Former West Marin resident John Francis returned to Point Reyes Station Saturday to give a talk in Toby’s Feed Barn on what a 17-year vow of silence taught him about listening.

For 22 years, John also refused to ride in motorized vehicles (largely as a reaction to a humongous oil spill at the Golden Gate).

During that time, John walked across the United States. Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and a doctorate in Land Resources — with a specialty in oil spills —from the University of Wisconsin.

John subsequently walked across the Amazon and down the west coast of South America to the tip of Argentina. He also walked around Antarctica a bit and north through Patagonia.

John, who now lives in Cape May, NJ, strums his banjo on all his treks — even while hiking from one Indian village to another in the jungles of the Amazon.

Not surprisingly, he starts all his talks with banjo music.

Traveling one step at a time gave John the opportunity to observe the environment of plants and animals, as well as humans.

The insight he gained led him to create in 1982 an educational nonprofit called Planetwalk. His adventures have also resulted in a book titled Planetwalker, which was published by The National Geographic in 2008. Sales of the book during Friday’s talk benefited the Planetwalk organization.

Beside B Street downhill from Café Reyes in Point Reyes Station

Last week’s posting on West Marin history noted that this wooden structure mostly hidden by foliage was once the base for a water tower.

Photo by M. B. Boissevain courtesy of the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History.

On Monday, historian Dewey Livingston of Inverness sent over this photo from 1930 so you can get an idea of what the water tower once looked like. In the foreground are 4-H Achievement Day participants.

A barn dance in Toby’s Feed Barn March 2 helped raise funds for a commons in Point Reyes Station, as well as the Latino Photography Project. The commons project had been championed by Jonathan Rowe, who died unexpectedly March 20 at the age of 65.

During a break in the dancing, Mr. Rowe’s son Joshua Espulgar-Rowe read a statement about his father, describing his life and thanking those who showed up for the event.

It would be a difficult for anybody to publicly read a memorial to a parent yet Joshua carried himself as a man despite being only eight years old.

Joshua’s mother Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe, who was born in the Philippines, was not on hand. Elizabeth Barnet, who co-founded the commons project with Mr. Rowe, has been acting as the family’s liaison to the community and sat nearby while Joshua spoke.

Contributions to support Jonathan’s family or help pay for Joshua’s college education (please note which) can be sent to a newly established account, 5561290361, at Wells Fargo Bank, 11400 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station CA 94956. Make checks payable to Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe. Tax-deductible contributions in memory of Jonathan may be sent to West Marin Commons/Town Commons Project. The address is the West Marin Fund, Box 127, Point Reyes Station CA 94956.

A memorial for Mr. Rowe is planned for 11 a.m. Sunday, May 22, at the Town Commons in Point Reyes Station. A parallel memorial, organized by Jonathan’s friends at On the Commons, will take place in Minneapolis on the same day.