On October 20, 2007, after having a revelation about the severity of climate change, Marshall Saunders launched Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He then inspired over 170,000 everyday citizens to appeal directly to their members of Congress. He helped empower them to offer a bold and straightforward solution to address climate change. Everyone who met Marshall, heard him speak, and worked beside him walked way with determination and a deeper belief in their own ability to change in the world. On December 27, 2019, at the age of 80, Marshall Saunders passed away at his home in Coronado, California.
As host of Citizens’ Climate Radio, Peterson Toscano had the pleasure of sitting down to record interviews with Marshall multiple times. In these lively conversations, Marshall’s voice is filled with kindness, wisdom, tenderness, insights, and mirth. Whenever Marshall spoke about CCL, he expressed an unshakable faith in individuals to do far more than they ever imagined possible. As a leader, he influenced hundreds of thousands of volunteers to believe something outrageous—that cooperation in the U.S. Congress leading to bipartisan climate legislation was not only possible, but inevitable.
For our main section, we return to the beginning and bring you an intimate, moving, and at times hilarious conversation with Marshall Saunders, founder of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and Mark Reynolds, the executive director. They reveal their origin stories. Highly ambitious and successful businessmen, they seemed unlikely candidates to head up an organization that puts relationship-building and climate advocacy at its heart.
Days after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Peterson interviewed Marshall again and asked if Marshall had book recommendations for listeners. Instead of suggesting books of nonfiction about climate, policy, or civics, Marshall immediately pointed to a 19th century novel, Leo Tolstoy’s “Resurrection.” The book is about a man who loses his way in the midst of a quickly changing industrial world. Tolstoy’s most philosophical work, “Resurrection” reveals flawed characters in need of redemption and the wisdom they discover as they find their way back to the places where they belong.
South African author Glen Retief reads an excerpt from the novel:
“We may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, more often wise than stupid, more often energetic than apathetic or vice versa; but it could never be true to say of one man that he is kind or wise, and of another that he is wicked or stupid. Yet we are always classifying mankind in this way. And it is wrong. Human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm. It is the same with men. Every man bears within him the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike himself, while still remaining the same man.”
Imagine you are at a political rally chatting with a new friend. Let’s call her Heather. When you ask her if she wants to join your climate group, she says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t have time for climate work. I feel bad saying that, but I work full time and have two children still in school. I don’t have time for protesting right now.”
It sounds like Heather has a limited view of what climate work looks like. How would you respond to Heather?
Send Peterson your answer by February 15, 2020, along with your name, contact info, and where you are from. You can email your answers to radio@ citizensclimate.org or leave a voicemail of 3 minutes or less at 518.595.9414. (+1 if calling from outside the USA.)
- A history of Bipartisanship – Bipartisan Policy Center
- Cooperation: Congress Simply Has to Bring it Back – Brookings Institution
- Five myths about bipartisanship – The Washington Post
- Marshall Saunders Obituary – Coronado Times
- Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy – Goodreads
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Citizens’ Climate Radio is a monthly podcast hosted by CCL volunteer Peterson Toscano.