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Born on Inauguration Day: A sustainable lifestyle

Guitarist and environmentalist Justin Daugherty poses next to his garden in Austin, Texas. Born the day before Reagan's second inauguration, Daugherty says his birthday adds to his sense of social responsibility.

Justin Daugherty, a musician and environmentalist from Austin, Texas, has big birthday plans for his 28th this year: Obama's second inauguration.

Daugherty happens to have been born on Inauguration Day -- which always takes place on January 20th. This year, because it falls on a Sunday, the president will be officially sworn in a privately ceremony. The public events will take place on Monday. The last time it fell on a Sunday was Ronald Reagan's second inauguration in 1985, the day Daugherty was born.  

Daugherty says his birth date helped him develop a sense of social responsibility. Growing up in Moss Bluff, La., a rural town near Louisiana's Gulf Coast where the majority of the population was white, Daugherty has a complicated relationship with his country and his environment, which helped shape who he is today.

According to Daugherty, the home he grew up in was pretty standard: "it [was] a wooden house, it [was] blue." But, says Daugherty, "we [had] ducks, we [had] quails, we always [had] animals around." As a result, Daugherty developed a deep passion for the environment that continues to this day.

“The environment needs people to defend it," says Daugherty, "like a religion.” 

But as kid growing up in the South, Daugherty also says he say African-American friends bullied and he witnessed racism, bigotry and sexism.

At the age of 18, when the opportunity arose for Daugherty to move away from Moss Bluff, he took it. Daugherty joined a jazz band, toured around the country and finally settled in Seattle, where he instantly made a second home. In 2007, when the band traveled again, Daugherty moved a second time, to Austin, Texas.

There, Daugherty lives a simple life: he uses a bike to get around, grows a third of his vegetarian diet in his garden, and says he doesn’t buy new clothes -- or anything new for that matter -- unless it’s absolutely necessary.

He's also been attending a local community college in Austin since 2010. He's trying to save enough money to transfer to a four-year college -- the University of California, Davis, but "the cost of education has gone up so much that it’s a pretty big business," says Daugherty.

With a grandmother who emigrated from Lebanon, and a father who was diagnosed with a rare immune system disorder and got treatment from Medicaid, Daugherty has strong opinions about education and government food subsidies. 

After Barack Obama's reelection, Daugherty is optimistic: “I am inspired that people voted for Barack Obama again." To Daugherty, Obama reflects the improvement of America's social equailty and the beginning of change.

So this January 20th, when he turns 28 and President Obama enters his second term, Daugherty has a lot of celebrating to do.

About the author

Shako Liu is a journalism student at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
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