Dr. John Francis

John Francis’ environmental work began in 1971, when he witnessed a tanker collision and oil spill in San Francisco Bay. It was then that he gave up the use of motorized vehicles and began to walk in protest of environmental degradation. Several months later, on his 27th birthday, fed up with the arguments his decision created, John took a vow of silence lasting for 17 years. During that time, he founded Planetwalk, a non-profit environmental awareness organization, and received a PhD in Land Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ending his silence, John served as project manager for the United States Coast Guard Oil Pollution Act Staff of 1990, in Washington, DC, where he assisted in writing oil spill regulations. He is the first education fellow at the National Geographic Society where he has published two books, Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking, and The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World. John speaks and consults with a variety of audiences around the world and is currently walking across Africa.

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