A Cascadia Primer

Cascadia is a(n);

  1. bioregion defined by the watersheds of the Columbia and Fraser river valleys that stretch from Northern California to southeast 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 about, 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.

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.

The idea of the Cascadia movement dates back to the early 1980’s when a group of policy planners, environmentalists, teachers and organizers first met for a series of ‘Cascadia Bioregional Congresses’. After faltering out during the 1990’s, the idea was restarted in 2005, with the creation of CascadiaNow!. After more than a decade, we are excited to begin to explore the next step for the Cascadia movement. It is our goal to create a hub of self-organization, 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.

Where does the name ‘Cascadia’ come from?

The name Cascadia originally stems from Scottish botanist David Douglas (for whom 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.


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  • Glen Lancaster
    commented 2017-02-13 09:21:12 -0800
    Leave BC out of this thanks. We are happy here in Canada watching the train wreck unfold below the border. Maybe focus on Washington and Oregon combining as a country first, and then I am sure Canada will welcome you, but as a friend, not as part of the family…yet.
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