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Sixth & I

John Francis: Planet Walker

May 19, 2008 • 7:00 pm ET
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22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.

In the early 1970s, an idealistic young man named John Francis gave up using motorized vehicles after witnessing the devastating effects of an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. In early 1973, he took a more radical step still: a vow of silence that lasted 17 years, during which he undertook a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace, earning a PhD. in land management along the way. Finally, on Earth Day 1990, Francis ended his vow in a moving ceremony before family and friends.

Since then, he has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Programme, founded Planetwalk, a nonprofit environmental education organization, and related the experience of his years of silence in a memoir-cum-call to action: Planetwalker. Hear this passionate, yet pragmatic activist share his message of pilgrimage and social change.