Environmental Justice and Civic Conversation | April 20, 2017
At the age of 27, Dr. John Francis stopped talking. A few months prior, an oil spill prompted John to stop using motorized vehicles, and his quiet act of defiance set his town into a roaring debate. In the clashing of voices, John lost his own, and took the next 17 years (no, that’s not a typo!) to simply listen, and walk. His feet traveled through Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, and the US, and eventually came upon the beating heart of environmentalism. More than 20,000 miles and a doctorate later, this Planetwalker has devoted his life to civic engagement and sustainability, and understands preservation as the interplay of human rights, gender, race and economic equality. On April 20, we experienced Dr. Francis’ Planetwalk firsthand, and gained perspectives from Khalif Ali (Pittsburgh Foundation), Evaine K. Sing (GTECH), Joan Haley (Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows) and Jason Beery (UrbanKind Institute) about civic conversation in Pittsburgh.