In my column last week, we asked, “Do you think a more open industry would improve or relations with society in general?” All respondents answered "Yes."
We then asked for your comments:
> As a supplier, I have seen far too many promotions to positions of responsibility based upon seniority rather than knowledge -- in order to protect the new manager's position, the new man institutes a "secrecy" format under the guise of protection against loss of trade advantage (seems silly doesn't it. The absence of information and view point exchange always generates community hostility and has a negative impact upon long term mill operations. Yes, I saw just such a chicken come home to roost this past week with the announcement of another mill has permanently shut down three of their four remaining machines. There was a big news release event of the restart of the mill less than five years ago.
> Maybe if our industry was more open and candid, it wouldn't be under so much scrutiny from society and government.
> It is truly mind-boggling when you realize just how little people understand about any industry, but even more disappointing that so many don't even care that they don't understand. Constructive curiosity in this country is far too rare among educated people.
> You are correct that teachers have a big influence on public thinking. If a teacher tells a grade school student that industries just pollute, that thought will become a belief if facts are not provided to counter it. That was the significant impact that Forest for Our Future made at Epcot. Over 50% of the guests that went through the experience came out with a change in their view of the forest products, and specifically, the paper industry. Inland Empire Paper Company near Spokane, WA., used to (and may still) give teachers a several week summer work experience at their mill. What better way to get the right message to them and to their students for years to come? The pulp and paper employee that goes to his/her kids grade school class and shows them how to make handmade paper (with de-inking)from waste paper in their classroom will send a big message. Show them Richard Scarry's "What Do People Do All Day" chapter on the real forest products industry. Give them facts at an early age. Ask a class to envision their classroom without wood or paper and watch them think about it.
> I have participated in an open house event that generated huge positive PR. I did have to shut the pulpers down when kids wanted to get close! People will invent explanations, usually bad ones, for things they do not understand. Industry cannot abdicate its responsibility here.
> I think your perspective that people view business as the enemy has much to say for itself. At the same time, are businesses always thinking of the needs of the community, or only about making a profit? I think that even Henry Ford believed that a business that only makes a profit is a poor business...
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