Honoring Hugh Archer

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Honoring Hugh Archer  Posted: November 19, 2009

Honoring Hugh Archer

Stu Butler bore witness throughout his life to the need for our policies to be driven by values more enduring and more robust than the quarterly bottom line. He never drew attention to himself, never sought to impose a solution, never took anywhere near what he gave. On hearing of his death, as I reflected on Stu?s work, I was reminded of a prayer by Marian Wright Edelman:

Lord, help me not to be a taker, but a tender,
Help me not to be a whiner but a worker,
Help me not to be a getter but a giver,
Help me not to be a hindrance but a help,
Help me not be a critic but a catalyst for good.

You honor Stu and you honor Hugh with your presence here tonight. Let me suggest one more way to honor them both – become a member of Kentucky Heartwood, a make a contribution to the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust.

Kurt Vonnegut described a group of people who, though diverse in their paths and the rhythm and pattern of their lives, are united in purpose. He called the grouping a “karass.”

I believe that Hugh and I are part of a karass, as was Stu and as are you all, and I am proud to be so.

Hugh’s work and mine have intersected numerous times as we each planted ourselves in our work – and I have watched and marveled at his facility, his quiet effectiveness, his thoughtful, creative use of his skills to defend God’s creation from those who would do it violence- through his years as a cabinet attorney, his effective marshalling of private and public funds as Director of the Nature Preserves Commission to create almost a score of new nature preserves and to involve private landowners in hundreds of private protection agreements, his efforts to bring planning and science-based graphical tools to the disciplines of conservation and environmental protection, his service as Commissioner of the oft-overlooked Department of Natural Resources, overseeing the Divisions of Forestry and Conservation, and most recently, his efforts as chair of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, working to amass and protect the remaining big block tracts so essential to the ecological health of the Appalachian region.

Just as knowing that Kentucky Heartwood is on the job in monitoring the management of our public forests allows KRC to focus its efforts on other issues, knowing that Hugh was diligently at work protecting the remnant natural landscapes of our Commonwealth has allowed me to focus these past decades on air, waste and water pollution and energy issues.

I am quite certain that Stu heartily endorses the choice of this year’s recipient of the award that bears his name and bears tribute to his memory and his life’s work. For, like Stu, Hugh is a tender, a worker, a giver, a help, and a catalyst for good.
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