Interview of Clara Olmedo
Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. From Mexico, Clara Olmedo is an activist and civil engineer living in Woodland, California. She is a member of the Woodland Coalition Group. Olmedo uses the term of chemical sensitivity to describe her symptoms.
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness
- Social MovementsEnvironmental Illness
- Biographical Note:
- Interviewed for the UCLA Center for the Study of Women’s Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness series. From Mexico, Clara Olmedo is an activist and civil engineer living in Woodland, California. She is a member of the Woodland Coalition Group. Olmedo uses the term of chemical sensitivity to describe her symptoms.
- Olmeda, Clara
- Persons Present:
- Olmedo and Yiu
- Place Conducted:
- The interview was conducted using the Zoom video conferencing platform.
- Supporting Documents:
- Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
- Interviewer Background and Preparation:
- This interview was conducted by Wei Si Nic Yiu, a graduate student researcher, for the Center for the Study of Women in cooperation with UCLA Center for Oral History Research; PhD student in Gender Studies, UCLA. Yiu’s dissertation focuses on queerness and archives of Asia.
- Processing of Interview:
- The interviewer prepared for the interview by reading a pre-interview questionnaire completed by the narrator. The transcript is a copyedited transcription of the recording. It was first auto-transcribed by the speech transcription software Otter.ai, then reviewed by staff and students on the project in three phases of review, using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the principal investigator. The interviewee did not review the transcript, and therefore some proper names remain unverified.
- 1 hr
- Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
- Series Statement:
- Chemical Entanglements: Oral Histories of Environmental Illness is a collection of interviews with over seventy individuals living in the U.S. and Canada whose family history, occupation, art practice, or activism have brought them into direct contact with illness experience and disability related to chronic, low-dose exposure to toxicant chemicals. The procurement of this collection (from March 2019 through September 2020) was sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women under the directorship of Rachel C. Lee, with interviews conducted by six undergraduates, five graduate students, two career staff, and two faculty members at CSW.
Background—Description of childhood life, siblings, parents—Memories of childhood home—Heavy use of cleaning products used during childhood—Signs of sensitivity when younger, especially when going to church—Developing symptoms during and after college—Difficulties adjusting to the new sensitivities and impact on school life—Finding sensitivities within her own workplace and how she dealt with it, how she approached the issue with her co-workers and manager—Replacing her old products with new products following research—Making the transition with her husband and family—The impact her sensitivity has had on the choices she makes for her children—Seeking help with doctors, encountering dismissive doctors—How she treats her own sensitivity—Meeting Liza—The mission of the Woodland Coalition and its reception—Why folks are reluctant to talk about chemical sensitivity—How she copes with the difficulties surrounding her illnesses—The importance of using a culturally-sensitive approach to advocacy—Relief at finding a term to describe her symptoms—Finding communities on Facebook, hearing people’s stories—The impact of her sensitivity on her hobbies—Advocating for changes in soccer fields in Woodland—Why she continues to advocate for her kids, the advocacy work she has done—Figuring out how to advocate along with other members of the Coalition—The reception of her friends to her sensitivity—How her sensitivity impacts her life now—Changes she would like to see in the future—Green Sheep News—Advice for others wanting to do advocacy work on educating about chemical sensitivities—Steps needed to change our relationship with chemicals—Conclusion