One of the common characteristics of Transition Whidbey (and Transition Towns in general) is a concern about “sensitivities (more commonly known as “allergies”). Many of the people who come to meetings, and quite a few who don’t come to meetings because they say something at the meeting place, no matter how carefully chosen, “triggers” their sensitivity, whether it’s a scent, or a food substance, or a dust, or whatever) talk about how they suffer from their sensitivities.
As with everything else, this issue is a complicated mash-up of truth, confusion, injustice, and blackmail. Many people do indeed have sensitivities, some of can be detected and confirmed by “objective” means, and some of which cannot. The issue of sensitivities also provides a splendid scope for liars, scoundrels, and manipulative martyrs.
When I was a child, I often had allergy attacks. I thought they were the result of pollen (which they surely were). As my family always had cats, I did not realize my attacks were also the result of allergies to cat dander. When I first started going with my wife, she sarcastically suggested that my allergies were psychosomatic.
All my life I had eaten seafood. At the age of forty or so, halibut started to make me throw up. After some cautious experiments, I determined that I can steal eat cod and salmon (and mother other fish). I avoid halibut now, just to be on the safe side (and I am sure, must to the relief of a few fish).
Now that we are in our sixties, my allergies to pollen and cats have diminished (though not disappeared entirely). My wife has developed allergies to cats and pollen, so she has switched her pet affection to chickens. I avoid suggesting that her sensitivities are psychosomatic, as I know which side of the bread my marriage is buttered. I have also developed something of an allergy to Transition Towns, so I have stopped attending their meetings.