40 Cascadian Dark Ales From Cascadia

In honor of this coming Spring and Cascadia’s rich craft brew culture, I wanted to devote this blog post to the Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA). If you don’t know what a Cascadian Dark Ale is, it’s a dark or black India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer prominent in our home region. It’s a fusion of a more hop-intensive IPA and a dark-malted ale, resulting in a medium-bodied black ale which has an alcohol by volume (ABV) level comparable to a typical craft American IPA (usually between 6% – 8%).

The Cascadian Dark Ale goes by other names (i.e. Black IPA, American Dark Ale) and many breweries throughout the United States and Canada have their own versions. I want to focus on ones specifically brewed within the bioregional borders of Cascadia. Using beer rating sites such as Untappd, I’ve compiled a list of 40 true Cascadian Dark Ales you may want to try if you haven’t already.

This list is sorted alphabetically by brewery and is meant to be a simple overview used as a resource. Some are brewed year-round, but most are seasonal releases. While I narrowed this list to just 40 beers, that doesn’t mean there are only 40 brewed within Cascadia; the ones in this list have relatively high average ratings from beer drinkers. I may make updated versions of this list as new Cascadian Dark Ales are introduced and/or become popular in the future.

Without further adieu, here are 40 Cascadian Dark Ales brewed in Cascadia:
*Ratings as of February 28, 2016

1. Cynical CDA from 10 Barrel Brewing Company (Bend, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.70 | ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 91

2. Cascadian Dark Ale from 7 Seas Brewing (Gig Harbor, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.71 | ABV: 7.0% | IBU: 65

3. Midnight Departure CDA from Airways Brewing (Kent, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.74 | ABV: 6.0% | IBU: —

4. Black IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. (Juneau, AK)
Untappd Rating: 3.56 | ABV: 6.4% | IBU: —

5. Double Black IPA from Alaskan Brewing Co. (Juneau, AK)
Untappd Rating: 3.85 | ABV: 8.5% | IBU: 70

6. Belmont Black from Barley Brown’s Beer (Baker City, OR)
Untappd Rating: 4.07 | ABV: 8.8% | IBU: 85

7. Turmoil from Barley Brown’s Beer (Baker City, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.94 | ABV: 7.8% | IBU: 90

8. Black IPA from Bellevue Brewing Company (Bellevue, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.74 | ABV: 8.2% | IBU: 62

9. Absolute Horizon CDA from Bomber Brewing (Vancouver, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.59 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 72

10. Armored Fist CDA from Boneyard Beer Company (Bend, OR)
Untappd Rating: 4.05 | ABV: 10.0% | IBU: 80

11. Lost Giants Imperial CDA from Boundary Bay Brewing (Bellingham, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.83 | ABV: 9.5% | IBU: 100

12. Disruption Black IPA from Category 12 Brewing (Victoria, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.87 | ABV: 6.7% | IBU: 77

13. Bucking Black Sheep Black IPA from Dead Frog Brewery (Aldergrove, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.68 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 41

14. The Obsidian Dagger IPA Noire from Dead Frog Brewery (Aldergrove, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.70 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 50

15. Hop in the Dark CDA from Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.83 | ABV: 6.9% | IBU: 70

16. Coalsack CDA from Ecliptic Brewing (Portland, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.49 | ABV: 6.2% | IBU: 68

17. Reel Ales Swordfish Double CDA from Fish Brewing Company (Olympia, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.63 | ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 65

18. Raiden Black Rye IPA from Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks (Richmond, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.88 | ABV: 6.4% | IBU: 75

19. Vader Black IPA from Gilgamesh Brewing (Salem, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.58 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 72

20. Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale from Granville Island Brewing (Vancouver, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.63 | ABV: 6.3% | IBU: 60

21. Secession Cascadian Dark Ale from Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.73 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 70

22. Gathering Storm Dark Ale from Howe Sound Brewing (Squamish, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.68 | ABV: 6.8% | IBU: 76

23. Cascadian Dark Ale from Mac & Jack’s Brewery (Redmond, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.60 | ABV: 7.0% | IBU: —

24. Dark Star Black IPA from McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse & Imbrie Hall (Hillsboro, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.69 | ABV: 7.7% | IBU: 93

25. Cascadia Shale Ale from NW Peaks Brewery (Seattle, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.64 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 74

26. O’Dark:30 CDA from Oakshire Brewing (Eugene, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.65 | ABV: 6.3% | IBU: 72

27. Bad Santa from Pelican Brewing Company (Pacific City, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.64 | ABV: 6.7% | IBU: 70

28. CDA from pFriem Family Brewers (Hood River, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.86 | ABV: 7.5% | IBU: 70

29. Dad’s Little Helper Black IPA from Rogue Ales & Spirits (Newport, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.57 | ABV: 6.8% | IBU: 92

30. Celilo Cascadian Dark Ale from Sasquatch Brewing Company (Portland, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.63 | ABV: 7.6% | IBU: 82

31. Hop Night from Standing Stone Brewing Company (Ashland, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.72 | ABV: 7.3% | IBU: —

32. Black Angel IPA from Steamworks Brewing Company (Burnaby, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.66 | ABV: 7.0% | IBU: 70

33. Nocturnum from Strange Fellows Brewing (Vancouver, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.76 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 65

34. Cave Dweller from Terminal Gravity Brewing (Enterprise, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.76 | ABV: 6.9% | IBU: 100

35. Hodag CDA from Three Creeks Brewing Company (Sisters, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.58 | ABV: 6.4% | IBU: 75

36. Hop Head Black IPA from Tree Brewing Co. (Kelowna, BC)
Untappd Rating: 3.66 | ABV: 8.0% | IBU: 120

37. Heart of Darkness CDA from Two Beers Brewing Co. (Seattle, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.68 | ABV: 6.8% | IBU: 67

38. Dark Tower from Vagabond Brewing (Salem, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.81 | ABV: 7.0% | IBU: 74

39. Big Black Homo Erectus from Walking Man Brewing (Stevenson, WA)
Untappd Rating: 3.90 | ABV: 8.8% | IBU: 85

40. Pitch Black IPA from Widmer Brothers Brewing (Portland, OR)
Untappd Rating: 3.64 | ABV: 6.5% | IBU: 65

Use this list to your advantage this year. There’s nothing like a good brewery tour road trip to make use of some time off from work or school.


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

A Moderate’s Perspective on the Cascadia Movement

The Cascadia movement is young and vibrant. We have lots of different opinions about what the movement should encompass and even more energy behind these motivations. We’ve got literature, social gatherings, conferences, and dedicated organizations all expanding the visibility and awareness of Cascadia. Considering this movement has really gotten off the ground only in the last 10 years or so, after more than a decade(s) of work by dedicated individuals prior to this, it is apparent to me that we’re on a pretty good trajectory.

Awareness is consistently increasing in the region. Visions for the region’s future are widespread and positive. Optimistic enthusiasm for regional change in various capacities (i.e. social, political, economic) is growing.

One noticeable aspect of this young movement is that some of the more prominent voices leading it are radical. That is to say, the visions of these individuals for Cascadia’s future is a fundamental change in one aspect or another toward, what many would consider, an absolute overhaul of the status quo. These opinions are commonly lumped together as “fringe” or politically left/right wing.

I’m not here to pass judgment on such opinions. In fact, I think radical voices are often necessary when the status quo needs agitating, even when I don’t entirely agree with the opinions expressed, because they can speak to a greater truth the general public doesn’t quite grasp yet. However, I often find myself at odds with the totality of such arguments because I hold views which most in the region would likely consider moderate or temperate.

OK, yes: I personally support the eventual secession of Cascadia through democratic means so the region attains sovereignty. I don’t believe my rationale for justifying or going about this is at all radical (you can read about it all in my book—links are at the bottom), but I can see how such an opinion can be considered radical because it speaks to a fundamental change in the status quo. Point taken.

The majority of my personal opinions on matters of civics are mild. Compared to the United States or Canada as a whole, I’d probably be considered center-left in the political spectrum, but so too is the entire Cascadian region (on a macro level) in comparison. When listening to the viewpoints of those within the Cascadian region on various issues, I often find myself agreeing with various points on “both sides” of the argument (understanding that there are always more than just two sets of opinions).

I don’t think that makes me indecisive or wrong; I just think that objective truth entails a reality incomprehensibly complex that there are likely 100 different ways to solve any one issue collectively, all of which may conflict with each other in some form or another and yet all “correct” in similar capacity as well. I’m also not naïve enough to believe that my opinions alone on any given issue are absolutely correct in the entirety of all things each considers. After all, I’m not an all-knowing deity.

I’m in the middle. That’s not a bad thing. And, more importantly, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for me in the Cascadia movement. In fact, I believe my place in the Cascadia movement is essential for its continued success and anyone identifying with where I’m at relative to radical voices should feel the same way. We’ve got a lot to offer Cascadia; we shouldn’t undermine our own talents or self-worth because we don’t project prophetic oratory that romantically grapples with the dichotomies of good versus evil or freedom versus enslavement.

There’s a theory in business called the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of your productivity will come from 20% of your assets. This may lead you to believe that the remaining 80% of your assets are unimportant. In reality, it’s often that remaining 80% which pushes you over the edge to succeed and meet your goals.

This is how I see the Cascadia movement at times: 80% of the prominent opinions being voiced in the movement come from about 20% of its supporters which tend to be more radical. This can be intimidating or off-putting to most who just don’t fully agree and aren’t radical. It shouldn’t be. While around 80% of Cascadia’s supporters are relatively quiet, it will be their voices which are necessary for the movement to truly thrive and make real differences in the world.

If you’re somewhere in the middle and support the Cascadia movement, or if you’re merely intrigued but aren’t convinced to support it yet, I’m here to proclaim your importance. You have something wonderful to offer Cascadia in your own right and I encourage you to make use of your talents. It could be anything which positively impacts Cascadia. If you feel called to make a difference in your own way, do it. It may not be the most prominent act which advances the movement by leaps and bounds, but it could very well be vital to its continued success.

The Cascadia movement is a big tent with plenty of room for moderates and radicals alike. If you call Cascadia home, love this region’s natural composition, and identify with its shared spirit, you belong. So, act like you belong and do something awesome to help. What are you waiting for?


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

New Year’s Resolution: Say “Cascadia”

New Year’s resolutions are often cheap or unrealistic pledges which temporarily make us feel better about ourselves. They tend to follow a pattern every year:

Week 1 – “New year. Let’s do this!”

Week 2 – “I should really get back to that resolution. But I can’t, because reasons.”

Week 3 – “…”

Skip to Week 6 – “Yeah; that was a thing for about 2 days. Oh well.”

You get the idea. This year is different though. There’s a new year’s resolution you and I or anyone else can make that is so absurdly easy and will actually make a very tangible impact when it comes to Cascadia.

The number one obstacle to the growth of the Cascadia movement is very simple: awareness. A vast majority of people in the region simply don’t know what Cascadia is and haven’t heard of it in any significant context before. That’s a big obstacle that’s difficult to remove, but the solution itself is easy: make sure more people are aware of Cascadia.

You can do something about this. You can be a direct contributor to the growth of the Cascadia movement and it will cost you nothing. Furthermore, each time you do it, it takes approximately one second of your time.

Here it is: in conversations when anything regarding the “Pacific Northwest” comes up, say “Cascadia” instead. That’s it. That is literally all you have to do and it will have a very real impact.

By doing this, a topic of conversation goes from this:

Other Person: “We’re getting a lot of rain recently. More than usual for the Pacific Northwest.”
You: “I don’t mind. It helps keep the Pacific Northwest green.”
Other Person: “True.”
[End of topic]

To this:

Other Person: “We’re getting a lot of rain recently. More than usual for the Pacific Northwest.”
You: “I don’t mind. It helps keep Cascadia green.”
Other Person: “Cascadia? What’s that?”
You: “Cascadia. It’s the name for the Pacific Northwest. It’s here. It’s us.”
Other Person: “Why not just say ‘Pacific Northwest’ then?”
[Expand upon importance of Cascadia]

Seriously, this is the easiest thing in the world to do to spread awareness and begin making real change in the minds of others. In this example, you’ve just introduced someone to our region’s name and explained why it’s important. That other person is now aware. Maybe s/he becomes intrigued and wants to know more, maybe s/he doesn’t. Regardless, you can bet the term “Cascadia” is going to come up again for this person in some context and s/he won’t remain ignorant or just cast it aside; s/he will remember than time you mentioned “Cascadia” and what it meant.

So, in 2016, commit to this: replace “Pacific Northwest” with “Cascadia”. The more you say it, the more natural it becomes. It’s important and empowering. We’re more than just a distant part of the United States and Canada. We have a unique region based in environment with a corresponding identity that the rest of continent does not possess. The more you say “Pacific Northwest” after acknowledging this fact, the more you reinforce the notion that we don’t matter. So, say “Cascadia” instead.

Have a happy and safe new year. Be part of the change Cascadia needs.


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

10 Questions About Cascadia You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask

You’ve read or heard things about “Cascadia”, but you’re not exactly sure what they all mean. There are probably some questions you want answered, but may have just not asked yet.

Breathe easy; you’re not alone. I’m here to help. Hopefully, this blog post can clear up a lot of confusion. I promise I’ll try and keep this brief and straight forward.

Here are 10 frequently asked questions about Cascadia:

What is Cascadia?

Cascadia is the essence of the Pacific Northwest. Physically, it’s a large piece of North America; the geographically and environmentally distinct region (called a “bioregion”) centered on the Cascade mountain range, which runs through western Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Philosophically, it’s the social identity and common characteristics which are most commonly associated with Pacific Northwest culture in both the United States and Canada.

Where exactly are the boundaries of the Cascadia region?

Cascadia goes as far south as Cape Mendocino in northern California and as far north as Mount Logan in Alaska. East to west, it runs from the Great Continental Divide (which separates rivers running to the Pacific from those running east) in the Northern Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It includes the Columbia River watershed, the Fraser River watershed, and the Snake River valley. Here’s a map which illustrates the precise borders of the Cascadian region:

Map of Cascadia
Map of Cascadia – Cascadia Institute (cascadia-institute.org)

Where can I find a map of Cascadia?

The map above was created by David McCloskey, a retired professor who taught at Seattle University. David has spent the past four decades exploring and mapping the Cascadian region. In Spring of 2015, he unveiled his life’s work with an exquisitely beautiful map of Cascadia which shows the region’s ecological and geographic patterns in extraordinary detail. You can find out more about this map and buy a copy for yourself through his website for the Cascadia Institute.

Why is Cascadia important?

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. There are many aspects and characteristics of our common society which are experienced in unique ways here, from our economic values to our environmental values to our spiritual values and so forth. 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.

Does this mean all supporters of Cascadia want to secede from the US and Canada?

No. Right now, I think it’s safe to say a majority of Cascadia supporters do not want to secede from either the United States or Canada. The Cascadia movement is currently focused on awareness of what makes us unique, the different aspects of our common culture, and how that all ties into our environment.

What is the great Cascadia earthquake?

The great Cascadia earthquake is the most recent massive earthquake—estimated around a 9.0 on the Richter scale—caused by a rupture of Cascadia’s primary fault (called the Cascadia subduction zone). Scientists believe this earthquake occurred on the night of January 26, 1700, and caused a tsunami to hit the coast of Japan. While there are no written records from indigenous tribes during this time period, numerous oral traditions reference this event and suggest coastal villages—primarily located on what is now called Vancouver Island—were completely destroyed as a result.

Cascadia Subduction Zone

When will a Cascadia earthquake happen again?

Nobody knows for sure when the Cascadia subduction zone will rupture again. However, scientists are confident it will happen again. Earthquakes caused by the Cascadia subduction zone have happened approximately every 500 years for the past several thousand years. We’re currently in the early stages of when scientists expect the fault to rupture again. It might happen today, or it might happen later this century, or it might not occur again for another few hundred years.

What is the Cascadia Cup?

The Cascadia Cup is a supporter-organized competition between the 3 Major League Soccer teams located in Cascadia: Portland Timbers FC, Seattle Sounders FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Each of these teams play each other 3 times in a regular season, resulting in 9 games total which factor into this competition. Out of these 9 games, the team which receives the most points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss) wins the Cascadia Cup.

Clint Dempsey Cascadia Cup
Image Credit: Seattle Times

What is the Cascadia flag?

The Cascadia flag is a horizontal tri-color banner with blue at the top, white in the middle, green at the bottom, and a prominent Douglas Fir Tree in dark green running through all three colors in the middle. It is commonly referred to as the “Doug flag” as such. It was created by Portland native Alexander Baretich in 1994 while he was studying abroad in Europe. It represents the bioregion of Cascadia as a whole, as well as its natural components; temperate forests, snow-capped mountains, and the region’s many water ways.

Flag of Cascadia
Flag of Cascadia – The Doug Flag

Where can I buy a Cascadia flag?

You can purchase a small flag directly from Alexander Baretich’s website: Flags at freecascadia.org

Cascadia Now! is a non-profit organization devoted to raising awareness of Cascadia. They host an online store on their website where you can purchase a Cascadia flag for yourself: Flags at cascadianow.org

Bonus Question: Where can I learn more about Cascadia?

This is a shameless plug, but it’s my blog. If you’re interested in learning more about Cascadia, you can purchase a copy of my book, Towards Cascadia:


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The Cascadian Political Spectrum

What if Cascadia was its own country with its own political system? What would our political spectrum look like?

Actually, let me back up: I believe the Cascadian bioregion has helped produce a distinguishable ethos that communities within the region exemplify (if you’re lost with this concept of environment shaping identity, catch up on one of my previous blog posts regarding the phenomenon of bioregionalism). One thing which has derived from this ethos is a system of civic and political values which is both coherent and wide-ranging.

In other words, Cascadia already has its own political spectrum. But, because Cascadia is not (yet) a country of its own, it’s hard to clearly identify what our system of political values is and how it’s differentiated from the rest of the United States and Canada.

I’m going to attempt to identify and categorize the main groups of political/civic values which a majority of people in the Cascadian region represent. Think of them as hypothetical political parties within Cascadia. As you read this blog post, try to disassociate these groups from the existing federal political parties in the United States and Canada as they won’t fit nice and tidy with what we know today.

Why am I doing this? Because I think it’s a neat thought experiment. Also because I’m a bit of nerd and this is my idea of fun. Don’t judge.

Visualizing a Single Spectrum

There are two models most often used when visually demonstrating a political spectrum: a linear model where groups neighbor each other left-to-right on a single axis and a donut model where groups neighbor each other in a 360 degree pattern according to two perpendicular axes. Both can be useful, but neither is perfect.

The problem is that any group can shift their position on any visual model depending on what criteria is being used to define its placement. For example, one group may be left-of-center on a spectrum according to one set of criteria (i.e. economy) but right-of-center according to another (i.e. international relations).

In this blog post, I’ve settled on a linear average in which I evaluate each group according to five sets of criteria and average out their position on a single axis. This axis is an amalgamation of what is generally considered politically left-to-right.

The five sets of criteria I used to identify and evaluate the major groupings in Cascadia are as follows:

  • Economic policy, left wing being entirely socialist and right wing being entirely capitalist.
  • Domestic/Social policy, left wing being entirely liberal and right wing being entirely conservative.
  • Environmental policy, left wing being entirely protectionist and right wing being entirely consumptive.
  • International policy, left wing being entirely globalist and right wing being entirely isolationist.
  • State policy, left wing being entirely anti-statist and right wing being entirely nationalist.

Cascadia’s Political Groupings

After identifying the common spaces on the spectrum according to each of those five criteria, I came up with seven distinct political groupings which I believe would be distinct and visible in their own right if Cascadia was politically independent. A brief overview of each is as follows:

Social Anarchists (left wing) – Social Anarchists in Cascadia are anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist supporters of non-hierarchical local governance. They believe in organizing the entire bioregion using local cooperative power structures, free from the corruption present in any national body of governance. They believe in creating a system where people are freely allowed to move about and find which community works best for them. In doing so, they encourage communal values of empathy and tolerance to thrive so that all peoples can co-exist peacefully.

Social Anarchists in Cascadia are both isolationist in that they believe participating in the existing global nation-state paradigm is futile and globalist in that they wish to set an example for the world at-large to follow. They are also committed to absolute sustainability, understanding the protection of their environment as essential and a moral duty, so that local cooperatives can be both self-reliant and interdependent.

Greens (left) – Greens are half of, what I would call, the mainstream left within Cascadia. They are committed to environmental protection and sustainability as their top priorities. However, unlike the federal Green parties in the United States and Canada today, Cascadian Greens more prominently champion a wider range of issues usually prioritized by a social democratic group. Think of it as if Elizabeth May and Bernie Sanders came together to form a single political party.

Economically, Cascadian Greens range from being anti-capitalist to democratic capitalists and eco-capitalists; they want a responsible economy which always puts the rights of people and nature first. They’re socially liberal and aim to foster a region where all people are accepting of one another regardless of their innate differences, consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s “socially acceptable” according to traditional and prohibitive means of understanding the world.

Cascadian Greens believe in having a robust global community which works together to protect the planet’s resources. They’re pacifist to the greatest extent possible and always prefer the diplomatic option when resolving international conflict, even if it’s deemed weak or unpopular by a majority of others. They believe in the legitimacy of state power, especially when it comes to protecting the environment and the rights of minorities, but are generally wary or skeptical of national government. Cascadian Greens prefer devolution of political and economic powers to the most local levels possible.

Liberal Democrats (center-left) – Do not confuse this name with the Liberal Party in Canada or the Democratic Party in the US. I named this group as such because it has roots in classical and contemporary liberal philosophy, as well as a commitment to democratic principles.

Liberal Democrats are the other half of the mainstream left in Cascadia. Like Cascadian Greens, they are committed to environmental protection and sustainability. They are also socially liberal and believe that any individual should have the right to express themselves in any way so long as it does not cause direct harm unto another person(s). Unlike the Greens, however, they are generally more favorable of capitalism in some capacity and support initiatives like globalization and free trade.

Cascadian Liberal Democrats tend to be staunch federalists; they believe in power-sharing between national and local forms of government. They believe in the idea of a national state which exists to foster cooperation between local governments, protect the rights of minorities, and responsibly regulate economic markets. Internationally, they support a global community where countries work together to solve their issues, preferring to err on the side of diplomacy and other non-violent means to resolve disputes.

Libertarians (center-right) – Libertarians in Cascadia tend to derive their philosophy from tenets of classical liberalism. Socially, they believe a government of any kind should stay out of regulating the private lives of individuals, even if they themselves are personally reserved and find the expressions of another individual displeasing. They’re also staunchly capitalist and believe a government of any kind has little responsibility to manage or regulate commerce.

When it comes to the environment, Cascadian Libertarians believe in conservation and individual self-reliance. They believe in utilizing resources sparingly and wisely, although they tend to view environmental protection laws as unnecessary unless they derive from local government.

Cascadian Libertarians are generally anti-statist and believe the powers of any government should be extremely limited as to not infringe upon individual autonomy and the principle of voluntary association. They are also international isolationists, favoring a system where countries generally leave each other alone. They support military action for the purpose of self-defense only, preferring to not intervene when an international conflict arises elsewhere.

Conservatives (right) – Cascadian Conservatives can best be described as those who resist radical change and prefer a stable status quo. Socially, they tend to tolerate uncustomary expressions of individuality and diversity, but are willing to support laws to prohibit actions which they deem damaging to the greater public. Economically, they favor free market capitalism over government mandates or regulation in most cases.

Much like Cascadian Libertarians, Cascadian Conservatives believe in conservation and wisely utilizing the natural resources. Unlike the existing conservative parties in Canada and the US, they are more likely to support government action to protect the environment when the free market goes too far and gets reckless. This is seen as an act of protecting one’s home, preventing the local environment from radically changing.

Cascadian Conservatives favor federalism, allowing for many economic and political powers to be exercised by local governments while a national state addresses nationwide and international concerns. They favor non-intervention when it comes to participating in a global community, but are more willing than most other groups to use a military option to respond to international conflicts which affect the region.

Nationalists (right wing) – Unlike most other nationalist parties in the world which define their national identity by some auxiliary human characteristic (i.e. race, ethnicity, religion, language), Cascadian Nationalists tend to (but not always) be less racist and overtly skeptical of anyone who looks different than they do. However, they share many other commonalities with national political parties elsewhere.

Socially, Cascadian Nationalists favor tradition and are willing to use the power of government to prohibit individual actions they deem alien or undesirable. Economically, they are populists who support capitalism to an extent and are willing to use the force of government to limit the effects of globalization and immigration. Internationally, they prefer to be left alone, but have little reservation with intervening militarily in international conflicts which impact national interests.

Cascadian Nationalists support a strong national government over federalism or devolution; they often view federal or local solutions as inadequate and limiting, preferring to find national solutions which allow the country to thrive as one nation united in action. They favor some forms of environmental protection in terms of national duty, but are also most willing to consume whatever resources are necessary so the nation can thrive economically.

Survivalists (the void) – Cascadian Survivalists believe the existing civic and political power structures throughout the world are inevitably doomed and need to be resisted at all costs. They don’t want to change the status quo; they want to survive its collapse. If the Cascadian political spectrum were viewed as a donut, Survivalists would be between Nationalists and Social Anarchists in the void between the two. They don’t fit nicely on a linear model, but can be understood as far right wing for our purposes.

Cascadian Survivalists are your isolationist utopia seekers. They view the world in terms of absolutes and wish to create an isolated society within Cascadia to achieve their vision of civic perfection. They’re neither capitalist nor anti-capitalist. They’re neither conservative nor liberal. They’re neither environmentally protectionist nor consumptive. They believe in the legitimacy of their own community only and reject the authority of any other body politic which would otherwise incorporate them. As such, they are very hostile toward outsides and people who believe differently than they do.

Cascadia’s Political Groupings

After taking all of these groups and each set of criteria into account, I developed the following linear model for Cascadia:

Cascadian Political Spectrum

It’s not perfect; I’m sure some of you have altering groups, definitions, and/or criteria. But, I believe this is a fair representation of the different political groupings which currently exist in Cascadia, even if they aren’t obvious or currently recognized as such.


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The Question of Cascadian Nationhood

Cascadia flag, Cascadian flag

The social and cultural awareness movement in support of Cascadia is both young and small. It is also still solidifying its foundation for support as there are wide ranges of opinions on what Cascadia actually is—in terms of more than just a physical location—and what it should be. One of the most contentious questions supporters within the Cascadia movement haven’t been able to agree upon yet is this: should Cascadia (and the Cascadian identity) be understood as a nation?

I, for one, believe yes, Cascadia should be understood as a nation and, thereby, Cascadian our nationality. I would like to take a few moments to explain why.

Nation ≠ Country

First, let me begin with clarifying the difference between a nation and a country, which confuses many in Canada and, more-so, the United States. A nation speaks to a common sense of belonging whereas a country or state simply refers to a collective body of some sort having a degree of control over public policy. A nation does not necessarily equate to a state or country. For many countries around the world, their citizens would consider themselves a nation as well as a state, but the two concepts are separate.

So, for those of you hesitant to claim Cascadia as a nation for the sole reason that you don’t support the idea of secession, you needn’t worry. You can, if you choose, embrace the Cascadian identity as your nationality while simultaneously rejecting the idea of secession.

The Old Definition of Nationhood

There are many different definitions of what constitutes a nation. All of them speak to one common notion: a shared sense of civic belonging. Where they differ is what comprises that shared sense. Many self-proclaimed nations around the world use a common trait in ethnicity, race, or religion as the basis for defining their nationhood. This is one way of understanding nationalism; it is not the only way of doing so.

If you are one who shares this understanding—that a nation is or should be defined by an auxiliary human construct such ethnicity, race, or religion—I would ask that you do the following: take that definition, metaphorically write it down on a piece of paper in your head, light it on fire, and watch it burn away into nothingness (in good Cascadian fashion, don’t actually waste a piece of paper doing this). We need to overcome this notion of what a nation is because, while it’s widely accepted in many other areas of the world, it’s worthless and very dangerous.

Nationhood speaks to a shared civic belonging: being a member of a shared society. When you use ethnicity, race, or religion as the defining qualifier of a nation, you’re saying that only persons which have this auxiliary characteristic belong within that society—that these persons and only these persons belong together because their ancestral bloodlines are common, or because the pigmentation of their skin is similar, or because the origin stories of their belief system are the same.

Furthermore, you’re saying that other persons who don’t share this one qualifying characteristic don’t belong in the same society solely because of reasons equal or similar to their great, great, great grandparents were born in a different region of the world, or their facial features look slightly different, or they have an alternative understanding of how the world came to be millennia ago.

You’re saying that society cannot function optimally or peacefully solely because of these reasons, as if someone’s ethnic, racial, or religious background is the ultimate determining factor in that person’s character, values, and general worth.

Any sane and sober-minded individual in the United States or Canada knows these assumptions are utterly false. We all know other individuals from all different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds that fit in and are just as valued members of society as any other. By defining a shared nationhood using these types of qualifiers, you’re saying this reality either isn’t possible or isn’t desirable (the latter being much, much worse than the delusion of the former).

Clinging to this old, arcane definition of a nation is what causes prejudice, hatred, and war. It needs to be destroyed, and quickly.

A Better Definition

What’s the alternative definition of nationhood that doesn’t rely on xenophobia or religious persecution to hold it together? A shared sense of civic belonging needs a focal point of some kind to be maintained; it cannot rely on nothing.

Cascadia’s shared sense of civic belonging has never come from race, ethnicity, or religion. Nor has it ever come from similar auxiliary characteristics such as language, political philosophy, or class. Cascadia’s shared sense of civic belonging has always centered on one aspect: the physical nature of the region itself. The region has always been the one factor which has held the common traits of Cascadian society together.

I believe bioregionalism—the notion that the environmental characteristics of a naturally-defined region play a defining role in shaping the identity of society—plays into the answer we’re looking for. This is not to say bioregionalism is equal to nationalism, but they are not mutually exclusive. Bioregionalism is an ecological concept which centers on the importance of environment whereas nationalism is a human concept which centers on the importance of community. They are different, but the definition of nationalism we need uses the concept of place and its power to give coherence to society.

In this sense, we can understand Cascadian nationhood as a civic concept in which the people of Cascadia voluntarily uphold and consent to the natural value of the Cascadian region itself. This is similar to the predominant form of American or Canadian nationalism in that they rely primarily on popular sovereignty rather than an auxiliary characteristic such as ethnicity. However, it differs in that Cascadia as a nation is permanently grounded in, and particular to, the physical bioregion of Cascadia itself and cannot expand past its bioregional borders.

By using this as our model, we can understand Cascadia as a nation where anyone in the region can adapt to our shared sense of civic belonging and regional culture by recognizing the importance of our natural region and staying true to its inherent, intangible value. A person of any race, ethnicity, religion, or similar characteristic can do this so long as they then choose to participate in Cascadian society in ways which uphold this value. Cascadian nationhood, in this sense, cannot be limited to a set of auxiliary human characteristics.

Addressing Structural Racism and Imperialism

You may be reading this and think it’s a nice ideal, but still be skeptical that this model of Cascadia as a nation can manifest itself in a just and egalitarian manner. You are right to be cautious, especially if you are a member of any historically marginalized group of people in the United States and/or Canada.

I’m a white male. I’ve benefited from living in a society which has largely given me the benefit of the doubt and allowed me to succeed in my own way to establish a comfortable life for myself. It’s very easy for me to sit behind a computer screen and write about this beautiful ideal without having been subjected to many of the injustices and structural obstacles present in our existing paradigm.

I, nor anyone else in my position, can fix this. What I can do—and what I think we all need to do if we’re to actually transcend the reality we know now—is acknowledge the impacts structural racism and imperialism (or colonization) has had in our society. More importantly, I and anyone else can help empower those who have been unjustly marginalized by listening to their stories and affirming their worth.

These are the steps we must take if we are to ever reconcile the society we have now with the society we wish to see in Cascadia, and that’s true regardless of what political ideology or belief system you hold. In doing so, we can establish a reality in which the marginalized aspects of various minority cultures are no longer feared, but are allowed to thrive in their own ways according to our bioregional nature and as a rich, equal part of Cascadian society.

The Answer We’re Looking For

The old definition of nationalism perpetuates a paradigm where members of one ethnic, racial, or religious group see persons of a differentiated group as “the other.” This is most prevalent, I believe, with indigenous peoples which currently live under a “nation within a nation” model. This allows for certain aspects of tribal sovereignty to be upheld, but it also allows a stark “us versus them” mentality to thrive. It allows persons of a marginalized group to suffer injustice while everyone else maintains indifference.

This reality was born out of fear, distrust, and violence. It does not have to be this way. We should strive for a new national model which fosters the opposite of this: unity, trust, and peace.

I am not claiming we remove the rights or entitlements marginalized groups have under the existing system, especially for indigenous groups who’ve been in Cascadia since long before anyone else showed up. What I am claiming is that, in order to achieve this new reality, we all must adapt a new understanding of what constitutes our shared sense of civic belonging; it comes from our bioregion.

By accepting this, we will foster a reality where we look at this region’s history, to the communities which have been here for thousands of years, and be able to connect with it—its people and values—regardless if we’re of the same bloodlines or not. As a non-indigenous person myself, I do not wish to cheapen or exploit this history; I wish to be able to embrace this history as my own because I am of this region.

The essence of Cascadia as a nation comes from Cascadia itself. By embracing Cascadian nationhood in this manner, we can collectively embrace our diversity, acknowledge the wrongdoings produced by harmful foundations, and focus on solutions based in our shared sense of place. This is why I believe in Cascadia as a nation and our shared sense of civic belonging.


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

Bioregionalism: Place Shapes Identity


If you’re anything like I was when I first heard of the term “bioregionalism,” you’re probably processing the idea in a state of simultaneous fascination and confusion. The term evokes visions of a sustainable and thriving society, yet you’re not exactly sure what it really means. You know it has a prominent place in the Cascadia movement and that it has something to with the environment. But that all sounds good and positive, right? So, huzzah! I guess.

Yes, bioregionalism is inextricably linked with “the environment.” The term refers to large regions of a continent that are environmentally distinguished and differentiated from others, each made up of smaller, interdependent ecosystems and ecoregions. This environmental and eco-centric definition is indeed fascinating. But it’s only half the story, so to speak. There’s an entirely different aspect of bioregionalism that has to do with bioregions’ tangible effects on humanity and human society. And, for me, it’s this anthropocentric application that demonstrates why bioregionalism is vital to Cascadia and the cultural movement supporting it.

So, what exactly is it?

In this sense, bioregionalism can be understood in a few different ways. You can understand it as a philosophy that proposes certain truths about how human societies are shaped or meant to function. You can understand it as a phenomenon in which the environment influences human society in a given area. You can understand it as a system of environmental, cultural, political, and economic components working with and against each other in a bioregional area. However you choose to conceptualize this term, bioregionalism asserts the following as true: place shapes identity.

This is as simple as I can define what bioregionalism is and what it means. It’s straight-forward, self-evident, and incredibly profound: place shapes identity.

Ok…how does it work?

The theory is that a bioregion’s environmental components (geography, climate, plant life, animal life, etc.) directly influence ways for human communities to act and interact with each other which are, in turn, optimal for those communities to thrive in their environment. As such, those ways to thrive in their totality—be they economic, cultural, spiritual, or political—will be distinctive in some capacity as being a product of their bioregional environment. This creates a distinct ethos for the society, or societies, that inhabit a given bioregion. Therefore, there will be some level of fundamental coherence in ethos between communities within a given bioregion and, simultaneously, some level of fundamental differentiation between the essential and natural identities of societies in different bioregional environments.

That’s a fancy way of saying a society in one distinguishable place will be different from a society in another distinguishable place in some elemental fashion, and it will be due to the environmental components of those places themselves. Place shapes identity.

So why is this so important, then?

When I worked this concept out in my head, I had an “aha!” moment. I have lived my entire life in the United States of America and I’ve always known that different regions of the country had different and unique characteristics, which help define the communities of people that live in them. We have the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, and so forth. Those terms are much more than just geographic distinctions: they each carry connotations of their corresponding society’s defining characteristics. There are certain ways to truly thrive in the Northeast that are irreconcilably different than thriving in the South. It’s always been that way, even before European colonists set foot on North American soil.

Have you ever wondered why these fundamental differences exist? I have. For me, bioregionalism provided that explanation. This fundamental differentiation between different regions is based in bioregional environment. The characteristics and manifestations of what we would consider distinct components of a given regional society were able to be solidified as such because their corresponding environment allowed them to thrive. Place shapes identity.

This is the reason there are distinguishable connotations, both tangible and intangible, to an identity such as “Pacific Northwest.” We have a certain way of doing things and experiencing the world around us which is shaped by our bioregional environment, distinctly different from other bioregional environments in some form or another.

Place shapes identity. I get it!

Bioregionalism is why Cascadia matters; there would be no such thing as Cascadia or any characteristic uniquely “Cascadian” if Cascadia, as a whole and singular bioregion, didn’t exist. The Cascadian bioregion shapes the Cascadian ethos and the Cascadian ethos influences our ways of life, our values, our culture, our economy, our politics, all helping define our society. Place shapes identity.

Bioregionalism can have deep and remarkable implications for how we understand society. How should our communities operate? How should we differentiate and define civic belonging? How can we transcend the existing or traditional definitions of nationhood? How do we best exemplify our bioregional ethos? How does this all compare with our political statuses quo? These are all questions that bioregionalism plays into and are all important for understanding Cascadia as more than just an environmentally-distinct region of North America.

I don’t have all the answers to these questions. I do explore them in my book, Towards Cascadia, and encourage anyone interested to read it; this blog post is only the tip of the iceberg. What I do know, however, is that, when it comes to truly understanding Cascadia or being Cascadian, it doesn’t matter where you were born, what color your skin is, what ancestral bloodline you come from, what ethnicity you identify as, what religion you believe in, who you love, or how much money you have. Human beings have the remarkable capability to adapt to their environment and become a true inhabitant of the place and community they call “home.” You, I, or anyone else can be Cascadian in this place and bioregionalism is why this statement is true.

Place shapes identity. How amazing is that!?


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