Most who know me are aware I’m not really the complaining type. However, I’m going to have a bit of a gripe in this column.
What is it about the relationship between the timber industry and the Hoo-Hoo organisation? Why is it only now, a shell of its former self? Why have individuals stopped engaging with the organisation?
I’ve been personally involved with Hoo-Hoo since I joined the industry in 1985. For the first 15 years or so, a Hoo-Hoo event, held anywhere in Australia, was the reason the industry gathered – both to be part of a fraternity and to hear the best speakers put across their points of view.
There were special functions and “˜VIP’ nights that regularly had more than 300 attending, and I’ve been to such functions in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and many, many times in Melbourne.
Over the years the combined Hoo-Hoo clubs of Australia and New Zealand have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity projects. At one stage, they were at the forefront of the national public awareness campaign educating the consumer about the sustainability of timber – long before the green movement was even thought of.
When I attended my first Hoo-Hoo meeting in 1985, it was explained to me that Hoo-Hoo was like a Rotary or Lions club operating within the timber industry. Well, it may have been then – but it is definitely not now.
Last month we had the Australasian jurisdiction’s annual conference on a cruise ship for seven days out of Brisbane.
I believe there were 40 delegates present, and, when you add in partners and friends, there would have been approximately 60 attending from all over Australia, New Zealand and even North America.
I can understand why there wasn’t more. It was a big financial and time commitment, and only the most dedicated of “˜Hoo-Hooers’ were aboard.
I wasn’t one of them.
As a by-product of the convention, the international organisation’s first female World President (in its 123 year history), the delightful Mary O’Meara Moynihan, spent time travelling around the country visiting the various Hoo-Hoo clubs all over Australia.
Brisbane held a special “˜Women in Wood’ dinner, with around 60 present – less than 20 being Hoo-Hoo members. Melbourne held a special dinner to welcome Mary, and there were only 30 in attendance, including members from the north-east and Ballarat (less than 20 actual members).
The shining light was in Bunbury, Western Australia, where a timber dinner attracted over 60 attendees, of which around 20 were from the Manjimup Hoo-Hoo Club.
For a club that has only 25 members, that’s a great turnout. Sydney was a disappointment for organisers, with only 10 at a farewell cocktail party held at the home of stalwarts Ron and Heather Gattone.
Many didn’t even bother to respond to the invitation.
As an industry I believe we missed an opportunity to pay the appropriate respect to a person who represents a fabulous organisation, who has achieved a tremendous amount of good in the world of forestry and timber.
If you are a Hoo-Hoo member, and believe the organisation has had its day, then let your relative club know it should wind up its operations and distribute its assets to a local charitable organisation.
On the other hand, if you are a Hoo-Hoo member and believe the organisation should continue, then take the time to re-commit a few nights a year to help bring this fabulous organisation back to vibrant life.
This “˜never-never’ world of boring inactivity by most of our Hoo-Hoo members does the industry, and this grand old organisation, no good at all.
To health, happiness and long life.