Jeff loves the sense of purpose Save The Bay programs provides his classes as they connect with local wetlands. “There’s always a goal for each day – mulch this section, remove this invasive plant.” Jeff says the hands-on activities truly stick. “I’m always thrilled at how much they remember trip to trip – details about estuaries and watersheds.”
Trash is just one topic his students mull over long after they’ve helped clean up the shoreline. “When they see that a lot of that is food wrappers from sewers – it stays with them. Plus, I can take that and go off on a tangent about harmful plastic!”
Jeff, meanwhile, is planning a trip somewhere tropical. “My wife just got her scuba diving certification, so I want to take her somewhere warm for her first dive!”
We’re wishing Jeff, his wife, and our caring community a safe and happy New Year.
P.S. Save The Bay and Alaska Airlines have teamed up to make your vacation dreams a reality this holiday season. When you donate at least $250*, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to win fourround-trip airline tickets to anywhere they fly! Your generous support will help us meet our $100,000 goal and protect the Bay we love. Thank you.
From the ancient Egyptians to the Ohlone living here in the Bay Area, many cultures experience winter as a powerful time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. The season officially begins Thursday, December 21st – with a solstice! The term translates to “sun stands still,” as the sun appears to pause in its incremental journey across the sky.
Save The Bay decided to mark this changing of the seasons by planting seedlings with some of our most dedicated volunteers and donors. Through their labor and their generosity, this diverse community had already given richly to support our programs. But on last Saturday’s Solstice on the Shoreline event, they dug right into soil to help out even more. Former board members joined avid gardeners and corporate partners to put on gloves, pick up trowels, and protect our Bay.
Along the way, Donna Ball and Kenneth Rangel of our Restoration team explained how our staff cleans seeds and sanitizes soil using somewhat simple tools. They made clear these tasks can be both intricate and time-consuming without advanced technology. However, as we build the support necessary to cover this equipment, Save The Bay staffers remain plenty resourceful in their push to create habitat.
Meanwhile, high winds and incredibly hard ground never phased our passionate participants last weekend. Our restoration staff used an auger – a drill bit that can create holes in the ground – to start each of our planting spots. Then, our lively group got to work (sometimes wielding pickaxes!). In the end, we carved a warm bed to lay the young seedlings.
Building community to share Save The Bay’s story is a key part of my role as Events & Outreach Manager. I’m thrilled that the events I design and host can genuinely boost the health of San Francisco Bay. Witnessing that “A-ha” moment on a volunteer’s face as they begin to understand their own role in protecting our Bay is incredibly rewarding. After all, my own positive experiences as a student and educator are a major source of inspiration as I work to connect – and expand – Save The Bay’s community.
Save The Bay is a resource for learning, scientific exploration, rejuvenation, and above all, making memories. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I encourage you to take a moment to breathe in the Bay air, take a calming walk along its shores and rejuvenate your soul. We are ready to start building a year’s worth of amazing events and gatherings for 2018. I look forward to seeing you at Blue, our Bay Brunch Cruise on Earth Day (April 22, 2018), and Bay Day, our region-wide celebration for San Francisco Bay, on October 6, 2018.
You and your family can also join one of our public programs for free throughout the year. Save The Bay relies on thousands of volunteers annually to make progress on our many wetland restoration projects. Check our calendar often as spaces fill quickly. We can also create dedicated private restoration events for your group or company. Contact Jack Wolfink at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Last summer, we had a young and passionate employee at our Save The Bay office: Shreyes, a 13-year-old intern who volunteered with our Marketing and Communications department.
Shreyes was homeschooled and began his academic adventures at the age of five. He excelled, and when he was 9-years-old, he enrolled in an Environmental Studies class at Foothill College. This class changed his life forever. He discovered a passion for conservation that eventually led him to Save The Bay.
After taking the course, Shreyes realized how important it is that we care for the environment. He writes in his blog:
“If we don’t clean up our act, and fast, Homo sapiens will soon cease to exist.
That’s why we have to save the environment.”
“Every single one of us has to pitch in to ensure our species’ survival.
Yes, even me. So I did.
The summer after taking that environmental science course, I replaced 90 percent of all incandescent light bulbs in our house with LEDs or CFLs. I turned off our sprinkler system. I reduced our A/C consumption. Our house’s energy usage was halved, and our water bill reduced by about 20 percent. I even convinced my family to install rooftop solar. But there was only so much I could do at home. One house cannot solve climate change. So I got involved in causes and decided to take action.”
Lucky for us, Shreyes decided to contact Save The Bay and we welcomed him as one of our Communications Fellows.
Your back to school gift to Save The Bay can inspire students like Shreyes.Your donation will support programs like SEED (Students Engaging in Ecological Design), which engages middle and high school students in the complete cycle of tidal marsh restoration from seeds to ecosystems. Your contribution will also support all the education, restoration, and advocacy efforts that teach and inspire students in the Bay Area and beyond.
Shreyes is a truly gifted young man, and his amazing story shows how environmental education can inspire students to protect and preserve the planet. Shreyes had to make an impact…
“Like many, I want to make a difference in my community and the world. Here at Save The Bay, I get the chance to do so.”
Our programs provide students with an opportunity to positively interact with and protect our beautiful Bay. After all, these young minds will be responsible for the Bay in the future — and our actions today will influence how they treat our environment tomorrow and for years to come.
Thank you, Shreyes, for your drive and desire to do good in the world! And, to all of our youth and student supporters, we wish you a successful school year ahead.
After careful deliberation, the cover photo and images for next year’s calendar have been chosen! Congratulations to our 2018 Calendar Cover Photo Winner, Mike Oria! Mike’s photo, Day Break from Clipper Cove, highlights the Golden Gate Bridge’s lesser-known sibling, the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
In addition to connecting San Francisco to the East Bay, here are some of our favorite facts about this bridge:
The old Bay Bridge is being repurposed in creative ways. The Bay Bridge Steel Program is making materials from the old portion of the bridge available for creative reuse in civic and public art projects, like this statue at Joshua Tree National Park.
My name is Ian McKernan and I am a 7th grader at Shorecliffs Middle School in Orange County. Although I live in Southern California, I have visited the Bay Area many times and am always impressed with how clean and good the Bay looks. It’s always fun for me to see how many people enjoy it too. Personally, I like to sail around Dana Point Harbor, so I always look for people sailing on the water.
National History Day (NHD) is a year-long school program where students do research on historical topics that they choose and develop projects about them. The projects are then entered into contests at the local and state levels and the top projects from each state advance to the national contest in Washington D.C. at the end of the school year. More than half a million middle and high school students participate in NHD annually.
While researching the story of saving the Bay, I was most surprised to learn that San Francisco Bay was not protected by environmental laws in the 1960s like it is today. At that time, landowners, cities, and factories could build on the Bay and dump their toxic trash directly into the Bay. And they did just that! I was also surprised to learn that the laws that we have today resulted from the efforts of Save The Bay’s founders, not from the existing environmental groups or politicians at that time.
I was also impressed by how enthusiastic the people I interviewed for my project (Save The Bay’s Executive Director David Lewis, former Chief Engineer of the Bay Model William Angeloni, Sylvia McLaughlin’s daughter Jeanie Shaterian, and Senator McAteer’s son Dr. Terry McAteer) were when talking about an event that happened over 50 years ago. Their enthusiasm showed me how the women’s fight had a huge impact on the San Francisco Bay we enjoy today, and the importance of continuing their legacy of conservation into the future.
Another giant in the movement to save San Francisco Bay from destruction has passed away. Former State Assemblyman John T. (“Jack”) Knox died at the age of 92 on April 4, after a long illness. Knox represented Richmond and West Contra Costa County in the Assembly for 20 years, starting in 1960, and served as Assembly Speaker Pro Tem.
He was a key leader in passing the McAteer-Petris Act to establish the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) as a permanent agency to regulate development in the Bay and on its shoreline. He also led the creation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970, requiring all projects in the state to undergo a rigorous evaluation of environmental impacts and alternatives before approval.
Save The Bay recognized Knox’s substantial contributions to the health of the San Francisco Bay with our Founding Member Award in 2008. Knox was a long-time member of Save The Bay’s Advisory Council and regularly attended our annual Founding Members Tea.
Knox was a smart attorney and became an accomplished legislator, which colleagues attributed to his personality as much as his knowledge: “Amid the understandable demonization caused by our new, toxic White House, let us pause and acknowledge a great public official,” said former Assemblyman William Bagley about Knox last week. “During my own 14 years in the Assembly and thereafter, I never heard him disparage anyone, not even outrageous colleagues.”
The East Bay Times noted in its obituary for Knox:
“Knox’s win with the McAteer-Petris Act was groundbreaking at a local and international level, and continues to have a profound impact on the Bay today. As the first coastal zone management agency, the BCDC became the model for most others in the world, and since its inception has fostered a net gain in the size of the Bay through tidal marsh restoration. The new public shoreline access mandated by BCDC agency permits have increased the six miles of access in 1969 to over 300 miles today, providing Bay residents throughout the Bay area with opportunities to connect with the Bay, and become its stewards.”
At a speech in 1988, Save The Bay co-founder Esther Gulick recalled an example of Knox’s leadership in the crucial year of 1969. The original BCDC commission had delivered its report to the legislature with recommendations for managing the Bay. If the legislature didn’t act to make the Commission permanent, it was scheduled to go out of business. After the original BCDC leader, Senator McAteer died of a heart attack in 1967, and the successor leader, powerful Senator George Miller, Sr., also suffered a fatal heart attack in early 1969, Knox introduced and shepherded the same McAteer-Petris bill in the Assembly.
“One committee meeting that will never be forgotten was the hearing on John Knox’s Bill #AB 2057. KQED telecast this hearing to the Bay Area. The meeting room was packed and the large room next to it where one could hear, but not see what was going on, was also filled. People stood out in the hall. The lawyer for [developer] Westbay spoke passionately against the bill. Finally, John Knox asked him if he had read it. He said no.”
On its final vote in the legislature, the bill passed by one vote and BCDC became permanent upon the signature of Governor Ronald Reagan on August 7, 1969.
Among Knox’s many legacies is the beautiful Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline Park in Point Richmond. Knox was also a World War II veteran, whose Army service included a posting in Nome, Alaska. He is survived by his wife, Jean, children John, Charlotte and Mary, and seven grandchildren.
Our fearless leader, David Lewis, celebrates his 19th Anniversary at Save The Bay this month. To honor this occasion, David’s colleague and friend, Robin Erickson, CFO, sat down for a chat to hear about his motivations, what keeps him up at night, and how he’s changed as a leader over nearly two decades.
I’ve worked for this man for 12 years. That’s 3,000 days in the office together. (OK, we’ve taken a few vacations in there, but you get the idea). And when I think about why I’m still at Save The Bay, David Lewis is at the forefront.
I’ve never stopped learning from David. About our fascinating Bay, about politics and history, and random Latin phrases I really wish I could remember (and have no idea how he does).
In the 12 years I’ve known David, he’s never slowed down. He leads by example. He cares about the people who work for him. He welcomes differing opinions. He doesn’t get defensive when you point out mistakes. He’s the first to sign up for kitchen cleaning duty.
I respect David a lot. So I was honored to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.
Robin: What’s the best part of your job? David: A rare part of the job – being on the Bay, which I get to do when I’m participating in tours with donors or stakeholders. I’m lucky to see it from my office window (and my house), but it’s not the same. Experiencing the Bay be it walking, hiking, biking, sitting on the beach, kayaks, volunteering in a wetland restoration, etc. is inspiring and it’s what drives me to get up and go to work every day.
Robin: What’s the hardest part of your job? David: Seeing more opportunities for Save The Bay to protect and restore the Bay than we have people and resources for. We have to be very strategic because there are way more things to work on than we are able.
Robin: How have you changed as a leader in 19 years? David: I’ve developed more confidence to make changes that need to be made. Earlier on I wasn’t always able to recognize when change was needed and act quickly. And I’ve realized the importance of hiring the best people available. Your effectiveness as a leader depends most on the people you hire. I’ve also become more comfortable delegating work, like some writing tasks and funder relationships.
Robin: When the going gets tough, what values and practices do you lean on to get you through your day? David: Do something. When things get overwhelming it can seem paralyzing. I try to do the most important thing, but if that isn’t obvious I at least try to do something. It’s about action. It’s important to plan and to build alignment and consensus, but you can’t let that get in the way of making the call or having the meeting. What organizations and individuals do is more important than what they are “for.”
Robin: Where have you seen the most impact in environmental conservation in the Bay Area in the last 19years? David: When environmentalists truly partner and enlist other constituencies they have the most impact. There’s a saying, “Winning advocacy is about addition.” We have who we have, but how do we get who we need that we don’t yet have on our side? Measure AA is a great example. There wasn’t any doubt that we would gain environmental leaders’ and organizations’ support, but we were going to need support from a two-thirds majority of 3.5 million registered voters. That required support from people who care about the Bay but don’t primarily identify as environmentalists — business leaders, labor unions, community organizations, elected officials. That’s why it took 10 years. In the Bay Area we’ve done most of the easy stuff. Hard stuff requires building alliances and support outside our core constituency.
Robin: Like many conservation nonprofits, Save The Bay has survived decades of climate deniers and low funding prioritization. Today’s political climate creates more hurdles for nonprofits like us, how will Save The Bay survive for another 50+ years?
David: What you said about climate deniers is true in general but less true in the Bay Area and on the issue of the Bay. People here are mostly not climate deniers, they have concern for the environment and pride in the Bay, and we are a wealthy region overall, so it’s not as much of a challenge for us to tell that story (and be believed) as it is for environmental organizations in other parts of the country. A bigger challenge is that there are a lot of important causes competing for attention and support here (and the overall number of conservation donors is still a small fraction compared with other nonprofit causes). One of Save The Bay’s advantages, if we use it, is that our issue is visible and beloved. But when people look at it, the Bay looks beautiful, so we have to work harder to explain that the Bay isn’t saved: it is still threatened by pollution, climate change, and population growth in the region, and if we don’t continue to protect and restore it, it won’t support our economy or the lifestyle Bay Area residents love.
Robin: If a million dollars landed in our lap, what would Save The Bay work on? David: I’d have Save The Bay work in more cities for our Bay Smart Communities program. It’s a new program that we’ve just launched that focuses on the importance of greening Bay Area communities to ensure a clean and healthy Bay. We’re focusing on two cities to start with – Oakland and San Mateo – because we can’t be in too many places at the same time and know we can make a valuable impact in communities there. Long-term, I want us to be able to make a difference all around the Bay. I want us to make a bigger impact and faster… which requires a lot more money.
Robin: The Bay Area is the world leader in technological development. How has technology changed since you started at Save The Bay and what difference has it made?
David: On the plus side, technology gives us efficiency and power so we are able to reach more people to share our story and ultimately broaden support. The danger is when it becomes a crutch and barrier to personal contact because it’s often the personal contact that brings results. For example, we just got a first-time six-figure gift from a funder. I developed a phone relationship with a program officer, they spent two hours attending one of our restoration programs, and Save The Bay’s Habitat Restoration Director Donna Ball and I made an in-person presentation to their board. If I had limited my efforts to just email we wouldn’t have had the same result, but it was a multi-touch approach and the ability to have face-to-face time that helped us secure that support.
What I’ve learned is that every person likes to be contacted in different ways, for some, a phone call stands out more because email volume can be overwhelming, for others, they use text and social media to connect. A big advantage we have as a local organization with a volunteer program is that we can have that in-person contact, and that in-person time is priceless.
Robin: What keeps you awake at night? David: Trump, lately. I worry about what the last election means for the future of our planet, our country, and our Bay. I’m still a pretty good sleeper, though.
Robin: What do you do when you’re not working? David: I am fortunate to live on the edge of Tilden Park in the East Bay. I love to hike local trails and my dog loves it too because he can be off leash. I learned to ski after I was 40, which was difficult but (eventually) very rewarding. This year the snow came back after years of drought and low snowpack, so I’ve enjoyed some epic skiing with my family.
Robin: What advice would you give to yourself at 20? David: Work less, travel more. Robin: Why that advice? David: I grew up in the Bay Area, which is a great place, but not typical of the country or the world. Then I worked for 15 years in Washington, DC, which is also a great place, but pretty insular and sheltered “inside the Beltway”. I became a much more effective advocate by working on cleanup and shutdown of nuclear weapons production facilities with local activists. This was in remote places like Paducah, Kentucky, Amarillo, Texas, Eastern Washington state, and rural Ohio and Tennessee. That was tough territory. People working in those places had to be clever, efficient, and collaborative to be successful. By contrast, we live in a place where you can get 1,000 people to give you $25/year for almost any cause. It’s almost impossible to run an organization into the ground here because people here are well-off and generous and progressive. My travel to those other places made me appreciate what effective advocacy requires. Travel and exposure to more people and places has made me appreciate the advantages I have and the challenges other people face, so I can quickly get into that “don’t mourn – organize” mindset, appreciate the great advantages I have as a person, and we have as an organization. No whining!
Robin: Have you given that advice to your kids? David: My girls have traveled way more than I did at their age (more credit to their mom than me). They don’t need me to give them that advice.
Robin: What gives you hope? David: My kids. Young people, generally. We’ve had an incredible parade of talented people – staff and fellows – passing through the organization, bringing great work and energy and going on to other challenges. They become ambassadors for Save The Bay. Our Fellows Program is one of the best additions we’ve made at Save The Bay. It gives me hope.
I wonder at first why David Lewis has chosen to meet at Point Isabel, a somewhat nondescript stretch of filled Bay shoreline at the south edge of Richmond.
“What we’re standing on shouldn’t be here,” Lewis admits. “But look around!” He gestures toward the hills. “Up there is where Kay Kerr lived.” Kerr, one of the three founders of Save The Bay, the organization Lewis now heads, looked down on this shore when it was a row of active landfills pushing into the Bay—and knew she must take a stand. At home in Kensington, Lewis enjoys a similar but now less alarming view.
He gestures toward the Golden Gate. Under a streaky gray December sky is the glimmering reach of the Central Bay, bounded by its three big bridges, cradling its four big islands. In the campaign for Measure AA, the wetland restoration measure, “we learned what people see in their minds when they hear the word ‘Bay’.” It’s this: the bridges, the islands, the cities next to the water. Other stretches of bayshore are wider, wilder than Point Isabel. There are better places, north and south of here, for marshland restoration; there are better places to be alone with a big sky. Lewis is especially fond of China Camp in Marin and the vast expanses near Alviso. “But people like nature with people. That’s what we learned.”
Lewis grew up on an urbanized bayshore not unlike this one, in Palo Alto. The waterfront the family liked to visit had everything proper to such a shore: a duck pond, a sewage treatment plant, an airport where they went “to watch planes land,” and a dump. “Of course we went to the dump. The dump was a destination.”
His parents “sent in their dollar a year to Save The Bay,” the organization’s original and symbolic membership fee, but Lewis’s activism came home with him from school. During the 1976-77 drought, “I was the water police,” the monitor of running taps and lengthy showers. A summer class in natural history also planted some seeds.
These would not sprout, however, for 20 years. After high school, instead of following in his parents’ footsteps to Berkeley, Lewis chose the other coast, winding up at Princeton. He majored in politics and American studies, writing his senior thesis on the evolving nuclear freeze movement in the early 1980s. This interest led him to the arms control field and to Washington, D.C., where he worked successively for Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), and the League of Conservation Voters. But the Bay kept pulling him back. He and his family had already decided on the move when, in 1998, Save The Bay tapped him as its second executive director.
It didn’t take long for lobbying skills honed in Washington to come into use in California. In 1998, San Francisco International Airport released a plan to add runways on Bay fill, the first big Bay encroachment proposed since the 1980s. The powers that be lined up in unanimous favor. “It looked unwinnable,” Lewis recalls. Some conservationists toyed with the thought of a grand bargain: SFO would get its expansion but fund the purchase of all the restorable former wetlands around the Bay rim. Lewis wasn’t tempted. “If there was going to be any accommodation, it should be at the end of the environmental review process, not the beginning. Even if we lost, we would have represented the Bay well.” The ensuing campaign followed the classic Save The Bay model—factual, science-based, polite, equipped with reasonable alternatives, implacable—arguing that the airport could clear up its rainy-day delays with gentler, cheaper, more sophisticated means. That would prove to be the case. “Later,” says Lewis, “SFO Director John Martin thanked me.”
Lewis would gladly declare victory in the generation-long battle against Bay fill, but “an old-style fight” continues at Redwood City, where Cargill hopes to develop 1,400 acres of crystallizer beds once used for salt production with 12,000 homes. Opposition has slowed down this new juggernaut, and the public is increasingly skeptical of the plan. “Meanwhile, the sea level keeps rising and the traffic gets worse.”
The restoration of the wetland rim, more urgent than ever as sea level rise gains speed, is proceeding without Faustian bargains. Lewis threw himself into the campaign to pass Regional Measure AA. Now the citizens of nine Bay counties are taxing themselves to plow ahead with the restoration job.
Save The Bay has recently raised and widened its sights, from the here and now to the long-term future and from the immediate shoreline to the wider Bay watershed. The streams that feed the Bay are carrying too much pollution, too many plastic bags, and often too little sediment to help rebuild marshes, Lewis says. “We need to look upland and upstream and influence what’s happening there—the way cities develop and adapt and conserve.”
The watershed vision leads to these bold words in the organization’s year-old 2020 Strategic Plan: “We must help save the Bay Area as a sustainable community with a healthy Bay at its heart.”
How do you do that? “You build more and deeper relationships where the [land] development is happening, with elected officials and agency staff. You look for community organizations and businesses to ally with. And you go after the money! It doesn’t work otherwise.” Acknowledging that Save The Bay is one of many partners, Lewis notes with pride, “We are more active than others in getting more money. We endorsed ten local ballot measures in November, and nine of them passed.”
Walking back to the Bay Trail trailhead, next to the joyful dogs of the Point Isabel off-leash area, we pause at the channel that nourishes remnant Hoffman Marsh. Lewis eyes the waters for bat rays, points out the mud banks where endangered Ridgway’s rails loaf at low tide. Across the marsh is a culvert where an urban creek pours into the tide. This one, it turns out, lacks even a name: It is mapped as Fluvius Innominata. Several neighboring streams, however, have been “daylighted” here and there, reopened to the sky. It’s symbolic of what Lewis is looking for. “Daylighting helps the creeks and builds interest, awareness, stewardship.”
He speaks of the tension sometimes felt between access and preservation. “I have no patience with excluding people too much from nature.” He corrects himself: “I have patience with a lot of things, actually. But it’s not necessary to wall off all of the wildlife from all of the people. We have a big enough canvas to have strict nature preserves and recreational access areas, too.”
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.
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.