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PITTSBURGH — Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker, and local leaders talk about Environmental Justice and Civic Conversation

** Please note: registration for this event closes at 12:00 noon on Thursday, April 20. If you miss the window for online registration, not to worry! You can register at the door.

This event is offered by our friends at the Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh


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.  Join us as we experience Dr. Francis’ Planetwalk firsthand, and gain 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.  We’ll even flex our own public dialogue skills at the end.


4:30-5:30 – Food, Drinks, and Networking

5:30-6:15 – Keynote by Dr. John Francis and short introductions by local panelists

6:15-7:00 – Facilitated Dialogue with Presenters and Audience

More About Our Speakers:

Dr. John Francis


Dr. John Francis traveled by foot for 22 years, and spent 17 of those completely silent.  When John was 26 years old, an oil tanker collision prompted him to give up motorized vehicles, a decision which spurred so many arguments that by 27, he decided to stop talking.  During the two decades when he became the Planetwalker, John earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctorate, all while spreading a silent message of sustainability and social justice with his banjo. He founded the Planetwalk Foundation in 1982, and upon breaking his silence on Earth Day in 1990, Dr. Francis dedicated his life to creating conversation.

After ending his silence in 1990, Dr. Francis has spent his subsequent years carrying that same message across the country.

Here are some ways he has shared his message:


Khalif Ali

Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, The Pittsburgh Foundation

Khalif is the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at The Pittsburgh Foundation. In partnership with residents, grassroots activists and political leaders, Khalif works to craft and advance a policy and advocacy agenda for the Foundation. He has a graduate degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in community organizing. When he’s not at the Foundation, you might find him volunteering with the Reaching Back Program or coaching male Pittsburgh Public School students in health, wellness, nutrition, exercise and meditation.

Evaine K. Sing

Executive Director, GTECH Strategies

Evaine is the Executive Director of GTECH Strategies, which mobilizes residents, policy-makers, and like-minded organizations to transform vacant spaces into thriving places across Allegheny County. She is a registered landscape architect with a background in public policy and economic development. She has worked to engage individuals to implement creative, sustainable solutions that can lead to larger changes in their neighborhoods. Evaine has also worked with partners at the policy and decision-making level to ensure pathways for change exist.

Joan Haley

Executive Director, Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program

Joan is the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program and the former Clinical Director of Southwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center. With more than thirty years working in the non-profit sector in the fields of management, adult education, training and development, she has taught leadership training and strategic planning to professionals and volunteers and is an experienced curriculum writer and fundraiser. Joan received a Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Adult Education and Training.


Jason Beery

Senior Research and Policy Analyst, UrbanKind Institute

Jason is the Senior Research and Policy Analyst at UrbanKind Institute. Trained as a geographer, he examines spatial difference from a holistic, intersectional perspective, blending political, economic, environmental, legal, and health issues with race, gender, and class. Jason focuses on a variety of areas, including environmental justice, community development, food systems, transportation, and housing. Jason received his PhD in Geography from the University of Manchester (UK), his M.S. in Geography from Penn State, and his B.A. in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University.  His research has been published in Political Geography, Geoforum, and elsewhere.

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HARRISBURG— Creating a Sustainable Energy Future in Pennsylvania

SpeakersSustainable Energy future screenshot

The panelists at this event will offer their presentation the following day, on April 19, to new legislative members of the PA House and Senate at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Their hope is to educate legislators and the public about the health and environmental impacts of our current system, and about the moral foundation for a clean energy future. 

Get the flier.
Get the flier for the follow-on Lunch and Learn for legislators and their staffers.
Invite your elected officials in Harrisburg to attend.

cosponsored by: 
uuplan-logologo.smallPA Council of Churches logo


People’s Climate March — participate from EVERYWHERE

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 12.15.47 PMPrayer Flag project — complete as a congregation, a study group, or an individual as a way of participating in the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC, and sister events closer to home.   The project makes a terrific addition to any Earth Day or Faith Climate Action Week events you may already have planned.

Be there in prayer and spirit!

Check out faith resources from the march’s faith contingent hub.

Register for the PA IPL bus from Chestnut Hill.  It departs from St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and there will be a multifaith-friendly Shabbat service right on the bus!

Find sister events or transportation from your area to DC via the standard People’s Climate March website.

STATE COLLEGE: Panel—Desperate Environmental Times? Ordinary People Getting Extra Ordinary Results

Penn State Law is proud to host:

DESPERATE ENVIRONMENTAL TIMES?Sierra Club panel 03.26.2017

Personal stories of environmental advocacy plus what’s ahead for the next 4 years.

Presented by the
Sierra Club Moshannon Group

SUNDAY, MARCH 26,  4:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Katz Auditorium of the PSU Law School building at University Park
Free parking adjacent to the building.

Get directions and GPS info.
Download a poster to share.


Jim Slotterback of the Responsible Drilling Alliance
Peter Buckland of the PSU Center for Sustainability
Cricket Hunter of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
Lara Fowler of Penn State Law

Co-sponsored by:

Sierra Club-PSU Law Panel cosponsors


CANCELLATION TONIGHT – Caring for Creation with Rev. Mitch Hescox

Rev. Mitch Hescox


Rev. Mitch Hescox will talk about his book Caring for Creation.    Caring for Creation,  co-authored by meteorologist Paul Douglas,  is a clear, compelling, and thoughtful blend of faith and science.

Mitch Hescox leads the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), the largest evangelical group dedicated to creation care.  He has testified before Congress, spoken at the White House, and is frequently quoted in the national press.  Prior to EEN, he pastored a church for 18 years and worked in the coal industry.

Read a review and synopsis of Rev. Hescox’ new book, Caring for Creation, co-written with Paul Douglas, meteorologist.