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Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years…

Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence. (original 2005; edition 2009)

by John Francis

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1541477,562 (3.69)7
Title:Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
Authors:John Francis
Info:National Geographic (2009), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Stewart's Read
Tags:Y09, travel, philosophy

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Planetwalker by John Francis (2005)



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Although I generally abhor "inspirational" literature, I found this book to truly be so. I have often thought that if I could just keep walking, everything troubling me on both a personal and planetary plane would sort itself out. Well, John Francis actually accomplished my fantasy, adding to it a 17-year vow of silence and a more than 20-year practice of not using any form of motorized transportation. Along the way, traveling from place to place on foot, he earned a Bachelor's degree in Oregon, a Master's degree from the U of Montana, and a Doctoral degree from the U of Wisconsin, Madison. He also became a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and an expert on oil spills. I am particularly struck by his journey from Montana to Wisconsin across the Dakotas. He had intended to spend the winter in Minneapolis, once he realized that he would not reach Madison before the weather became prohibitive. However, he either overestimated how fast he could travel or underestimated the weather, since he was forced to spend the winter in Watertown, North Dakota. How he transformed this set back into a positive experience is emblematic of his entire journey. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
I met this author while he was giving a speech at some environmental summit. The very next day I went out to get his book and now it is one that I suggest to EVERYBODY. The way its written along with the artwork by the author make it so personal like reading his journal. It is also one of the most inspirational books I've ever read. Just amazing!! ( )
  weeksj10 | Dec 21, 2010 |
After an oil spill in San Francisco in the late 1970s, Francis decides to do something about it in a personal way and gives up travel in motorized vehicles. Later, he decides to remain silent. This is a remarkable story of someone committed to his principles who has to find a new and different way to get along in the world. Francis eventually gets a Ph.D. in environmental sciences, wins an award as the best discussion leader (he doesn't speak!), and walks across America. Werner Hertzog said in a lecture that the best way to learn about something was to "travel on foot". Francis puts that idea to the test. It's tough to distill 22 years of walking into a book like this. Francis does a pretty good job of creating an interesting and thought provoking book. ( )
  co_coyote | Jul 18, 2010 |
ohn's story and what he has achieved is quite amazing and very inspirational.

This book has parts which for me seemed a little repetitive, with common themes. I.e. John walked, strangers couldn't believe it but ultimately helped him. It's not meant as a criticism of John merely an observation on the construction of the early parts of the book.

Notwithstanding the above, I come away with immense respect for John and plenty to think about! ( )
  rightantler | Jan 6, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Planetwalker is a book about physical commitment to living in a purposeful way. The author in the face of a society which has disconnected itself from the world, disconnects himself in two ways: he stops talking and starts walking. He then doesn’t do this for a day or a week or a year, but for more than a decade and a half in silence and more than 2 decades on foot. In this way, he creates an exemplary disassociation from the world. Beginning with a noticeable anger, this melts over time into a determined meditation on the environment and our society. A meaningful, if occasionally didactic, book.
  benpass4 | Dec 2, 2009 |
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The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.The inner journey is the interpolation of the meaning and signs of the outer pilgramage, one can have one without the other. It's best to have both.
-Thomas Merton, 1964
For John and La Java
for John and La Java
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On January 17, 1971, I witnessed a crude oil spill of nearly a half-million gallons in the waters near the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 142620275X, Hardcover)

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, the young man 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. The United Nations appointed him goodwill ambassador to the world’s grassroots communities and the U.S. government recruited him to help address the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Was he crazy? How did he live and earn all those degrees without talking? An amazing human-interest story, with a vital message, Planetwalker is also a deeply personal and engaging coming-of-age odyssey—the positive experiences, the challenging times, the characters encountered, and the learning gained along the way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After witnessing the devastating effects of an oil spill in the San Franscisco Bay, John Francis' solitary pilgrimage began when he started a walk that would ultimately continue for 22 years. 'Planetwalker' is his personal and engaging account of environmental protest.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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