On Sunday, join John Francis and other guests from the Beijing community as we visit the Forbidden City and then amble through the hutongs, followed by a discussion in the late afternoon at our courtyard, which will include storytelling, banjo picking, and general merriment. 

We are proud to partnering with John Francis, JUMP Foundation and Nat Geo on this unique community event. Please note there will be no cost to join the walks, though we encourage everyone to consider a donation to PlanetWalk.  All proceeds from the evening event will go to PlanetWalk.

10:00 a.m. Forbidden City Exploration with John Francis
Meets at Tiananmen West Subway Stop

Cost: Free for the walk (Donations to Planetwalk accepted) but participants should be bring 65 RMB to cover the costs of entrance to Zhongshan Park and Forbidden City.

Spaces are limited for the Forbidden City Exploration, RSVP is required!



3:00 p.m. Hutong Ramble with John Francis
Meets at The Hutong
Cost: Free for the walk (Donations to PlanetWalk accepted)

Spaces are limited for the Hutong Ramble, RSVP is required!



5:00 p.m. Stories, Songs, and Celebration of the Earth with John Francis
The Hutong
Cost: 50 RMB at the door includes one free soft drink of local beer and raffle ticket to win a signed copy of John’s book. All proceeds to go to the PlanetWalk Foundation

Spaces are limited for this event, RSVP is required!




John Francis was in his 20s when a 1971 oil spill in San Francisco Bay jarred his comfortable life. Even as he joined the volunteers who scrubbed the beaches and fought to save birds and sea creatures poisoned by petroleum, he felt the need to make a deeper, more personal commitment. As an affirmation of his responsibility to our planet, he chose to stop using motorized vehicles and began walking wherever he went. His decision was greeted with surprise, disbelief, and even mockery—but it was only the start of a much deeper transformation. A few months later he took a vow of silence that would last 17 years.

In 2008, National Geographic published Francis’s stirring memoir Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking; 17 Years of Silence. It is the story of a man who, on foot and in silence, has rediscovered rhythms in nature that most of us have forgotten, and learned to communicate his understanding and empathy without speaking a word. He walked across the Pacific Northwest, crossed the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, and traversed America from coast to coast. Along the way—and without a word—he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in science and environmental studies and a Ph.D. in land resources.

In an effort to share his insights with others, Francis founded “Planetwalk,” a non-profit educational organization dedicated to raising environmental consciousness and promoting Earth stewardship. Planetwalk’s work transcends cultural, social, and political boundaries by fostering communication and research between young people, scientists, and environmental practitioners through a global network and educational programs. In 2010, Francis became the first National Geographic Education Fellow.