She speaks! In response to the LLL press release, this just reached my email box, cc'ed to many people - so I'll copy it here. Since she has never hesitated to have her side told, I'll post it here.
BTW, this email didn't come from the dufferinpark email address, it came from:firstname.lastname@example.org
Also I just noticed - the original LLL email (to which Jutta replied) also included Erika, Dr. Jack Newman, Councillor Gambione and Leslie Ayre-Jaschke (former LLLCanada Exec. Dir.). So she didn't just click "reply all", she actually edited out some people, including Erika. (unless she bcc'ed them, which I suppose is possible)
----- Original Message -----
From: Jutta Mason
To: Kimberley Mackenzie
; Teresa Pitman
Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2005 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: LLLC news release - breastfeeding in public
Thank you for sending me this, Ms.Mackenzie. I understand the desire of LLL to support all mothers who wish to breastfeed, and I honour the work of the association that I was part of for many years, as participant and then as a leader (and sometimes a speaker at LLL conferences).
My joy at the wonderful range of mothers and children whom I met during my association with LLL contributed to the project I took on as my children grew up -- trying to make diverse public spaces work well for families. I began with an "indoor park" and then moved on to do similar work at a rather lonely fourteen-acre outdoor park in my neighbourhood. The neighborhood has an unusually high concentration of high schools and it also has more than forty language groups represented there.
In the eleven years during which I have given my work to this park, it has been my privilege to see the park gradually fill with a great quilt of families, youth, and old people, and many cheerful forms of social life -- music, community suppers, school picnics, theatre, pick-up sports, and campfires.
One of the things I have learned along the way is that cross-cultural, cross-class, and cross-age feelings and perceptions must be handled with care. Otherwise one group will tend to swamp out others. This is particularly true in the park's only confined space -- our park's winter rink house. Many rink users shy away from public undress. Consequently we do not permit hockey players, of either gender, to change in the open area of the rink house.
But the rink is no longer only for hockey players and skaters -- it has also developed into a kind of community clubhouse. A lot goes on there. At this rink, mothers nurse their babies everywhere the action is, and it's wonderful to see. I have never had a complaint from anyone about a baby nursing -- what would be the problem? I have, however, seen families and young people who came to skate, leave unhappily when the nursing mother has forgotten that in that small space, observers could not easily remove themselves -- if she was more unclothed than usual.
Families include more than babies -- they grow to be children, and then teenagers. It's my wish to take into account all the different ages at the park, with their various outlooks, and different cultures too. This is a delicate dance. The "dance" needs an assumption of good will between people as they gradually get to know one another and understand one another's cultures.
That assumption of good will is usually there, but sometimes it falters. My attempt to remind a young mother unknown to me of the sensitivities of others around her in the rink house led her to notify the city authorities of a human rights violation the very next morning. My speaking to her had disturbed her greatly. This began a little e-mail storm, of a kind I never yet experienced in my work at the park. One of the mother's friends from another city alerted the media, hence an article in NOW magazine. Subsequent to that, our park web site has received a number of very critical e-mails -- some from as far away as Newfoundland and South Carolina -- calling for my removal from the park.
When something like this happens, there is a great temptation to despair, to say -- everything ends in conflict sooner or later, why even bother? However, it may be that there are some peacemakers among us, who can help out here. It would be a great shame if old LLL mothers and young LLL mothers are divided needlessly.
(I want to ask anyone who write emails on this incident, to be professional and limit your comments to the fact that she asked Erika to move, and the unprofessional way she has handled the incident thereafter (in taking it to the public, rather than apologizing to Erika directly). Remember, what you write might end up on their website. Jutta does have a lot of loyal people who think she's done alot for the park - she probably has! But in this incident, she was wrong. Please remind her she was wrong, she chose to make this public, and she has the power to end this all, with a simple apology to Erika. Janice)
(I edited what I wrote above, cause it didn't make any sense at all!)