Sunday, February 10, 2013

Temple Grandin -- Seeing in Pictures

You may remember us mentioning Temple Grandin in class last week: the autistic woman with a PH.D in animal husbandry. She became famous for coming up with a humane method to corral cows, revolutionizing the handling in the industry. She is now one of the top livestock scientists in the world.

Temple's reshaping of the industry wouldn't have been realized if it wasn't for her autism. Ever since she was a teenager when she spent a summer on her aunt's farm, she felt empathy with the cattle. She understood the stress caused by brash changes in the surroundings. Plenty of times in her own life, she'd feel that anxiety generated from the same cause.

 Taking this into her own hands, she aimed to improve the standards of the livestock industry, as "Animals are not Things." Before she came in, corrals were geometric and tight, making it claustrophobic and tense for the cattle. Cowboys would rush the cattle through with little respect. Torture wasn't uncommon in these conditions.

What she did was create a network of curved and sweeping corrals that significantly reduced the stress for the cattle, as they are gently guided to the slaughterhouse.

Her powerful empathy was rewarded with a "Proggy" in 2004 by PETA, which is an award for people who are responsible for creating or inventing animal-friendly products.

Temple has a higher functioning form of autism, so she is able verbally communicate how her brain works. She's written many books on autism, as well as leading conferences, which are actively increasing awareness and understanding.

If you haven't yet, check out the HBO movie called "Temple Grandin." It's definitely worth your time! Claire Danes does an amazing job playing Temple.

Below is her website with plenty more information if you're interested. I'm sad to say her conference was just a couple of days ago in Queens, so we missed it.

--Betsy Peterschmidt

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