#CalExit gets some Northwesterners dreaming about Cascadia region

Cascadia flag
The Cascadia Doug flag was designed in 1994 by Portland native Alexander Baretich. The blue stands for the sky and ocean, the white represents snow and clouds, and the green stands for the Northwest’s forests and fields. The lone Douglas fir symbolizes endurance, defiance and resistance. (Credit: CascadiaNow.org)

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, true-blue California is talking about making a #CalExit – and that’s stirred up some buzz about a blue breakaway for Washington state and Oregon as well.

One manifestation is the renewed interest in the Republic of Cascadia, a “bioregion” that would take in sections of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. (Washington is the only state that’s wholly within Cascadia as it’s conceived.) The rationale is that the region is environmentally and economically distinct from its surroundings.

Ozy.com notes that the concept is picking up steam thanks to websites like Free Cascadia, CascadiaNow! and Yes Cascadia, as well as a Reddit subgroup that’s on the rise. More than 200 people already have signed up via Facebook to attend a “Cascadian People’s Assembly” in Seattle on Saturday, with follow-up meetings planned for the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Cascadia Now’s Brandon Letsinger is managing the campaign, and he says his team is struggling to keep up with all the inquiries, donations and offers of support. The effort’s aim? “To remove ourselves from systems that are harmful and toxic, and build the systems of resilience we need to be truly independent and sustainable.”

Another upcoming event is the Cascadia Independence Party Convention in Seattle, which is scheduled to coincide with Trump’s inauguration in January.

The Seattle Times’ Ryan Blethen got in on the trend today with a column musing on the idea of Washington, Oregon and California breaking away from the United States and hooking up with Canada instead. “Is this crazy talk? Probably,” he wrote. “But residents of the Best Coast have a lot in common with our northern neighbors.”

Secession from the Union isn’t in the cards for Cascadia – or California, for that matter. The Civil War pretty much settled that issue 150 years ago. But the ties that bind Cascadia are unquestionably growing.

In September, tech leaders and politicians from Washington and British Columbia found lots of common ground at the Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Vancouver. Among the commonalities: support for trade with Asia, lots of natural resources (and an strong interest in protecting them) and a love of innovation on tech frontiers ranging from biotech to big data.

Those weren’t exactly core issues for the Trump campaign. Like #CalExit, the Cascadia movement is all about protecting what the region has from what some Cascadians fear is coming.

Will the Cascadia movement pick up steam after Trump takes office? Or will the concept end up being put on the same shelf as the Dougie, Cascadia’s coin of the realm? That depends on how the next four years turn out.


Post Author: Tech Review