I am a mother, grandmother, spiritual seeker, medical practitioner and psychotherapist. I have passionate interest in the mind-body-spirit connection, from my experiential learning in different healing and spiritual traditions, as well as from studying Western research models. As a child in the countryside of Maryland, I was able to experience and appreciate the delicate relationship between people and their environment. I began writing poetry about my own relationship with the natural and social world around me, and went on to college to major in English with a plan to be a writer. What happened was quite different. Rather than finish school, I took some time off to live in California in the late 1960s, becoming involved in the anti-war and civil rights movements. These activist days planted seeds in me which germinated underground while I was in school to become a physician assistant, raise three children, work in the medical field and later return to graduate school to study psychology. During this time my husband and I settled in Concord, Massachusetts and were pretty content with our lives. There would have been no way for us to anticipate what would happen in the summer of 1997.
Microwave Antenna in our Church?
That summer a fellow church member told me about a proposed PCS antenna in the steeple of the Trinitarian Congregational Church, my family’s church! My reply was “what is PCS?” She had learned that the microwave radiation that would be broadcast from the proposed antenna in the steeple had negative biological effects. She gave me an article entitled: “A Clear Call: America Unplugged-A Guide to the Wireless Issue” by B. Blake Levitt which I read on the train on the way to work the next morning. I learned a lot in a hurry.
According to Ms. Levitt’s article, the prohibition in Telecommunications Act of 1996 on considering“ environmental” effects in decisions on placement of wireless antennas was intended by its authors (the Telecom industry) to prohibit considering health effects in humans. The article stated that even in 1996 there was enough reputable science demonstrating harm from microwave radiation to caution against a massive build out of PCS antennas– and the telecommunications industry knew it.
It was unimaginable to my husband and me that our church would team up with then-Sprint Spectrum to earn $18K a year to broadcast microwave radiation into the neighborhood, which included three nursery schools. We knew we had to do something.
Trying to Work with the Church
We prepared a notebook with the then-peer-reviewed science and presented it to the Church Committee. The committee responded by inviting an adjunct professor at the Harvard University School of Risk Assessment to meet with any interested members of the church; Peter Valberg. (This was not a heavily advertised event.) Several members attended the meeting at which the PhD attempted to reassure those present with statements such as “this [the proposed antenna] is no more of a problem than a light bulb.”
During this process with the church, it was clear to me that we were presenting them with actual scientific research demonstrating that this technology was harmful and yet they were not able and/or willing to grasp it and act accordingly. Our small group of people threatened a core belief of church members and leaders that technology approved by governmental authorities and highly educated engineers could not harm us. In order to resolve the contradictions between the ideas from the PhD and those from our small group, something had to give. What “gave” was our small group.
Despite informing church membership that they would be consulted before agreeing to an antenna, the Church Committee signed a contract with Sprint. In response to our group’s objections, the church leaders formed a “Tower Study Group” including us and other church members, including doctors and scientists. While this group met to study the issue, the antenna was installed in the steeple.
Our small group then forced the church as a whole to hold a meeting to decide whether to honor the contract. We were marginalized as a way to lessen the pressure of what was clearly cognitive dissonance. Surely the Church Committee could not be wrong? They were in charge and good people. So, it had to be us. The church membership voted to honor the contract. After the vote it was announced that forty people in the church neighborhood had signed a petition that they wanted the church to cancel the contract with Sprint. Those neighbors were not invited to the church meeting nor were their concerns shared before the vote.
The Concord Citizens for Responsible Tower Siting (CCRTS)
Next, The Concord Citizens for Responsible Tower Siting (CCRTS) was formed. Our first action was to place an article on the Warrant for the Special Town Meeting to be held in the fall of 1997, to create a moratorium on the placement of any new wireless facilities. This would allow the Town to create a protective bylaw – one that would never allow an antenna placement in a densely populated neighborhood such as the one in my former church.
The moratorium passed at the Special Town Meeting and was approved by the MA Attorney General . Our group spent the next six months working with the Planning Board to establish a bylaw that would be as protective as possible, given the constraints of section 704 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
We also gave a presentation in the neighboring town of Lincoln The groundwork was laid for a new organization and for a forum on the science and constitutionality of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
The Massachusetts Council on Wireless Technology Impacts (MACWTI)
A follow up meeting was held in Lincoln on May 5, 1998 to “Challenge the Cell Tower Rampage.” We formed MACWTI with the mission to help towns in Massachusetts create protective bylaws. We gained members from many Massachusetts towns, and spoke at gatherings from Cape Cod to Western Massachusetts. We also had our eyes focused on a national effort.
A Public Forum: “Microwaving America: Does The ’96 Telecom Act Jeopardize Our Health, Property and Democracy?” & The EMR Network
In 1998, a public forum, sponsored by The North Bridge Alliance for Democracy, the Concord Citizens for Responsible Tower Siting and Environmental Health Advocacy League was held in Concord. Our speakers included: B. Blake Levitt as well as scientists and policy and constitutional experts.
Two of the people who attended the Microwaving American Forum were Janet and Dale Newton of Marshfield Vermont. In the fall of 1998, they invited interested activists, , to attend a meet in Lake Morey, Vermont to form a national organization to address the wireless issue. People from California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other states met and formed The EMR Network: Citizens and Professionals for the Responsible Use of Electromagnetic Radiation, which has accomplished a great deal since its formation.
So Why Were We All So Concerned?
What was the concern about a technology that allowed people to talk anywhere to anyone at any time without wires? What could possibly be so bad?
Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies show that exposure to microwave radiation (at power levels and frequencies one would be exposed to from wireless antennas and cell phones) causes biological harm. The news media focus solely on cancer, as if that were the only possible consequence of exposure to microwave radiation. In addition, exposure has been shown to cause: breakdown of the blood brain barrier (which protects the brain from harmful substances); short-term memory loss; immune function impairment; decrease in reproductive function; as well as less- developed memory and attention and slower reaction time in children. The weight of evidence that now exists exceeds the weight of evidence that linked smoking with lung cancer when public warnings were issued about the hazards of cigarette smoking.
Power Dynamics, the Move Toward Cognitive Consonance, and Update
There is enough evidence to begin to resolve cognitive dissonance and move toward what Dr. Leon Festinger called “cognitive consonance”. In just the twenty-five years I have been working on this issue, people have gone from holding their phones next to their heads, to ear buds to now holding phones away from their bodies and using the speaker feature on their phones. People turn off their WIFI at night. People are going back to wired systems.
Concord Citizens for Responsible Tower Siting has morphed into Concord Safe Technology, working on many fronts, including encouraging the Concord Library Sustainability Committee to hard wire the library’s internet, the Concord Municipal Light Plant to bring fiber optic cable to houses for communication with electric meters, and the Select Board to develop a policy to protect the Town from 5G, among other projects. In January 2020, Concord Safe Technology and The EMR Network presented a forum in Concord, Technology in Our Midst: How WIFI, Smart Meters, Cell Phone Antennas and 5G Present Risks to our Health, Privacy, Security and the planet.
The Massachusetts Council on Wireless Technology Impacts has been replaced by Massachusetts for Safe Technology.
I continue to serve on the board of directors of The EMR Network, now twenty-three years old. We support other organizations, maintain a website and have an educational face book page: Campaign for Radiation-Free Communities: Places People Call Home.
I have also been working on an outreach project, educating health care practitioners of the need to practice EMF hygiene in their offices. A Network Chiropractic office in Acton, Massachusetts has already adopted the recommended wired accommodations.
The EMR Network will be posting a letter on our website to take to your health care provider with information about how and why they should replace wireless devices with wired ones.
I joined the board of directors of The Leto Foundation, which focuses on the protection of children, including Tech Safe Schools, offering legal, scientific and technical information about the impacts on children from WIFI in classrooms.
I believe that wireless radiation is changing our world for the worse. More and more people are becoming electrosensitive and getting sick from exposure in their homes and workplaces. When I think of my childhood in the country side, free of the microwave radiation which is now, literally, raining down from satellites on my children and grandchildren, I am heartbroken. However, I gather strength when I look into their sweet faces knowing that if I, and my colleagues, continue to work to educate people and change policy there is hope that we will bring people to their senses and, thus, eliminate wireless from our midst.