Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Taylor
By Katie Zakrzewski
Climate hero or superhero? Apparently, CCL has them both.
Our volunteers run the gamut of hobbies and activities for raising social awareness about the impacts of climate change. But not every CCLer can say that they played a superhero on TV and taught their fans about environmentalism. Mark Taylor is a rare exception. He has lived a colorful life of acting and comedy before teaching those around him to be more aware of the environment.
After college, Mark started a 20-year career in entertainment by getting into political theater. This morphed into a comedy group and eventually led to him doing stand-up comedy. He even found himself performing with big names like Ellen DeGeneres and Robin Williams!
Mark would go on to model and act in commercials before growing a cult following as the live-action superhero Plastic Man, a stretchy DC comics superhero with the power to bend and twist his body into different shapes. Mark performed as Plastic Man under the pseudonym Taylor Marks on a nationally syndicated children’s TV show. Ironically, Mark shares with his fans that he now fights against oil — the very substance that makes plastic possible.
A fellow CCLer had the following to say about Mark:
“He has been an extraordinary mentor, leader, collaborator and educator. He has guided me as a new member in all sorts of activities: letters to the editor, support locally and in lobbying last year. He’s smart, wise and has a great sense of humor. I was so impressed with his dedication over recent years that I donate to CCL monthly in his honor. Mark took a wide variety of folks he’d never met — except by Zoom — and focused us into a streamlined team. Mark Taylor knows how to lead.”
In this free time, you can find Mark hiking, kayaking, doing yoga, and playing with his new puppy.
How did you get involved in the environmental movement?
I was born in San Jose, California, 70 years ago. After growing up in horrible 1960s California smog, I celebrated the very first Earth Day in April 1970 by burying a car engine at my high school with like-minded student environmentalists. After graduating from Yale, I bought a bicycle and worked my way across the country by working odd jobs. I was alone, and it was a wonderful way to see the natural beauty (and friendly people) of America. It took about six months.
In the aftermath of my smog/1970 Earth Day experience, people countered that cleaning up the smog was unaffordable — smog devices and regulations would ruin the auto industry. The argument I heard was, “people won’t be able to afford cars!” Fortunately, enough politicians did the right thing, so my old hometown now has clear air, and the California economy has boomed ever since.
After I married and started a family, I had a stroke and two brain surgeries. The years that followed were dedicated to physical therapy and family. Though I always had sympathy for environmental issues, I typically just donated money. After my retirement in 2018, I decided to get my environmental hands dirty. Climate change was clearly the most urgent problem. So, here I am.
How did you find out about Citizens’ Climate Lobby?
I found out about CCL by chance. I went to see my congresswoman about another political matter. While waiting to see my congresswoman, I struck up a conversation with another citizen constituent and expressed interest in getting involved with climate change. She was a CCL volunteer and told me all about her work and advocacy.
Are there any projects that you’re working on within CCL right now?
I use all the CCL levers in my climate advocacy. Right now, I’m trying to connect with some old grasstops friends from my days at Yale and from working in comedy to get some endorsements. I’m also now volunteering with an urban tree canopy group, spreading the CCL gospel.
What are your thoughts on CCL’s new policy expansion?
I understand how the current political reality caused this expansion. We’ve got to urgently facilitate the Inflation Reduction Act policies while maximizing all politicians to wade into the climate issue as deep as they can. We knew carbon fee and dividend was no silver bullet — just a big part of the buckshot.
What are some of your future goals for your CCL chapter?
The activity in our local chapter has diminished since COVID isolation. I hope to grow the chapter with improved onboarding and spreading the CCL word through my other activities. At the risk of seeming like an absolute nut, I try to address climate change to at least one new person every day — when waiting in line, for example. The point isn’t to argue; the point is discussion. I’ve never had a bad experience. Advocates like Katharine Hayhoe say that spreading the word is key to societal change.