Coming Back Home

Today marks one month since I moved back home to Cascadia after four years in the American Midwest. I left my home in Seattle just two weeks after getting married to my longtime boyfriend (whose graduate schooling was the reason for our move). We both were sad to leave this place in which we began making our life together; a city which truly felt like home since our first morning living here. We left knowing we would be back someday. I snapped a picture of Seattle’s skyline through our car’s side mirror as we drove east. The notice on the bottom which read “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” suddenly seemed poetic.

I’ve spent these past years of my life split between the sprawling metropolis of Chicago and the rolling hills of southern Minnesota. I made some great friends and explored many new places which I would likely have never otherwise visited had we not moved. I’m thankful for many of these experiences. Yet, throughout this entire time period, I felt at many times an overwhelming sense of being out of place, like an alien in a foreign land.

I missed home terribly during these years. I can’t recall how many times I listened to The Lonely Forest’s “I don’t want to live there” to help cope with this feeling. I was lucky enough to fly home about once a quarter for work as I was able to keep my Seattle-based job and work remotely. I silently rejoiced each time I realized the plane was crossing over the Rocky Mountains into Cascadia flying west. Likewise, I silently lamented each time it crossed over those same mountains flying east, revealing a seemingly endless landscape of flat prairie lands.

When we made our drive back a little more than a month ago, I remember the exact moment I knew I was home. We left Salt Lake City heading north on hot and dry Wednesday morning. We drove past a rocky landscape of red-gold southwestern desert for hours. Then, we arrived at the southern mountains bordering the Snake River Plain in Idaho. Red and gold gave way to green as we crossed the mountains and onto the plateau. I didn’t need to reference a map to confirm what I knew to be true at that moment: the bioregion of Cascadia revealed itself in plain sight. We still had a ways to go before we got back to Seattle, but I was home.

I know what I have to say next may sound ironic at first, but keep going with me. When I look back on the last four years of my life, I’m thankful for my experiences living apart from this place I love. Don’t get me wrong: I’m beyond glad that I’m home. But I was able to really experience both the vast differences and some similarities between living in Cascadia and living in the American Midwest which I otherwise would have been ignorant of.

You see, not only did I leave Seattle shortly after getting married, I also left shortly after finishing the 2nd draft of my book. During the following two years, I was able to take a very hard look at the arguments I had made regarding the effects of bioregionalism—the phenomenon of the physical characteristics of place (a bioregion) shaping the identity of society in both tangible and intangible ways. As I worked through my 3rd draft, I felt many of my arguments held up well while some others did not. I ended up removing about a third of my work and adding or re-writing even more. In the end, I had a near-finished product which I was proud of and, more importantly, said what I truly wanted to say in the most coherent and rational sense possible.

It took me almost another year to finalize a 4th draft which was then published. I can confidently say this final published work would not have been possible if it weren’t for my time spent living outside of Cascadia. I was able to both reflect on and appreciate home so much more because of my experiences, and I am truly grateful for this.

We’re now (mostly) settled once again in the Emerald City. I look forward to spending many, many more years living in and exploring this wondrous region. There’s still so much I haven’t seen: the archipelago of the southeast Alaska, the valleys of the Fraser Plateau and south-central BC, the mountains of Missoula, Cascadia’s coast in southern Oregon and northern California, and more. As the song goes, “I just want to live here, love here, and die here.” Although I hope that latter part doesn’t happen for a very long time; I’ve got too much to love and live for in Cascadia.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

Happy Pride, Cascadia

June is Pride month. We use this time to acknowledge the LGBTQ community and honor the memories of those who fought for their right to love and be equal. It’s an important time for all of us to reflect on the sacrifices made for equal rights, to celebrate progress in a freer society, and to recognize there’s still so much more to be done until freedom reigns truly for each of us.

With the advance of gay rights in the United States, Canada, and around the world, Pride month has evolved into more of an excuse to party in recent years. Festivities are important, but they are not and should not be the reason to mark this occasion. It wasn’t the desire to party which caused those at the Stonewall Inn–led by queer and transgender people of color, mind you–to rebel 48 years ago; it was the desire to live free with the same dignity and rights to love as everyone else.

Pride month is supposed to celebrate the spirit of resistance and overcoming prejudice. It’s important to remember and honor that. And, with regard to us here in Cascadia, it’s important we embody this spirit now more than ever.

This is not a blog post to use as an excuse to vent about particular political issues. Beyond the obvious turmoil over intolerance and authoritarianism in the United States, forces of hate are trying to establish themselves right here in Cascadia, on both sides of the US/Canada border. And, if we’re too flippant or complacent, these forces could usurp our movement for a better future.

A small amount of people in Cascadia are allowing their fears to overcome their senses and are arguing for a perverted, segregated, authoritarian vision for our region. They see the world as a battleground for rights and liberties, based on characteristics like race and religion, in a zero-sum game where one segment must win by suppressing the will of the others. They see social progress not for what it is–an expansion of freedom for all–but as a threat to their worldview and, thereby, their very personhood.

I’m not going to link to anything which can give these groups more visibility. Instead, I’ll summarize by saying that some of these people are attempting to use Cascadia as their own platform to advance fear, prejudice, and hatred. They have little influence and won’t succeed in creating a distorted world based on (what can best be described as) white national socialism. But, they can cause real damage by linking themselves to the idea of Cascadia.

Our movement is about openness and diversity. It’s about egalitarianism, love, and living true in and to the region we call home. It’s also a movement which is still in its infancy; it’s small, but growing quickly. The danger posed by these select few is that they can have a disproportionally large voice in playing to people’s fears and causing widespread backlash. If they go unchecked, they could succeed in linking themselves to the idea of Cascadia to the point where it is permanently tarnished and rejected by the very majority of people in this region we want to see become part of this movement.

Most people in this region are not familiar with the idea of Cascadia or the concepts of bioregionalism yet. However, if we are to succeed in growing this movement, we must work ever harder to ensure that it is these values which permeate throughout our speech and deeds. It is vital for each of us, from all parts of the region and (almost) all parts of the political spectrum, to stand up and counter these forces of fear and prejudice. Not in a violent sense, but in a united and forceful one.

What better way to resist than to celebrate and proclaim the very things these forces of prejudice are attempting to fight: diversity, acceptance, freedom, and love.

Pride month is about celebrating the LGBTQ community. As a gay man myself, I very much appreciate this. But Pride month should foremost be about embodying that spirit of resisting hate and working toward a better vision which is good and true. This year, Pride month can and should be about so much more in Cascadia.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to do this. Not just as Americans or Canadians, but as Cascadians and human beings. Ultimately, Cascadia isn’t about politics or ideologies; it’s about creating a better future in which all of us here in this region can truly be free to love, live, and pursue happiness. And yes, this future includes those who currently are inclined to concede to their fears and succumb to their prejudices. Hate is a learned behavior; it can be un-learned so that love may prevail.

It is in this spirit you, I, and everyone should go out and celebrate Pride this month. Whether you’re in Seattle, Idaho Falls, Prince George, Eureka, or anywhere in between, make sure you’re a true force of love this month and beyond. Counter hate with the same compassion you wish to see in the world and show everyone what Cascadia is really about.

Happy Pride, Cascadia! Wave that rainbow Doug flag high!

Gay Flag_Cascadia

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

Cascadia & Bioregionalism: A Rejection of Exclusionary Identity Politics

north cascade mountains

Cascadia is not a liberal idea. Cascadia is not a conservative idea. Cascadia is not a capitalist idea. Cascadia is not an anti-capitalist idea. When it comes to political ideology, Cascadia is not a partisan idea. Cascadia is a bioregional idea.

So long as you embrace that Cascadia and being Cascadian is inherently tied to, and a result of, the natural essence of this region itself, then personal political ideology is not a qualifier which either precludes or excludes authenticity to being Cascadian. You can be liberal and be Cascadian. You can be conservative and be Cascadian. You can be libertarian, socialist, anarchist, or almost any other political affinity and be as legitimate of a Cascadian as any other.

I say “almost any other” because there are some elements of political affinities, and a select few ideologies in and of themselves, which fundamentally reject the premise of bioregionalism and, thereby, the very idea of Cascadia. These elements are attributed to a subset of identity politics which argues that auxiliary human characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or personal political affiliation have essential power in defining a civic community or civic belonging in general. When such elements are embraced, the result is a tendency for groups of persons to form exclusive political alliances based on such characteristics. A given race or ethnicity, for example, is used to preclude or exclude other people from being a member of that community; “we” is exclusive and “the others” don’t belong.

One key component of bioregionalism is recognizing and acknowledging that our societal identity—our shared sense of civic belonging—is shaped from the bioregion itself. Our shared traits and values as one common civic community comes in part from our shared geography, climate, flora, fauna, et cetera. Place shapes identity. This is why the shared culture and values of our region exist as they do and are recognized as they are.

By accepting this, you inherently reject this exclusionary subset of identity politics. By accepting this, you affirm that auxiliary human characteristics do not define who belongs in Cascadia and who doesn’t. Bioregionalism intrinsically affirms that characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, or personal political affiliation are irrelevant when defining our common sense of civic belonging. Thereby, when Cascadia is embraced as a bioregional idea, it cannot be limited or preferential to any person or group(s) of people based solely on auxiliary human characteristics. I would argue that any ideology which pushes for Cascadia and the Cascadian identity to be exclusive based on these traits is inherently “un-Cascadian”.

Bioregionalism, in its essence, is an inclusive idea. Anyone from any background can come to Cascadia and “be Cascadian” should they choose to embrace the region and share in the ways which allow society to thrive here. The individual whose ancestors have lived here since time immemorial and the individual with ancestral roots half a world away can both be as equally “Cascadian” as each other. The native-born and the immigrant can both “belong.”

This does not mean everyone who identifies as Cascadian sheds all individuality to think the same things and behave in the same ways. Rejecting the form of identity politics I’m talking about results in any individual, from any ethnic or cultural background, being fully accepted as their true authentic self and being acknowledged as fully equal member of the same civic or national community. Furthermore, the vast array of differences in individuals’ race, ethnicity, cultural background, family history, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and so forth are not cause for any to claim differentiation in civic or national identity.

Using myself as an example: I, as a white male with western European ancestry who identifies as Cascadian, must fully accept the immigrant born in South America, and the black woman whose ancestors were brought to this continent as slaves, and the First Nation member whose ancestors have been buried here for 50 generations, and the gender non-conforming person, and the devout Muslim who worships five times per day, and the white man whose political beliefs are very different from my own, and all other Cascadians as being as legitimately Cascadian as myself. We are all Cascadians because we call this region home.

There’s one clarification I want to make to avoid confusion around this “hot button” term: not all forms of identity politics are inherently bad. For example, when individuals of a specific marginalized community are treated unjustly and unequally, because of a given auxiliary characteristic (i.e. skin color), by society, or when society tolerates their mistreatment by other individuals-at-large, then forming a political alliance based on such a trait to empower members of this community and arguing for their equal treatment can be a positive form of identity politics. There’s a difference between using identity politics to empower those oppressed and using identity politics to define and exclude communities; my argument is solely against the latter.

The goal of all those in the Cascadian movement should be to reject exclusionary identity politics and affirm Cascadia is open to all. If we are to succeed in affirming bioregionalism and establishing Cascadian unity, to quote a paragraph in my book, Towards Cascadia:

“[The Cascadia movement] will not be based in ideology or focused on the exclusion of others. It will be based on affirming the reality of our regional ethos and including everyone in this region. Radical acceptance of different viewpoints will be needed in order for this movement to grow and succeed…Even if someone does not realize it yet, anyone living in this region has the potential to embody the Cascadian ethos and identify as Cascadian, through and through. A movement that tries to promote only a ‘certain type’ of Cascadian or exclude those who ‘aren’t Cascadian enough’ will maintain division in this region and play favor to the status quo.” –Page 173

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

Cascadia, Where Do We Go From Here?

cascadia flags, womens march, anti-trump protest

I was trying to think of something both concise and comprehensive enough to demonstrate how I’m feeling this morning. Then, I realized I had already written it:

“We in Cascadia have reached a crucial point in history for our society. Most of us haven’t realized just how crucial it really is or why it is, but we most certainly feel—at least subliminally—that we have reached a point of no return. Something monumental needs to change; our systems of governance, discourse, and decision making on a societal level, on both sides of the international border, cannot continue existing in their current manifestations with their current demeanor…This goes beyond problems with democratic process or bureaucracy. Our “national” identities as Americans and Canadians have become irreversibly flawed and incompatible with Cascadia. Our collective liberties as Cascadians are being suppressed, leaving our region out of balance. Our ability to bring ourselves back into balance is thwarted as a result of non-Cascadian influences dominating federal priorities. Our systems of government, as a consequence, are inadequate to meet our needs. Treating the symptoms of our flawed bodies of governance may temporarily and superficially take care of what we think is ailing our status quo. But no matter how many elections we have in the near future, they will not fix the fundamental issues plaguing Cascadia.” –Towards Cascadia (pages 122-123)

The quote above is taken from my book, Towards Cascadia. I wrote that paragraph more than 3 years ago. Both the United States and Canada had different leaders at the helm of their respective federal governments. Yet, that statement feels truer now than ever before. Perhaps you feel the same way this morning (particularly if you’re on the American side of the international border)?

President Trump has issued an executive order authorizing the federal government to ban and/or detain foreigners traveling to the United States if they originate from a select list of countries, all majority-Muslim. He is proving he’s more focused on pleasing the most hardcore of his supporters than working with Congress to actually solve the economic problems which motivated most of his voters to go to the polls last November.

President Trump has also issued an executive order approving both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipeline projects. Furthermore, Prime Minister Trudeau has applauded the President’s decision on approving the Keystone XL pipeline specifically, as it will transport more tar sands oil from Alberta to Texas. This only contributes further to the global climate crisis we desperately need to fight against.

Prime Minister Trudeau has also authorized the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton, AB to Burnaby, BC, through hundreds of miles of Cascadian territory. This decision not only flew in the face of some First Nation organizations, it also increases the risk of permanent damage to the Salish Sea (impacting the Puget Sound). While I personally applaud him for other initiatives he’s led and yesterday’s statement supporting refugees rejected by the United States, some of the actions taken by his government do nothing to alleviate my feeling that we, as I put it above, “have reached a point of no return.”

There will be many more actions taken by both the United States and Canada which either negatively impact Cascadia or are at least opposed by a majority of Cascadians. This will be true this year, 4 years from now, 10 years from now, and so forth. In this regard, it matters little who is leading our respective federal governments or which political parties are in charge of making decisions. No matter how many federal elections come to pass, the divide between Cascadia and the rest of the United States and Canada will continue to steadily grow. Our respective federal priorities are dominated by more powerful and more populated regions outside of Cascadia; this status quo will never change.

If you feel the same uneasiness I do, regardless of how you voted in your country’s last election or what your personal political ideology is, I encourage you to stop looking east for answers to the most pressing civic issues which we face today. Start looking toward your neighbors and your bioregion. Only together, united as one and independent from the burdens pressed upon us directly from our existing federal institutions, will we be able to make progress and truly be free.

A united and independent Cascadia is a ways off (and yes, to the naysayers, it is realistically and legally possible). But, in the meantime, what can you do right now? You can:

  • Share your thoughts about Cascadia with family and friends
  • Travel Cascadia and experience places on both sides of the border you haven’t been to before
  • Become a part of communities and organizations (online and/or in-person) that support Cascadia peacefully and lawfully
  • Advocate for policy proposals which benefit our region and our society
  • Voice your support or opposition to public officials concerning pressing matters
  • Boycott organizations which actively work against our interests as Cascadians

In essence, take it upon yourself to learn more and get involved. Whether you’re already a Cascadia supporter or this is the first time you’re reading anything about it, I encourage you to keep exploring this notion for yourself. You don’t have to be the activist or community organizing type of person to make a difference. But, if you’re not willing to work for your (and Cascadia’s) future, no one else will either.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

The Cascadia Independence Movement Must Be Greater Than Politics

douglas fir tree cascadia, cascadia doug flag nature

Since the Presidential election last Tuesday, intrigue in the idea of Cascadia has spiked. Predictably, much of this spike in interest originates from partisan political frustration rather than a general interest in the existing movement or its keystone principles. As I wrote last week, no significant change is likely to come as a direct result of this phenomenon, nor should we expect it to.

As predictable as this spike in interest has been, so too have the common reactions from the majority of people who’ve never heard of Cascadia before. The theme of such feedback can be summed up as follows: the idea of Cascadia is foolish and worthless because liberals and conservatives in different areas of the region would, of course, never be able to form a consensus with one another, let alone that any actual attempt to secede would result in conflict and disaster.

Setting aside the logistics of secession for now (which is an entirely different discussion for another day), this type of kneejerk reaction falls into the same trap as some of the politically-motivated advocacy has been for a one-sided, left-wing separatist movement calling for the states of California, Washington, and Oregon to secede (Pacifica); because certain states and/or counties voted Democrat and lost means they’re no longer compatible with those that voted Republican. I have just one rhetorical question in response to this argumentative framework: since when did any single partisan political ideology or party become the foundation for nationhood? Spoiler alert: it never has.

Making a single partisan affiliation the bedrock of any national movement is utterly foolish and destined to fail spectacularly. By doing so, there’s no stopping how narrow or rigid that ideology can get before it continues splintering groups of people which would (and should) otherwise be united. Eventually, you get to a point where the parameters of any given ideology are so exclusive that they allow for only a small subset of individuals. Anywhere you go, be it a country, a state, a city, or even a neighborhood; you’ll find a spectrum of politics that spreads beyond any single ideology.

This is why I want to emphasize how pivotal it is to recognize Cascadia, the Cascadian identity, and the Cascadian independence movement as being far greater than politics. Just as the identities of “American” and “Canadian” convey national values, sentiments, and affinities far beyond partisan politics, so too must “Cascadian.” This means we must reject those naïve and ill-fated attempts to equate Cascadia with any given partisan political ideology or group.

The Cascadian identity and the movement supporting it must be about our societal common bonds which originate from our bioregion. Our common bonds as a society do not come from the colors of our skin. Nor do they come from the locations of our birth. Nor do they come from the bloodlines of our ancestors. Nor do they come from the holy spaces we worship in. Nor, especially, do they come from the personal political ideologies we subscribe to as individuals.

We must acknowledge the fact that we are different from the rest of Canada and the United States because our bioregion is separate and unique. We must embrace the possibility that we are able to unite as one because our bioregion is one. We must look past existing political borders and colors on maps and accept the natural boundaries God has given us. We must rally around the rivers, mountains, forests, and climate Mother Nature has provided us in our bioregion. Only then can Cascadia be a big and bold idea that persons of different partisan affiliations can embrace.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I want to stake my claim here:

Whether you reside in Canada or the United States;

Whether you live east or west of the Cascade mountain range;

Whether or not you voted for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals last autumn;

Whether or not you voted for Donald Trump last week;

If you cherish our bioregion and acknowledge that our foundational bonds as a society come from it, then I stand with you.

This is what identifying as Cascadian should mean. Even if all we ever achieve is tangible unity in a cultural sense, growing this movement into a national force will require patience and radical acceptance. We must reach out to and accept our neighbors of many different persuasions if we’re truly committed to this movement and the goal of a united Cascadia. By doing so, we reject fear and cynicism.

Many will mock our efforts and some may even claim them to be treasonous. We know that supporting and advocating for Cascadia is not treachery. Much like Quebec nationalists are loyal Canadians and Scottish nationalists are loyal Britons, both groups even being members of their respective country’s Parliaments, we Cascadians are loyal Americans and/or Canadians who embrace a different national identity which is good and true. Without shredding or diminishing our loyalties to our fellow citizens, or skirting our obligations as citizens of our countries as they exist today, we choose to build the foundations for a strong and united Cascadia which may one day be politically free and independent.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

What the 2016 Election Means for Cascadia

donald trump protest seattle election 2016

The 2016 election in the United States has resulted in President-elect Donald Trump, who won the Electoral College even though more actual people voted for Hillary Clinton. I highlight this only to emphasize that, for the 2nd time in 16 years, a candidate with more popular support has lost the electoral vote needed to become President. After this latest example of how the American voting model has stymied democratic fidelity, protests have erupted in several cities across the country. In Cascadia, these protests have taken center stage in Portland and Seattle as frustrated citizens vent their anger toward a result they see as unconscionable.

While the bulk of the protesting here has taken place in western Cascadia, smaller protests have occurred in eastern Cascadia as well, such as the one in Boise just last night. That’s not to say all of Cascadia is entirely displeased with the result of this election. Many counties in Oregon and Washington voted at least a plurality for the Republican nominee. In Idaho, nearly 60% of voters did the same. It would be easy to look at these numbers and conclude that these protests are due to nothing more than partisan affinities. But there remains a strong sensation of unease and incompatibility across Cascadia right now, even among some people who voted for Donald Trump out of frustration with the entire federal system emanating from the District of Columbia.

This may help explain the expressions of frustrated Cascadians wanting to separate themselves from the United States entirely, no longer wanting a few thousand voters in Florida or Ohio every year determining the fate of the country and Cascadia’s future. #CascadiaExit has popped up on Twitter (I’m only disappointed that there wasn’t a more clever pun like “Brexit”). A ballot initiative in Oregon to secede from the union has begun collecting signatures. These types of expressions happen all the time after divisive elections. Remember Texas talking about secession four years ago after President Obama was re-elected? How about Canadians from Manitoba to BC calling for a separate confederation of Western Canada after the Liberal Party’s victory last autumn?

Nothing concrete ever comes as a direct result of these types of expressions. Nothing concrete will likely come about this time either. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. A political initiative born primarily out of the heightened level of anger over a temporary political event doesn’t tend to last much longer than it takes for such anger to decrease naturally with time. Upholding that level of passion is just not sustainable.

No, we won’t swiftly and peacefully secede in some wonderful revolution which magically unites all of Cascadia as one. However, this does not mean we don’t have an opportunity as Cascadians to capitalize on this event.

Interest in the idea of Cascadia has skyrocketed in the last 2 days. I can affirm the visits to this site alone have quintupled on average since Tuesday with no extra marketing or publicity efforts that usual. We have a remarkable opportunity, right now, to introduce our movement to many newcomers and get them invested in the idea of Cascadia as a long-term goal. Not everyone will agree with every single point risen, which is perfectly alright. But the political and social environment to spread our ideas and talk to our fellow Cascadians, who aren’t yet aware of Cascadia, has never been more optimal. This is how strong movements grow organically in the early stages.

It is important, however, to not give up on the foundations of our movement and give into a desire for political expediency. Support for Cascadia should not be built off of reactionary politics or a narrow ideology. We must re-affirm that Cascadia as a civic identity is grounded in bioregionalism, without which “Cascadia” is nothing more than a trendy, unremarkable, American-centered phenomenon which quickly dies out over the next month or two. “Cascadian” must remain just as strong, if not stronger, of an apolitical identity as it is a political identity if we’re ever to have a chance in the future to establish the world we wish to thrive in. Just as “American” and “Canadian” convey so much more than politics and partisan affiliations, so too must “Cascadian.”

If we’re serious about Cascadian unity and growing this movement the right way, it will be a slow and arduous process. The growth of awareness will be slow but steady; newcomers’ full embracement of the movement will be the same. But, over time, a strong movement will be able to assert itself in the civic sphere of influence in Cascadia without being easily laughed off or ridiculed.

Our goal right now in this sphere of influence is to solidify a multi-partisan foundation in support of Cascadia on both the American and Canadian sides: liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, et cetera. The message of our movement is and will continue to be that we are fundamentally one people united and shaped by our unique region, separate from the rest of Canada and the United States. No matter who wins the next set of elections in either country or how many elections come to pass, we will forever be in a state of subordination, unable to truly thrive as we were meant to by our very nature, because of undue influence from other regions in our two countries.

We can and must unite and grow together under the one common goal; that we ought to truly be free and able to thrive as Cascadians. The rest is just noise.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

Cascadians at the 2016 Olympics in Rio

The summer games of the 31st Olympiad have wrapped up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 11,303 athletes from 207 recognized nations or organizations competed in 306 different events across 28 different sports. While Cascadia is not (yet) a recognized nation participating in the Olympics, 103 Cascadian athletes competed in these summer games, almost all of which represented team Canada or team USA.

Thanks to Reddit user SeattleDave0, you can read a full overview of how team Cascadia did. In this article, we’ll highlight Cascadia’s medalists and medal total compared to other recognized nations.

Cascadian Gold Medals

Ashton Eaton – Track & Field

ashton eaton, rio 2016

Event: Decathlon – “World’s Greatest Athlete”

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Portland, OR

Nathan Adrian – Swimming

nathan adrian, rio 2016

Events: 4×100 Freestyle Relay, 4×100 Medley Relay

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Bremerton, WA

Kristin Armstrong – Cycling

kristin armstrong, rio 2016

Event: Time Trial

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Boise, ID (born in Memphis, TN)

Sue Bird – Basketball

sue bird, rio 2016

Event: Team Tournament

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Seattle, WA (born in Syosset, NY)

Matthew Centrowitz, Jr. – Track & Field

matthew centrowitz jr, rio 2016

Event: 1,500m

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Eugene, OR (born in Beltsville, MD)

Ryan Crouser – Track & Field

ryan crouser, rio 2016

Event: Shot Put

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Boring, OR

Cascadian Silver Medalists

Paul Chelimo – Track & Field

paul chelimo, rio 2016

Event: 5,000m

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Beaverton, OR (born in Iten, KEN)

Lindsay Jennerich & Patricia Obee – Rowing

lindsay jennerich patricia obee, rio 2016

Event: Lightweight Double Sculls

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometown (both): Victoria, BC

Travis Stevens – Judo

travis stevens, rio 2016

Event: 81kg

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

Cascadian Bronze Medalists

Nathan Adrian – Swimming

nathan adrian bronze medal, rio 2016

Events: 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Bremerton, WA

Hilary Caldwell – Swimming

hilary caldwell, rio 2016

Event: 200m Backstroke

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometown: White Rock, BC (born in London, ON)

Jasmin Glaesser, Georgia Simmerling, & Laura Brown – Cycling

jasmin glaesser, georgia simmerling, laura brown, rio 2016

Event: Team Pursuit

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometown (all): Vancouver, BC (Glaesser born in Paderborn, GER; Brown born in Calgary, AB)

Kimberly Hill & Courtney Thompson – Indoor Volleyball

kimberly hill, courtney thompson, team usa indoor volleyball, rio 2016

Event: Team Tournament

Recognized Team: USA

Hometowns: Portland, OR & Kent, WA (born in Bellevue, WA)

Kayla Moleschi – Rugby

kayla moleschi, rio 2016

Event: Team Tournament

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometown: Williams Lake, BC

Catharine Pendrel – Cycling

catharine pendrel, rio 2016

Event: Mountain Bike Cross Country

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometown: Kamloops, BC (born in Fredericton, NB)

Galen Rupp – Track & Field

galen rupp, rio 2016 trials

Event: Marathon

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Portland, OR

Sophie Schmidt & Christine Sinclair – Soccer

sophie schmidt, christine sinclair , team canada womens soccer, rio 2016

Event: Team Tournament

Recognized Team: CAN

Hometowns: Abbotsford, BC (born in Winnipeg, MB) & Burnaby, BC

Mariel Zagunis – Fencing

mariel zagunis, rio 2016

Event: Team Sabre

Recognized Team: USA

Hometown: Portland, OR

Cascadian Medal Count

Cascadian athletes earned 7 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 10 bronze medals for a total of 20 medals won. If we were to attribute medals to a hypothetical recognized Cascadian team, using only medals from individuals or from teams which were entirely Cascadian, Cascadia would have earned 4 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 5 bronze medals for a total of 12 medals won. This would have put Cascadia in 22nd place in terms of total medals.

cascadia medal count, rio 2016

For a hypothetical nation of just over 18 million people, which would be ranked about 62nd in the world, we’re already punching above our weight. Imagine what a united Cascadian Olympic team with a dedicated organization could do.

One day, we’ll see the Doug Flag rise slowly while our anthem plays and our athletes celebrate victory. But, for now, we cheer on our fellow Cascadians regardless of which team they play for and congratulate this year’s medalists.

On to PyeongChang 2018!

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

Towards Cascadia Now Available in Paperback

Towards Cascadia Book Cover

When I published my book, Towards Cascadia, in Ebook format last fall, the number one piece of feedback I received was the desire for a physical book. There’s something about the printed word that will never be overshadowed by technology. After several months of coordination, formatting, and final tweaks, I’m pleased to announce that Towards Cascadia is now available in paperback.

The book itself is about the Pacific Northwest, why its society is set apart from the rest of North America, and how to achieve a new vision for the future. It explores notions of societal identity, bioregionalism, freedom, politics, and more as they pertain to Cascadia.

Ever wonder why living in, and being a part of, the Pacific Northwest truly feels different than living in any other part of the United States or Canada?

Ever wonder why you can travel from Oregon or Washington to British Columbia (or vice versa) and feel very much at home, while traveling to another region in your own country feels foreign and unfamiliar?

Ever wonder why political dysfunction or disunity within the United States or Canada feels more potent and more regionally-based than ever before in modern history?

Every wonder how Cascadia could unite and even possibly become independent from Canada and the United States without becoming hostile or starting a war?

Ever wish that a new beginning was actually possible and attainable, but you just don’t know where to start?

I asked myself these same questions. After more than 3 years of exploring these ideas, reading books and essays from fellow Cascadians, and challenging my own pre-existing worldview, I did my best to produce a cogent argument for Cascadia which could reach most in this region, including the majority of people who have never heard of Cascadia before. And now, it’s available for you to read in an actual physical book.

If you’re interested, you can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

The Lesson From Brexit: Change Nationalism

UK flag and EU flag

The people of Britain have voted to leave the European Union. There were a few arguments used to support this decision, such as Britain has the right to vote democratically and reject an economic union which seemingly wasn’t benefiting many in the country, therefore asserting its right to self-determination. But another common narrative is that those who voted to leave did so in support of British nationalism, opposing the multi-national cosmopolitan elites in London and the pro-globalist forces of the EU. The people of Britain “wanted their country back,” as some have said, implying that they had lost something which they no longer had.

Of course, they had not lost their country at all. The United Kingdom hadn’t gone anywhere or dissolved. They hadn’t lost their right to vote. They weren’t of all a single political party and were just angry at the current government. No, they felt that Great Britain had become less great and less British because of a changing cultural landscape they grew less and less familiar with. Britain had become less ethnically British as more and more “foreigners” with different languages and different values immigrated.

The reaction by many to this reality was repudiation and an embrace of culture and values which define what it means to really be “British” in their eyes. And while not everyone immediately linked British culture and British values with a tendency toward white anglophile ethnic nativism, many who voted to leave drew that direct link between the two. In their eyes, a true British nation is white, English-speaking, and ethnically native to the British Isles. These are the characteristics which define their common sense of civic belonging; this is their definition of British nationhood. Their nationalism is an expression of this view.

Never mind the countless millions in Britain who aren’t white or aren’t ethnically British yet identify as such and exemplify the same culture and values many, who voted to leave the EU, champion and support. Never mind the absurd basis for drawing a link directly from race and ethnicity to culture and values is the assumption that one’s shade of skin color or one’s physical ethnic traits force an individual to behave a certain way. No, none of that mattered to many on June 23rd. Their nationhood is identified by auxiliary anthropocentric characteristics and their nationalism excludes anyone who could more easily be identified as “the other.”

The result was a good chunk of voters choosing to leave the EU based more on xenophobia than a cogent understanding of the totality of Britain’s relationship with the EU, or of the EU as an organization itself. Whether or not leaving the EU was “the right decision,” this factor cannot be ignored.

This should be a wake-up call to all of us. We need to change nationalism.

What is Nationalism?

At its most fundamental level, nationalism is simply an expression of one’s nationhood: a common sense of civic belonging. Void of any particulars, nationalism is when one acknowledges and supports the intangibles of their national society’s ethos. Support for whatever that foundation is can, theoretically, be a positive and inclusive force.

However, the predominant understanding of nationalism, and of nationhood, is that it has a basis in things like race, ethnicity, and/or religion. And it is with this understanding that nationalism results in exclusion and prejudice. If the basis of your nationhood is a particular ethnicity, anyone who doesn’t look like you or share your ancestry doesn’t belong in your national community; in your civic society. Ethnic diversity is not only undesirable, it’s threatening.

This is the cancer that is nationalism in its current form. It creates hostility which weakens a civic community’s ability to unite and function. It’s a force that says, “If you look different than me, or don’t follow my religion, or don’t speak my language, then we can’t be in the same society. We can’t share the same neighborhoods. We can’t share the same civic institutions. We can’t share the same place. Your very presence is threatening and we don’t belong together.”

I reject this wholeheartedly.

In the context of identifying a common sense of civic belonging—a common nationhood—its foundation should not be these auxiliary anthropocentric characteristics. That doesn’t mean nationhood should necessarily be destroyed. Without it, we’d live in a monolithic global society; frankly, I don’t think such a lack of cultural diversity is possible or desirable. There are, and always will be, points of differentiation which separate the ethos of societies from one another.

So, what’s the alternative?

National Identity Rooted in Place

The planet has arranged itself in unique places, each defined by ecology, geography, watersheds, and climate. These places are called bioregions. Within each, the character of society is shaped by the nature of the bioregion itself; human communities learn appropriate ways to truly thrive as being a part of that place and adapt to its environment. This paradigm of societal identity, established by ecological philosophers such as Peter Berg, is called bioregionalism. It testifies to a simple and profound truth about our reality: place shapes identity.

Bioregionalism is the alternative. By using factors of ecology and geography to define and differentiate civic communities by, we establish a new understanding of nationhood and, thereby, nationalism. This new standard says that people of any given ethnic, racial, or religious background adapt to the place they live in. The community as a whole becomes an extension of this place and embodies the ethos—what Peter Berg called a “terrain of consciousness”—shaped by the characteristics of the place itself. To be of a certain nation, in this sense, means to truly inhabit a place; to embrace the values and characteristics which allow society to thrive in the place it’s in.

With this alternative, nobody’s anthropocentric characteristics become criteria for exclusion in a national society. Co-existence flourishes and nationalism ceases to maintain its potency for prejudice. We must begin defining nations by the places they correspond with and not the physical characteristics of the people who live there. Even if nations don’t necessarily correspond with states (multiple nations may be in a single country, a nation may be split between more than one country, etc.), it is vital we begin identifying nations within a bioregional paradigm. Only then will societies around the world have the ability to truly move past a dying era of struggle rooted in fear of “the other.” The differences between us as human beings become inconsequential and each will be free to embrace those who are different as their brothers and sisters in civic community.

The 10 Regions of Cascadia

satellite image pnw, pacific northwest, cascadia, oregon, washington, british columbia, vancouver island, puget sound, willamtte valley, columbia river

Cascadia is a distinct bioregion which separates itself from the rest of the United States and Canada. But that doesn’t mean all Cascadians are the same and all areas within Cascadia are identical. Cascadia has smaller distinguishable regions defined by geography and culture just like any other nation on Earth. Unlike the boundaries of  the bioregion, the borders of Cascadia’s regions are subjective and up for interpretation. There is no perfect or permanent way to map them out. However, there is little debate or doubt that these regions within Cascadia exist.

The most prominent example is the distinction between eastern Cascadia and western Cascadia with the Cascade Mountains acting as the dividing line between these two regions. Even for someone like me who believes the fundamental bonds between populations within Cascadia inherently tie us all together as one, I don’t deny that there are some noticeable cultural differences between a city on the east side like Spokane and a city on the west side like Seattle.

The question I have now is: where are all of Cascadia’s regions located? I’ve spent some time trying to identify them and have my own interpretation I’d like to share with you. This is more of a fun thought experiment than anything else.

Again, this is subjective; you may agree with this iteration and think it makes sense or you may have your own way of distinguishing Cascadia’s regions. The way I tried to approach this topic was by answering a hypothetical scenario: Cascadia is an independent country – what are its commonwealths/provinces/states/[insert your terminology here]?

Here’s my attempt at an answer. I give you the 10 regions of Cascadia.

*Please note the following maps contain existing state, provincial, and international border lines purely for reference and ease of understanding where, exactly, these regions are.

1. Cascade Plateau

Alternative Name: Columbia Plateau

Approximate Population: 1.96 Million

Largest City: Spokane

Other Notable Cities: Bend, Yakima

cascadia map, cascade plateau, columbia plateau, columbia river, spokane river, smith rock

2. Columbia Mountain

Alternative Name: Rocky Mountain

Approximate Population: 1.20 Million

Largest City: Kelowna

Other Notable Cities: Kamloops, Missoula

cascadia map, columbia mountain region, kelowna, kalispell, canadian rocky mountains

3. Fraser & Archipelago

Alternative Name: Northern Cascadia

Approximate Population: 0.33 Million

Largest City: Prince George

Other Notable Cities: Juneau, Prince Rupert

cascadia map, fraser plateau, southeast alaska, alaskan archipelago, prince george bc

4. Klamath Mountain

Alternative Name: West Jefferson

Approximate Population: 0.86 Million

Largest City: Medford

Other Notable Cities: Eureka, Grants Pass

cascadia map, klamath mountains, medford oregon, state of jefferson

5. Olympic Peninsula

Alternative Name: N/A

Approximate Population: 1.09 Million

Largest City: Vancouver (WA)

Other Notable Cities: Olympia, Port Angeles

cascadia map, olympic peninsula, southwest washington state, hurricane ridge, ho rainforest

6. Puget Sound

Alternative Name: N/A

Approximate Population: 4.79 Million

Largest City: Seattle

Other Notable Cities: Bellevue, Tacoma

cascadia map, puget sound, seattle, mount rainier, bainbridge island

7. Salish Coast

Alternative Name: Fraser Delta

Approximate Population: 3.02 Million

Largest City: Vancouver (BC)

Other Notable Cities: Abbotsford, Bellingham

cascadia map, salish coast, fraser delta, vancouver bc, whistler bc

8. Snake River

Alternative Name: Southeast Cascadia

Approximate Population: 1.37 Million

Largest City: Boise

Other Notable Cities: Idaho Falls, Pocatello

cascadia map, snake river valley, snake river plain, boise idaho

9. Vancouver Island

Alternative Name: N/A

Approximate Population: 0.74 Million

Largest City: Victoria

Other Notable Cities: Courtenay, Nanaimo

cascadia map, vancouver island, victoria bc

 10. Willamette Valley

Alternative Name: N/A

Approximate Population: 2.95 Million

Largest City: Portland

Other Notable Cities: Eugene, Salem

cascadia map, willamette valley, portland oregon, mount hood, oregon coast

Total Approximate Population: 18.3 Million

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today: