Kelsey Juliana, 22
Kelsey Juliana was raised in Eugene, Oregon, and named after Kelsey Creek which flows through that region. Juliana has been concerned about climate change since she was 10. Activism runs in her family; her parents met advocating against illegal timber sales. At age 15, Juliana sued the Governor of Oregon to demand a carbon emissions reduction plan from the state. In 2015, Juliana, who was 18 at the time, was the lead plaintiff in Juliana vs. United States, in which she and 20 other youths aged between 10 and 22 co-filed a constitutional rights suit for violating the fifth amendment rights of younger generations. The suit asserted that the U.S government’s actions cause climate change and as such violate the right of young people to expect future life, liberty, and other constitutional rights.
Juliana loves poetic diction and compelling subjects and frequently utilizes these attributes when writing her speeches. She has spoken at many marches and peer meetings and believes that society must change its systems in order to function more conscientiously, sustainably, and inclusively. Juliana believes our current system of values is the root cause for many of the problems and injustices in this world. If the world could re-learn the appreciation and value of nature, community and self, Juliana thinks many of our global problems could dissipate. Though she is most well-known for her environmental activism, she is a fervent advocate for many issues including food security, education, homelessness, LGBTQ rights, and Black Lives Matter.
Juliana is currently attending University of Oregon pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology. After graduation, she intends to continue her education by pursuing a graduate degree or teaching license to become a fifth grade teacher.
Gift to the City
By Kelsey Juliana
In the face of climate crisis, the world stands at a pivotal moment of urgency. Climate change threatens the survivability and thrivability of future generations. Naomi Klein reminds us that,“crisis means great peril and great opportunity.” This crisis brings increasing threats to frontline populations, including younger generations, but also brings motivation to change the social, political, and economic structures that cause injustice and division. We are teetering on an edge of apathy or responsiveness, and I am excited!
In a time demanding solutions and a shift away from practice as usual, hopelessness can creep in and become a welcomed friend to apathy. But moments of hopelessness are only fleeting, for how can they linger over the empowered chanting, demanding, cries, and singing from youth all around us? I am energized by the youth movement and I am grateful of the support that Eugene gives to our youth empowerment.
My gift to the city is ongoing commitment to strong and bold leadership to meet the needs of present and future generations in the face of climate crisis. We have the knowledge, the power, and the passion to create a sustainable city. We have a people’s movement led by driven and visionary youth.
In envisioning a city committed to addressing the needs of present and future generations, I want to see:
Eugene addressing the climate recovery ordinance as an agenda priority,
A commitment to recognizing injustice in our community and to be an agent of justice and respect
City leaders taking bold positions against unsustainable and harmful fossil fuel projects like LNG,
City-wide divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable energy,
A strong commitment to sustainability including:
Green buildings and open spaces
Incentives for energy conservation
Carbon offsets required for businesses
Eugene considering effects on future generations before making policy and political decisions.
How do we dream and become this sustainable city? Active hope. Active hope will drive change. Not idle hope that sits potted and waits for someone to water it for it to grow, but active hope that uproots itself and grows through concrete cracks and breaks down cement structures.
I am named after this Cascadian bioregion and my identity and heart belong to it. I know the power of locality in creating intentional, resilient, and solution-based communities. As Pope Francis says, “Local individuals and groups are able to instill a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land.” Eugene has long been recognized for its environmental leadership and outstanding sense of community. I urge, I challenge, and I give the gift of committing ourselves to be solutionary in the face of climate crisis, starting from the youth up.