Tag: Milliken intern

A Next Generation Voice Speaks Up to Keep Our Water Public and Protected

“Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “We put that mission into practice not only by pursuing solutions to water problems that will pay off for generations to come, but also by engaging young people who will carry forward the work as part of a rising generation.”

Each summer, we at FLOW seek out bright, talented interns to assist us with communications, policy, and legal research tasks, supported by The Helen and William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water. The Milliken Fund is designed to support work that protects the Great Lakes and the public trust rights of those who depend on them, inspires community action advancing environmental stewardship, and sustains internships at FLOW—the Great Lakes law and policy center based in Governor Milliken’s hometown of Traverse City—to foster a new generation of environmental leaders.

The family of former Michigan Governor William Milliken, who passed away in 2019, designated FLOW as one of two nonprofits to whom contributions could be made in the Governor’s memory. This choice reminds us that Governor Milliken dedicated much of his public service to the protection of the Great Lakes and all the other waters of Michigan. By supporting internships at FLOW, gifts made in the Governor’s memory serve to inspire remembrances of his work and affirm the potential that young people have for carrying it forward.

“Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “We put that mission into practice not only by pursuing solutions to water problems that will pay off for generations to come, but also by engaging young people who will carry forward the work as part of a rising generation.”

We are very pleased to announce that FLOW’s summer 2022 Milliken Intern for Communications is Mackenzie Joseph, a native of Johnstown, Ohio, and rising senior at Ohio University in Athens, who is majoring in Communication Studies with minors in History, English, Writing, and Political Communication. We asked Mackenzie to tell us a little about her background and what appeals to her about FLOW’s work.

Mackenzie Joseph: A Passion for Words and Freshwater Protection

I am from Johnstown, Ohio, and when not in school, I am heavily involved with performing in community theater and other arts programs in the Columbus area. In addition to my academic focuses, I am also the vice president of the award-winning Ohio University Speech and Debate Team and the overall individual events champion of the Ohio Forensics Association’s 2022 state tournament. My participation in collegiate speech and debate over the past three years has taught me many communications skills I plan to utilize during my work with FLOW. But it also led me to discover a personal passion for water advocacy and the importance of educating citizens and leaders to conserve and protect fresh water

When brainstorming a topic for my persuasive speech last fall, I stumbled upon an article detailing a cyberattack on a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida. In February of 2021, a hacker attempted to poison local drinking water there by introducing the chemical lye into the water treatment system. Learning more about this attack and other similar instances, I was shocked and frankly terrified that a water system could so easily be contaminated and how vulnerable many small municipal water facilities were to cyber threats. From this newfound knowledge, I then crafted a 10-minute persuasive speech focusing on the problems and causes behind the issue and how we as citizens can work together to produce tangible solutions. 

The Ohio River Basin has been a crucial player in the coal mining industry of rural Appalachia. But decades of this infrastructure have not come without cost. Acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines seeps into the freshwater sources and threatens vital aquatic life, endangers people taking part in recreation, and makes the water unfit for human consumption.

After spending months researching, writing, revising, and rehearsing my speech, I found myself deeply invested in water advocacy and ensuring that every citizen can exercise their right to safe water access. And by performing my speech numerous times at collegiate tournaments, I could share this passion with students and faculty from universities across the nation. At the Pi Kappa Delta National Speech and Debate Tournament in March, my speech received 8th overall in the nation and I had the honor of performing it in a showcase for hundreds of audience members.

Watch Mackenzie Joseph’s speech about the challenge of water security. 

But cyber security is only one issue plaguing our fresh water. Moving to Southern Ohio for college, I witnessed firsthand the threats to water facing my new community and the Appalachian region. The Ohio River Basin has been a crucial player in the coal mining industry of rural Appalachia. But decades of installing and operating this industrial infrastructure have not come without cost. Acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines seeps into the freshwater sources and threatens vital aquatic life, endangers people taking part in recreation, and creates water unfit for human consumption. With Southern Ohio being home to millions of people, many of whom survive on incomes well below the poverty line, this issue is only heightened.

I was immediately drawn to FLOW’s mission to acknowledge that water ‘belongs to all of us and is owned by no one.’ Water is something we physically cannot live without and it, therefore, impacts every one of us.

Before moving to my small college town, I had never lived under an alert to boil my water before use. But these alerts have become the unfortunate norm for residents, with more than 20 issued in a given year. Once I saw the firsthand impact on those in my community, I knew I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to help those in and out of Southern Ohio.

My journey in college and speech ultimately led me to discover FLOW, and the work the staff at FLOW does every day to defend and protect the water of the Great Lakes—including groundwater and drinking water.

I was immediately drawn to FLOW’s mission to acknowledge that water “belongs to all of us and is owned by no one.” Water is something we physically cannot live without and it, therefore, impacts every one of us. I was captivated by FLOW’s work in the public trust to ensure the protection and access to our water sources. As a communications intern this summer, I am honored to contribute my voice and knowledge to further FLOW’s mission to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all.

FLOW Welcomes Interns Nora Baty, Matt Harmon, and Henry Ludwig

Photo montage: From left, Nora Baty, Matt Harmon, and Henry Ludwig and his dog Sadie.

FLOW is thrilled to welcome our ambitious and talented crop of summer interns—Milliken law and policy interns Nora Baty and Henry Ludwig, and our Milliken intern for communications, Matt Harmon.

“At FLOW, our interns jump into the fray and immediately work together with our staff to protect our precious waters,” said Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “We are thrilled to welcome Nora, Matt, and Henry to the team, and excited to benefit from their fresh energy and ideas. As our Milliken interns, they have the skills and attributes to help extend the legacy of environmental protection left by Gov. William and Helen Milliken.”

Nora Baty is a rising third-year law student at the University of Michigan Law School, living and working in Ann Arbor. Nora is an articles editor with the Michigan Journal of Environmental and Administrative Law and the lead student coordinator of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters’ Green Gavels project. Prior to law school, Nora studied Environmental Microbiology at Michigan State University, where she was the Women’s Team Captain of the MSU Fencing Club for two years. During her time at FLOW, Nora is working on projects related to Line 5, particularly the revocation and termination of the easement and the pipeline permitting process.

“Environmental protection has always been a central value of mine,” says Nora. “Originally, I had planned to work in scientific research, hence the environmental microbiology degree. However, as time went on, it became increasingly clear to me that while I loved environmental microbiology, and still do, there was a need for legal advocates with a background in environmental science. I was immediately interested in FLOW’s work safeguarding the Great Lakes. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the wonderful advocates at FLOW this summer.”

Matt Harmon is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan with a major in International Studies and a minor in Playwriting. He is a writer, musician, and theater facilitator currently living in Royal Oak, Michigan. He is in the process of completing a year of service with AmeriCorps as a Green School Coordinator with the Youth Energy Squad, a program that engages Detroit students in hands-on, environmental justice-focused service learning projects.

Whether he’s writing music for a new play he wrote, organizing poetry readings and concerts with Rent Party Detroit, or hosting theater workshops with Sofa Stories Detroit, Matt is always looking to bridge the arts and community. With FLOW, Matt is serving as our Communications Intern, writing articles, taking photos, and recording interviews on water-related issues in Southeast Michigan and beyond.

“I was first attracted to FLOW’s dedication to covering all dimensions of water justice throughout the state,” says Matt. “This means interviewing activists, it means examining the role art plays in protecting our environment, and it especially means acknowledging that water ‘belongs to all of us and is owned by no one,’ as FLOW’s mission states. Water is something that is both tangible and elusive. It is a public good all around us and yet someone is always looking to capitalize off of it. FLOW’s commitment to public trust solutions continues to inspire me and is something I am incredibly excited to help further with my writing.”

Henry Ludwig is a rising second-year law student at Columbia Law School in New York City, where he is beginning a focus on environmental law and justice. Henry previously graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and International Studies. Henry is currently based in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, but plans to return to New York for the fall semester. At FLOW, Henry is working to develop a green infrastructure model statute for state and local governments, surveying groundwater protections in Michigan and across the country, and continuing to build on FLOW’s Public Water, Public Justice model legislation, which addresses both the sale of water for profit and the protection of drinking water and public health with new infrastructure funds.

“Growing up in Indiana, my family took regular vacations to Lake Michigan,” says Henry. “Still, it wasn’t until we took a week-long road trip circumnavigating the lake and visiting the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Superior that I began to understand the true nature and scale of this precious and invaluable resource.”

“My understanding of how water shapes life in this region changed again during my time at the University of Michigan,”Henry continues. “While living in the state, the Flint Water Crisis was ongoing, and the attention to the dangers posed by Line 5 began to skyrocket. I began to realize how this great resource was being abused for private gain and recognize the grievous inequities in access to the resource, which should be shared equally by all.”

“FLOW is an organization with bold and ambitious goals and has a team with the talent and knowledge to achieve them,” says Henry. “I was drawn to this team to help fight to end the inequities and abuses of the water that is so important to all of our lives. FLOW’s novel focus on the public trust is not only intriguing as a law student, but critical in holding our public officials accountable for protecting the resource that belongs to all of us. I am very excited to be on the team.”

Support the Milliken Fund and the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders

In 2020, FLOW launched the Helen and William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water to extend the former First Family of Michigan’s legacy of equity and environmental protection.

The Milliken Fund is designed to support work that protects the Great Lakes and the public trust rights of those who depend on them, inspires community action advancing environmental stewardship, and sustains internships at FLOW—which is based in Governor Milliken’s hometown of Traverse City—to foster a new generation of environmental leaders.

Established at FLOW by a bequest from the Milliken family, the Milliken Fund is welcoming donations from members of the public interested in investing in and extending Helen and Governor Milliken’s legacy of protecting the environment and especially the Great Lakes, advancing social equity, and promoting civility and bipartisanship.