S3 Ep 045 Kia Davis Wants Everyone to Become a Building Biology Advocate

In this episode, Kia discusses sustainable ideas to help everyone in their own homes and environments, and explains some of the research behind why everyone should keep plants in their spaces. 
S3 Ep 045 Kia Davis


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Show Notes

Today, we talk with Kia Davis, founder and owner of the Carsyn Neille Foundation and the first-ever recipient of the Dr. Martin Blank-SYB Scholarship, about how she became a sustainable home guru in the childhood cancer community, her passion for building and designing non-toxic spaces, and how she turned her personal tragedy into hope for so many families.

Kia talks about easy, sustainable ideas to help everyone in their own homes and environments, and explains some of the research behind why everyone should keep plants in their spaces. 

S3 Ep 045 Kia Davis

In this episode you will hear: 

  • Kia’s journey on educating people on non-toxic living. 
  • The creation of the Carsyn Neille Foundation and how Kia is helping to serve those in the childhood cancer community. 
  • Research on the effects of common household items on human health. 
  • Kia’s position as the first recipient of the Dr. Martin Blank – SYB Scholarship.
  • Top-level things everyone should think about in their homes. 
  • Using plants in your environment. 

Bringing her well-honed and well-traveled eye to the Carsyn Neille Foundation, Principal Designer and Owner Kia Davis has earned the trust of more than 60 childhood cancer families and counting. The Carsyn Neille Foundation, whose mission is to support and comfort families affected by childhood cancer and dedicated to helping families heal and thrive, has appeared throughout Southern California by achieving an elusive blend of sophistication and sustainability. This year, the Carsy Neille Foundation will broaden its impact throughout the United States.

With a deep-rooted passion for interior spaces designed and backed by science, Kia has become a sought-after “sustainable home guru” amongst the childhood cancer community. She has become an in-demand speaker, mentor, and social entrepreneur across various outlets – including the University of Riverside School of Medicine, Health Occupations Students of America conferences, Pediatric Cancer Research fundraising events, and more.

Aside from her full-time commitment as a wife and mother of five, Kia Davis is also the founder of the DavisMade, a wellness firm that transforms indoor environments into vehicles for health, well-being, performance, and resilience.

Connect with Kia Davis:

Website: https://www.carsynneillefoundation.org/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carsyn_neille_foundation/ 

Episode References: 

Connect with R Blank and Stephanie Warner: 

For more Healthier Tech Podcast episodes, and to download our Healthier Tech Quick Start Guide, visit https://www.healthiertech.co and follow https://instagram.com/healthiertech

Additional Links:


Kia Davis 0:00
I’m a learner. So I always want to know more. And it was just a great opportunity that that you gave me to really tap into getting all getting more tools under my belt. But in regards to the experience, it was it was just amazing. There was so much to learn. And I think the building Biology Institute did a really great job of just saying this is the information. Here are the resources here the years of studying and it was it was just amazing programme.

Announcer 0:33
Welcome to the healthier tech podcast, the show about building a healthier relationship with modern technology. Now here are your hosts R blank and Stephanie WARNER

R Blank 0:46
Well Steph, I’ve been really looking forward to today’s episode for for some time glad Kia could make the time Kia is the first ever awardee of the Dr. Martin blanc sy be scholarship that shield your body and I fund to help worthy candidates to cover their tuition for the building biology advocacy programme at the building Biology Institute. So this and as I think the listeners are about to hear Kia was an amazing first awardee to go through the programme. So glad we found her.

Stephanie Warner 1:19
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, i i the work that she does, is so incredible. And I think everyone’s gonna really feel a connection to her story and how she got to where you know, to what she’s doing. And it was just a beautiful it was a really beautiful interview and and I’m so happy we had her on I’m so happy. She’s part of the scholarship programme. And yeah, she’s she’s just wonderful. It was a wonderful interview.

R Blank 1:48
Yeah, let’s get into it. Let’s do it. On today’s show, we have Kia Davis, principal designer and owner of the Carson Neil Foundation, and the first ever Dr. Martin blanc s YB. Scholar, the Carson Neil Foundation’s mission is to impact and strengthen local families by building and providing a community to families affected by childhood cancer. While empowering and educating them about wellness solutions and sustainable non toxic spaces. He has become a sought after sustainable home guru amongst the childhood cancer community. She has also become an in demand speaker, mentor and social entrepreneur, I am so excited to share his story with all of you, IKEA Welcome to the healthier tech podcast.

Kia Davis 2:37
Hi, thank you for having me.

R Blank 2:40
It’s great to talk to you again. So we’ll get into this in a second. But just so everyone knows you and I spoke a couple of times before, when you would applied for the Dr. Martin Blanc, so IB scholarship. And I was I was so moved by your story and impressed with everything that you had to say that you actually became the first awardee of the scholarship. And it’s so bad. I haven’t spoken to you in quite some time. So it’s great to have the chance to talk to you again.

Kia Davis 3:07
Well, thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s so exciting and what a blessing you, you’ve been.

R Blank 3:13
So let’s just get started with some of your backstory so that our listeners can kind of learn the same stuff about you that I learned that that moved me. How did you start with the Carson Neal foundation?

Kia Davis 3:27
Well, in in 2013, we lost our daughter, my husband and I lost our daughter Carson to cancer. Within five hours of her diagnosis she had much and passed away in surgery really, really quick. As a mom, you agree? And then at some point you come out of Do you ever come out of grief, right? You put you lift your head and you say what can I do? Wow, I’m a part of the childhood cancer community. And just from experience, past experience with the way we live the way we designed our home, I knew that the knowledge was important for the child cancer community in regards to designing sustainable non toxic bedrooms for kids with cancer. And so I stepped into that. And that was my way of impacting the child families loving one family serving families at the same time. Spreading Carson’s story and building her legacy.

R Blank 4:27
And I’m so sorry about how old How old was she? Carson

Kia Davis 4:33
was four and a half months with the largest atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour, the paediatric neurologist at at Rady Children’s Hospital had ever seen in a child that Yeah.

R Blank 4:44
Wow. And yeah, and I can understand how you go from that experience to wanting to help others but you you didn’t actually have at the time any of the experience that you would need in order to help others right or so how did you Get from, from the motivation to help to actually the skill set to help.

Kia Davis 5:05
So good. That’s a good question. I, I think I didn’t have the skill set as of yet. But I was naturally doing things right I was the lighting in my home, I knew that was important, but didn’t have an understanding of moped, for instance. So when we moved into our condo, we heard from neighbours that there had been a huge flood years prior and that the owner of the condo didn’t properly take care of it. So our assumption to this day has been that we were surrounded by mould. And that had a huge influence of maybe Karstens diagnosis and her her tumour, her cancer. And so going from there, kind of trying to put all those pieces together in the midst of grieving, I just dove into research, medical journals, books, websites about non toxic living and how your space can contribute to your healing your thriver, ship, and sicknesses. And it just took me on a really amazing and beautiful path of finding out about, you know, all the things that contribute to our quality of life.

R Blank 6:18
And in this foundation, as I recall, there were at least a couple of sets of activities, right? So you would work with individual families to help them detoxify nurseries and households, you would also go to schools, is that right? And, and do speaking,

Kia Davis 6:39
yeah, we we had the opportunity of speaking to medical students at the University of Riverside, their medical students, and we just really got to talk to students about the importance of non toxic living, the importance of avoiding EMFs. And what that looks like. Plants, right, I’m a huge advocate of bringing plants into your homes, plants that have been studied to naturally purify your home environment. And yeah, we’ve just kind of been on a journey of educating people and spreading the word as much as possible. And the fun thing about that, that talk at University of Riverside was that we challenged right, these new medical students to dive deeper into what they they’re being taught, right, ask questions. And look at others who have done work in regards to EMFs. And how your environment contributes to your health.

R Blank 7:39
And yeah, so Oh, yeah, sorry, oh, sorry, I

Stephanie Warner 7:44
was gonna I was just gonna ask him, I’m first I’m deeply moved by your story, and how you, you know, got to this, this place. And I absolutely love that, you know, how you’re creating this legacy for your daughter, it’s just beautiful. And in speaking about, you know, getting into schools with, you know, medical students who are learning, and they’re not necessarily learning this stuff, nor or maybe a little bit, you know, they’re kind of hearing a little, little here and there, how did they receive this information? Were they, you know, really engaging with it? Or, or, you know, how did how did? How did that kind of play out? And what did you What did you see when you were talking about this stuff with them?

Kia Davis 8:25
It was such a beautiful experience to tap into a younger generation and just try to not necessarily break down the western medicine, ideology, ideologies or curriculum, right. But to just pose a different question of looking things, looking at things differently. And I mean, the students were so receptive, they had so many questions. And it was just a really great engaging conversation, because that’s what we did. We we approached it, not in lecture form, right? It wasn’t a huge lecture standing in a bunch of children, but or young adults, I should say, sorry, but it was it was it was really kind of creating a space where we could collaborate, right, where they could ask questions, and they could have, and then those questions could lead them to the same research that I had done, and going on. And like I said, it’s all about questioning. Isn’t that what science is? Science is all about, Hey, there’s this study that’s been done. I mean, if you look at cigarette smoke, right, that was healthy at one point, but scientists changed and so changing the narrative and changing and challenging them to continue to research and look at different science.

Stephanie Warner 9:46
That’s great. I have a quick follow up because it so I can actually see younger people, you know, especially now with all the information we have kind of absorbing and getting in how did you get into the tools to the schools So how did the professor’s receive this information as well?

Kia Davis 10:05
Well, I kind of got in through the help. Oh goodness, I should it’s called HOSA. Is it health occupations, students, Alliance or of America, but it’s, it’s basically a high school programme that teaches that mentors, young students who know that they want to go into the medical field, in college and in their careers. And so then holster basically takes those students and mentors them at colleges. And so my work was just became known or what I do, and I got a call and an invitation to speak to the students and I said apps. Absolutely, let’s let’s do it. Let’s go for it.

R Blank 10:52
So so another part of, of your practice, and I believe this is part of why you’re a foundation instead of just a consulting company, right? Is you help parents detoxify nurseries and children’s rooms? But these are parents and families who would otherwise be unlikely to be able to afford this type of service. Right? Is, is that correct?

Kia Davis 11:22
That’s your correct, yeah, we have a good mix of parents from different socio economic backgrounds. But for the most part, yes, we we really try to partner with families, because if it’s not necessarily that they can’t afford it, I would say I would say more. So they’ve been thrown into becoming childhood cancer parents, right. And let’s say mom and dad, it was to work in the household. But now mom has said, she’s no longer going to go to work because she’s gonna stay at hospital with baby. And so now there’s a difference in that income, right? And so we just try to partner with these families in a way that doesn’t cause a cause of burden on what they’re already going through

R Blank 12:08
enough stress to deal with at that point in their lives, no doubt. So I want to get back to the work of of your foundation. But I also obviously would like to ask you about your experience with this scholarship because it was a new scholarship. Like I said, you were the first awardee. And I remember when we were when I was interviewing you, I asked how you found out about it. And you told me, it was through the blog of someone named Steven Colette who listeners can go back actually to the third ever episode of this podcast, because that was with Stephen Colette so but you had found out about the scholarship through through his blog. Stephen is a building biologist who focuses he focused obviously building biology, they focus on a lot of things I understand one of his strengths is, is air quality. But I’m wondering, you know, what led you to find a building biologist blog, right, I know you’re doing a lot of research, but how did you stumble into that part of the community?

Kia Davis 13:15
I had always kind of dip dipped in dabbled, right. I’ve always kind of seen different blogs. I think Stephen Colette I, I have a book by someone you partner with you wrote a book. Is it the Healthy Home book?

R Blank 13:29
I don’t know if you wrote that book or not. But I know the book you’re talking about. Yeah. And he wrote the the air quality curriculum for for the building Biology Institute that I that I know. Okay.

Kia Davis 13:41
Yes. And so, I happened to be in the middle of an instal, which an instal is us designing a room for a child with cancer. And I needed some our cocking company it was there was a delay. And so I wanted to research a healthy alternative for caulking. And so I’m looking and I’m googling and searching journals that we’ve read in the past and the blog came up and your, your picture happened to be there. And I went off on a tangent, right? Like what is this picture

R Blank 14:13
for me and decided through

Kia Davis 14:19
it cost about this scholarship. And I said, all my goodness, this may be a great opportunity to tap in and learn and learn more, and see if I’m missing any areas. In Study independent,

R Blank 14:33
no, that was great. And so you know, Ben, you applied and you got the award and then you jumped into the programme. And for those who don’t know, the the scholarship is for the building biology advocacy programme at the building Biology Institute. And that I’m going to summarise this as someone who’s never gone through the programme, but it’s effectively a survey of all of the areas of of living that build Biology covers. And so if you go through the full building biology programme and become a BBC and environmental consultant, you would go in depth into all of these things. But the BBA programme teaches you from a kind of a 20,000 foot view, all of the different areas of living, right that the building Biology Institute covers. Is that how you would describe it as well?

Kia Davis 15:23
Absolutely. You’re absolutely correct. Yes, I really feel like everyone should take take the course. And in everyone interested in non toxic living should just get a general basic understanding. And they do such a great job at doing that.

R Blank 15:37
Yeah. And so what was your experience going? I mean, this is the first time I’m actually speaking to any of the awardees. What, what was your experience? Going through the programme?

Kia Davis 15:49
Well, can I first say, thank you so much for offering the scholarship. I mean, it. It’s just awesome, right? It’s a great opportunity for those of us who are busy or like for me, for instance, I had already independently been studying about non toxic living, but I think you all I’m a learner, so I always want to know more. And it was just a great opportunity that, that you gave me to really tap into getting all getting more tools under my belt. But in regards to the experience, it was it was just amazing. There was so much to learn, I have to admit the EMF and the technology, you know, I don’t think that’s going to be my my field of focus, but just just the layout, right, very self guided lots of tools. They send a book. And we get to dive through the book, there’s videos, there’s different modules, and it there’s just so much to learn. And then there was for me, there was so much confirmation in it right of like, yes, I’ve got this right, because if you think about it, the internet has so many resources, you can go and look up one study that says plants are not good for your environment, right and the website and it says yes, plants. And so it’s like sifting through all the information. And I think the building Biology Institute did a really great job of just saying this is the information. Here are the resources. Here the years of studying and it was it was just an amazing programme.

R Blank 17:30
Were there any parts of I understand that EMF might not have been the strongest part for you? Were there other parts maybe one or two that really stood out as perhaps most resonant for you and your work?

Kia Davis 17:45
I wouldn’t say all of it, but I know.

Oh, it was really great. But um, I think I when we first tapped in one of the first things we went over was creating healthy sleep. Like natural sleep bees. That was yes, the sleep the sleep sanctuary. And I say to wow, this is because sleep is so important. Right? Like, it’s just so important for our health and for our healing and our thriver ship and for them to cover that it’s like yes, this this is this is good. That if I answered

R Blank 18:24
no, that’s great. Yeah, sleep. So we, we haven’t talked so much about that here in healthier tech, but at shield your body. We’ve done a few webinars on sleep sanctuaries, also with a building biologist. So I understand why that is so important. And before we move on, just just to summarise for everybody, if you want to learn more about building biology again, I’d point you to episode three with Steven Colette because that was entirely the entire episode was on the history of the building Biology Institute in the history of the study of building biology, and it was a really fantastic, just sky

Stephanie Warner 19:02
opening discussion. Definitely. I learned a lot in that one for sure.

R Blank 19:06
Yeah. Steve, it’s such a great guy. And he connected us without even realising it. So better. So when you I mean, I, as you know, haven’t gone through this programme, but the BBA programme, but even before you know that creating a healthy home covers a lot of different things and to do it, you know, right is just, it’s a real effort. On this show. We’d like to try to ask to summarise a few, you know, key more actionable points for our listeners, so they don’t have to go out and take six months and become a BBA but they can start doing something. So when you start working with a family, are there like a couple of top level things that that you point out that maybe our listeners should be thinking about for themselves in their homes? Yeah,

Kia Davis 20:00
absolutely. A few of our favourites, right, because like I said, these families are in the hospital fighting for their children’s lives. And so we try not to bombard them with things like, Hey, you should get a water filtration system throughout your whole home, right? Like, right. But we suggest things like, you know, NASA did a study about plants and actually aerify naturally purify your home and your space. And so we bring in those plants, something as simple as a snake tongue plant, right or pee slowly. Things like that in the child’s environment, getting your windows clean, right, so you have all of the dust and when you think of what dust is made of things like arsenic and formaldehyde and toxins, right, you want to get those screens cleaned, so that you also allow natural fresh air to come into your home. Let’s see, organic Textiles is big. It’s huge, right? When you think about what cotton to trade it with, right between the pesticides and chemicals and the dyes or the bleaches were really huge on organic bedding, organic pyjamas, and then product usage. So we’re huge. We’re actually partnered with an amazing company called Dr. Bronner’s. They sponsor things for us. We love Dr. Bronner’s right. Yeah.

R Blank 21:33

Kia Davis 21:39
Yes, changing right product swaps, we we will actually be doing a post soon about our comfort kit programme and our first quarter we’re delivering Dr. Bronner’s products to four hospitals throughout the nation. And Dr. Bronner’s is huge when when families come into the hospital, they get a welcome pack, with many different products that are not the cleanest. And so we can swap out and make those small changes. That’s something that we also really, really talk to the parents about.

Stephanie Warner 22:12
That’s awesome. And I, I was looking at your Instagram earlier. And you’ve you’ve mentioned this a few times, a little ILETS, little, little, little nuggets here, that you were really into plants and using plants in your environment. And that fascinates me because it’s a topic I haven’t really heard many people focusing on. And it makes me it makes me want to know like, it’s like what are what are the best plants for somebody who not saying myself but somebody who may not have a greenhouse, who may or may forget to water things

R Blank 22:50
to cacti account.

Kia Davis 22:52
Do count and cacti actually have been proven or there’s been studies shown that cacti actually eat away at EMF. So I usually tell people if you have cacti and succulents, put them next to your routers or whatever you have in your home that emits those EMFs it’s really good for you. And then this little girl here, she’s my absolute favourite. We have them. We have her throughout my house. And this is called a snake tongue plant. And I mean, you can ignore them, you know, the soil can dry every two weeks, I might water it. Maybe every two months. I mean water. I don’t know. But perfect. It’s perfect. And there’s so many. There’s so many benefits.

R Blank 23:30
I have I actually have a couple of them. But they’re they’re made of plastic. Does that does that help?

Kia Davis 23:36
So I won’t lecture you here, but let’s get some real ones. Because those plastic plants, right. They they bring on does they? They loved us does loves plastic plants.

Stephanie Warner 23:51
Okay. All right. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I so do you have anything any exciting news for this year?

Kia Davis 24:00
We do. So.

R Blank 24:05
We started that answer. I’m intrigued myself.

Kia Davis 24:12
So an honest moment, right. Last year, we we we had a burnout moment, right when we started the nonprofit. We started with passion, right? It was totally a passion project. And at some point as a nonprofit, you want to go from passion project to thriving business so that you can impact more families and that you were making sure we had a sustainable business model. And so last year, we shut down after doing a room instal for a young, a young kid named Silas in Long Beach. And this year, we have we’ve come out and we’ve relaunched and we have kind of revamped some of our programmes so that we can reach more families. And so what you may have seen when you and I connected are we’re rooms to thrive, right And that was us actually going into the homes of families affected by cancer and redesigning their rooms backed by science. Now, we offer a programme called Community Partner events where we’re getting the community involved in really that advocacy part that the building. Building Biology Institute was really sorry, my ears. The building, building Biology Institute was really pushing that advocacy, we bring that and we reach more people within the child cancer community and outside of the childhood cancer media. That’s something we’re really really excited about. So this Friday, we have a plant people event. And so we’re educating people on the importance of plants in their home and air purification. And may we’re having a spa event with puppies and Tulsa where we get to love one and serve on some childhood cancer moms. At the same time, educate the community on like things like light therapy, Himalaya salts, negative ions, and how that can kind of contributed to that waterfall energy, right? And things like that. So it’s

R Blank 26:14
great. And by the way, my, my snake tongues may be fake, but my, my Himalayan salt lamp is totally. So I will say for anyone who lives in a high humidity environment. You I did not know this before getting mine those those sweat and melt in high humidity environments. So that’s a learned lived experience. So where can our audience go to learn more about you and the Carson Neil foundation?

Kia Davis 26:47
Oh, well, we have a beautiful redesigned website. It’s Carson meal foundation.org. And our Instagram, we’re always updating things on our Instagram, we’re sharing facts. This week, we’ll be sharing facts about childhood cancer disparities. And that’s going to be a really interesting post as well as all things plants this month and next month, we’ll talk about clean toys, essential oils, diffusing and just some great stuff. So our Instagram page Carson meal Foundation,

R Blank 27:21
excellent and, and for those interested in the scholarship. It is a rolling admissions programme. So whenever we get in good, worthwhile application, we we accept. So it’s not just like a one at a time kind of thing. And you can learn more about that programme at shield your body.com/scholarship. And we will have links to his website, and Instagram and the scholarship page all in today’s show notes. Kia, I want to really thank you. First for I’m just so glad that we met and that that that you got to benefit from this programme. I’m so pleased to hear of what it has done for you and your ability to execute on your personal vision and your personal mission. And I appreciate you taking the time to come join us today for this conversation. It’s been a total pleasure.

Stephanie Warner 28:21
Yeah. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing. It’s been it’s just been a lovely interview. Thank you.

Kia Davis 28:27
Oh, thank you. Thank you guys for having me. It’s been a pleasure this this one.

Announcer 28:33
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the healthier tech podcast. Remember to check the show notes for all the links and resources mentioned in the show. Please like and subscribe to the healthier tech podcast on Apple, Spotify or your podcast platform of choice. Get your free quickstart guide to building a healthy relationship with technology and our latest information at healthier tech.co

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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R Blank

R Blank

R Blank is the founder of Healthier Tech and the host of “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available iTunes, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms.

R has a long background in technology. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel.

In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering where he taught software engineering, as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz.

He has spoken at technology conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author of “AdvancED Flex Development” from Apress.

He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Connect with R on LinkedIn.

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