Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's up with

Now, to be sure, I am not a great joiner of groups. I'm talking here about groups that may (or may not) support the industries in which Snowdrift Farm is involved. I like to stand back and observe more than I like to get into the day-to-day grind of the group or organization at hand. I learned the hard way several years ago that not everyone who is involved in the hierarchy of a membership group always has your best interests at heart. C'est la vie.

At this time, Snowdrift Farm belongs to one trade membership group: the Handcrafted Soap Maker's Guild. Our relationship with the HSMG is great and we frequently refer customers to their website. But there have been rough times -- not just for us, but for other members of the Guild, too. In my opinion, for whatever it is worth, this strife was a product of poor leadership. Thankfully, this unhappiness is in the past and the current leadership at the HSMG is doing everything it can to ensure it never happens again. In a way, I am hoping the current leadership decides to stay forever, though I know this is unfair to most everyone, and highly unlikely.

That said, I lightly tread along a path to locate other membership/trade organizations in which Snowdrift Farm might have an interest and become a valued member. Basically, I am relying upon my memory (!) and the internet to find organizations that might be a good match for us. I get this bug every now and then to go out and look.

In the past, we have joined the Artisan's Perfumer's Guild, but we were basically pooh-poohed for selling SD40 alcohols. Apparently, according to the powers-that-be, only grape alcohol is an acceptable diluent. As a dues-paying, SD alcohol-selling group member, I sure didn't appreciate being told that only grape alcohol is acceptable for making perfumes. I don't happen to share that opinion, and didn't savvy being shot down every time I posted a message to that group's Yahoogroup regarding SD alcohols. I figured, once our annual membership had run out, we needed to move on. And so we did. SDF's Making Perfume Yahoogroup is an outgrowth of that period.

I mention these experiences because, in the end, I find that a group's leadership is the most important thing. The leader sets the agenda. For me, a non-profit's goal should be to support the industry. It should widen the possibilities of its membership, be they buyers or sellers.

Today is Sunday. Kind of a not-too-rushy day, so I decided to look for some non-profit trade organizations. Pulling from my memory, I thought of, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. I know that Jeanne Rose is a past president, and that's good enough for me.

So, I googled NAHA and the first thing to come up was I clicked and read that their basic mission was to stop 's current leadership (we're talking 2004 here) from doing anything. The claim was that the president was taking advantage of her position and using the group for her own personal gains. There is a petition on the website with 131 +/- signatures, including Jeanne Rose's, asking the IRS and the State of Colorado, in which this 501 C is formed, to investigate the petitioners' claims of dishonesty on the president's part.

Uh-oh. A leadership problem.

But again, this stuff is from 2004, and we're now almost halfway through 2008. The website contains a blog. As there was no mention on the "directors" page of the group's leaders, and apparently no conference in recent history, I clicked on the blog to see if there was anything going on over there. I wanted to see what had happened since 2004. Had the leadership changed? What happened to the petition? You get the idea.

Well, I guess I am too late to play catch-up. The current website does not offer an outcome to the seeming 2004 debacle with, and the website doesn’t either. Nor have they removed their content. Interesting.

I clicked on “Join NAHA” and there I found a ton of information that satisfied many of the questions I had pondered, including their conference schedule (I am guessing they are not having one this year, though they state they are held every 2 years, and 2008 would be a year an “on” year, I think), membership fees and insurance plan. They also offer an updated class schedule. While I was unhappy that none of Jeanne Rose’s classes were listed, I was pleased to see the formerly blasphemed past president listed several times as a teacher of aromatherapy classes therein. Things are OK in the family, then?

Frankly, joining these groups has become a research project for me. Joining any group, really. Just this spring I was threatened by (I’m sure, well-meaning) soapmaking folk who wanted me to withdraw SDF’s sponsorship of a certain soapmaking conference. They were quite vehement in their disparagement of Snowdrift’s participation in this conference, and while I don’t usually back down to threats, there seemed to be something to their complaints. But really, did I need the stress of being threatened by soapmakers and not fully informed (OK, I probably should say “lied to”, but I won’t) by the conference’s leadership?

So, who’s got a favorite trade organization – not-for-profit is best – that they’d like to share with me? Is NAHA worthwhile? I’m open to all suggestions.


rachelbalanceboost said...

I was recently conducting some research along the same lines that you were and basically I think that NAHA is a "do nothing," organization. It's great that NAHA has meetings and such but they have done absolutely nothing to garner credibility for the Aromatherapy community in the US.

Trina said...

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for your comment. It's funny that NAHA has basically taken a back seat in the AT community. Maybe a new, more lively organization will organize itself now that NAHA has left an opening large enough to drive a bus through. The English have at least 3 organizations, which they class as "complementary medicine". C'est la vie.