Voice of the Earth

When I started reacting to all kinds of chemicals and had to leave my work, I didn’t know where I fit in anymore. I felt like I was in exile. Learning about the metaphor of the canary in the coal mine was important to me. The canary had a purpose—by dying from the toxic gases in the mines, it told the miners that they needed to get out before they too became ill. When I thought of myself as a canary, that I gave a message to the rest of society through my illness, I felt that some good came from my suffering.

But there was a big problem! While the miners escaped, the canary simply died. It was a disposable indicator. And the same thing was happening to me. I declined, and ventured less and less from my home. I eventually became so weak that I spent almost all my time in bed. I struggled simply to care for myself.

After I went through a great healing shift, I paid attention to a phrase that I kept hearing. Instead of being canaries in the coal mine, we could be a different kind of bird: the “Voice of the Earth.” Our bodies are part of the larger body of the earth. Since we speak with human voices, we say what our bodies are experiencing. We can put into words what other beings in nature are also saying non-verbally. In speaking, I believe there is great power. When I speak with words, I free my body from expressing only by reacting.

Being the Voice of the Earth also means singing about celebrating life and creating healthier ways of living. Instead of being the canaries that die, we can be the birds that sing, heal, and soar!

The path of the Voice of the Earth is one of mutual healing—transformation for the Earth and for each of us.  There are many ways to be a Voice of the Earth, including writing, art, energy medicine, sound toning, and improving communication; developing and following intuition can help us discover our own unique paths.

The Voice of the Earth concept was featured in the Oct./Nov. issue of Arizona Choices 2006 issue of Arizona Choices, and in the fall 2006 issue of the Ecologic News (published by the Human Ecology Action League of Southern Arizona).

I find visual reminders very helpful when changing ways of thinking, so I’ve also designed T-shirts and cards with the Voice of the Earth graphic shown.

When people face the challenge I did, of how to heal with little income, they may like to check out the resource listings below.

Even people with adequate financial resources have challenges in finding housing that is accessible to people with multiple chemical sensitivities, and may like to see the agreement I made with landlords.


turquoise bird with words voice of the earth turquoise lettering--I am the bird that sings, heals and soars!
Voice of the Earth T-shirt
 Organic cotton, with durable water-based ink.

Read more
turquoise bird with words voice of the earth
Voice of the Earth
Read more
turquoise bird with words voice of the earth
Voice of the Earth
Read more
\turquoise bird with words voice of the earth
Voice of the Earth
Read more


Community Resources for meeting basic needs and increasing health

These resources include ones that are national or international, and those that are specific to the Tucson/Pima County area. If you live outside of greater Tucson, the local resource listings may still guide you in seeking equivalent resources in your area.


Agencies that Provide Multiple Services plus Referrals:

Catholic Social Services:  http://www.ccs.soaz.org ; 520-623-0344

Jewish Family and Childrens Services (serves older and disabled people also)  http://www.jfcstucson.org
Main Office 4301 E 5th St,  795-0300
El Dorado Office, 1200 N El dorado PL, Suite A-100,  866-5111
Northwest Office, 7315 N Oracle Rd, Suite 200,  319-3500

Pima Council on Aging (seniors):  http://www.pcoa.org

Pima County Community and Economic Development:  http://www.pima.gov/ced/CAA/programs

PPEP (for rural areas):  http://www.ppep.org ; Tucson area office 520-622-3553

Our Family Services (offers case management, in-home counseling, and grocery shopping for homebound, frail elderly and disabled adults who qualify through the community services system, and available on a private-pay basis to those who don’t):  http://www.ourfamilyservices.org  ;  520-323-1708

Applying for Financial Assistance or Disability Compensation

Social Security, SSDI, SSI:  http://www.ssa.gov/

General Assistance:  Arizona Department of Economic Security:  http://www.azdes.gov/ ;

Disability Determination (Tucson):  1-800-362-6368

Family Assistance:  1-800-352-8401

Worker’s Compensation:   Check out http://www.workers-compensation-law.us/ for a free evaluation of your potential claim. 

Unemployment  Compensation:  http://wwww.azdes.gov ;  602-364-2722

Private disability insurance



Primavera   http://www.primavera.org/ ;  520-623-4300

New Beginnings for Women and Children:  http://www.nbwctucson.org/ ;
202 E Mohave Rd, Tucson - (520) 293-2094 
2590 N Alvernon Way, Tucson - (520) 325-8800

Gospel Rescue Mission:  http://www/grmtucson.com ; 740-1501

            Women and Childrens Center, 1130 W Miracle Mile, 690-1295

Mens Center, 326 W 28th St, 740-1501

Joshua House (men only), 947 N Alvernon, 512-8448

Open Inn (families), 4810 E Broadway, 602-571-9253

Our Town Family Center (families), 3833 E 2nd St, 881-0935

SCG (families and singles), 10333 N Oracle Rd, 297-9579

St. Vincent De Paul Society (shelter for all), 602-622-2822

Brewster Center for Victims of Family Violence, 2711 E Broadway, 602-880-7201

Casa de los Ninos (women and children), 1101 N 4th Av, 520-624-5600



Gilbert Ray (County) Campground:  http://www.pima.gov/nrpr/camping/index.htm  520-877-6000 (2009 rates $10 tents, $20 trailers or RVs)

Catalina State Park:  http://www.zastateparks.com/Parks/CATA/ ;  520-628-5798 (2009 rates; winter $15 non-, $20 electric; summer $10, 15)

Coronado National Forest (free entry and half-price camping fees with Golden Access Pass; pass free to disabled persons) 

Ironwood Forest National Monument (Bureau of Land Management)   
(free for 14 days; no established campgrounds or services)

Private campgrounds; camping on private land


Section 8 and Other Housing Assistance
For Section 8 Application Line,
City of Tucson Subsidized Housing (Section 8):  520-791-4739 People with Section 8 vouchers may advocate for reasonable accommodation for their disability to get the kind of housing they need. For more information, see my experiences when I rented before buying my house.

City of Tucson Public Housing Applications:  520-791-4616

City of Tucson El Portal Housing Program:  520-837-5304

Chicanos por la Causa:  http://www.cplc.org/  ;  520-882-0018

Pima County Community and Economic Development, Rental/ Mortgage Assistance (available through the following Emergency Services Network Providers):
Ajo Community Services  387-5611
AZ Housing and Prevention Services  498-4613
Chicanos por la Causa  882-0018
Community Action Agency  243-6700
Interfaith Community Services  297-6049
Primavera  622-8900
Project PPEP (rural areas)  622-3553
Salvation Army  323-6080
Tucson Indian Center  884-7131
Tucson Urban League  791-9522 

PPEP/ PMHDC Housing Division (for rural areas):  Programs include self-help home ownership, down payment assistance, and loans.  http://www.ppep.org


Home Repair or Adaptation

Pima Council On Aging:  Home repair and adaptation programs (for low income, over 60, homeowners):  http://www.pcoa.org ;  520-790-7262

City of Tucson Community Services, Emergency Home Repair:  http://www.tucsonaz.gov ; 520-791-4636

City of South Tucson:  http://www.southtucson.org ; 520-792-2424

Pima County Community Development Home Repairs Program (includes disability adaptations; for unincorporated areas of the county):  http://www.pima.gov ; 520-243-6789

PPEP/ PMHDC (owner-occupied home repair for rural AZ):  http://www.ppep.org ; Tucson area office 622-3553

Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (low income; homeowners):  http://www.chrpa.chrpaz.org ; 520-745-2055

Accessibility modifications to one’s living space—DIRECT:  http://www.directilc.org/ ; 520-624-6452 or 1-800-342-1853

Pima County CDBG Elderly Repair Program [over 62]:  http://www.tucsonz.gov/csd/Housing_Program ; 520-791-4636

Chicanos por la Causa (home repair, etc):  http://www.cplc.org/  ;  520-882-0018


Home Ownership Programs

City of Tucson Home Ownership Program:  520-791-4123

Section 8:  Once you are renting with Section 8, you can apply for the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and work towards home ownership. As well as having part of your rent payment go into an escrow account for your down payment, ask your caseworker about also saving through the Learn2Save program.

PPEP/ PMHDC (self-help home ownership, down payment assistance, etc. for rural AZ)   http://www.ppep.org ;  Tucson area office 622-3553

Chicanos por la Causa:  http://www.cplc.org/  ;  520-882-0018

Habitat for Humanity:  http://www.habitattucson.org ;520-326-1217


Adaptive Equipment (air and water filters, masks, etc.)

Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living Division:  http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/vrs.htm

Jewish Family and Childrens Services (loans medically necessary equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, raised toilet seats, hospital beds, and shower chairs, to low-income, uninsured and underinsured individuals and families.):  http://www.jfcstucson.org ; JFCS Main Office  795-0300



Arizona Home Energy Assistance Fund:  http://www.homeenergyfund.org/ ; A statewide program administered by community action organizations.  In Pima County, call PCAA 520-243-6700, or the following Emergency Services Network Providers of the
Pima County Community and Economic Development, Utilities Assistance Program:
Ajo Community Services  387-5611
AZ Housing and Prevention Services  498-4613
Chicanos por la Causa  882-0018
Community Action Agency  243-6700
Interfaith Community Services  297-6049
Primavera  622-8900
Project PPEP (rural areas)  622-3553
Salvation Army  323-6080
Tucson Indian Center  884-7131
Tucson Urban League  791-9522 

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (for heating and cooling).    Pays 1 month electric or gas bill + late/ reconnect fees.  LIHEAP providers are listed at http://www.pima.gov/ced/cs/contact.html .  For city of Tucson residents, call the Tucson Urban League 791-9522.

City of Tucson Environmental Services Low Income Assistance Program (administered by the Community Action Agency).  Assists with paying water bills from Tucson Water only.  Hotline 243-6770.

Utility Repair, Replacement, and Deposit Programs (URRD), through the Community Action Agency, hotline 243-6688. 

Sewer Outreach Subsidy Program (low income discounts on sewer rates):  PCCAA 243-6794.

Tucson Electric Power:  Discount if there is medical need for electricity for assistance equipment; Lifeline discount for low-income:  http://www.tucsonelectric.com/Community/AssistanceProgram/lifeline.asp ;
TEP Customer Care Office 520-623-7711

Southwest Gas Low Income Program:  

Telephone Assistance Program:  http://www.lifelinesupport.org/li/lowincome/ ; DES-CSA 1-800-582-5706


Food stamps (People with disabilities and older people should show receipts for medical expenses to get an increase in benefits; only current counts, no resource limit):  http://www.azdes.gov/ ; 1-800-352-8401, 688-6810

Community Food Bank, 3003 S Country Club:  http://www.communityfoodbank.com
Info/ Referral 520-881-1794
Value Market, Tu-F 9-430, Sat 9-130
Farmer’s Market at the Food Bank, Tu and Sat 8-noon
TEFAP Food Box 520-622-0525
(Note:  There are many neighborhood centers and other agencies in Pima County that distribute emergency food boxes, USDA commodities and other foods; some provide hot lunches; call the Food Bank’s referral number for locations near you). 

Seed libraries

PPEP (rural areas):  Emergency and disaster assistance, including food and clothing.  http://www/ppep.org; 622-3553

Food Bank sponsored farmers market: Thurs afternoons 3-6 Oct-Apr, 4-7 May-Sept, closed Dec., W Speedway at Riverview, across from the El Rio Neighborhood Center.  WIC coupons accepted; opportunity to sell your surplus garden produce at the gardeners’ consignment booth.    

Tucson Mobile Meals (for disabled seniors):  622-1600
Pima Meals on Wheels (for disabled seniors):  512-5500; 790-7262
Low Cost Frozen Meals (low income seniors):  798-3839
Catholic Services Senior Meals:  624-1562

Soup Kitchens:  Casa Maria 520-0312; De Porres/ Caridad 882-5641; check the Tucson Weekly for free meals from Food Not Bombs and other organizations;  call Govinda’s Restaurant (792-0630) for location of their free meals in South Tucson.

Govinda’s Feast, each Sunday evening, $3 donation requested, at Govinda’s Restaurant, 711 E Blacklidge (off 1st Av between Glenn and Ft Lowell), 792-0630

Sponsored memberships at the Food Conspiracy Cooperative (qualifies for members only discounts), 412 N 4th Av, (520) 624-4821 http://www.foodconspiracy.coop

Senior discount at (health) food stores


Personal Care Assistance/ Homemaker Assistance:

DIRECT, http://www.directilc.org ; 520-624-6452/ 1-800-342-1853, has referral list, mostly paid at $10/hr, plus “alternative resources” for clients unable to pay.

AZ Vocational Rehab (DES):  http://www.azdes.gov ; 1-800-362-6368

AHCCCS:  http://www.ahcccs.gov ; 1-800-654-8713

AZ Long Term Health Care System (ALTCS):  Nursing facility level care (available in client’s home); for Tucson, 205-8600, or 1-800-824-2656

Pima Council On Aging:   http://pcoa.org ; Helpline (for disabled and older adults):  520-790-7262

City of Tucson PCA program  and Supplemental Payments Program  http://www.azdes.gov ; 1-800-362-6368


Childcare Assistance

Childcare Resources and Referral, http://www.azdes.gov ; 1-800-308-9000

(Note:  There are many resources for families with children not covered in this list).


Medical Care

AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System):  http://www.azahcccs.gov

Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program, AZ Department of Economic Security:  http://www.azdes.gov ; 602-351-2245

St. Elizabeth Health Center (sliding scale health and dental care; financial assistance for prescription medication and medical supplies):  520-628-7871
Main Location, 140 W Speedway, 628-7872
Santa Rosa Neighborhood Center, 1080 S 10th Av, 628-7871
Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Neighborhood Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff Rd., 628-7871

El Rio Community Health Center: (sliding scale medical and dental services):  See website for 17 clinic locations:  http://www.elrio.org ; 520-792-9890

Clinica Amistad (integrative care on a donation basis; safe for undocumented immigrants), weekly in South Tucson  http://www.clinicaamistad.org/


Counseling and Therapy (in-person, or by telephone as a reasonable accommodation for disability)

Help on Call Crisis Line   520-323-9373

Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault:  Free counseling to low income.  520-327-1171;  SACASA Crisis Line 520-327-7273 or 1-800-400-1001

Jewish Family and Childrens Services:  http://www.jfcstucson.org ; 520-795-0300 x 204

Our Family Services: Free Counseling to low income clients, 520-323-1708 x 204

Family Counseling Agency:  Sliding scale counseling starting at $50/hr, 520-327-4583

Pathways Counseling Services:  Payment assistance available, 520-292-9750


Computers and Computer Equipment

Rural Disabled Assistance Foundation (free computers and assistance):  http://www.geocities.com/ruraldisabled ; 520-795-3150


Employment and Small Business Services

(It is possible to earn money while receiving SSI, SSDI, Social Security, AFDC, General Assistance, food stamps, or AHCCCS).

AZ Freedom to Work (SSDI/ SSI):  520-624-6452 or 1-800-342-1853; outside Tucson call 1-866-304-9645

Arizona Rehabilitation Services:  https://egov.azdes.gov/CMSInternet/ ; Pima County DES Program Manager 520-628-6854 or 1-800-835-2100

Community Services, Employment and Training:
One-Stop Career Center:  243-1171
Rio Nuevo Sevices Center:  798-0500
Ft. Lowell Services Center:  293-1919
Homeless Services—Jackson Employment Center:  838-3300

Pima County Community Action Agency, 243-6688, for a list of providers of eyeglasses, clothing, hygiene items, dental care, car repairs, gasoline, bus passes, food vouchers, etc. to secure or maintain employment.

PMHDC (financial services and technical assistance on business management to rural very small home-based businesses):  http://www.ppep.org

Microbusiness Assistance Center, 330 N Commerce Park Loop, http://www.mac-sa.org ; 520-620-1241


Setting Goals and Developing Workable Action Plans

Underearners Anonymous There are many meetings by telephone and many people working on action plans for chronic health conditions; see especially the Friday morning Goals Pages meeting.

See my healing booklet for a light-hearted approach to goal-setting



Information and Referral Hotline (to community services throughout Arizona):  520-325-2111 or 1-888-575-2111

Information & Referral 881-1794

A foundation that helps people with various needs: the Letter Foundation

Some of the information in my 2000 booklet, Environmentally Safer Living has become outdated, but people say that the encouraging tone of the writing is helpful. Email to see if it is in stock.


Agreement on use of environmentally healthier repair and maintenance materials

This is the agreement I wrote and used when I was still chemically sensitive and renting:

If a repair is needed in the unit, tenant will talk with landlord and/or workers in advance about materials to be used. If she cannot tolerate their usual material or method, she will find an alternate material/method, and either provide the material, or pay the price difference between the material she can tolerate and the usual material. She will be available on-site to supervise work. If she cannot be around a material they are using (until it has cured), she will sit outside in the parking area and continue communicating with them, and will be available by cellphone.

When the landlord needs to make a repair or improvement elsewhere on the property (painting, paving, etc.), landlord will give tenant advance notice so that she can make plans to be away if needed while the work is done and any materials used have cured sufficiently.

Tenant will do any weed control necessary by manually pulling weeds or providing a non-toxic product.

Tenant will prevent pest problems in the unit by using non-toxic methods, and will provide pest-control materials and methods for landlord’s use on the property if needed. If a situation arises in which these methods are not being effective, tenant will be notified so that she can research and provide a least-toxic next option. Spraying would not be done except as a last resort, and only after tenant had been notified so that she could be away.

Signed by:

Landlord signature


Tenant signature