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Writer Visits Arizona Town Where Residents Flee The Scents And Materials Of The World

Building Downtown Snowflake
(Photo by Al Macias - KJZZ)
A building in Snowflake.

The town of Snowflake is just a few hours north of the Valley—not far from the White Mountains. It was settled in 1878, and the name combines the surnames of its founders—Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake.

In recent years, Snowflake and the immediate surrounding area has become a comfortable place for a group of people trying to escape pollutants and scents and more that they associate with environmental illness.

Writer Kathleen Hale embedded herself with two women—Susie and Deb—to learn more about why they’d gone to Snowflake. Hale and her photographer had to forgo makeup, lotion, perfume, and scented deodorant for weeks per their subjects' requests. When they arrived, they swapped their clothing for Susie's

Hale's piece, " Allergic to life: the Arizona residents 'sensitive to the whole world'" appeared in The Guardian.

The Show spoke with Hale about what she learned.

"It's always difficult to disentangle oneself from her subjects," Hale said.  "It's even harder to remain objective when you're literally wearing their clothes and eating their food. In this particular case, they were giving us what little they had."

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Steve Goldstein was a host at KJZZ from 1997 to 2022.