For this New Years ‘Resolution Say “Cascadia”

For your new years resolution this year, rather than Pacific Northwest, or some other random name – use the word Cascadia!

From the wonderful mind of Ryan Moothart, author of Towards 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.”

Cascadia is a regional identity created by those who live here, and it happens when people know the bioregion, and self identify with the idea, the values and place. As a grassroots movement we are all working to build it. And for only a second of your time, you can do something about this.

This year, for a new years resolution, when anything regarding the “Pacific Northwest” comes up, say “Cascadia” instead.

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]

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. Often times, someone might not resonate with the idea until the conditions are right. Maybe it takes a few years, maybe a few months – or maybe it never clicks. 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.

But why is it so important to use the term Cascadia?

Names are incredibly important. They are signifiers that express relationships and power.

Cascadia is the name of the land, given to it by the people who live here.

Cascadia Sightline Map Small.jpgCascadia Sightline Map Small.jpg

The Pacific Northwest is a term that describes our relationship to a political center thousands of miles away. Rather than names representing far off people or places, Cascadia highlights the importance of the water we all rely on, and the cascading cascades as the the first drop hits the ground, through evergreen forests and desert canyons, as it journeys on its way to the eastern rim of the Pacific Ocean.

Just as it’s a new name, it gives us a new opportunity to forge something new, something positive together, from a culture rooted in place and the shared values that arise from sharing our home. Just as the people who have lived here for thousands of years, Cascadia is an opportunity to connect to the practices that have thrived, developed and adapted from this region, break down the ones we find negative, and forge a new shared vision for what is possible.

As described by Cascadia Institute director David McCloskey — Cascadia is a construct that shapes an identity and place. This region has had many similar names in the near past: New Spain, New Caledonia, New Archangel, New Georgia, the Columbia Department, the Oregon Territory, the Northwest, the Pacific Southwest, the Pacific Slope, Ecotopia, the New Pacific, Ecolopolis, each chosen to convey an idea, often imposed by a different ruler or power, often thousands of miles away with little connection other than a few lines and names on a map.

“Where are you from?” she asks. “From the Northwest,” he replies automatically, without thinking. Then she shoots back, “Northwest of what?”

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.

A big thanks to Ryan Moothart and his original post from 2015 to say Cascadia this year.

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