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Hoedads: Celebration of a Oregon Hippie Tree-Planter Co-op

Hoedads: Celebration of a Oregon Hippie Tree-Planter Co-op
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Robert Leo Heilman’s article about the Hoedads, a forest cooperative, which embodied Oregon’s hippie culture during the late 20th century, really encapsulates everything I would wish business would be. The Hoedads began in the early 1970s when two tree planters, Jerry Rust and John Sundquist, noticed a large disparity between their earnings and what the contractor received for their work. Then called the Triads, they bid on their first project with their friend John Corbin. The organization, incorporated in 1974 as Hoedads Inc., lasted for 24 years until their membership voted to disband in 1994 (Heilman 2011).

Hoedads’ Co-op Business Summary (Heilman 2011:38, 42)

  • When Hoedads Inc. incorporated, they did so as a full-fledged cooperative with nine crews.
  • At their peak in the 1970s, they boasted 250 members and earned over $6 million (adjusted) per year.
  • Although people came and went, none were forced to quit.
  • Their heyday lasted from 1974 through 1984.
  • The 1980s recession dropped earnings. The culture changed.
  • They voted to disband in 1994.

Hoedads’ Service (Heilman 2011:38)

  • They planted trees, dug fire lines, thinned timber, constructed fences and bridges, and built trail.
  • They worked in all states west of the Rockies, as well as Alaska, Canada, and Hawaii.
  • They helped start other forest cooperatives, too.

Hoedads’ Culture (Heilman 2011:39, 42)

  • Everyone bonded.
  • Compassion and honesty naturally infused their culture.
    • They carefully conducted their work.
    • They cared about the forests.
    • They turned in spare trees at the end of the unit.
  • Crews included approximately 25% women; most reforestation companies were staffed solely by males.
  • The air was that of comrades for much of the time.
  • The 1980s changed some of the culture.
    • They eventually hired hourly-wage-earning employees.
    • They stopped doing reconstruction, and started working construction jobs.
    • The attitude changed to workers with a “union hiring hall (Heilman 2011:42).

The original article contained a great deal of information about this cooperative business that added a great deal to Oregon’s culture. Links to the article and a slide show are below.

Links

Reference

Heilman, Robert Leo

2011   With a Human Face: When Hoedads Walked the Earth. Oregon Quarterly Autumn 2011 91(1):36-43.

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Hoedads: Celebration of a Oregon Hippie Tree-Planter Co-op by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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