Carrie Laben (teratologist) wrote,
Carrie Laben

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John Francis, Planetwalker

"After a massive oil spill polluted San Francisco Bay in 1971, Francis gave up all motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere he went -- including treks across the entire United States and much of South America -- hoping to inspire others to drop out of the petroleum economy.

Soon after he stopped riding in cars, Francis, the son of working-class, African-American parents in Philadelphia, also stopped speaking. For 17 years, he communicated only through improvised sign language, notes, and his ever-present banjo. The environmental pilgrim says he took his vow of silence as a gift to his community "because, man, I just argued all the time.""


Given how many of the mainstream environmental movement's mistakes, from promoting Brand Green and the idea that we can shop our way out of crisis to ignoring urban landscapes in favor of the mythical perfect wilderness to creating racist and classist narratives about issues like overpopulation, are born out of privilege and unwillingness to make big structural changes in our own lives, I think this interview needs to be read even if it is from 2005.

John Francis's Official Website: Planetwalk
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