Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Keynote speaker Kelley Mason

Huge thank you to Kelly and her family for making the trip to come speak to us! I loved hearing her perspective on life, family and raising children. (And we got it recorded, so if you want a copy, they will be available.)

One thing she said really struck me. After her story of getting firewood from the wood pile to the house to keep the house warm while her baby sat screaming in the carseat on the porch and how she knew there had to be a better way, she said something about how discovering babywearing suddenly enabled her to meet her needs and the needs of her children. That is such a universal statement.

I've been putting together the museum display and have been struck at how even though every culture does it somewhat differently, all parents universally need to meet the needs of their babies while still meeting their own needs as well as the needs of their families. Native Americans used cradle boards and propped their children up against trees, or even hung them from trees to keep them safe and happy. The traditional Chinese culture coaches young girls into motherhood through the process of making baby carriers even before they are married. These young girls even raise their own silk worms and spin their own silk to do the embroidery on the carriers that they eventually wore to market to attract potential suiters. Sadly, many of these traditions are being lost.

Our western culture seems to have lost most if not all ties to the traditional ways of doing things. But then people like Kelley find that they have a need and they need to meet the needs of others and they can't do it with the tools they have. So they go out and create a tool. And then others who have the same need look at that tool and see it for what it is and want it. And a business is born. It happened to Kelley when she created the Kozy mei tai. It happened to Erika Hoffman, a mother of twins and the founder of Didymos, after she decided out of desperation to try the South American carrying cloth she had in her drawer. It happened to textile engineer Guenter Schwartzer, founder of Storchenwiege, after his search for a solution to help his daughter who was a new mom. It happened to Robyn of Babyhawk after she made a carrier that met her need for function as well as her need for style.

I was talking with a woman from Norway today and she said that where she is from, people tend to think that wearing a baby on ones front is dangerous. And she observed that here in the United Staes, people tend to think that wearing a baby on your back is dangerous. I guess everyone does it a little differently depending on their needs. But in the big picture I am seeing, it's almost as if America is trying to find its tradition again.

The theme of this conference is "Babywearing: the fabric of a global community." And really, I can't think of any better practice that would hold a community together than the raising of our children. Learn to wear your babies. Teach people how to do it safely. Help them find what works for them so they can meet their needs and the needs of their families. It's what this conference is all about. And it will make this world a better place.


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