Remembering Margaret Miller

Margaret

Margaret Miller joined Save The Bay in 2014. We don’t know one person lucky enough to work with Margaret who was not touched by her kindness, humor and the ever-present sparkle in her eye. Margaret was deeply passionate about saving the Bay and inspired others to do so through her incredible talent as a writer. We invite you to read her family’s loving tribute below and join us in remembering her.

MARGARET MILLER
SEPTEMBER 1963 – JANUARY 2017

Margaret Alexis Miller died too soon on January 10, 2017, at her home in Berkeley, California. She was 53 years old.

Deep adventure, curiosity, generosity and empathy were at the heart of Margaret. She was born September 29, 1963, and grew up in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the third child and only daughter of Dr. David L. Miller and Jane Kreider Miller. Her childhood was spent exploring the forests and fields of Clarion County, meeting her parents’ friends from rural Pennsylvania and countless points beyond, and reveling in the recreation and intellectual stimuli of the Chautauqua Institution, where her family then spent summers. Margaret’s family spent three months in Thailand when she was a girl, and she began seeing herself as more than a child of Pennsylvania. She recalled that from her childhood, “My deepest solitary pleasure as a kid was climbing a particular maple tree near a small stream and sinking into a sort of alert trance – waiting and watching to see who/what might walk beneath me. Sometimes my mind would race, but more often my thinking derailed and stalled. My hearing became more acute, then it seemed to switch off. Eyes open, I saw everything, but nothing. I felt blind to all but movement, all colors washed together.” Margaret completed an International Baccalaureate as her secondary education at Atlantic College, and then studied phenomenology of religion at Princeton University, where she earned a BA under Dr. Elaine Pagels. Her desire to learn and participate in wide varieties of religious experience included travels in China, Tibet, the Taize Community in France, and enthusiastic attendance at all things Chautauqua.

Margaret’s empathy widened as a result of her study of religion, and her insights into what it means to be human were shared thanks to her skill as a writer and storyteller. She was a reporter for the Chautauqua Daily, first as a student and later as a professional. She worked for two magazines prior to moving to Berkeley, where she began graduate studies in religion and then transferred full-time to the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California. Her expertise was recognized by Tom Goldstein, then Dean of the Graduate School, who created an Assistant Dean position for her. Margaret’s love for people and support of their storytelling included stints in raising financial support for the School and exploring what was then called New Media. Margaret spent a year covering crime and metro news for the Seattle Times.

She was drawn back to the Bay Area, and her hair stylist set her up on a date with Laura Horn. On their second date, Margaret made it clear to Laura that children would become part of the deal, and soon after they won each other’s hearts. Margaret and Laura married on July 1, 2008 soon after their marriage rights were affirmed in California. Their two children Ming Hai Jane Miller Horn, now 19, and Chan Chamren David Miller Horn, now 17, were the center of their lives. Margaret and Laura immersed themselves into the world of parenting, and provided multicultural experiences to the children, and modeled positive risk taking and boundless hospitality, opening their children to greater possibilities.

Margaret’s skills as a writer, editor and storyteller were utilized as part of efforts to strengthen programs for children living in poverty, LGBTQ families, saving the Bay, and expansion of community colleges. Her insights into mental health challenges inspired others. She knew that her experience gave her “the unexpected and enriching gifts of depression, like patience, humility, insight and empathy.” That charisma earned her a constellation of friends from all continents fiercely grateful for her understanding, compassion and intelligence, and uniformly remembering her for her keen intelligence, willingness to hike any terrain in any weather, and propelling drive to bring equity and justice into the world. She sometimes baked two pies in a single day, and revered others with enthusiasm and integrity.

Those of us who knew her and loved her most – notably, her wife Laura Horn, their children Ming and Chamren, her brother Jim and his wife, Chrissie, her nieces Alexis and Laura, her brother Jeff and his wife Francoise, and niece Sarah and nephews Benjamin and Bryce – along with cousins, 98 year old aunt Annabel Kreider Schnure, and armies of devoted friends – are mourning her death but inspired by her originality and zest.

A memorial service will take place at 11:00 am on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California.

Memorial gifts in honor of Margaret may be made to: Save The BayBipolar AdvantageOur Family Coalition

Communicating the Science that will Safeguard California

Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis speaks at the 2017 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.
Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis speaks at the 2017 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.

Environmental scientists, researchers, advocates, and policy makers descended upon Sacramento’s downtown district last week for the 2017 California Climate Change Symposium. The symposium served as a forum for veteran researchers, scientists, and newbies like myself from across the state and from across multiple disciplines, to share their research.

I really don’t think the timing could have been better.

With the assertion that global warming is still up for debate among the Trump administration’s top leaders, the symposium felt like an oasis of thoughtful discussion on safeguarding California from our planet’s changing climate. Emerging research ranged from drought and water management, to ocean acidification and hypoxia, to rising sea levels.

A sense of urgency and a need for climate facts as opposed to “alternative facts” was interlaced throughout the plenary sessions, making the significance of constant discussion about climate change even more clear and evident.  Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis served as a panelist for a lunch session titled, “Communicating Science to California Public & Policymakers.” Lewis stressed the importance of focusing communication efforts on local and state elected leaders.

“How many people in the room talk to elected officials? You need to push them to do twice as much twice as fast, and the ones who aren’t doing anything, you need to push them to do something now,” said Lewis.  “It can be your local city council member who can do things in your town to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for adaptation. That’s where we need to focus our communication.”

Communication is central to what I do here at Save The Bay. Every day my team and I look for new tools and tactics that will inform and educate our grassroots community about threats to the Bay. It’s my job to make science and data sexy to an audience that is being bombarded with sensational content every single minute. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity to reach audiences across the spectrum. Climate change is certainly a hot topic at the center of a contentious debate between those who have made environmental advocacy their life’s work, and those who would rather rest on “alternative facts” to further their own selfish political agendas. I left the symposium ready to find new ways to engage our audience in the issues surrounding climate change, and introduce them to some of the groundbreaking research I had the chance to observe.

Understanding the science that safeguards California will become more urgent than ever before as we move closer into the unprecedented aftermath of a Trump presidency.  Developing programs, strategies, and policies that will reduce greenhouse gasses and encourage adaptation to rising sea levels on the state and local level will remain crucial to California scientists and advocates.

Our future generations are depending on it.

A Look Back at the Women’s March

On Jan. 21, 2017 I joined over 1 million women, families and activists to send a visceral message about our values. This is what you find when you choose to show up for what you believe in.
On Jan. 21, 2017 I joined over 1 million women, families and activists to send a visceral message about our values. This is what you find when you choose to show up for what you believe in.

I bought my tickets for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. two days after the election while overwhelmed by emotion and anger. It had been years since I’d been to a march. As a working mom, I started seeing my pride in and role of building partnerships at Save The Bay as my daily contribution to making the world a better place. So I arrived in Washington, D.C. before Inauguration Day feeling hopeless like many others. I was sick, missing my son and community back in Oakland, and not wanting to believe that the United States was about to swear in a dangerous and corrupt President Donald J. Trump.

“We all have the opportunity to be a part of a massive, new movement. We all must show up.”

 

But my despair was met with hope on Jan. 21, 2017—and I joined an estimated 1 Million women, families and activists to send a visceral message about our values.  And that is what you find when you choose to show up for what you believe in. You connect with others and experience moments of solidarity and cooperation for divisive days ahead.

We were walking for different issues, but walking together to uphold shared democratic values of equality, dignity, and care for fellow human beings.
We were walking for different issues, but walking together to uphold shared democratic values of equality, dignity, and care for fellow human beings.

My small marching group was a hodgepodge of friends and family: a scientist, a journalist, a social worker, and an environmentalist. We collectively represented a range of aspirations from criminal justice reform to investing in scientific research and addressing climate change to safeguarding LGBTQ rights. We were walking for different issues, but walking together to uphold shared democratic values of equality, dignity, and care for fellow human beings.

Cheering traveled through an unending sea of faces and signs like waves. It was massive. The crowd was exuberant, most forgetting all of the effort it took to get there. We bought plane tickets, traveled long distances, organized, and prepared ourselves for the long cold walk ahead. At one point we got trapped in the National Mall, and people began boosting each other up on posts. People lent helping hands and words of encouragement as we all took turns one-by-one, vaulting three feet above the crowd to take in the full view. Before the march officially started, the route that was originally mapped out for us was already full and no marching could take place.  Enormous groups took alternative streets to march to the White House. We marched and waited hours to deposit signs on a fence that sent a clear message, “We are the 51 percent minority.”

My small marching group was a hodgepodge of friends and family: a scientist, a journalist, a social worker, and an environmentalist.

The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. shook me up and inspired me to find new ways to live my days in hope and connection with other people. My eyes are wide open.  Resistance to the Trump Administration’s incredible power grab is going to require daily persistence. We all have the opportunity to find local spaces to show up and integrate taking action into our daily lives to protect the most vulnerable people and the planet. Because of the Women’s March, I will not forget that not only am I a Bay Saver, but I am also a part of the people’s majority and one of millions. We all have the opportunity to be a part of a massive, new movement. We all must show up.

Why I Will March 

I will participate in the Women's March in Oakland on Saturday, Jan. 21 not just for Save The Bay, but for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.
I will participate in the Women’s March in Oakland on Saturday, Jan. 21 not just for Save The Bay, but for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.

I distinctly remember my first protest march.  My school’s soccer team was supposed to play the Columbine soccer team the day of the now-infamous mass shooting.  The NRA’s annual convention was slated to be held in downtown Denver days after the shooting took place.  They did not cancel their convention out of respect for the victims, as many had hoped they would.

So, we marched.  We circled their hotel, holding hands, singing songs, and crying.  I was 17 years old.

My next protest march took place in downtown Boston.  Under the leadership of George W. Bush, the U.S. had just invaded Iraq.  As a graduating senior with a degree in modern political history, I was bursting with ideas and passion.  After all, I had just learned how world wars were started – power games between state and non-state actors, alliances, domino effects.  My friends and I were convinced the invasion was a mistake, and while we didn’t know it at the time, we would end up being right.

So, we marched.

A year or so later, now freshly ensconced in the progressive Bay Area, a friend asked if I wanted to join something called the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C.  Women’s equality, fair pay, and reproductive freedom have always been cornerstone values for me, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join with thousands of others in celebrating and advancing them.  And so, ignoring the hordes of anti-choice protesters holding graphic signs, we marched.  That march changed my life and led me to work professionally on women’s reproductive health issues for nearly a decade.

 you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty.” 

 

Now it is 2017, and I am no longer a fresh-faced teenager or an idealistic college student.  I’m a mother, a wife, and a leader at a respected environmental organization.  I am much more aware of my privilege, which has influenced in uncountable ways the opportunities I have been given and successes I have achieved.  I am acutely attuned to the connectivity of privilege, and how you cannot isolate reproductive freedom from environmental justice, racial inequity from economic achievement, or education from poverty.  These issues are inextricably linked – to march for one value means marching for them all.

And so, this Saturday, Jan. 21, I will march in Oakland, this time joined by my husband and our two-year-old son.  I will march for women’s reproductive justice and equality. I will march because Black Lives Matter, and I cannot escape nor deny my own white privilege or that of my son’s. I will march against climate change deniers because facts are facts, and in the coastal Bay Area we are on the front lines of this battle.  I will march for peace around the world and in the streets of Oakland, the city I now call home. I will march for my friends and family members who don’t conform to typical gender roles and should have the same freedom to follow their hearts and love who they love.  I will march for immigrants because less than two generations ago it was my grandmother on the boat far from her home seeking a better life.

I will represent Save The Bay at this march, but not just Save The Bay.  When I march on Saturday, I will be marching for all of my values and all of the communities that I hold dear.

I hope you will march with me.

Why I’m joining the Women’s March

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I’m not a woman, but I will march with them, for them, and for our environment when I take part in the Women’s March on Saturday.

I am not the marching type, but I’ll be there for the SF Women’s March.  

You could say I’m torn. In general, I’m uneasy with the edge-of-chaos vibe of street protests. I’m unnerved by how often peaceful protests get hijacked by vandals and thugs, especially near my home in Oakland. And chanting mobs—even those that echo my personal opinions—tend to creep me out.

But I also believe that mass protest is one of the most powerful tools for giving voice to marginalized people and ideas. Protests can fuel a movement with spiritual strength and emotional resonance, and inspire the emergence of new leaders: Passionate change-makers who will keep fighting for what’s right, long after the crowds have dispersed and the headlines have faded. The promise of that real, sustained impact inspires me to march.

I am not a woman, but I will take part in the Women’s March.

Like millions of men across the country, I am deeply offended by the disgusting behavior toward women that we have seen from our new president. I am angry about the blatant sexism that played a far bigger role—on the left and the right—in Hillary Clinton’s loss than many of us want to acknowledge. And I genuinely believe that more women’s voices, on the streets and in the halls of power, are essential to restoring sanity to our country’s politics.

I am proud that my environmental work carries on the legacy of three strong, passionate women who faced the powers-that-be of their day, and created the country’s first real grassroots environmental movement. The legacy of Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick inspires me to march.

I’ll march for women, for the environment, and so much more when I take part in the Women’s March.

Over the months and years ahead, a real challenge for those of us who oppose the new administration’s awful policies will be to avoid infighting over what issues get attention and which fights get prioritized. If the Women’s Marches all across the country have any lesson for us going forward, it is that we must stand together across many issues—from reproductive rights to racial justice, press freedom to environmental protection and beyond. That’s how we show our collective power. The notion of joining together in a coalition of shared values, to protect people and planet, inspires me to march.