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 and most importantly culture and history. Cascadia is also a social and cultural movement, and a vision for the Pacific Northwest.
What is the Cascadia social and cultural movement?
CascadiaNow! is dedicated to cultivating a resilient and inclusive Pacific Northwest community that honors the values of bioregionalism through stewardship and civic engagement. We empower Cascadians to take action on behalf of the issues that matter to them, and provide the resources needed to achieve their goals. In doing so, we help build a grassroots movement that generates tangible and lasting change. Rather than facing the American or Canadian political systems, we instead are building a regional identity rooted in a positive vision, around shared common principles and values that stem from this region.
How did this idea of Cascadia take off?
Cascadia was an idea that emerged in the 1980’s. It was coined by Seattle sociology professor David McCloskey, and grew out of the Bioregionalism movement of the 1970’s, inspired by California scholars such as Peter Berg and the Drum Foundation. Ecotopia, a book in the late 1970’s that portrayed an independent eco-state of the Northwest, and pertained many then radical notions such as recycling and mass transportation, also had a large impact for many generations. In the 1980’s a series of Bioregional congresses happened that expanded the idea. In the 1990’s, earlier organizing largely had died out, and it was incorporated by a variety of Northwest environmental defense groups, and conversely, a wide array of mainstream economic boosterism, such as the Cascadia Mayors Council in 1996, PNWER in 1992, and efforts for a joint tourism region. Both of these movements largely faltered in the late 90’s, and by the 00’s, the idea had dwindled down to a defunct yahoo page in 2005, and a satirical Zapoti site. In 2005, CascadiaNow was started to help re-grow the idea, and continue to educate and foster a positive Northwest community.
O’ Cascadia, where did that name come from?
The first written references to Cascadia come from Scottish botanist David Douglas (for whom the Douglas Fir is also named) whose early explorations of the Columbia River gorge in the 1820’s led him to write of the areas ‘Cascading Waterfalls’. A description that would later be used to describe the mountain range that would later bear this name. In the 1970’s Seattle University professor David McCloskey used the name Cascadia to describe a region he felt was necessarily.
Oh, CascadiaNow!, that’s that political stuff, right?
There is often some confusion about Cascadia, CascadiaNow and our mission and goals. CascadiaNow highlights and promotes a positive, inclusive, grassroots social and cultural movement and is an educational organization to raise awareness about Cascadia and bioregionalism, and support direct involvement in our communities to help improve and build a Pacific Northwest community. We believe the best way to create real systemic change is to focus on education that helps impact our personal behaviors and interactions. We are currently a 501c3 federal non-profit. CascadiaNow does not undertake or support any political activism or organizing, or support on behalf of any candidate or legislation.