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John Francis, Planetwalker

of National Geographic Fellow

www.planetwalk.org

John Francis, a visiting associate professor at the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, known the world over as the Planetwalker began his environmental work in 1971, when he witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. Feeling partly responsible for the mess washing up on the shore, he stopped using of motorized vehicles and began to walk. Several months later, because of the arguments his decision caused, John took a vow of silence lasting 17 years.

During that time, he founded Planetwalk a non-profit environmental awareness organization, received a B.S. degree from Southern Oregon University, a Masters in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana-Missoula, and a PhD in Land Resources from the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ending his silence, John served as project manager for the United States Coast Guard Oil Pollution Act of 1990 Staff, in Washington, DC. and United Nations goodwill ambassador to the World’s grassroots communities

He authored Planetwalker: 17-Years of Silence, 22-Years of Walking and “The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World” both published by the National Geographic Society, where he is currently an education fellow.

Walk and Roll in Amish Country

Paintings, photos, and thoughtful words bring to life the journey of a group of undergraduates walking (or wheel-chair rolling) across Indiana with NG Explorer John Francis, the Planetwalker.

Planetwalk 2013: Our Last Day Walking

Our last day walking, and the weather was a glorious performance of sun and gentle warm breezes, passing with us over the Indiana countryside and through the Amish communities and farms.

Voices of Planetwalk 2013: Liberation, Inspiration, and Really, Really, Tired Feet

National Geographic Explorer John Francis is currently leading an undergraduate group on a “Planetwalk” through rural U.S. states. Meanwhile his longtime collaborator Jon Waterhouse is on a somewhat similar mission in Alaska. Follow them both here on Explorers Journal. By Planetwalker Alexandra Branscombe Reaching the Ohio-Indiana border was like finishing a marathon, so naturally, Planetwalkers have…

Voices of Planetwalk 2013: My Day of Silence

National Geographic Explorer John Francis is currently leading an undergraduate group on a “Planetwalk” through rural U.S. states. Meanwhile his longtime collaborator Jon Waterhouse is on a somewhat similar mission in Alaska. Follow them both here on Explorers Journal. There may have been Robins in the yard, but snow was in the forecast. An early spring…

The Voices of Planetwalk 2013

What about John Francis’ environmental mission could inspire college students to spend spring break walking through the snowy streets of Ohio?

Planetwalk 2013: On Foot Through Indiana and Ohio

John Francis is currently leading an undergraduate group on a “Planetwalk” through rural U.S. states. Follow along as they tackle the country one step at a time and share their thoughts and lessons along the way.

Redefining the Environmental Movement: Part III

Can college students focused on environmental and social justice have a constructive meeting with the Department of Defense? You might be surprised.

Redefining the Environmental Movement: Part II

In his new role as graduate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, John Francis leads a seminar where 12 graduate students discuss and examine the awakening and the current state of conservation and the environmental movement, including Environmental Justice, gaining the new insights that can come from classroom reflection and interactive discussion through through National…

Redefining the Environmental Movement

John Francis has a simple hypothesis: People are part of the environment and the way we treat each other has manifested into the physical environment in the form of our environmental problems. Now 12 graduate students are helping him explore this concept and gain new insights and ideas in class and online.