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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.
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Adult/High School-Francis was green before it was the popular thing to be. On January 17, 1971, he saw a half-million-gallon oil spill near the Golden Gate Bridge, and a year later, in an attempt to do something positive for the environment, he chose to start walking, forsaking motorized vehicles of any kind. He walked everywhere, and on his 27th birthday, feeling again that he was not doing enough for the world, he took a vow of silence. For the next 17 years, he spoke not a word. But his life didn't stop and he never sat still. Francis managed to walk across the United States and, while he did, he earned an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in science and environmental studies; finally, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he completed a PhD in land resources. He learned how to play the banjo, and the five-string Conqueror became his walking companion, people magnet, and calling card. He continued his pedestrian trek, took a job at the office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and eventually became UNEP's Goodwill Ambassador to the World's Grassroots Communities, and walked and sailed to the tip of South America. Planetwalker is an inspiring story that will make teens think and may help them to realize that global change is possible through individual action.-Joanne Ligamari, Twin Rivers United School District, Sacramento, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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