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Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence. [Paperback]

John Francis Ph.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 21 2009
When the struggle to save oil-soaked birds and restore blackened beaches left him feeling frustrated and helpless, John Francis decided to take a more fundamental and personal stand—he stopped using all forms of motorized transportation. Soon after embarking on this quest that would span two decades and two continents, he took a vow of silence that endured for 17 years. It began as a silent environmental protest, but as a young African-American man, walking across the country in the early 1970s, his idea of "the environment" expanded beyond concern about pollution and loss of habitat to include how we humans treat each other and how we can better communicate and work together to benefit the earth.

Through his silence and walking, he learned to listen, and along the way, earned college and graduate degrees in science and environmental studies. An amazing human-interest story with a vital message, Planetwalker is also an engaging coming-of-age pilgrimage.

Frequently Bought Together

Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence. + The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: Revised and Updated: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late
Price For Both: CDN$ 28.16

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Product Description


"It’s a remarkably insightful, poetic, and inspiring story, one that’s sure to make readers think more carefully about their own styles of living." — Booklist

About the Author

John Francis, Ph.D., is the founder and director of PlanetWalk, a nonprofit environmental education organization. He travels around the world speaking on pilgrimage and change, and on Planetlines, an environmental studies curriculum based on the walking pilgrimage.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So fresh and positive Nov. 27 2012
By Frere
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amazing story about the man the rewrote regulations for oil transportation. This book reads like a meditation. A great demonstration of how switching into slow living/thinking can awaken the immense power within us.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Planetwalker June 15 2008
By Helenoel - Published on
This was a Library Thing Early Reviewers book, and although it took me a while to get into it, I liked it and recommend it. When I first started it, there was a lot else going on in my life and I could not connect with it. I put it down and picked it up again on vacation and really enjoyed it. John Francis has a minimalist writing style and I found myself looking for more about him and his philosophy, but this is the story of his journey and he is true to that. He is not proselytizing or expecting others to emulate his decisions. He simply tells his story - How he stopped riding in cars, how he stopped talking, and how he managed his journey under those conditions. The glimpses of his travels are sparse, but telling. The style is journalistic, and I expect relies heavily on his journals- all present tense, and briefly descriptive. It is illustrated with his sketches ( I wish they could be larger), and punctuated with quotations from the text. The historical perspective is interesting and a nice juxtaposition to the current trend of paying attention to Carbon Footprints and our personal responsibility to the environment - Francis was 30 years ahead. The story of how his simple decisions (albeit with complex implications for his life) led him to significant accomplishments and allowed him to make a real difference in the world is a good lesson about the impact we each have, or could have. If you are interested in Environmental Studies, travel stories, or personal journeys, give it a try- Don't be surprised if it starts slow- it is worth the effort to stay with it. Francis has a good story and I'm glad I read it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somethings Missing April 26 2011
By Jessica B. Baker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am on the fence about this memoir. John Francis has lived this really unique life. Meeting people from all over the world, getting a phd, learning to build boats, and more all without speaking. I would have loved to learn more about these experiences but I feel like this memoir often focuses on mundane details like camp sites and water drop strategies. It's almost as if it was pieced together years after the walk with the help of a travel journal. Losing many of the personal details to the tides of time.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A zen-like journey Sept. 11 2008
By Amy C - Published on
An interesting journey, poetically documented (along with wonderful pen & ink sketches) by a man who was distraught by the damage we humans do to our environment. He sought to make a statement by changing his way of life, embodying his own philosophy. Certainly not a "how-to" guide (how did he afford his walkabout across the country? or all of his education? the apartments?), but he was clearly very resourceful, made friends easily, and even entrepreneurial in nature. A zen-like journey toward self-discovery by interacting with the environment & people around him, even in his self-imposed silence. The tone and pacing of the book shifted toward the end, where it seemed the flowing insightful wording from his journals drops away; the pacing fast-forwarding as he re-immerses himself in the "daily grind" of the "real world" -- the wording more stilted, more intellectual, professorial even. At this point, for me, the journey (inward & outward) seemed to disconnect. Up until then, the reading flowed beautifully.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never on the bookshelf! Jan. 2 2011
By Tyler Luke - Published on
I first bought this book after reading an article in Adventure National Geographic Magazine about John Francis. I was 15 when I first cracked open this book and have never placed it down since. It really made me think deep. This book opened up my eyes and gives you the 'anythings possible feeling'. The book is somewhat artistic. I enjoy reading his poems at the beginning of every chapter that sometimes foreshadows what lies ahead in the book. John Francis inspired me to the point that I'd take his book on vacations or hikes so I could write short poems in the back blank pages. I have read this book once a year since buying it in 2007. This book changed who I am today. It teaches you to listen to others opinoins before you speak. If you like nature and the outdoors you would most definately cheerish this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read, but challenging story Jan. 5 2012
By D. K. Bagshaw - Published on
This book was given to me for Christmas because I am interested in environmental issues, and have lived for more than a year without a car, walking, riding my bike, and using public transportation instead. I admired Francis' radical commitment to his non-motorized living style and don't feel so smug about my choice as a result. I also found his experience in silence fascinating - and wondered if the voices and arguments in his head came back - he never answered that. Maybe he will in his second book, which has the added appeal of larger prints of his drawings and paintings.

In short, I loved the first three chapters, and the ending of this book - found myself skimming some of the travelog in the middle. At times it reminded me of the first memoir written in English ("The Book of Margery Kempe" by a Medieval woman who after twelve children got her husband to take a vow of celibacy and embarked on the life of a pilgrim). Like Margery's book, a lot of the writing seemed centered on people's responses to and validation of such an extreme lifestyle.
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