After seeing a massive oil spill pollute San Francisco Bay in 1971, John Francis gave up all motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere he went -- including treks across the entire United States and much of South America -- hoping to inspire others to drop out of the petroleum economy. Soon after he stopped riding in cars, Francis, the son of working-class, African-American parents in Philadelphia, also stopped speaking. For 17 years, he communicated only through improvised sign language, notes, and his ever-present banjo. Listen to the environmental pilgrim, John Francis, retell the story in his own words!


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  • Jeanne

    He lives what he feels and believes.Witnessing the spill, immediately responding as he did, this is so inspiring. Arguing going nowhere he went silent. I know you can learn a lot by not speaking, but by truly listening and being present, not anticipating a response you want to make. He is good humored and insightful and...inspiring every step of his journey. Thank you!

  • Stella

    I feel what inspired me the most, was the call to change. Change is what I know I need to do. When my daughter was killed in a car accident Christmas 2008, I changed as my world crumbled around me. I lost a huge piece of myself and I know I need to change in order to live a good life.

  • Sharon

    His statement "Leave the place of what you have become. Go to the place of who we are becoming." That is worthy of silent contemplation. We can all make a difference if we try.

  • Christine

    I'm impressed by John Francis's tremendous integrity and creativity in expressing his concern for the environment, and the way he repeatedly revisited his choices, keeping them on-target.

  • Bina Patel

    I am amazed that John could accomplish so much without the use of vehicles and without talking. His focus on listening is what I have learned about before, but I never knew of anyone who lived it for such a long time! Absolutely amazing!

  • Josie

    Everything and I haven't even finished watching it yet!

  • Alex Tanti (Malta)

    Read your book on kindle, and must admit that it influenced me bigtime, wish if EU authorities will head hunt and sponsor this gentleman and ask him to tour/deliver speaches across Europe so that more will be made aware of the power of determination at this time of eco/economic turmoil,...

  • narender nagpal

    It is a very forceful real life touching story.It needs tremendous amount of determination and will power to remain silent for 17 years and walking for 22 years and now spreading the message which the humanity needs the most.The attitude and habit of listening and respecting each need to be inculcated in each one of us. He is areal Yogi and no less than a Saint. Thank you for the talk.

  • akhilesh

    He is no less than the mystics we find in india. They call it control over the senses to understand act according to your wish. John has achieved control over his actions and desires. He does what needs to be done and not what he is told to do. Salute to such people who think and have the courage to act.

  • Derrick Sweet

    Words can not describe the impact this man is making! I watch this man and I become more optimistic about the future of humanity. John Francis is amazing!

  • aellen

    This was very inspirational to watch this. I had never heard of John Francis, but now want to find a book on his personal story at the library or book store. This is definately a "keeper video". As someone who talks too much herself, it makes you pause to wonder of the power of silence.

  • Danielle White

    His words say it all... "We are the environment, how we treat each other is how we treat the (earth) environment". -John Francis

  • Bruce Larson*Moore

    Ones vision, extends as far as ones attitude allows...

  • Pushpak Mehta

    What a strong will power and thinking. Tremendous effect of small actions - associating those small actions with the bigger picture. What really amazed me is by being silent for so long, he became a wonderful speaker! Hope we all can learn something from John, implement it in our lives and make this world a better place.

  • Gladys Melendez

    I loved the message. It will be one that I show my students. Listening is a skill that we often forget to continue to build after elementary school. I remember teaching kindergarten one year and coming down with such a bad case of laryngitis. I had an assistant so I came into school. My students paid strict attention to what whispered. I remember being so surprised that they were so attentive and it certainly gave me an opportunity to really listen to them more importantly. To this day I remember all the names of the students in that group and many things that each of them said. It was my honor to have learned so much from them.

  • Maria S.

    This was not only very interesting, but also worth pondering. I liked the part about not speaking for 17 years. Why? As a private teacher I speak all day and feel all talked out at the end of it. He taught without speaking. I have to see how I can make use of that AND teach even more. What I have in common with Jon - I have been walking for 45 years. Not across the United States or any far distance, I just don't drive and walk everywhere I can. Worried about the current status of energy? I have been walking for the past 45 years.

  • Janice Canada

    Inspirational to say the least.

  • kateann

    WOW. Amazing journey

  • Page 1

  • Learn more about John Francis, and the mission behind Planet Walk.

  • What would life be like in silence? Ask Sara, who has just written a book about it.

  • If you had two values to stand up for, what would they be?  Explore how you can make a radical shift in your comittment to those values.

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