John Francis took a vow of silence for 17 years and walked all over the earth. He learned to play a banjo. His first words after 17 years were ‘Thank you for being here.’ in front of his family and some new stations. One very important element about communication is that somebody is hearing the message. I didn’t recognize my own voice anymore.
Biggest lesson for him – people are part of the environment. Then our first opportunity to do something good to be sustainable is how we treat each other. It’s about human rights and the ways how we relate to each other. In 1971 there was a big oil spill. John really wanted to do anything about this environmental disaster and stop driving cars. And they started to walk. During his first walks, John got the insight and we only have this moment. Let’s keep walking. After a while he got tired of explaining that he was walking and he was silent for one day. I discovered that I haven’t been listening. Because I wasn’t listening, I wasn’t learning. I stayed silent for another day … and another day … a month … a year.
Every day I connected with a stranger and asked in silence if I could paint them. I started to walk further and further. I graduated from a college in that time. And decided to walk and sail around the world. ‘Planetwalk’ was born. During that time he also got a master degree in environmental studies. He even got a PhD.
Take a first step and follow your own journey. Do it. You are making a difference.
+ Nice TED talk from Francis – http://www.ted.com/talks/john_francis_walks_the_earth#t-101310
One day in 1983, John Francis stepped out on a walk. For the next 22 years, he trekked and sailed around North and South America, carrying a message of respect for the Earth — for 17 of those years, without speaking. During his monumental, silent trek, he earned an MA in environmental studies and a PhD in land resources. John Francis is known the world over as the Planetwalker, and is the author of Planetwalker: 17-Years of Silence, 22-Years of Walking, and The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World, published by the National Geographic Society.
Today his Planetwalk foundation consults on sustainable development and works with educational groups to teach kids about the environment.