In 1971, John
Francis witnessed an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay. The following year,
Francis made good on a pledge to never ride in a car again, and for 22 years he
walked across North and South America.
A year after he
stopped riding in motorized vehicles, on his birthday in 1973, Francis decided
to stop speaking for a day and instead listen to what others had to say. He
found the experience so valuable that he kept his silence for the next 17
years, ending his silence on Earth Day in 1990.
environmentalist nicknamed the “planetwalker,” will speak at Clackamas
Community College on Wednesday, April 17, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. He will lead a
workshop the following evening, Thursday, April 18, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The
events are sponsored by the CCC Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center and
the Earth and Spirit Council. Both events take place in the Gregory Forum.
During his largely
silent trek, Francis completed three college degrees: a bachelor’s degree from
Southern Oregon University, a master’s degree at the University of Montana, and
a doctorate in land management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He
traveled to each college by foot and by boat, accompanied by his banjo, and lectured
During his years
of walking, he covered thousands of miles, traversing the United States, and
traveling to Cuba, South America, Patagonia and Antarctica. Francis has been
employed by the U.S. Coast Guard to work on legislation related to the
management of oil spills, and in 1991 he was named a United Nations
Environmental Goodwill ambassador. He is the author of the book “Planetwalker:
How to Change Your World One Step at a Time.”
Francis will speak
at CCC in connection with the college’s annual Sustainability Series. His April
17 address is free and open to the public. The workshop on April 18 will be
offered at a sliding scale from $25 to $40, but no one will be turned away. To
reserve a space at the workshop, please call 503-594-3696.