Monday, March 23, 2009

Pragmatic Activism for the Wetlands: Thank you King Milling

R. King Milling is the president of Whitney National Bank in Louisiana and a prominent businessman regionally. Now he has been awarded the Loving Cup, a century-old award given by the Times-Picayune for unselfish community service, because of his tireless dedication to coastal restoration.

Milling should serve as an example to us all- especially to business people and others who do not work in coastal restoration. Read the praise in the article below heaped on him by major voices on coastal restoration like Sidney Coffee and Mark Davis. Then listen to his own reasons for his activism:

"I just loooooove plants, especially in our marshes! I think we should sacrifice capitalist interests for them no matter what the costs to our community."

Just kidding. These are his pragmatic words:

"This is not just about the environment. It's about culture, commerce and survival."
"It doesn't take a genius to understand the infrastructure is at risk, the future is at risk. That's what we will lose if we don't do anything. I think that used to shock some people, but it doesn't anymore."

King Milling is not a tree hugger. He is a banker- certainly not interested in losing money. He knows how urgent this issue is for everyone in Louisiana. It doesn't matter if you work in retail, the service industry, education, technology, health care, shipping, oil and gas, seafood, agriculture-- any industry-- we should all know that the health of our coast is our primary measure of the safety of our population and the security of any business from at least Baton Rouge on south. Every year, we sit closer and closer to the open ocean. There may still be controversy over climate change, but there isn't over coastal loss here: we've lost a Delaware amount of land. Now we can either be sitting ducks, or we can all work tirelessly to lessen the risk. Anytime you need a reminder of what that risk is, go here. Or ask King Milling.

Coastal restoration advocate King Milling wins T-P Loving Cup - Breaking News from New Orleans - Times-Picayune -


MetryJen said...

I'm trying to get someone to tell me what King Milling has actually done for coastal restoration other than sit on boards and say he's for it? I'm for coastal restoration, too, does that mean I can get this award?

jo said...

Metry Jen, Thanks for the comment.

Well I can't say that he has actually physically built a wetland, but I know that as a legal researcher I have been impressed repeatedly at his well-presented advocacy for the coast at various events. He is now a member of the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority, which will in the coming years be making many of the most crucial decisions for our area's future.

Lehn Bar, a coastal scientist at LSU and long time advocate for the coast also has very complimentary things to say about Mr. Milling:

According to this article,he also persuaded Gov. Foster to hold a coastal summit before Katrina, before most of us were awakened from our state of denial of the problems facing us.

Anyways, anyone who pays more than occasional lip service to coastal restoration- and it's clear that Milling does- is an important ally to Louisiana.

Fixing our coast, unfortunately, must largely be a public relations campaign to convince 1) the federal government and other parties that our region is worth saving and 2) the coastal populations that important sacrifices are worth being made. So from that standpoint, a powerful businessman's decade of talking to leaders, helping solidify plans and drumming up support is immeasurably valuable. At least in my mind.