Illustration by Chelsea Lovejoy

I Dream of Eugene

The next generation speaks out on how they envision their future

The Iroquois have a philosophy that leaders should make decisions based on remembering seven generations back and seven generations in the future. It’s fair to say that Western culture doesn’t share this belief: Despite a near scientific consensus that climate change is due to human activity, the U.S. and the rest of the world still push ahead with consumerism-oriented capitalism. 

But maybe there’s hope. Eugene is home to the Juliana v. U.S. climate lawsuit. Teenager Greta Thunberg led climate strikes in 2018. And many young people took to the streets after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. Eugene Weekly decided to let Lane County’s youth speak out on how they want to see their future in this year’s I Dream of Eugene. 

Thanks to the generosity from Eugene Creative Care, one of these writers could win a free month of child care. See below.

BETTER JOBS AND CLEAN ENVIRONMENT

I think that Eugene is a great town. But I also think that it could use a few changes. I can see that Eugene will still be a great town in the future. I think that in the future of Eugene not as many people will be a racist, that Black people and white people will all be held in high esteem and that Black people will get better jobs, and that people will take better care of nature. For example, not throwing garbage everywhere, and not poisoning the rivers, lakes, streams, oceans, trees, plants and animals. 

— Ella Scarola, 9 

BLACK LIVES REALLY MATTER!

I’m very lucky. I’m lucky because I think I’m very fortunate because I think when I grow up I think the world will be a better place. Black people will be able to get good jobs. The world can be a better place for Black people at least a little bit better. Black lives really matter!

— Lilah Bell Scarola, 6

KEEP THE OCEAN BEAUTIFUL

On the future of the county 

Puppies. More kids. Less homeless people. Always be happy. Give them a good choice. Give them a fun thing to do. Make people happy always. 

On community leaders, the climate and racism 

They should make things more safe. They should be more protective of all people. I think systemic racism means science. A science about space. It has tons of planets. Jupiter. I don’t really know what it means. 

Climate is changing stuff. How we do stuff. Make a law so that you can’t litter in the ocean. Cuz sharks are cool and we need to try and keep seahorses alive. The ocean is beautiful. 

Art like painting and building. Music is art. Like hard rock. [Insert air guitar motions.]

My advice to our leaders is to keep us all alive and keep seahorses alive. 

— John Jameson, 7

RACISM IS CHILDISH

I’m interested in you reading my essay on equality. To start off Black equality, for example, let’s say you have a bin of toy cars, some red, some blue, all the same model but different color. Racism is like hating the blue ones for no reason! It’s just childish (and that’s coming from an 11 year old!). Next thoughts on LGBTQ+. Personally I think Love is Love, we can Love who we want! 

Kira Tennant, 11

ART FOR ALL

What is art? Art can mean a lot of different stuff: It can be music, acting, crafting and many other elaborate things. But sometimes just grabbing a piece of paper and a pencil and doodling can calm you down. Say you like to draw and you came home from work frustrated that you didn’t get the promotion you wanted, you can draw how you feel, with colors, images or just something that makes you happy. 

While most people have art supplies, a lot of people don’t even have a home to do art in. That’s why my wish for the future is that someday there will be art supplies for everyone whether they have money or not. That way when you want to do something nice, everyone has access to the art supplies they need. 

— Nola Longueira, 10

PERSEVERANCE 

Chaos is abundant. 

Mouths spit out lies that resemble undercooked meat; fleshy, coated in blood, oozing a deceivingly enticing smell. 

Ghostly figures thin as slices of paper teeter against the gale, flowers trampled underfoot by boots belonging to men who think themselves important. 

Crowds of trembling marionettes covet whispers that blow about in the wind, delicate and soft as the down feathers of doves.

Their fears are numbed by the cotton balls stuffed in their ears and the things they convince themselves are true. 

The land collapses in on itself, the world crumbling like dry shortbread, but they continue to live. 

Like ants, their lives are impossible to stamp out, an infestation listening to an agenda they are unable to understand. 

There are too many for the minute tantrums the world throws to destroy, so they are blind to the decay slowly consuming them. 

They persevere.

— Mina Sieradski, freshman 

RECYCLE MORE, CONSUME LESS

We young people would like to grow up to a clean planet which includes taking care of it. Also, the forest fires have been bad this year. Smoky Bear, young people, and some adults have been trying to prevent forest fires by taking care of our planet in ways such as not smoking, and not polluting the ground or the air. A way to do that is recycling as much as we can, consuming less and using as little plastic as we can.

 — Ari May, 7

DO WHAT’S RIGHT, NOT WHAT’S EASY

We can’t predict the future because it’s being decided right now. Our lives stand on the brink; the edge of a slippery slope where one wrong move plunges us towards our deaths. Unless of course we rethink our values and practices, but that’s impossible. After all, wasn’t the green new deal “too expensive”? It’s great to know who thinks I’m too expensive to live, especially when said “president” owns 17 golf courses and probably has a gilded toilet seat. 

My future will be thrown away like rotten salmon at the back of the fridge unless something is done. We can have time travel, aliens, a bright new world, but only if we are willing to defend it, only if we do what is right instead of what is easy. 

— Meredith Wireman, 14

START LOCALLY TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is by far our planet’s largest issue. There are many ways to go about lowering our impact and trying to help our planet, but one way is to just start in our area. The seemingly never-ending problems of logging and mining loom large in Oregon, but they are often hidden from view. I enjoy exploring the backcountry of Oregon, so I see the effects of resource extraction fairly often. There are many gravel mines in our area, including Potato Hill in Springfield, Coburg Road Quarry, Bond Butte quarry, Parvin Butte quarry, McGowan quarry and a quarry on the summit of Mount Tom in the Coburg Hills. 

Logging and mining companies hide their operations from view so they don’t get public complaints. I am shocked by some of the places these operations are happening. Mount Tom is the highest point in the Coburg Hills, so my dad and I decided to try and walk to the top. Upon arriving at the summit, we discovered it is a gravel quarry. I personally think that the highest point in the Coburg Hills is not an appropriate place for a gravel quarry. The locations I mention are only a few examples, and I think that things need to change with the way trees and rocks are removed from the earth. 

— Eamon Happy, 12


Thanks to the generosity from Eugene Creative Care, one of these writers could win a free month of child care. Vote for your favorite submission.