Menla Mountain Retreat
September 1-3, 2006
Phoenicia, New York
Accessibility and Low-Scent Policy
This year, we’ll have a special crew of accessibility volunteers on hand ensuring clear access and convenient seating for people with mobility issues and disabilities. In our dream world, we would be able to make the conference available to fat women & transfolk of all abilities—for free! Accessibility is an important priority to us. Realistically, our conference is expensive to organize, and facilities are only partially in our control. So we make a difference where we can.
All retreat event rooms and bathrooms are wheelchair-accessible. In terms of lodging: most room types are wheelchair-accessible, with the exception of dorm housing and the D rooms (two double-rooms sharing bathrooms between them); and several rooms have wheelchair-accessible showers. Please make sure to note accessibility requirements in the "room options" section of the registration form. The outdoor pool area is wheelchair accessible (though the pool itself is not).
This year, we're spreading out:
The retreat grounds are spread out compared to recent years' conferences--people will be rooming in different buildings, and we have allowed for travel time between events. There will be some carpooling/shuttling available, and there is plenty of parking should you wish to arrange for your own. If you have any special mobility needs that we can help with, please let us know.
We've got 'em!
We know that attending this conference is not easily affordable for most. The fact is, we don't have enough to go around and make this conference free of charge and accessible to all. We know of no other non-profit that devotes so much financial aid to its conference-goers. We are a 100% volunteer-run organization looking for grant and sponsorship opportunities to help with this; absolutely no one from NOLOSE is making any money on the conference. In fact, our fundraising goes almost entirely to the scholarship fund, which helps about half the attendees come each year. it's yet another incentive for us to make this as cost-effective as possible. We are always looking for more volunteers to help us with fundraising--because the conference doesn't pay for itself, it's that simple.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of a slew of fabulous volunteers, we are able to offer some form of financial assistance, and encourage all who need it to attend to apply. That said, our funds are limited. Early applicants have the best chance of receiving some form of assistance. We highly encourage folks who can, to pay at a higher level of registration to help us cover the expenses of those who can't.
In order to make the conference accessible to folks with multiple chemical sensitivities/environmental illness, we are asking NOLOSE conference attendees to limit their use of scented products as much as possible.
We will have some unscented products available for use at the conference so if you can, please use these instead of your usual scented items. We do understand that some folks are unable to use these products for various reasons and so we just ask that you reduce what you can in order to make the space as accessible as possible for all. We've included information on how and why to reduce your use of scented products below, and if you have any questions, just ask.
*Please note that this is a change from our former policy of 'scent-free.' After much consideration and after speaking to people who found that there simply aren't good scent-free products available that meet their needs or those folks who rely on aroma therapy for health, we are asking folks to limit their use of scent where they can to try to make this a safer environment.
We cannot guarantee a 'scent-free' environment, as many conference attendees and staff will continue to use scented products, the pool parties take place in pools that are heavily chlorinated, and conference spaces will be cleaned with the regular, scented cleaning products by facilities staff. Although we cannot offer a completely scent-free policy, we at NOLOSE remain committed to making the conference accessible to as many as possible.
If you are not accustomed to reducing your use of scented products it is important to think carefully about all the products you use in your day. You can try to reduce your use of scented items like shampoo, soap, hair gel, hair spray, perfume/scented oils, skin lotion, shaving cream, makeup, etc. while at the conference, bring your own unscented products or use fragrance-free alternatives provided at the conference.
Many fragrance-free products can be bought in your local drugstore. For hard-to-find products (especially hair products), check out your local health food store or the NEEDS catalog: www.needs.com. If you are unable to find "fragrance-free" at a store, often the hypo-allergenic version of a product is scent-free. Simply read the ingredients on the label and see if the word "fragrance" appears. If not, you're OK. Suggestions for fragrance-free products are at the end of this page.
Reducing your use of scent or going scent free is an important step toward access for people with disabilities. Plus, you may be surprised to find that you feel better as well!
People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (also called Environmental Illness) experience serious and debilitating physical and neurological symptoms when exposed to the chemicals used in most scented products. Often, the damage caused by these chemicals causes an individual to react to other intensely volatile substances, such as essential oils, tobacco smoke, and "natural" fragrances. The process by which we "smell" something actually involves microscopic particles of that substance being absorbed through mucous membranes and entering the nervous system. The intense symptoms associated with chemical sensitivities have led most medical experts to theorize that the disorder is neurologically, not immunologically, based.
Because no government agency regulates the ingredients of household and personal care products, the last several decades have seen a huge increase in the number of harmful chemicals added to these products. Many of these chemicals are banned for use in industrial settings because of their known toxic effects. According to a 1986 U.S. House of Representative study: "Ninety-five percent of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. They include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and many other known toxins and sensitizers—capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, and allergic reactions."
Symptoms of chemical exposure include dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness, irritation to mouth, throat, skin, eyes, and lungs, headache, seizures, fatigue, confusion, and liver and kidney damage. As you can imagine, these symptoms constitute serious barriers for people with chemical sensitivities in work, life, and of course, conference attendance. Promoting low-scent and scent-free environments is very much like adding ramps and curb-cuts in terms of the profound difference in accessibility it can produce. We appreciate all participants in the NOLOSE Conference cooperating with the Low Scent Policy to make this an accessible conference.
Please smoke only in the designated smoking areas. Washing your hands after you smoke helps too! Please also keep in mind that many chemically-sensitive people will also get sick from the smoke clinging to your clothing and hair.
If you're going to use the pool, showering afterward will get rid of that horrible chlorinated smell that clings to hair and skin. Thank you!
Note that this is an initial list, and we're working on including more scent-free hair products marketed to African-Americans.
SOAP: Tom's of Maine unscented, Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil, Neutrogena unscented, Dr. Bronner's Aloe Vera Baby Mild, Simple, Body Shop unscented shower gel.
LAUNDRY DETERGENT: Arm & Hammer Free, Tide Free, Wisk Free, Planet, 7th Generation fragrance-free, Granny's, any other fragrance-free brands.
SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER: Pure Essentials fragrance-free, Magick Botanicals fragrance-free, Simple, Granny's.
SKIN LOTION: Eucerin, Simple, any other fragrance-free variety.
DEODORANT: Almay fragrance-free, Simple, Jason Natural unscented, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, any other fragrance-free variety.
HAIR GEL: Magick Botanicals, or make your own with gelatin (really works!)
HAIR SPRAY: Magick Botanicals, Almay
MAKEUP: Almay (in all drugstores), Clinique (in department store cosmetic sections and online).
SHAVING CREAM: Ray Ban hypoallergenic, Kiss My Face fragrance-free, Simple