Monday, December 1, 2008

Meeting the Planet Walker

Anna and I spent last Friday in Point Reyes with our good friends Pam Heyda and John Wall. We all had the great, good fortune to meet John Francis. In the photo above Anna looks on as John Francis inscribes a copy of his book Planetwalker.

Environmentalist and author, John Francis.

In 1971 John Francis witnessed the collision of two oil tankers under the Golden Gate Bridge and the subsequent spill of 500,000 gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay.

He was so moved by the incident that he vowed to stop riding in motorized vehicles of any kind. He began walking on a journey that would take him across the world and around the world.

As he traveled, John engaged people he met in lively debate on environmental issues until one day he realized he was talking and arguing more than he was listening. He tried not talking for a day to see how much more he could learn by only listening. One day grew into two, then a week, then a year went by and he was still not talking. John didn't end his silence for 17 years. In that time he walked around the world, earned three degrees, including a PhD, and worked for the Coast Guard writing key environmental legislation concerning oil spills.

John has served as a UN ambassador and recently lectured at TED. His book, "Planetwalker," chronicles his seventeen year journey of silence for the sake of environmental consciousness.

John Francis lives in Point Reyes, California with his wife and son.

Photo: ©2008 David W. Sumner

3 comments:

namastenancy said...

What a story! I didn't know about this guy - thanks for the post. We sure need a lot more people like him around.

David W. Sumner said...

Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. I agree we do need more people like John in this world.

John W. Wall said...

I finally finished his book. Good stuff! I only wish I'd read it *before* meeting him.