Environmentalist who walked America and didn't speak for 17 years, now drives Prius

While Al Gore's movie and celebrity friends draw considerable attention, one of the first eco-celebrities earned his green stripes with a 17-year vow of silence and long walks across the country.
"Because I didn't speak, everyone paid attention," John Francis told AP's Marcus Wohlsen.

Francis, now 61 years old, drives a Prius, flies more than 100,000 miles a year giving inspirational speeches. He earned three degrees, including a doctorate in environmental studies, during his non-speaking days.

Francis gave up cars after an an oil spill near the Golden Gate Bridge. When he was hit by a car, he walked to the hospital rather than use gasoline power. He stopped talking in 1973 and didn't speak again until Earth Day 1990. He admits falling off the wagon a couple times, such as when he told his parents he loved them.

We may see more of Francis on the silver screen. A Hollywood producer gave him a Prius after optioning the rights to make a movie based on his memoirs, a 2005 book called "Planetwalker."

[Source: Marcus Wohlsen / Associated Press via North County Times]

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