Below you will find some of the most common frequently asked questions regarding Cascadia and the Cascadia movement. If you don't see your question listed, don't hesitate to reach out!
- What is Vote Cascadia?
- What does it mean to Vote Cascadia?
- Why are you any different than other political parties or groups?
- What is Cascadia?
- Why Cascadia?
- What is a Bioregion?
- Where does the name Cascadia come from?
- What is the Doug Flag?
- What's the best way for me to get involved?
- Do I have to change my voter registration to say 'Cascadian'?
- What does your organizing structure look like?
- Is this just for liberals?
- Is Cascadia a Secessionist/Independence Movement?
- How does Cascadia support First Nations peoples?
- Is Cascadia a White Supremacist Organization?
- The 42 Nations of Cascadia
Vote Cascadia is a non-partisan, grassroots organization to build a democratic and place based movement to empower people to get active around issues they care about throughout the entire Cascadia bioregion. We feel that the communities most impacted by issues are the best to speak to them, rather than those thousands of miles away with little vested interest in our region or those living here. Vote Cascadia is:
- A democratic framework for the future of the Pacific Northwest.
- A grassroots and localized democracy movement.
- A place based network of citizens committed to a better life for all.
- An issues focused community who understand our distinct local culture.
- A collective of Cascadians who believe there’s nobody better than us to determine our future
Vote Cascadia means that every community will have different needs, experiences and backgrounds, and that each community will be the best to speak about those issues directly impacting it. This diversity is our strength, and rather than one right answer, it will be thousands, working together to build the change we need - for ourselves, our neighbors and world. Specifically, Vote Cascadia:
- Empowers every person to be active about the issues that they care about
- Improves the well being of the bioregion, or those living here.
- Removes ourselves from systems which are toxic, negative or arbitrary, and move to systems which better represent our place and people.
- Expands digital privacy, protections, freedoms and civil liberties on a personal level, while increasing the autonomy, independence, resilience and inter-dependence of the Cascadia bioregion.
- Supports local democracy, governmental accountability and transparency, with a data driven approach while ending misinformation campaigns, out of state interference in local elections, and prioritizing people as primary stakeholders in elections.
Around a shared bioregional principle and ethic.
Vote Cascadia is a place based, grassroots pro-democracy movement and organization. Unlike other political parties, Vote Cascadia is an organization for every person living within Cascadia. We think every watershed and community will have different needs and experiences, and different ways to deal with those problems in the most efficient way. We think this diversity is our greatest strength, and that rather than one answer, it will take thousands working together to build the real solutions we need.
Our goal rather than to tell you what to think or vote - is to create and build a democratic framework to empower your voice, expand personal freedoms and protections, to remove ourselves from systems which are toxic, negative and non-representative, and to create data driven solutions that allow every person to create informed decisions, to the best of their ability.
As a democratic organization and membership base - members of Vote Cascadia identify problems and concerns in our communities, highlight the issues and principles most important to them. Every person can suggest issues, principles and campaigns - become a delegate or create a committee. Issues and Campaigns are checked and approved through our endorsement policy, and approved by our membership. Members may also create local committees to endorse and undertake campaigns in their own watershed based on our bioregional endorsement policy.
Cascadia is a term that means many things to different people:
- It is a 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.
inclusive social and cultural movement to empower every individual and community to be active around issues they care about, and find solidarity and support.
regional identity, rooted in a love of place and stemming from shared experiences, environment, and need, as well as principles and values.
positive vision for a bioregion that is resilient, vibrant and autonomous, that protects the things we find special.
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.
A much more common definition of Cascadia instead seeks simply to help further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, as well as push or environmental and economic responsibility, and increased dynamic, transparent and open governance. The Cascadia movement encourages people to reengage with their local communities, develop local and personal resilience (community gardens, disaster preparedness, etc.), and create alternate lines of regional communication, politics, and interdependence that better represent the social, cultural and political boundaries that define our region.
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.
Cascadia as an idea and movement has been featured in a wide range of publications, such as Vice Magazine, USA Today, NPR, the CBC, NYtimes, CNN, Forbes, Portland Monthly, the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Oregonian and many others.
Why Cascadia? Why not our currently existing state / provincial borders?
“Where are you from?” she asks. “From the Northwest,” he replies automatically, without thinking. Then she shoots back, “Northwest of what?”
Just as any name, Cascadia is a construct that help shapes an identity and place. This region has had many in the near past: New Spain, New Caledonia, New Archangel, New Georgia, the Columbia Department, the Oregon Territory, the Northwest, the Pacific Slope, Ecotopia, the New Pacific, Ecolopolis. Note that each of these is a construct as well - imposed by a different power to be, and often thousands of miles away - to give a definition to best suite its purpose.
Rather than a term that defines its space from a capitol nearly 3000 miles away, Cascadia is the name of the land, given by the people who live here, and just as it's a new name, it gives us a new opportunity to forge something new, something positive together, from a culture rooted in place and the shared values that arise from sharing a landbase. Just as the people who have lived here for thousands of years, Cascadia is an opportunity to forge a new shared vision for what is possible, created from the land and people living here.
Together, Cascadia has the worlds 13th largest economy, a population larger than many countries, and is roughly the size of Mongolia. Rather than accidents of geo-political history, and arbitrary lines on maps which do not accurately reflect the place or the people - Cascadia seeks to find systems which can better reflect the social, cultural, ecological, economic and political realities of the place we live.
If it stops raining, it affects all of us. If there is an earthquake it affects all of us. We cannot talk about dam removal or pollution along the Columbia river without every member of the watershed being a part of that discussion. The regions two largest cities Seattle and Vancouver BC are only 180 miles a part and share the same watershed - but are divided by an international border.
It is becoming apparent to more people in Cascadia each day that society here is, in some ways, irreconcilably different from the rest of the United States and Canada. Understanding the Pacific Northwest as one coherent region is bringing clarity to a lot of people who are growing more frustrated with the statuses quo imposed upon us from more powerful regions within the United States and Canada. The identity of Cascadia is becoming a more true representation of who we are as a people.
A bioregion is defined in terms of the unique overall pattern of natural characteristics that are found in a specific place. The main features are generally obvious throughout a continuous geographic terrain and include a particular climate, local aspects of seasons, landforms, watersheds, soils, and native plants and animals. People are also counted as an integral aspect of a place's life.
The term bioregion is simply short for 'bio-cultural region'. For the Cascadia bioregion, it means the Pacific Northwest as defined through the watersheds of the Fraser, Columbia and Snake rivers - boundaries and borders which better accurately reflect the geographic, economic and cultural realities of the land and people living there. This idea of a bioregion is part of a ethics and philosophy called "Bioregionalism", which means that by sharing the same area and watersheds, we will have shared values, and common concerns, and those who live there will be the best able to know what they need, and how to handle the issues unique to their watershed.
The main features are generally obvious throughout a continuous geographic terrain and include a particular climate, local aspects of seasons, landforms, watersheds, soils, and native plants and animals. People are also counted as an integral aspect of a place’s life, as can be seen in the ecologically adaptive cultures of early inhabitants, and in the activities of present day reinhabitants who attempt to harmonize in a sustainable way with the place where they live. Cascadian bioregionalism deals with the connected ecological, environmental, economic and cultural ties that are prevelent throughout the Pacific Northwest and distance the area from their eastern counterparts. The argument is that those in Washington and Oregon have much more in common with those in British Columbia than those in Washington D.C. An argument which continues to gain ground as we enter a more global age, and as efforts to create integrated transportation and economic systems, stem pollution and global warming, and support sustainable alternatives increasingly requires the commitment of larger regional players.
The Cascadia Bioregion also referred to as the Pacific Northwest Bioregion) encompasses all or portions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, and Alberta. Bioregions are geographically based areas defined by land or soil composition, watershed, climate, flora, and fauna. The Cascadia Bioregion claims the entire watershed of the Columbia River (as far as the Continental Divide), as well as the Cascade Range from Northern California well into Canada. The delineation of a bioregion has environmental stewardship as its primary goal, with the belief that political boundaries should match ecological and cultural boundaries.
The area from Vancouver B.C. down to Portland has been termed a megaregion by the U.S. and Canadian governments, especially along the 'Cascadian Corridor'. Megaregions are defined as areas where "boundaries begin to blur, creating a new scale of geography now known as the megaregion. These areas have interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems link these population centers together. This area contains 17% of Cascadian land mass, but more than 80% of the Cascadian population. Existing US and Canadian borders continue to be broken down in the face of further economic, political and cultural integration which such programs as the enhanced drivers license program - which can be used to get cross the Canadian border within Washington and British Columbia.
It incorporates parts or the entirety of the states and province of south east Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, western Montana, Oregon and Northern California.
"Cascadia is named for the whitewaters pouring down the slopes of her mountains. Home of salmon & rivers, mountains & forests, Cascadia rises as a Great Green Land from the Northeast Pacific Rim. Cascadia curves from coast to crest--from the Pacific Ocean on the west, to the Rocky Mountains and Continental Divide on the east. On the seafloor Cascadia ranges from the Mendocino Fracture Zone on the south, to the Aleutian Trench in the corner of the Gulf of Alaska on the north."
- David McCloskey, Seattle University Professor who coined the term 'Cascadia'
While the Cascadia bioregion is inhabited by more than forty different first nations people, many of them united through a coastal trade language of Chinook Wawa, there has never been one unified term for the entire area that makes up the Cascadia bioregion. The first roots of the word Cascadia, date back to 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 in 1981, who used it to describe a region that 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.
The name Cascadia has now been embraced by a wide range of thought leaders, geographers, tribes, organizations, businesses and governmental planners.
"The blue of the flag represents the moisture-rich sky above, and the Pacific Ocean, along with the Salish Sea, lakes, and inland waters. Our home is a place of continuous cascading waters flowing from the Pacific to the western slopes of the Rockies and Cascades where water cycles back to the Pacific. The white represents snow and clouds, and the green represents the evergreen forests and fields of the Pacific Northwest. The lone-standing Douglas Fir symbolizes endurance, defiance, and resilience. All these symbols come together to symbolize what being Cascadian is all about.”
Alexander Baretich, designer of the Cascadia Flag
Designed in 1994 by Portland native Alexander Baretich, the Cascadia Doug Flag is 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.
The Cascadia Doug Flag is an open source symbol for our home and movement, and while it the most common symbol for the Cascadia movement, every person is encouraged to adapt and change to a way that is special for them.
Using the Doug Flag: An Open Source Symbol & Brand
The Cascadia Doug Flag is held in a Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 and is available for re-use and designs. Please make sure to attribute the flag creator Alexander Baretich, and read his statement against use for any type of perceived hate speech. Please use, re-use, create and share!
The Cascadia Doug Flag is a symbol that represents our bioregion and movement. Symbols pervade our life at every level that we do, and it’s more important than ever that we also share some symbols into the world that are able to represent our values and principles.
You are free:
- to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
- to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
- attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
The Doug flag is an open source, not for profit symbol for the Cascadia bioregion, and the Cascadia movement. It is a grassroots, and people powered brand for every person interested in protecting our bioregion, improving our livelihood, and helping make the world a better place.
We encourage every community, business, organization and individual to modify it for their own eco-region or cause, to help share the idea, around the common principles and values laid out in our Theory of Change. We are all the Cascadian, and together, we are the Cascadia movement.
A Symbol Against Hate
The Cascadia movement works to partner with and create a safe space for frontline and traditionally marginalized communities and voices. We reject all forms of hate, prejudice, and believe in an inclusive movement, that shows the beauty of this region, it’s people and our incredible diversity.
We reject racism, hate, fear, sexism, white supremacy, or any type of discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, personal beliefs or choices, and these stances are reflected at every level. We look forward to building a coalition movement that empowers every person and community, and provides space for indigenous, POC, and traditionally marginalized communities, and of course the millions of amazing Cascadians who live here, to advocate with their own voices, find solidarity and support, and break down boundaries which are harmful and negative .
The History of the Cascadia Doug Flag
This flag was conceived in 1995 when Alexander Baretich was sitting on a hill in Eastern Europe homesick for the conifer trees he grew up with. Earlier digital imagines of the flag were not how he originally imagined it. Most of those early digital versions displayed a full color tree.
Eventually in 2004-2005, the full color conifer was replaced with the silhouette of a Douglas Fir which then matched the original idea of the flag. The flag is also called the Cascadian flag or just Doug for short.
The tri-colors of blue, white and green has been a continuous series of colors applied to the region known as Cascadia, the Oregon Territory, Ecotopia, Chinook Ilahee, Pacifica, the Pacific Northwest, the NorthEast Pacific and all the other names this region comes to be called. The blue represents the unpolluted sky, the Pacific Ocean and the rivers and lakes that flow in Cascadia. The white represents the clouds and snow. The green represents the forests and fields.
The conifer tree found in a variety of species throughout the bioregion stands in defiance of storm, fire and Man. The conifer tree as the Douglas Fir, the Redwood, the Cedar, the Spruce, the Pine and all other Evergreens can be found in many of the various political and social organizations throughout the bioregion.
One of the best descriptions and history of the Doug Flags come from Alexanders own writing:
"In the academic year of 1994-1995, I ended up doing graduate work in Eastern Europe studying nationalism and ethnic minorities. Though I totally love the people, cultures and landscape of Eastern Europe, I was deeply homesick for the forests of Cascadia, specifically the Willamette Valley forests I grew up around. One day in spring as I sat on a hill with my companion, I explained to her what the landscape of my home looked like. I said those vast vineyards if at my house would be vast green forests; the distant mountains of the Matras would be the snowcapped Cascades with white clouds hovering above; and above that might be the blue sky. The three colors of blue, white and green came to mind and that the pine tree in front of us would be a Douglas fir. The image stuck in my mind and spent a lot of time obsessively drawing the flag which really annoyed my soon to be wife. That period of time was crucial in regards to what was happening in Cascadia at that point.
Prior to the design and its popularity, the idea of Cascadia, specifically the bioregion, was pretty much an abstract concept reserved for radical geographers, hip sociologists, devoted ecologists and “radical” environmentalists. There were bioregional congresses, but they were periodic camp and small workshops that were from an older generation from the 1960s and 1970s. The bioregional congress “movement” or gatherings was an echo of the alternative culture of a bygone generation. The bioregional congress gatherings were also limited to those that already knew about bioregionalism and often to those who could afford both the cost of camping in some distant place and the privilege to do so. What the flag has done is convey something far more tangible than an abstract concept of demarcation of space. The flag gave access to the idea of Cascadia that was not limited to scholarly research or having the privilege of money and time for a camping trip on the other side of the continent.
I tend to look at the meme (viral idea) of the Cascadian flag like it’s a multilayered sphere or onion entering or implanted in the mindscape of the host and then unfolding while releasing its contagion. The meme conveys multiple layers to understanding Cascadia. As the memetic onion unpeels in the deep subconscious of the host some will stay or linger at one or another layer, but I have seen major shifts into the deeper layers by some who I thought would remain at the first several layers and I have seen some stay stuck at the first couple layers who I thought would delve deep into the core of the memetic onion. So the levels or peels. At first the normal reaction, the shallow surface level, is to be of nationalistic. The “oh we are a new country” concept which often ends up being “well if they are America then we are Cascadia.” This is the flying of the flag as a form of simple regional identity, but then there is the deeper layers of consciousness that emerges as the simple concepts of nationalism peels away. The next level then is the awareness that Cascadia is not defined by the limited borders of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, but has greater broader borders that include Idaho, northern California, and southeast Alaska as well as northeastern Nevada, northwestern Wyoming, northwestern Montana and even a little of northern Utah. Then there is the realization that those borders are based on nation-state concepts and imperialism. This realization is that these lines on a map are dictated by the conquerors and oppressors who have destroyed so much diversity. This comes to an awakening that Cascadia the bioregion is based on watersheds or river drainage systems that flow all the way to the Rockies or continental divide. Then a deeper layer of consciousness hits that the flow of water is crucial to a bioregion and that life is based on that water. After that comes the realization that Cascadia or any bioregion is not just a place, but a living complex of interactions and interconnectedness to many communities, human and nonhuman. That at that realization we are not a human in a vacuum separated from Nature, but are extensions of each other and dependent on the health and dynamic interactions with each other. It becomes a consciousness of living dynamic being and is no longer stuck in banal nationalism, but is an awakening to being part of a bioregion which is part of the biosphere which is the living Earth (Gaia).
The Cascadian flag captures that love of living communities in our bioregion. Unlike many flags, the Cascadian flag is neither a flag of blood nor a flag of the glory for a nation, but a love of the bioregion; our ecosystems and the dynamics interplay between tectonics, H20, atmosphere and life; the place in which we live and love."
- Alexander Baretich, The Cascadia Flag as a Transformative Icon
If you are excited about Vote Cascadia, there are a ton of great ways to get active, right now.
Share with Family and Friends
What you find important power this movement. Your input has a direct impact on virtually every aspect of our organization. If you have any questions or would like to submit an item, you can read our endorsement policy, submission and etiquette guidelines here. Also - every person can:
- Join our Social Media, Find Printables and Shareables to Inspire Others
- Take the Bioregional Pledge
- Add your business to our Business Directory
Become a Member
The most important thing any person can do is to sign up to be a member. Vote Cascadia is a democratic member organization, and the energy you put into this movement, is what will determine our success. By becoming a member you:
- have voting rights for how the Vote Cascadia organization allocates its budget,
- have voting rights for issues, campaigns and endorsements Vote Cascadia undertakes
- get invites to all in person gatherings, conventions and conferences
- can volunteer as an organizer with Vote Cascadia
- can be a Cascadia Delegate if you so choose
- can form a Cascadia Committee to undertake