Markie Miller

Markie Miller

Volunteer Organizer

September 17, 2020


Toledoans for Safe Water


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Toledoans for Safe Water is a local advocacy group committed to Rights of Nature and local self-governance through Community Rights. After the Water Crisis of 2014, we wrote, petitioned, and campaigned for the Lake Erie Bill of Rights - the first Rights of Nature law for a specific ecosystem in the United States. The law passed in a special election in 2019 with 61%. Despite corporate and State opposition to our law, the story continues and Toledoans for Safe Water remains strong and vocal advocates for the Rights of Nature, especially for our beloved Lake Erie. 

What current projects are you working on?

Rights of Nature is my life. I lend my voice to Lake Erie and Nature in the hopes that others will be inspired to speak up and take action to create the  just, fair, and sustainable communities they envision. Currently, I am sharing the story of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights all over.   

I recently participated in a new Rights of Nature documentary - INVISIBLE HAND - which premiered Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. After the film I was a panelist with notable activists and filmmakers, including executive producer and narrator Mark Ruffalo.

Locally, I continue to work with my grassroots group to bring awareness to illegitimate laws and legal structures. We’re changing the culture and demanding the law to follow - representing the things we value.  

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

We are positioned at the most Western point of Lake Erie. While we find ourselves exposed to some of the heaviest impacts of nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms this location reminds us that we must be good stewards of the Lake Erie ecosystem. 

It’s about stewardship, not ownership.   

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

Feb. 26, 2019 was a historic day for Toledo, Lake Erie, and Rights of Nature. This was the day Toledoans had the courage to step up where our state agencies had failed. With a vote of 61% we passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, recognizing the rights of Lake Erie to exist, flourish, and thrive. 

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

My Community. This is a dedicated and caring city. The people are not afraid to speak up and show creative solutions for local issues. 

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Lambertville, Michigan - spending my childhood summers on the shoreline of Lake Huron. While I'll always be a Michigander I call Toledo home. I graduated from the University of Toledo in 2012 with a degree in German and Anthropology. During my time as a UT undergraduate I helped establish a native prairie garden. This project helped me find my calling in the environmental issues. I was inspired by finding local actions with big impacts. I have a masters in Env. Science.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

We don’t lose until we quit - and we never quit. 

Favorite place for local culture?

Annual festivals and events like the Old West End Fest, cultural festivals, and Art on the Mall - there’s an event for everyone! 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

The Cloister room at the Toledo Art Museum. I will always be drawn to the beautiful and intimate twilight effect of the Cloister; my favorite room. If you didn’t know already - next time you visit ask them to dim the lights in that room.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

Black Kite Coffee. It is one of my favorite go-to places to relax, meet up with friends, or hang out for a productive work session. 

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 

Oak Openings Preserve. I have fond memories of Oak Openings. Growing up it was a place for picnics - walking the trails and building a fire in the little shelter by Mallard Lake. In 2015 I married my husband, Robert, in the Oak Openings Lodge. It’s a beautiful park year-round, but spectacular in the fall! 

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 

home with my husband or hanging out with family in Michigan. 

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

. . . to continue the mutual aid and resource sharing sparked by COVID-19. 

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

When The Daily Show with Trevor Noah contacted us about covering the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. It was a really fun way to showcase our effort and reach millions of people. 

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I would like to collaborate with Vandana Shiva. Her courage, wisdom, and fearless attitude are inspiring. 

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Killimer

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Three words that best describe my work are mindful, empowering, and energizing

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

O’ Be Joyful (Shovels and Rope)
Horoscope  (Eve 6)
Broken Bells (Broken Bells)
Spiceworld (Spice Girls)
Whatever random playlist suits my current mood 

My biggest vice is . . .

Binge watching the same shows on repeat all day long! 

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

Rights of Nature

What’s the last dream you recall having?

I never remember them! 

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. 

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

A petoskey stone necklace from my mom. I wear it as a reminder of my connection to the Great Lakes. It always makes me feel close to my family and strengthens my sense of place in this work. 

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

Feb. 26, 2019 was a historic day for Toledo, Lake Erie, and Rights of Nature. This was the day Toledoans had the courage to step up where our state and regulatory agencies failed. With a vote of 61% we passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, recognizing the legal and inalienable rights of Lake Erie to exist, flourish, and thrive. 

I want my last meal to be _______________.

delicious… and preferably anything from The Leaf and Seed Cafe!


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