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Welcome to Cambridge forum with Dr. John Francis. Planet Walker discussing his quest for a new and deeper environmental understanding. I'm David Morimoto director of Leslie University's natural science and mathematics division. What can a man who gave up motorized vehicles for 22 years and who lived in self-imposed silence for 17 years tell us about saving ourselves on this planet. In 1971 John Francis was a young man in his 20s when he witnessed a devastating oil spill in San Francisco Bay. His response was to renounce oil powered transportation to begin walking. And shortly thereafter he gave up talking and began to listen more fully. Over the course of the next twenty two years John Francis walks and listens as he traversed the United States from coast to coast walked the length of South America and sailed and walked through the Caribbean. During that time he earned undergraduate and master's degrees and a Ph.D. in land resources. He was recruited by the U.S. Coast Guard to wright oil spill regulations and was commended for his service there. He was also appointed United Nations goodwill ambassador to the world's grassroots communities on Earth Day 1990 he ended his silence and since he's been giving presentations around the world he's also begun to retrace his steps across the country for a few days every year beginning Earth Day. What did John Francis learn on this pilgrimage. His new book Planet Walker recounts both his inner and outer journey to a deeper understanding of stewardship for the planet and of the ways in which environmental crises impact social justice and world peace. His book points to the need for a new environmental ethic as well as the need for scientific inquiry as we search for ways to preserve the health of the planet for ourselves and for future generations. Welcome to Cambridge forum John Francis.
Thank you very much thank you David.
And I want you to if you will imagine the tinkling of a banjo and the banjo is my voice. It had been my voice for 17 years and now in this auditorium filled with my parents and friends and relatives who have come to hear me speak for the first time in 17 years the banjo stops and their silence and I look up and I look out into the audience and I say the first words that I say in 17 years and those words are thank you for being here.
My mother jumps up she waves her hand and she says How long do your Chinese talk.
And my dad he looks at me and he sees me turn around and look behind myself because those are the first words I've said in 17 years. I hardly remember what I sound like or where the voice is coming from.
And so I turn around to look and see who's saying what I'm thinking.
And then I realize it's me and a smile creeps across my face and I see my dad not his head and say Yeah he really is crazy.
Well that's just a moment in the book.
Planet Walker. And thank you very much David for that wonderful introduction.
The book is really a collection of my journals from the beginning of this journey and the journey started in 1971 when I witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay and two tankers collided near the San Francisco Bay and spilled nearly a half a million gallons of crude oil into the bay and it was the first environmental insult that I had ever witnessed. And I wanted to do something about it. And as I was driving by with my girlfriend Jeanne. I said to Jeanne I said Jeanne you know we've got to do something about this oil in the bay. And Jean said to me what John. Now Jeanne didn't really sound that way. That's what I call a theatrical device. Gene asked me what do you think we should do and I said I think we should give up riding in driving in motorized vehicles because you know see the connection. Oil in the water. We're driving. Jeanne told me that was a great idea but she wasn't ready to do it just yet. And she said John I think we should wait on that because we don't have any money and if we don't have any money people are going to say when they see us walking. Look at those bombs walking. Too bad they can't afford to drive in a car. And having the money would give us the time in order to walk and I bought that. I thought that was a great idea I said you're right. And so. We drove back to our little house in Inverness and point race on the ocean and we let things go.
Waiting for the money.
And one day there was a knock on the door. And someone told us that our neighbor and friend was lost in the bay. Tamala stay a long shallow bay where we live.
A south when it come up and tipped over the boat of of a good friend.
Well Jerry was a good friend he was a deputy sheriff. This isn't the 70s I'm telling you. Jean grew things in the garden is what I'm saying.
Well anyway I'm not going to run for president. And I did inhale.
But listen in this little town where we live of of of about 350 people everybody was everybody else's friend. And even though Jerry was a deputy sheriff. He was our friend and when we lost Jerry we went to visit his mother and we said we're so sorry for your loss. We don't know what to do but we have these pieces to give you and and we're going to go on a walk to celebrate Jerry's life.
And it was on that walk 20 miles that it became apparent to me that. There are no guarantees in life.
We're waiting for the the big ship to come in so that we can do what we think we need to do when we only have right now.
And so when the walk back to our house 20 miles I decided that I was going to just keep walking.
And the first thing I had to do was to call my parents Mom.
John I'm going to.
I'm giving up riding in motorized vehicles.
What my dad.
My dad wants to know why I didn't do this when I was 16.
I didn't know about the environment then. No. Well my mother said you know that this is going to last for about two weeks because she knows who I am and maybe she's right.
The people in the town that I lived in their response was a little bit different. They got angry.
They got really angry upset with me. They said John you're doing this to make us look bad. Well maybe I was maybe I started walking thinking that everybody was going to follow.
But that's not what happened. It was just me out there walking.
And I found myself arguing all the time arguing trying to defend myself that you know one person could really make a difference. And then I realized that I really wasn't sure at all.
So on my 23rd birthday and how I was actually 27 I think on my 27 birthday on the 23rd of February it's dyslexia there I stopped talking for one day and I only meant this to be one day.
But after not speaking for one day I started learning things. The first thing I learned because I had never done this before. Once I learned how to speak I never stop. The first thing I learned is that I had stopped listening and that I had stopped listening meant that I had stopped learning.
And so I thought maybe I should just do this for another day and another day. Now when I say I stop listening I I wonder if you know what I mean. Because what I did was something like I would listen to someone just enough to see what I thought that they thought they were going to say. I thought I knew what they were going to say and then I would stop listening and I'd start thinking about what I was going to say back to them based on what I thought they were going to say. And you can see that in that communication. And now that I started listening more fully I started learning.
And a week went by a month went by I needed to write a letter to my parents because.
They expect me to call them at least once a month.
Airmail so my mother wrote to me and she said Your dad will be on the next plane. And I want you to think about that this is real because this is even though it's written in a book and it's a story that these are real people. And the silence is real and meaning that. The parents are real and the children are real I mean I'm a real child and my parents and and they. Have a feeling about what it is that I'm doing as a whole community does. Well my dad did come out and he decided that. It was OK to leave me out in California. He's back in Philadelphia and he said to my mother he said listen. Seems like people like him out here he's healthy he doesn't smoke he doesn't drink. Let's just leave him out here.
Because this wouldn't work. Back in Philadelphia.
So he flew back home and I stayed out there in California and things developed and that's what this book is about what developed.
I started walking on long distances and finding places to visit like wilderness areas and I'd camp in wilderness areas and then eventually I'd live in a wilderness for a year for over the winter and got to know miners and still not speaking and after I came out of the wilderness I decided to go to school and start my education without speaking.
I went to the University of Southern Oregon State University. I guess it's Southern Oregon University now. And in Ashland Oregon. And my dad came out when I graduated I graduated in two years and there's this whole story about how I use prior learning experience to get my degree and for two years of of credit my dad came out and he was so happy that I finished school that he said look we're really proud of you but you're going to have to start talking and riding in cars because what are you going to do with this degree when you don't do that.
My dad followed me all the way across the country from my undergraduate degree to Montana where I got my master's degree and he said the same thing to the University of Wisconsin where I was getting my Ph.D. and he was walking around looking and he said you know my sister said maybe I should leave you alone. Because you seem to be doing a lot better when you're not saying anything. It's this is actually a funny story too. I mean it didn't make me laugh. It probably would have been probably wouldn't been real. I mean so there are lots of tears and there's lots of laughter in the story. But eventually I got to the east coast.
I walked for seven years across the United States seven years and one day when I was in Wisconsin I was writing on oil spills. No one was interested in oil spills but Exxon Valdez happened and I was the only one in United States writing on oil spills out of Ph.D. level when Exxon Valdez happened and everyone wanted to know. And so they tried calling the University of Wisconsin. Of course I didn't answer the phone.
And eventually I walked to the east coast and started speaking and saying thank you for being here. Thank you for being here because if. If there's no one there is no one here.
What's the communication and so I realize that now and I really want to thank you all for being here and that tree falling in the forest story.
My mother my dad he is crazy.
But then I was nominated as a U.N. goodwill ambassador and was hired by the U.S. Coast Guard to write pollution regulations for the country and I had to think 20 years earlier when I started walking. If I would have known or could have known that if I really wanted to make a difference you know someone would say John if you really want to make a difference. We want you to just just start walking east. OK. And and as I got a little further on my journey just kind of shouted at me and listen and shut up too. You're going to make a difference. You know I probably wouldn't believe them and said they've been using that stuff in the garden. Jean I've been growing but that's what happened and that's what I think all our journeys are about that taking that step and committing ourselves to making that change and making that difference and not knowing how it's going to happen.
But having the faith that it will happen. Because we've made the commitment to that.
One of the things I guess the most important thing that I've learned on this journey and I hope it comes through in the book I try to you know preach that but I hope that it comes through is that I learned about environment on a very formal level and in a very informal level look the walking. And I learned that environment was pollution and it was about endangered species and loss of species and loss of habitat and and climate change and global warming.
But it was also about.
How we treat each other. It was about people so it was about human rights and civil rights and economic equity and gender equality. It was in the Pilgrim's sense about how we treat each other when we meet each other and and that's what I felt was missing in when I learned about environment formally.
And so when I got to the east coast on Earth Day.
On the 20th anniversary of Earth Day that's when I decided I needed to end my silence every year I would ask myself on my birthday and Earth Day provided that opportunity for me because the the message that I had was that and I needed to to to speak about this was that environment included people and that the most important thing we could do was treat each other with respect and dignity and love. And if we did that it would manifest in the physical environment and we would see a great change on the planet. And and so I want to stop right here because I think I've said what it is that is the most important thing for me is the environment is.
How we treat each other. So thank you very much for being here.
You're joining us at Cambridge forum discussing planet Walker. John I'd like to start off the questions with one. We all sort of have what people describe as a sense of place influenced by elites. We all have a place that we live and the places that we go so we have a sense of place influenced by our experiences with the world. How has how did walking in particular that pace of moving over the earth influence your sense of place.
Walking has for me. I mean was a very profound change because one.
It was really where I could get to and one day and back became my home.
And unlike when I drove or when I used motorized vehicles I could get all you know 300 miles I could get 2000 miles I could get back and so my idea of where I lived was kind of skewed.
Once I started walking and I put myself at 3 miles an hour.
My place became just where I could be in a day and from that day I could move to the other to other areas. But I kind of took my place with me. The place came with me then.
Joining us we continue our discussion with environmental activist John Francis and his new book Planet Walker John recounts his quest for a new environmental understanding during 22 years of walking the planet and seven years of science. Let's take some questions from the audience now. So what I'd like to ask you to do is to come forward to the microphone lineup we ask you to ask a question with a question mark and try to limit yourself to one question just in the interest of trying to share questions time with everyone. Try to state your questions and if you like you don't have to identify yourselves but if you would like to feel free to do so.
One would have healed.
So how do we know the question really is what do I do with this is where this is at this point I have a lot to talk about.
OK and so you're the second or third John Francis I've met and I just talked to the second one to today earlier who is Dr. John Francis at the National Geographic who is a vice president of exploration.
So we were all involved in the same thing sort of John Francis club coming on the.
Money. Jennifer Britt I just go to this church. In fact when you hear stories in church. I actually pass it on down. To you. And I'm just. Clearly you're. Just there for one whether that was for. First there Scott found the only way I think that was one first experience to tell the United States.
What really stood out. Did you do it with people. There were some injuries to live with the bulls particulary you know some interaction that was particularly profound.
Thank you very much for that question. And I went when I left the United States.
It was my first time sailing.
I sailed in out of Martha's Vineyard actually. I had the privilege of learning how to build wooden boats. And so being part of the wooden boat community when I got to the east coast I contacted people in that community and in the vineyard and I was able to get on a boat and sail down to Antigua where my family roots on my father's side they're from and to and from Panama. They went to Panama to to work on the canal from Antigua. And I lived in the Caribbean for about a year and a half different as well I didn't speak sense.
It was a shock.
When and when I got to Venezuela I didn't speak Spanish and it was a shock to me. And just being in another. Culture that was similar but that the language was different and I walked across Venezuela. And when I got to Brazil.
I had something happen to me on the way to Venezuela which told me that I needed to to look at using motorized vehicles again. And so when I got to Brazil I started using motorized vehicles to come back to the United States visit my parents who who had given me up for lost and then to return to where I stopped and I would walk again. And so I walked through Venezuela Brazil Bolivia Argentina and Chile and those different places. I live with the people through the Amazon I walked with the wire to Adi who are a group of Indians who gave me permission to walk through their reservation and walk with me to ensure my safety. And as a U.N. goodwill ambassador I also visited Antarctica to school there. Globe school global warming an observation to benefit the environment which is a and environmental studies curriculum for students and through K through 12.
That's right. Thank you for this fine sort of great. Story. It's nothing wrong with this story which if you please. People claim that it is difficult for this to happen through the citizenry and the students are listening to have to be called off limits and so they were always picking fights.
You call that learning. It's OK to chain also. I think it's been said to share their experiences. I just still hear their experience. I was wondering what prevalent. Now tour was wondering what was your thought on how they experience and also how you are doing so it's not as as you go about exchanging in dialogue.
Well now that I that I use my voice listening is a practice and even when you're not speaking it's a practice. But even more so when when you do speak. It's a practice and something that we can get better and better at. So you know I never say that oh yeah I know how to listen. It's always a practice it's always you know trying to get better at it and.
My name is going to hell for me. But just some good consumer survey saying. At. The same time if you can like.
Some people who all said Let's say he was a secret but the street some piece say that's really let's say someone is the cement or street and that's a first really get on a plane fly or mentor a 747 that same push like the law is higher. It's like a 747 that's really like our lovely prison really.
I'm curious how you see that in their fleet was it people critique your words how you see that especially moms of people treating each other well.
Well I'm not sure that someone who sees one thing as environmentally friendly doesn't understand the damage that's caused by getting in a 747 and flying to the Galapagos. I don't know why they're flying to the Galapagos is there some trade off that that we're all willing to pay for that person to do that. I don't I don't know the full extent of that. But even looking at.
Those those issues I think that the the the very very basic issues of the person right next to you right now the person in front of you the person behind you treating that person well and treating yourself well is really the foundation to be able to get to that place where we use the technology and all that we think he's able to use in order to treat each other like a fresh money we've been through here back to.
The first when I first heard up indoors but I thought it was meant to stir the store so. You know what I want to know that you are free.
How do you deal with people from what you should actually think if at some point in time did you actually think that you were.
Yes I am.
I realize that I am a little bit different. And my and my parents help make sure that I understood that I was a little bit different. And then when I got too different then they told me no you're not that different. You have to really take things with a with a little bit of salt and humor. You have to be able to not take yourself too seriously and to be able to laugh at yourself. And there was plenty of opportunity for me to have a good smile at my self and the things that happened around me because of not speaking or because of walking and I don't know how I did that was or some you know you know tricks or anything it's just that just how it how it happened and how I just live my life and and.
And I'd laugh at myself a lot.
And secondly being a man and knowing that their words are necessary for certain endeavors. How did you get your groove on.
Well. The the. The groovy let's really like men who who who would listen I am 1000 and.
Or something like Are you sure there are still others formalised I wasn't for sure and I was really high on a similar story through our lawyer Mark here. This was to keep you spiritual practice for inspiration is wondrous and that is just spiritual practice transmigration. Time for thirteen years of silence.
Find yourself meditating or you think about nature.
Well you know I think silence and practicing silence can be a very deep spiritual practice.
I I I did a lot of reading of Thomas Merton and the Vedanta to my herb. Just a name. You know looking at silence.
But I think that you know this spirituality is something that is so present in our daily lives that whether we're speaking or whether were in silence practicing silence that it can be a part of our lives our conscious lives.
Nevertheless it was really good for you if you want to do everything. Because things are mostly numbers in your resume. And your mind is the same thing most of the reason I didn't really want people to be. As I'm. Really not much of it doesn't really bother to separate this is just making a connection. I'm wondering why I didn't seem as I said I'm wondering and I said you see the world as we think it's changing you seen her did you know this question. SCHOOLBOY Q This person with good reason come out with vision you have now for your message.
Has that changed.
Well I think that well things have changed so much since I began walking my journey because first the consciousness our of the planet has has grown and we can look at examples of when Gary might try for example from Kenya who won the Nobel Peace Prize or Vice President Al Gore who won the Nobel Peace Prize for looking at environmental issues. One guy with high for looking at treason and and having people plant trees and. And Al Gore for raising the consciousness of of all of us about the issues of climate change and global warming that a body of people in a steam body of people get together and say this is deserving of a peace prize. And so he's starting to see that it's not the Environmental Prize but it's it's spreading too. It's for us to understand that it's a bigger than than that. So I think the change is happening and I mean we have a long way to go. I'm not saying that it's done but I see it happening and I take great.
Solace in. It's free thinking.
It's. All right Richard. Love to hear you speak as we flee to the moments teach you something else took a sheen short moment. Well so we asked her campaign should work with yours friends.
It's true yours move your wrist to transgressed were through or might do right. This is how.
Am I doing the right thing is this helping.
You in the moments of doubt that I've had are many and I put a few in the book because you know you don't want to just to be a big question mark big out there. But one one example was I just finished walking through the redwoods in California near Miranda Avenue of the giants and it was raining and I was soaking wet.
I was just really tired and cold and many many trucks. Passed by. And often asked me if I would like a ride and I always say no you know shaking my head no. And this one time it was night it was late and a truck. Parked up on a hill past me and I decided that what I was going to do is I was going to get in that truck you know and I was going to drive and ride into the next town. And that was going to be the end of everything. I mean I was in that journey and so I'm walking up to the truck and I made up my mind now and then I hear that my movable You know in the truck just kind of picked up and went down the hill.
And left me there you know going.
I wonder if anybody saw that.
They did. It was me. And so sometimes in those moments.
There are times when when something else happens. Things are just bigger than you. And then and they just take over and they say you know you need help right now and we're going to help you here.
So they kind of move the truck on and you have to you know I stay there that night I got warm and I got my sleeping bag and next morning I walked out in the town and you know and I kept on walking for the next you know 20 years. You know that was a moment.
And yeah there are those moments and there should be you know there should be those moments so that you know it makes us gives us an opportunity to choose what we're doing and it also gives us an opportunity to realize how much a part of something much bigger we all are and that we're not doing it just out of our you know strength and whatever we think it is. Thank you.
For. Cookie. Thank you again.
We also still curious if you know so this is sure yes. I'm sure you heard music. This was an addition. This is the story. I'm going to assume is working.
For my words and that's just I just want to put it out there. Well I I did write I did write and I wrote haiku every day and.
And which are in the book I start each chapter and they're through interspersed through the chapters. So there was a poem every day. I didn't actually write words for my music until after ice started talking okay.
But that the music that I've written is purely instrumental but you know it's just the soundtrack for that scene as as a as a lyricist and a writer of prose myself.
I'm curious if you have words of inspiration maybe just some simple words of inspiration that maybe someone that's on the fence about whether I should drive to the store to get the loaf of bread or I should walk maybe there's something that you could inspire even the people in this room or everyone that we might be able to use some simple words of inspiration to to kind of push them over to the side of the fence that we'd like to see them on.
My words of inspiration.
I have these words and it's usually people ask me John and John listen I want to find my path because maybe it's not you know walking across the United States or not speaking for 17 years. Maybe that's not it so. But how can I find my path John.
I'm asked and I said well OK you have to climb that mountain you climb that mountain and you get to the top. OK. At the top now. OK turn around. OK. You see were you. You just came from.
OK that's your path. All right. OK it's a joke.
But. You can find your path. You will find your path. If you practice being good and loving and honorable to yourself.
And to the people around you.
If you practice that you'll be on your path.
Thank you sir.
Whoa look at that microphone this week. Maybe.
I'm Susan. And I'm with my parents over there from here and we die they strike. And I was wondering if you ever wished that you could have kept on going instead of stopping when you did.
When I stopped I think it was time for me to stop. And I have a family now so I have. And you know I'm somebodies dad.
And they're waiting for me at home. And so I'm really glad that I did. I'm really glad that I did. And I get to go out now. Oh for a few months every year.
And and still go on that journey.
Every Earth Day.
My family lets me go and sometimes sometimes I bring my little boy with me and I start when I walk back across United States I'm walking back across the United States and.
It's just been a real joy. So I haven't really stopped.
And I really enjoy my family a lot. I enjoy raising children so I don't think I've stopped I think it's just changed a little. I think that's what journeys are like. Thanks for that question.
Brother. John my name is Steven Brett how would what's the first thing I want to say John. How good it really look in your book I know. I don't really put it lightly looking for her remarkable. Story. Thomas Hardy maka quote Oct. 1. Competent people really want to shock the thank you. And. When I thought I'd like to live and work. Thomas heard some of the outside work. On the floor boards. Would know. Took the power forward that in the dollar. And forty one dollar signs So my question. Brought much growth over the point was to my question. How much I can get on there. After I read it back you just think I would have put you off. That drives have pockets where you get one camera shot the. Video for one. Player quite. Popular. But the question primarily on problem will.
Come. If like you with it all on pilgrimage.
Well there was a time when I was in high school and I grew up in Philadelphia and I went to a Catholic high school and there was a time when I thought I had a vocation as a Cistercian or Travice and so you know they took me to the monastery to take a look and see if I would like it.
And I really like the robes you know all they're really cool. And that's when they told me that they didn't speak about the value of silence and said No way. They don't speak. And I said I don't think I could do that. And so as much as I love Thomas Merton. I decided not to do that and you know who knew.
Ten years later there I was going around without the robes.
You know not speaking and in silence. So Thomas Merton I'm stronger had much to do with that and all the other teachers who some were nameless and some are.
Thank you. I bred deeply into Merton and one of the things he wrote he said that we could be monks in the world.
The story behind Saturn Rory Stewart whenever you feel you really made my last ounce money and made it basically 100 say You mistake me man. You put a chipmunk students to eat everything but I'm wondering whether you've ever considered going to the state other places kind of Nigerians whether you've got North America South America and the British outside continue or would show the scary one. You really can for example do you want to be sure what she would say in one of your children for example said they wanted to do so.
Well I I hope I hope to continue walking because my my goal was to walk around the world as part of my education in the spirit of hope that I could be of benefit to humankind and not understanding what that would be meant. But hoping that I would learn that along the way whether I'll get entirely around the world isn't really important to me.
But the processes and so I look for the opportunity to continue walking and other countries and other continents as well.
There are lots of people who I've taken inspiration from and who continue to I continue to take inspiration from for example Peace Pilgrim who was a woman who walked back and forth across United States Oh several times I think seven times to be exact.
And there have been many people writing me who who say that because they heard about me or they read about my story they've started their own walk.
And the more and more time goes by I hear about more and more people walking to make a difference.
I'm giving up motorized vehicles in their communities and not being in the newspapers or anything like that but just quietly making a difference in their own lives.
I love my job so I don't. Mean. Just how miserable rich. Look deep in your. Prayers. For your. Culture. In reference to. The world.
But yourselves and the universe are the great mystery.
Well in the United States there are excuse me still many communities and particularly Native American communities at that. Continue to see that and spend a lot of time with those communities in the Yukon and in the healing journeys on the Yukon River and on the reservations in South America as well.
The further away from civilization you know the technology you find that even in a deeper or deeper way. Or maybe I would say just as deep but just more able to see it because it's there it's just part of what's going on all the time.
There's something about.
What you're saying and I'm trying to remember exactly what it is is that as I travel through different countries and I look at my life and what I was able to do or what how my life was shaped and even in Europe where I haven't traveled extensively. I've come to this place where I don't think that it would be very difficult for someone to do what we can do here because of our freedom and the way education is. I mean I could go to school. I could flunk out of school. I could go back to school and I could succeed.
I could say I don't want to talk and I could go to school.
I could say I don't want to ride in cars and I could. There are other cultures where you step out. I mean it looks so so forward thinking and tell you do something that is outside of the norm like you I don't know if you would be able to go to school in Europe for example and say you don't want to talk and say you don't want to ride in cars.
And coming from well you're working you're just walking I mean you're just this guy walking and they say well yeah but did you do your A-levels. And which program did you go through. It would be very difficult I'm not going to say it's impossible but I grew to appreciate what we have here in this country the freedom that we have.
To do amazing things if only we would do them.
Was this just really astounding to me to hear a story you have to carry with you and unique we're not going to talk. You know they were going to learn a great idea that if they did the question how did you support yourself while you were traveling.
Yes yes communication is very different very creative all the time because everyone is different and signs that I might use I might act mine would be different for someone else that might not understand that some people were not were I guess visually challenged in the sense that as soon as I started to do something different oh my god they just went. Like I can't deal with that I can't deal with that. And some people I really had to write things down for. That was my last resort was to writing something down. But mostly it was for us to agree on on what it is that we were communicating and not meet.
Trying to tell someone this is what it is you have to get this but that we come to an agreement a about something and and that was a collaboration.
As far as supporting myself well I played the banjo and I passed the hat and I went to school I was a fellow at Wisconsin. I was a scholar at Montana and and I just worked really hard to get to Southern Oregon University. Doing you know taking out loans and work study and things like that and then I had a nonprofit which also I made a newsletter.
So I wrote in a newsletter and that also helped.
It's really pretty quick so you will see the other people who prefer to listen to you and also a little weasel. It's the same except. When there was one of. These Buddhist monks. A lot of my walks us people secure. Most of the. People. Drawing room raises some hope to actually sleep. It's native to America surely walking across so do you think this is more than it's walking across reenacting the longest war reenacting longest to put all my experience as a group are these groups of people or experiences or groups. You. Sure do you treat your loving kindness it's rarely.
Heard this. But it really don't hurt. The surgery was disappointing but it's really nothing.
You are walking or just quoth the king. He said that you were walking. Home all safe saying I wonder what it would say if you and how did you ever.
Get worse. If you. How did you learn that walking alone.
Well I think we're even when we were alone or really walking together I was as far as walking with groups it's the longest walk to and I was at the beginning of their walks as an Alcatraz So I spoke at that. David Morimoto Professor Morimoto and I met when a walk in Cuba a planet walk and Cuba and back in 2003 and I think walking together in groups is really an amazing thing but also that while we're walking and it seems as though we're walking along to understand that we really are on the planet together and that we all are walking together.
We're all on the same journey.
We're coming. More. From. Doing something once we're seeing. Normal people have. We didn't receive a magic present. On the eve of the last week or so. Johnson It should be difficult to say what I'm wondering why he said if you know you're wondering what you said in talk to your first words after your silence.
Well it took a while before my voice came back fully and now it's going again.
But I think I started speaking and I spoke very softly and my mother said that it sounded as though it was water running over stones and I the after saying thank you for being here.
I read from my dissertation and I quote by LET and Caldwell who was a professor and in the blue.
This is Bloomington and he wrote about the environmental crisis not being soley about human made ugliness and pollution but that it was also.
About who we were and that it was a crisis of spirit and what we were going to have to do if we were going to survive.
And so I read that and and I was like reading it and I was saying and I was like going wow this is really difficult because not only am I translating this from the page but it's going in and I have to translate it into words.
And so I stopped that and I I said to people I'm going to go and I'll speak to you individually. And so I went to table the table and just spoke briefly with people individually but it took a while to. Maybe you know a year before I got to starts speaking and speaking now.
And. Your future. Fourth this is your. Chance in.
Your years. Well yeah.
Well there are a couple of things. One I mean there's the book of course which is being adopted by universities. I think three so far as a first year reader and some of those universities are using it across campus and across curriculum to use it for their history their literature and the environment and African Studies. Course is another thing that I'm doing is developing and was working with David Morimoto on Planet lines which is a curriculum K through university based on walking it's an environmental studies curriculum and it's modular so that it's history in math and science and music and art and literature. But based on walking it's used as as you go on your journey it's kind of modeled after my own walk that you go on a walking journey and you look for opportunities of community service for example that's a community service component. This past Earth Day. Some students in Bahrain did their planet walk five kilometers along a beach there picking up trash and they're also raising money for conservation groups in Africa. I was raising money on my walk. For a food bank in West Marine California my community and along with that we have probes and two to look at the temperature and soil moisture and water quality as we walk so we use those. Those probes to to look at scientific and environmental measurements. And they are put up on the wall and I think it's global. Google Earth and so that your journey is is is put up on a website where they can be shared with other people people who are looking at water quality for example can use your measurements that you've taken on water quality and that's a curriculum that we're designing now for K through hallway and through university.
And community are standing in salaries she says. Words and. Words from people. I've come to see. Some success. For. £3000. However I think a lot of these he thinks there is just a process. Mary you are training people. I'm wondering if you can hear.
That they're playing nice complicated time. For you.
There are ways of communicating using language.
I think that they're you know they're both valid and that you can do a lot in silence because we are always communicating with who we are and what we do. At the same time I started speaking after 17 years of silence. To use the words and I'm you know not saying that I'm profession that it yet but I'm still practicing to try and use those words that will get just that across you know and but I think more importantly is is how we if if if our words could match and match our actions.
This is what the difference is this is imagine you know what differences it seems the more it's. Punching is between them more or less. You mean somebody's weird to say somebody's. Home or some girl from the valley does elaborate on them.
I think that may have been true and maybe to some degree it still it is still true and that we just haven't made a complete change yet I think that there are lots of organizations where when you look at wilderness for example there aren't any people in it and it's a beautiful place.
But you're not there. And at the same time and I'm up in the Yukon for example in Alaska and a lot of the land is termed wilderness and the people who live there look at and go wilderness. Well it's just the backyard you know.
And so are there as you can see how we have views wilderness in order to exclude people.
And really it's really a place where we all live.
Thank you John Francis. Coach. Thank you. Thank.
Us. You've been listening to a program of Cambridge form recorded in May 2008 co-sponsored by the first parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalists the Lowell Institute and the friends of Cambridge forum. For more information about this radio program entitled planet Planet Walker featuring John Francis or about our ongoing radio series visit us at Cambridge form dot org and Harvard Square I'm David Morimoto. Thanks for joining us. For.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- Author and environmental activist John Francis gave up motorized transport and began to walk everywhere after a major oil spill in San Francisco Bay in the early 1970s. His planet walks call attention to the damage human beings do to the earth and create a new understanding of our responsibility for the planet's health.What can a man who gave up motorized transportation for 22 years tell us about saving the earth? John Francis simultaneously took a 17 year vow of silence and began an environmental pilgrimage for peace after witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 1971. Known world-wide as the Planetwalker, he earned three academic degrees, including a PhD in Land Resources at the University of Wisconsin, Madison during his silent period. How does his unique combination of scientific expertise and spiritual understanding help contempora
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Speaker: Francis, John
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