What is Cascadia?



Cascadia is a term that means many things to different people:

  1. 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. 
  2. inclusive social and cultural 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.

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.

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