches, to heart arrhythmia, to loss of vision.

Attendees and passers-by on the busy street corner were encouraged to join the class action lawsuit currently underway against BC Hydro over the risks associated with smart meters.

Story and images © Kim Goldberg

Norm Abbey (© Kim Goldberg)

Jim Stachow dons his 'tinfoil hat' to take the stage. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Jim Stachow dons his ‘tinfoil hat’ to take the stage. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Kim Goldberg

© Kim Goldberg

June 14, 2014 Anti-Smart Meter rally in Nanaimo. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

© Kim Goldberg

Solar: The Only Smart Grid (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Save the Bees, Foil your Smart Meter (photo © Kim Goldberg)

Save the Bees, Foil your Smart Meter (photo © Kim Goldberg)

Media Refuse to Publish Mayor’s Critique of Smart Meters

April 23, 2014

The following guest editorial about smart meters was written by John Ranns, the longtime Mayor of the District of Metchosin on southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Mayor Ranns wrote this guest editorial in November 2013 and submitted it for publication to the Victoria Times-Colonist and subsequently to other major newspapers in British Columbia. When his secretary followed up with the Victoria Times-Colonist about the status of his submission, the newspaper said it would not be publishing the piece because the piece was not topical. Mayor Ranns received no other replies from major media, and ultimately no major media outlets published his piece.

Read for yourself the opinion that British Columbia’s news outlets saw unfit to print.

Guest Editorial on Smart Meters

by John Ranns, November 2013

Mayor John Ranns, District of Metchosin on Southern Vancouver Island

Mayor John Ranns, District of Metchosin on Southern Vancouver Island

What I find most disturbing about BC Hydro’s forced imposition of smart meters is how readily politicians of all parties have abandoned fundamental principles of a free society in order to accommodate bureaucratic expediency. Individual freedom demands that government has boundaries. As far back as the 1600s the concept that individuals need sanctuary from government was established in British Common Law (still applicable in British Columbia), clearly stating that your home is your castle and the sovereign will not cross your threshold without following due process. Except now they have. In one stroke, the Province is saying that lawful citizens no longer have a choice in what enters or leaves their homes.

Although debate has been carefully steered to encompass technical arguments and ignore principle, there are two facts about smart meters that cannot be denied: They emit radiation into your house. And, when Hydro chooses, they will gather and disseminate personal information, which previously would have required a court order. 

Whether the radiation is harmful or ultimately proves to be safe is not the point. What is critical to the issue is that many people believe it to be harmful, and now their sanctuary, along with their peace of mind, is denied them. Nor does it matter how little you may care what government, corporations, and hackers know about what you do in your home. What matters is that the safeguards protecting others who do care must remain in place.

And forget the argument that people are free to go somewhere else. In our current economy most people in this province who have a job and a mortgage have no choice but to stay where they are and do what BC Hydro dictates. For populated areas, supplied electricity has become more essential to life than supplied water. Urban regulations will not permit alternative sources. And those who could legally go off-the grid can rarely afford the expense. BC Hydro is a government-established monopoly, so there are no competitors to turn to for service provision. Under these circumstances the only protection an individual has are our elected representatives. Except in this case, regardless of party, they have determined that what is good for business is more important than long established individual rights.

Recently, politicians of all description prominently displayed poppies and paid homage to the sacrifices made by previous generations who understood that to maintain a free system over time it is necessary for certain principles to be inviolate. Government must conform to the principle rather than change the principle to accommodate the wishes of whoever happens to be in power. It is why we have Constitutions. Unfortunately many politicians these days don’t seem to think that way. They do not recognize that our jobs are not only to represent our electorate, majority and minority, but also to serve as guardians of the free system. Sadly we seem all too willing to thoughtlessly forfeit our freedom for the latest of fleeting conveniences that our runaway technology may provide.

John Ranns

Mayor, District of Metchosin

FILM: Take Back Your Power, Coming to Nanaimo

By Kim Goldberg 

October 22, 2013 

Take Back Your PowerThree Vancouver Island screenings of the phenomenal new documentary film about smart meters, Take Back Your Power, are coming up next month: 

Nov. 5 (Tuesday) – NANAIMO: John Barsby Secondary School at 7th & Bruce, 7:00-9:00 pm. in the Multipurpose Room. Admission by donation (suggested: $5) 

Nov. 14 (Thursday) – LADYSMITH: Eagles Hall, First Avenue, 1:30-3:30 pm. Admission by donation (suggested: $5)

Nov 17 (Sunday) – NANAIMO: Harbourfront Library, 90 Commercial Street, 1:00-3:00 pm.

DVDs of the film will be available for purchase for $20 at each of these screenings. 

I recently had the opportunity to view Take Back Your Power. It is a chilling but essential look at the true risks and consequences of wireless “smart meters” that measure household electrical consumption—devices that have been forcibly installed on homes and business across BC and beyond. 

Produced and directed by Vancouver filmmaker Josh del Sol, this 90-minute film is fast-paced, smartly edited and truly riveting. It goes well beyond the conventional (if snoozy) cinematic terrain of “talking heads.” 

Vancouver filmmaker Josh del Sol

Vancouver filmmaker Josh del Sol

Del Sol travels the continent and even the globe in search of the ominous truth about the worldwide push for smart meters and the global smart grid they are creating. And what he finds in the wake of smart meter installation are soaring hydro bills, house fires, violations of privacy and property, civil liberty infractions, and even national security threats arising from the supreme hackability of a ‘smarted’ national infrastructure. 

The film concludes with copious evidence of the profound health risks associated with pulsed wireless radiation, which these meters are constantly emitting. 

It is hard to imagine how any impartial person (that is, anyone not under the spell of industry or misguided faux-green thinking) could view this film and not instantly want to go home and rip their wireless smart meter off the side of their home and replace it with an “old-fashioned” and safe analogue meter—or, failing that, go off-grid altogether. 

Visit Take Back Your Power on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TakeBackYourPower 

And on the web: http://www.takebackyourpower.net

Tyler Hoffmann – Colwood, BC

By Kim Goldberg

August 15, 2013 

8-year-old Tyler Hoffmann (Photo by Janis Hoffmann)

8-year-old Tyler Hoffmann (Photo by Janis Hoffmann)

Eight-year-old Tyler Hoffmann has energy to burn. And his backyard trampoline, bike, basketball, and hockey stick each get a thorough workout on the afternoon I visit him at his grandmother’s home near Victoria, BC. 

But in April 2012, a different story was unfolding. Tyler began coming home from Sangster Elementary School in the Sooke School District with extreme headaches and fatigue. And he was having trouble sleeping at night. 

When asked to touch the part of his head that hurt, he would point to the top, his mother Lori recalls. But as the headaches grew worse over the next few weeks—to the point of nausea—Tyler was no longer able to touch the source of it, stating it was now in the middle of his head. 

Tyler Hoffmann (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

“After a few weeks of using Advil and Tylenol to alleviate the severe pain in Tyler’s head, we knew something was seriously wrong,” Lori says.   

The following month, she discovered what it was. 

“We accidently discovered, through another parent, that the school district had just finished installing commercial wi-fi networks throughout every school,” Lori explains. “This was done without informing parents. We were denied any opportunity for input,” she adds. 

Tyler’s pediatrician recommended that the school shut off the wi-fi router closest to Tyler’s classroom, so that Tyler could remain in school and complete Grade 2 with his friends. 

The school’s wi-fi routers, all active and transmitting day and night, were not being used at the time (and still aren’t) because there were no computers to connect them to. So the request from a doctor to turn off a single unused router seemed simple enough, Lori thought. The Sooke School District did not agree. 

School District usurps parental choice on wireless radiation

“The Assistant Superintendent told us that the router would not be turned off but would stay on 24/7 because they did not want to set a precedent,” Lori recalls. “I don’t have a cell phone, wireless router, cordless phone, wireless keyboard, wireless mouse or any other wireless devices in my home because I have made the choice of not exposing my children or myself to microwave radiation. The school district has now decided for me that Tyler will be exposed to it,” she says. 

Tyler Hoffmann - back to normal once removed from his wi-fi'ed school. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Tyler Hoffmann – back to normal once removed from his wi-fi’ed school. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Lori pulled Tyler out of school that same day rather than risk his health any further. And upon doing so, she was promptly informed by the school principal that Tyler’s teacher was under no obligation to give Tyler homework, marking, or evaluation so that he could complete Grade 2. 

“After we removed Tyler from school, his headaches and associated nausea completely stopped,” says Lori. 

In September 2012, his mother enrolled Tyler in an elementary school in the neighboring Victoria School District, where there would be no wi-fi router in his classroom.  

Free from the toxic effects of commercial wi-fi in the classroom, Tyler performed at the top of his math and reading classes at his new school.  

Tyler Hoffmann (Photo by Janis Hoffmann)

Tyler Hoffmann (Photo by Janis Hoffmann)

But transferring Tyler to an out-of-district school is, at best, a temporary solution, and does nothing to help the 8,500 other students in the Sooke School District. So Tyler’s family along with the Jeskes (another local family with electrosensitive children) have launched a legal challenge in an attempt to make Sooke School District classrooms safe for all children. Read their legal brief here.

The Hoffmann and Jeske families seek, at the very least, to bring the Sooke School District into compliance with the policies adopted in 2012 by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, which call for a moratorium on installation of further wi-fi in BC schools plus a minimum of one school at each level in each district to be free of wi-fi to accommodate electrosensitive students. 

“unlawful to experiment on children”

Tyler & his sister Julianna with both be attending schools in the Victoria School District to avoid wi-fi in classrooms. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Tyler & his sister Julianna will both be attending schools in the Victoria School District to avoid wi-fi in classrooms. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

“It is unethical and unlawful to experiment on children,” says Tyler’s grandmother Janis Hoffmann. “Wi-fi is an unregulated technology that has not been tested for safety for children in schools,” she adds. “Parents have not been informed of the risks and have never been asked to sign a consent form. Ironically, the student field trips are explained in great detail, requiring parents to sign a permission slip before children are permitted to attend.” 

Tyler and his five-year-old sister Julianna will each attend school in the Victoria School District in September 2013 where they will not be exposed to wireless radiation from commercial wi-fi routers in their classrooms.

To donate to the legal fund for electrosensitive children sickened by wi-fi in schools, go here.

Text and images © Kim Goldberg 2013 (unless images are otherwise credited)

(Tyler Hoffmann’s story will be included in Kim Goldberg’s forthcoming book REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, due out in 2014. Read more people’s stories here.)

Jordan Weiss – East Sooke, BC

By Kim Goldberg 

July 30, 2013

Jordan Weiss (Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

Jordan Weiss
(Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

With sketchpad in hand, Jordan Weiss walks out his back door and perches on a rocky bluff overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait and the forested shores of the Olympic Peninsula beyond. The only sound as he works is the occasional rustle of dry grass and the shushing of his pencil across the pad. 

For many, the tranquil and unhurried life here in rural East Sooke on southern Vancouver Island would be a dream come true. But for a teenager who is here by necessity, this paradise can also be a prison. 

“I am very isolated here,” says 19-year-old Jordan. “I have very little socialization beyond my family.” 

The reason for Jordan’s isolation is his extreme sensitivity to wireless radiation. Exposure to wi-fi, cell towers, and even cell phones causes a range of physical maladies for Jordan as well as horrifying “night terrors”—a form of sleep-walking that can result in serious injury, and has on more than one occasion. 

Weiss Family: Karen, Tom, Jordan , Colin (and family dog Keisha)

Weiss Family: Karen, Tom, Jordan , Colin (and Australian shepherd Keisha)
(Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

In 2012, Jordan’s parents uprooted the family from their Cadboro Bay neighbourhood near University of Victoria and purchased the remote house and 3-acre parcel in East Sooke in a desperate bid to escape wireless radiation and give Jordan a chance to live a healthy life. (Jordan’s mother is also electrosensitive, but his father and older brother are not.) 

The isolated rural setting of East Sooke, located to the west of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island, offers  a lower ambient level of electromagnetic radiation. (Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

The isolated rural setting of East Sooke offers a lower ambient level of electromagnetic radiation.
(Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

After much looking at rural properties within commuting distance of Victoria where both parents still work, the family found an area in East Sooke that, because of landscape configuration, offered little or no cell phone reception. A handful of houses are located on that strip of land. One of those houses was for sale. 

(Interestingly, another of these properties belongs to a building biologist who bought there for the same reason—to reduce exposure to ambient wireless radiation. At the rate electrosensitivity is increasing in the population, one can only wonder how many years it will be before “No cell phone reception” becomes a coveted selling feature for real estate.) 

“Moving out here is not the complete answer,” Jordan tells me. “It’s a good start. But, as a teenager, I still can’t go out there and do the stuff I want to do.” 

Most teenage activities are in wi-fi’ed locations—whether it’s a café, school, rec centre, or private home. Nor are teenagers inclined to turn off their cell phones when asked. 

Jordan cooks us up an omelette with his special sauce. (Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

Jordan cooks us up an omelette with his special sauce.
(Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

“They make fun of me,” Jordan says of his attempts to ask friends to shut off their phones. “They don’t want to say it, but they think it’s all in my head. I want to be around people who love me for who I am and are not always on their cell phones.” 

Jordan’s electrosensitivity first manifest when he was 11, soon after he got orthodontic braces. (This is an increasingly common scenario for many electrosensitive children due to wi-fi in schools. Metal dental braces literally become an antenna, drawing ambient radiation into a child’s head.) Jordan began experiencing blistering headaches, nausea, clumsiness, weak legs, inability to focus or retain information, and severe exhaustion. 

His mother Karen believes the underlying trigger for Jordan’s electrosensitivity may reach as far back as pre-school when his daycare for two years of his life was across the street from a cell tower. 

Jordan’s symptoms swelled to crisis proportions when the family renovated their former home and installed wi-fi and cordless DECT 6.0 phones throughout, including beside Jordan’s bed. He felt awful at friends’ homes with wi-fi, and felt great when sleeping over at friends’ homes without wi-fi. 

After much research, investigation, and visits to doctors and sleep clinics, Jordan’s parents finally identified the cause of his problems: wireless radiation. They removed the wi-fi and cordless phones from their home, and Jordan immediately improved—at least for his hours spent at home. 

“It’s like being allergic to society.”

“When we first figured out what was wrong, we were relieved,” Jordan’s mother Karen recalls. “At last we had an answer. But then we thought about what it means—it’s like being allergic to society.” 

From his balcony, Jordan surveys the rugged rural terrain of East Sooke, and the Juan de Fuca Strait beyond. (Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

From his balcony, Jordan surveys the rugged rural terrain of East Sooke, and the Juan de Fuca Strait beyond.
(Photo © Kim Goldberg 2013)

The move to East Sooke has virtually put an end to the harrowing and dangerous night terrors. Yet every foray out into the world to attend an art class or social gathering or a meeting of the local mountain bike club risks a re-appearance of symptoms due to ubiquitous wireless radiation. 

“It is really a life-altering issue that adds an entirely new dimension to almost every decision Jordan makes,” Karen says. 

Jordan is a young man of many talents. He cooks us a scrumptious omelette made with his special sauce, then sits on the sofa and plays the Djembe (an African drum) with gusto. He tells me he would someday like to create graphic novels and design video games. A display case in the hall holds an impressive sampling of his sculptural works and other art. 

Yet with electrosensitivity dictating where he can and cannot go, limiting his training opportunities as well as social interaction and future workplaces, Jordan faces more challenges than most young people in discovering his path through this world and how to ply his talents in it. 

Jordan playing the Djembe. (Photo © Kim Goldberg)

Jordan playing the Djembe.
(Photo © Kim Goldberg)

In earlier years, he had wanted to be an architect. But now, the prospect of spending years at university—awash as they all are in wi-fi, cell towers, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and myriad other wireless devices—seems out of reach. 

Last winter, Jordan was training to be a ski instructor at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. But the presence of a cell tower, plus the radios they all had to carry, nixed that plan. 

Most people, if asked to describe their ideal life, would talk about getting a piece of land, or finding that special someone, or having the time and money to write novels, or just kicking back in a thatched palapa on a tropical beach. 

When I ask Jordan what his ideal life would be, he immediately replies: “A life without pain or sickness.” 

And to a large degree, that is what he now has at his new home in East Sooke. His special refuge is rugged East Sooke Park, located just below his home. He visits it frequently with his Australian shepherd, Keisha. 

“I have always been drawn to flowing water,” Jordan tells me. “There’s one spot I hike to at East Sooke Park with Keisha—it’s overlooking a chasm. There’s water crashing all around me, and I just lie there until Keisha wanders off and I have to go get her.” 

Text and images © Kim Goldberg, 2013 

(Jordan Weiss’s story will be included in Kim Goldberg’s forthcoming book REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, due out in 2014. Read more people’s stories here.)

Dar Churcher – Colwood, BC

By Kim Goldberg

July 17, 2013

Dar Churcher Photo © Kim Goldberg

Dar Churcher
Photo © Kim Goldberg

In 1992, Victoria artist Dar Churcher was poised to expand her successful art career into the international arena when she was stricken with a mysterious ailment. Her worsening symptoms included fatigue, insomnia, extreme headaches, eye pain, and muscular weakness that at times caused her to collapse on the ground with paralyzed legs. 

Thirteen years and many doctors later, Dar finally had a diagnosis: she had Lyme disease. Her doctor estimates she contracted it around 1988 and probably while hiking the woodsy trails of Metchosin, a rural area west of Victoria known by health authorities to be infested with Lyme-infected ticks. 

Dar is also severely electrosensitive—a condition that frequently accompanies Lyme disease. In fact, treatment protocols for Lyme disease place high priority on reducing exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). 

“People with Lyme disease have compromised nervous systems,” Dar explains. “And mine is shot. I think we are all at risk for electrosensitivity. But those of us already sensitive to something else are the first to react. We are the canaries in the global coal mine.” 

Lyme disease affects the central nervous system and can involve demyelination, not unlike multiple sclerosis in which neurons loose their insulating sheaths. Dar believes this loss of neural insulation leaves her nervous system much more sensitive to external EMF in the same way that improperly shielded wiring is subject to interference from outside signals. 

In Dar’s case, exposure to wireless radiation in particular can instantly trigger a flare-up of her Lyme symptoms, causing her legs to buckle as she falls to the ground and is unable to get up or walk.  

“Because of my hyper-electrosensitivity I loathe going inside any buildings,” Dar tells me as we sit chatting across her kitchen table in her basement suite at her mother’s home in Colwood. 

“There are few people I know who actually collapse [when exposed to wireless radiation]. But that’s what happens to me,” she explains. “It has happened to me in the bank, the bakery, at the vet’s, the post office. I have had to crawl out of so many buildings I can’t count them all.” 

Dar in her studio working on The Snail Choja sculpture
Photo © Ray St. Arnaud
http://www.raymondstarnaud.com/

Every wall and surface in her apartment is filled with her stunning sculptures from her once-thriving career as a sculptor and private art teacher. Her best-known work is her interactive installation piece “Just Imagine”, an enormous walk-in book that was exhibited years ago at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. 

But that career is now permanently on hold—“sabotaged” Dar says by Lyme disease and electrosensitivity. 

Dar enjoys a quiet moment in her lush backyard Photo © Kim Goldberg

Dar enjoys a quiet moment in her lush backyard
Photo © Kim Goldberg

Dar now spends much of her time confined to a wheelchair. Yet she is able to walk short distances when out in nature, away from wireless radiation and other sources of EMF. 

“When I distance myself from the built-up area of my home and drive into the country, I can, on good days, make it around a small park,” she says. “And when I am by the water—a beach, a lake—my muscles relax and I feel much better.” 

For many electrosensitive people, their home is their only true sanctuary. But when electrosensitivity has left someone too impoverished to continue working, then ‘home’ is wherever that person is lucky enough to find affordable rent. 

Dar’s basement apartment is located near two FM towers and one cell tower. And despite the semi-rural appearance of Colwood, there are more than 70 towers and cell masts within a 5-kilometer radius of her home, according to Industry Canada’s website. 

“These radio emissions place a great stress on my body,” she tells me. “I desperately need to live in a location where electro-smog is non-existent so that my sleep will improve, my energy levels will increase and I can start to heal and recover my health.” 

But Dar’s current rent of $400/month, paid for with her monthly disability cheque, makes moving unlikely. Besides which, she is also the caregiver for her 91-year-old mother who comes home on weekends. 

“Even though my house is not my refuge, it’s the best I can do under the circumstances,” she explains with surprising cheerfulness. 

Despite her 20-year ordeal, Dar has somehow managed to retain an optimistic outlook and a keen interest in the world around her. She asks me about my own book Red Zone, for which I wandered Nanaimo’s homeless community for three years, recording in poetry all that I witnessed. 

“How did they respond to you?” she asks eagerly. “And what made you want to do the book?” 

The Blue-Eyed Hare & The Beekeeper Photo © Bob Matheson

The Blue-Eyed Hare & The Beekeeper
by Dar Churcher
Photo © Bob Matheson

Her eyes sparkle as she takes me through the rooms of her home, describing with much enthusiasm the story behind every sculpture in her multi-year and unfinished “Transformations” project. Each sculpture captures a moment in a folktale of human transformation—a girl becomes a blue-eyed hare and then human again, an ardent suitor becomes a flower to be picked by his beloved, a snail becomes a man while bowed in prayer.  

“My overall goal with this project has been to reflect common threads of human need, desire, goodness and virtue,” Dar explains. “These traits are found in every culture throughout the world. They help define and unite humanity. Without their expression, we would degenerate and devolve.” 

Princess Fleur-De-Lis & The Rooted Lover Photo © Bob Matheson

Princess Fleur-De-Lis & The Rooted Lover
by Dar Churcher
Photo © Bob Matheson

As an artist, Dar is every bit as fascinated by the creative process of others as by her own. But due to her circumstance, she seldom goes out in public and rarely has visitors, so she has little opportunity for creative co-mingling. 

“From my isolated cocoon, my computer is an umbilical cord to the outside world,” she explains. Yet even the computer is problematic because of its EMF and also her sensitivity to light. The blinds on every window in her basement suite are closed for the sunny afternoon of our visit on the summer solstice. 

The Snail Choja Photo © Dar Churcher

The Snail Choja (work in progress)
by Dar Churcher
Photo © Dar Churcher

We move outside to take some photos in her patio garden and her lush, tree-lined backyard. But the ambient radiation from the neighbourhood is higher outside. And, combined with the sunlight and the stress of our prolonged conversation, it is all too much. By the time I take the last photo, her legs buckle and she must crawl on her hands and knees across her yard to reach her door. 

I am dumbstruck by the swiftness of her demise. One moment she is standing, the next she’s on the ground, and the moment after that she’s crawling—as though all people get around this way. 

Yet I also have to marvel at such determination and resiliency. And although I don’t quite have the words to put it all together, I know that somehow her passion for those folktales of transformation is also now fuelling her well-practiced and rhythmic crawl across the grass. 

Copyright © Kim Goldberg, 2013

(Dar Churcher’s story will be included in Kim Goldberg’s forthcoming book REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, due out in 2015. Read more people’s stories here. Visit Dar’s website at: http://www.darchurcher.com.)

Laurie Corbeil – Nanaimo, BC

By Kim Goldberg 

May 26, 2013

Laurie Corbeil  Photo © Kim Goldberg

Laurie Corbeil
Photo © Kim Goldberg

Electrosensitivity doesn’t just cause identifiable medical symptoms. It affects and often limits all aspects of people’s lives—shopping, employment, housing, friendships and more.

Laurie Corbeil has worked as a cleaning person in private homes and industrial settings for most of her life. But now, due to her electrosensitivity, she works just two days a week for one client who allows her to shut off all wireless devices while she is there. 

“If not for this, I wouldn’t have any job. I am very concerned that when the smart grid is fully operational, I will not be able to work or even remain in the city,” says Laurie, referring to BC Hydro’s installation of smart meters across the province, a program expected to be complete by December 2013.

“I have an 81-year-old mom to take care of. What will become of us?” she asks. 

Laurie developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) twenty years ago as a result of her exposure to chlorine and other cleaning agents while at work. And that condition has made her more susceptible to becoming electrosensitive. 

Case studies show that people with MCS, or other chronic burdens on the immune system, are far more likely to develop electrosensitivity. The Environmental Health Centre in Dallas, Texas reports that, of 500 patients treated for MCS, as many as 80 percent of them also have electrical sensitivities. 

Laurie takes her meter with her for measuring wireless radiation. Photo © Kim Goldberg

Laurie takes her meter with her for measuring wireless radiation. Photo © Kim Goldberg

Coffee shops, doctors’ offices and even Laurie’s own church are now off-limits to her because of wi-fi, cell phones, tablets and other wireless devices. 

“Wireless exposure saps all my energy and later causes my mind to drop into a depression,” Laurie explains. “I can’t think at all when I am around it. I can hardly breathe, my left ear goes deaf, I get a blistering headache and double vision, my muscles tighten. I just seize up.” 

Last year, Laurie purchased an RF frequency analyser for measuring the strength of wireless radiation. “I am now able to detect where there are high emissions and get away from them,” she says. “It’s a terrible game of avoidance day by day just to avert getting sicker.” 

If every cloud has its silver lining, then for Laurie that lining consists of discovering the healing and protective power of forests. 

“The most wonderful thing happened,” she recounts. “I discovered that while I am in the forest, I feel great! If only I could live in there. The trees are clearly a buffer against the ill effects of EMF. And being in dips below the trajectory of cell towers is also really beneficial.” 

Nestled in a ravine, Laurie grounds herself for 30 minutes with her bare feet underwater, atop a boulder. Photo © Kim Goldberg

Nestled in a ravine, Laurie grounds herself for 30 minutes with her bare feet underwater, atop a boulder. Photo © Kim Goldberg

Laurie spends at least an hour every day in one of Nanaimo’s forested parks. She says the best local parks for relief from EHS symptoms are Colliery Dam Park, Hemer Park and Morrell Nature Sanctuary

Each site offers a sizable forest of mature Douglas fir, Western Redcedar and Bigleaf Maple. And each site has a system of lakes and waterways, generating a protective field of negative ions. 

At Colliery Dam Park, Laurie finishes her outing with a grounding session at a pool located at the base of a spillway in the bottom of a lush ravine. She sits on her favourite rock, kicks off her shoes, slides her bare feet into the water and rests them on a large underwater boulder for 30 minutes while misted from the spray of the spillway. 

Then she scrambles back up the slope to return to her car in the parking lot, and to the world of invisible wireless radiation beyond.

Text and images © Kim Goldberg, 2013

(Laurie Corbeil’s story will be included in Kim Goldberg’s forthcoming book REFUGIUM: Wi-Fi Exiles and the Coming Electroplague, due out in 2015. Read more people’s stories here.)