Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Joel Salatin at Webster U.

I got to hear Joel Salatin (of Polyface Farm) speak at Webster University on Monday night. It was an amazing experience. His insights seem so right on, and his presentation style is masterful. Salatin uses his passion for the topic to energize the audience. He is a good speech constructor (His speech followed the Polyface Farm's work cycle as an organizing principle to move through the topics he wanted to address). But the magic is that he can say whatever he wants because he’s doing what he does so well. For example: he described his operation as a land-healing “ministry” (by which it was clear he meant it was a religious action), talked about the ecosystem as God-designed, spoke of the importance of moral philosophy over science, etc. in a very diverse context and received outburst after outburst of spontaneous applause. The audience giving those ovations ranged from the very conservative homeschool family I stood beside in the book line, to the feminist professor of sexuality I passed in the lobby, to the Mennonite family I walked to my car behind, to the tie-dye clad, throw-back hippie students I sat beside during the talk. His style works because he himself is living proof of what he's saying. He isn't just suggesting theories, he's proving his method rigorously, practically and holistically (by which I mean the opposite of simplistically). People want to hear what he has to say, and will take whatever it is and however it challenges their paradigm and offer a standing ovation because he is doing it well!
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