Tag Archives | Dr. John Francis

Photo by Rebecca Hale/National Geographic

Environmental Justice & Civic Conversation

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.  Simple, honest, human conversation.  Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings.  Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.”  — Margaret Wheatley On January 17, 1971, John […]

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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker

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Spreading a Message of Sustainability Through Silence and Action

In this edition of the Inspire Speakers Series, audience members will feel fortunate to have the opportunity to hear ONE WORD from Dr. John Francis, not to mention an entire lecture!  That’s because he once went 17 years without speaking.  That’s right – 17 years!  When John was 26-years-old, he witnessed an oil tanker collision on San Francisco Bay.  He felt so disturbed (and partially responsible for his use of oil), that he decided to give up motorized vehicles – a decision which spurred so many arguments with friends and family members that he decided to stop talking.  This was the beginning of a 17-year journey that led him to be known as the Planetwalker.  During the nearly two decades that followed, John received a Master’s degree, a PhD, and founded the Planetwalk Foundation (a nonprofit environmental awareness organization) – all while spreading a silent message of sustainable living.

Ending his silence in 1990, Dr. Francis has spent his subsequent years carrying that same message across the country.  Trust us – you’ll be glad that John decided to start talking again – and that you have the chance to listen!

More About John Francis

  • Author of Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
  • Author of The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World
  • Read an article about John here
  • See John’s TED Talk here


How does this topic relate to Western Pennsylvania?  April’s Inspire Speakers Series will feature local leaders (of all ages) who will share their stories of making a difference in their communities:

  • Patty DeMarco – Celebrating Rachel Carson: The Power of One Voice
    Patty is Visiting Writer & Researcher at CMU and is the former director of the Rachel Carson Homestead.  As our region commemorates the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s death this year, Patty will share her perspective on how far we’ve come and where we need to go.
  • Mike Schiller – Connecting the Dots: How the Built Environment Impacts the Natural Environment
    Mike is CEO of Green Building Alliance and was the founding director of Venture Outdoors.  Mike will describe how his passion for the outdoors led him to working in the green building industry.  An avid mountaineer, Mike will also connect the challenges and joys of mountain climbing to those of creating a healthy, high-performing space.
  • Students from the Environmental Charter School – Little People, Big Voices!
         Anyone can make a difference, no matter how young or old!  Students from the Environmental Charter School will share their stories of working to make a difference in their community and beyond. 


Networking begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Tropical Forest with food, a cash bar, and live music!  Inspire Speakers presentations will follow promptly at 6:00 p.m.  Want more interaction with our speakers? Register here to join John and the other speakers for dinner after the event.

Check out the rest of the Inspire Speakers Series presenters here!

Partner organizations for this event are:


Is this event out of your price range?  If so, you’ll have an option when you register to pick your own price.  We’ll be glad to have you as our guest!

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