Cascadia Primer

Cascadia is a(n):

  1. bioregion defined by the watersheds of the Columbia and Fraser river valleys that stretches from Northern California to south east Alaska and as far east as the Yellowstone Caldera and continental divide. It encompasses most of the states and province of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and parts of southeast Alaska, Northern California and Western Montana. 
  2. inclusive social movement to empower every individual and community to be active around issues they care, and find solidarity and support.
  3. regional identity, rooted in a love of place and stemming from shared experiences, environment, and need, as well as principles and values.
  4. positive vision for a bioregion that is resilient, vibrant and autonomous, that protects the things we find special

Our Goal:

The goal of the Cascadia movement is to build a bioregion that is autonomous, regenerative, and independent. We do this through building positive connections, making changes in our communities, and building a network of bioregional movements and organizations for a world that can responsibly support all of it’s inhabitants.

What is bioregionalism?

Bioregionalism is a philosophy and set of ethics in which natural borders are used to better represent our regions and their inhabitants. This includes using ‘bioregions’, bio-cultural geographies created through watersheds, geologic and physical characteristics of a place, as well as animals, plants, and of course the people living within them. The basic tenet of bioregionalism is that culture stems from place, and that people living in an area will be best suited to address it, and that every community impacted by an issue must be able to be a part of how those issues are dealt with.

The Cascadia Movement

Within this, Cascadia becomes a framework for change – the largest sense of scale where connections make sense – where global issues can be broken down to a local level, and people connected to those in their communities making change happen on a daily basis. Cascadia bioregionalism moves beyond arbitrary boundaries to a watershed basis for planning and support, that is truly representative of the environment, culture, and people who live here. 

It is our goal to create a hub where every person can be active about issues they care about – issues which will necessarily be different for each person and place – share information, find solidarity and support, and create a real difference here in the Pacific Northwest. Bioregionalism and the Cascadia Movement is a holistic method for talking about  social, cultural, economic and political issues as the sum of a greater picture, rather than each as a divided its own. 

How do you define the Cascadia Bioregion?

Cascadia is a bioregion that includes Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. The boundaries of this bioregion are not set in stone, but rather loosely defined by naturally occurring watersheds, geology, geography as well as culture and history. Cascadia is also a social and cultural movement, and a vision for the Pacific Northwest.

Where does the name ‘Cascadia’ come from?

The name Cascadia originally stems from Scottish botanist David Douglas (for whome the Douglas Fir is also named) who explored the Columbia River Gorge in the early 1800’s. He wrote of the area’s ‘cascading waterfalls’, and it is through these that we hear the first mention of ‘the Cascades’ – from which the mountain range is now called. ‘Cascadia’ in its entirety, was coined by Seattle sociology professor David McCloskey, who used it to describe a region he felt was culturally and environmentally distinct from surrounding areas. This new notion of Cascadia, was heavily influenced by the bioregionalism movement of the 1970’s, inspired by Peter Berg and the Drum Foundation., seminal works like Joel Garraeu’s Nine Nations of North America, and Ernest Callenbachs novel Ecotopia, which portrayed an independent eco-state of the Northwest, and contained many then radical notions such as recycling and mass transportation

What is the Doug Flag?

The Cascadia Doug Flag was designed by Portland native Alexander Baretich in 1995, and is nothing more than a direct representation of the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. The green are for the forest, the white for the mountains and glaciers, and the blue for the skies, rivers and bodies of water and the Douglas fir because it stands as a symbol of resilience, whose growth range closely follows that of the bioregional borders of Cascadia. It the most common symbol for the Cascadia movement, but every person is encouraged to adapt and change to a way that is special for them.

Oh, Cascadia, that’s that political stuff, right?

Bioregionalism advocates for a necessary cultural and political shift, based around common principles, and shared values, and provides a framework for making these changes. We argue for policies that increase the autonomy and independence of the Cascadia bioregion, and bring our impact into a responsible, ethical and sustainable future. However, the Cascadia movement is much broader than any one person, or organization. Each person and community will necessarily have different issues they care about, and rather than define these for people, we are simply here to provide space. 

For some, this means social or racial justice, environmental protection, indigenous sovereignty, a local, bioregional economic footprint, while others may feel be privacy, civil liberties, open governance, direct action or a more political presence is a more relevant cause. Only together, collectively, do these help define the true breadth and strength of the Cascadia movement.