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John
United Nations Environmental Program’s Goodwill Ambassador
Educational Non-Profit Founder
Travels from: New Jersey

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

John Francis, Ph.D., is known the world over as the Planetwalker. In 1971, Francis witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The effects of the oil pollution compelled him to stop using motorized vehicles. Several months later, to end the arguments he found himself getting into about the power of one person’s actions, he took a vow of silence. His non-motorized lifestyle lasted 22 years, and his silence 17. During that time, Francis walked across the United States, earning a B.S at Southern Oregon State College, an M.S. in environmental studies at the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in Land Resources program at the Nelson Institute. After graduation, Francis wrote oil spill regulations for the U.S. Coast Guard, but was then drawn back to travel, sailing, and walking through the Caribbean and the length of South America as a goodwill ambassador to the World’s Grassroots Communities for the United Nations Environment Program. In 2011 he served as visiting associate professor of environmental studies for The Nelson Institute. He served as Commissioner for the Borough of West Cape from May 2017 to 2022. Dr. Francis is an education fellow and explorer at the National Geographic Society. From 2007 to the present, He has continued to develop the role of an Ethical Advisor for Strong Angel and Star Tides. He is also the author of Planetwalker and The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World. Speaking Internationally on Sustainability and Environmental Justice, his illustrated children’s book Human Kindness was published in September of 2022.

John's Featured Titles

Human Kindness: True Stories of Compassion and Generosity that Changed the World

What on Earth Books |
Children’s

Join the Planetwalker, John Francis, on an exploration of kindness, great and small. From the kindness John has experienced in his own life to the history of how kindness has helped to shape our laws, morals and communities from around the world.

Over the whole history of humankind, kindness has been key to the survival of our species, and to making our world a better place. Learn about Harriet Tubman, who risked her life to help others escape from slavery, the Nomads Clinic, which sends doctors trekking into the Himalayas to tend to patients, The Linda Lindas, a group of young musicians who use their talent to speak up for the rights of others, Joshua Coombes, a hairdresser who gives free haircuts to the homeless, and many others. The joyous and awe-inspiring stories in this book will encourage young readers to be kind to others. And being kind, even in small ways, turns out to be healthy for you, yet another reason to practice kindness every day. It’s our planet to share together—let’s be kind.

Planetwalker: More Than 100 Recipes and Foolproof Strategies to Help Your Kids Fall in Love

National Geographic |
Non-Fiction/Memoir

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.

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Honors, Awards & Recognition

Selected for The Children’s Book Council’s Hot off the Press List: September 2022

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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