A Cascadia Primer: An Introduction to Cascadia

Cascadia is a(n);

  1. bioregion defined by the watersheds of the Columbia and Fraser river valleys that stretches from Northern California to south east Alaska and as far east as the Yellowstone Caldera and continental divide. It encompasses most of the states and province of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and parts of southeast Alaska, Northern California and Western Montana. 

  2. inclusive social movement to empower every individual and community to be active around issues they care, and find solidarity and support.

  3. regional identity, rooted in a love of place and stemming from shared experiences, environment, and need, as well as principles and values.

  4. positive vision for a bioregion that is resilient, vibrant and autonomous, that protects the things we find special

The term Cascadia was adopted in 1970 by Seattle University professor David McCloskey, as a way to better describe our growing regional identity. McCloskey describes Cascadia as "a land of falling waters." He notes the blending of the natural integrity and the sociocultural unity that gives Cascadia its character. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary, but usually include the area between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean, and some part of the Coast Mountains. Other definitions follow the boundaries of existing subnational entities, and usually include the territory of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, while others also include parts of California, Idaho, Alaska and Yukon.

In general, the area in and around the Cascadia region is more commonly referred to as the Pacific Northwest. The area's biomes and ecoregions are distinct from surrounding areas. The resource-rich Salish Sea (or Georgia Basin) is shared between British Columbia and Washington, and the Pacific temperate rain forests, comprising the world's largest temperate rain forest zone, stretch along the coast from Alaska to California.

A SOCIAL MOVEMENT

Cascadia is also a growing social and cultural movement. It is used to define a unique regional character found within the Pacific Northwest, and extends to a wide range of beers (Cascadia Dark Ale), sports (the Cascadia Cup) and music (Cascadian Black Metal) just to name a few. The idea has since been adopted by a wide range of researchers who highlight the growing importance of regional growth management, environmental planning, economic cooperation, as well as disaster preparedness. Support for the idea also comes from institutions and businesses such as the Bullit Foundations 'Cascadia Center', the adoption of the Cascadia Megaregion by federal policy makers, and the tectonic Cascadia Subduction Zone.

As a bioregional movement - a much more common definition of Cascadia instead seeks simply to help further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, as well as push or environmental and economic responsibility, and increased dynamic, transparent and open governance. The Cascadia movement encourages people to reengage with their local communities, develop local and personal resilience (community gardens, disaster preparedness, etc.), and create alternate lines of regional communication, politics, and interdependence that better represent the social, cultural and political boundaries that define our region. Cascadia as a place, an idea and movement has been featured wide range of publications, such as Vice Magazine, USA Today, NPR, the CBC, NYtimes, CNN, Forbes, Portland Monthly, the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Oregonian and many others.

A Cascadia Primer (PDF)

Additional Resources:

  • For Educators (PDF)

  • For Students (PDF)

  • For Media (PDF)

  • For Businesses (PDF)

Questions? Feel free and read our Cascadia Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here


The Flag

The Cascadia Doug Flag is held in a Creative Commons License  CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 and is available for re-use and designs. Please make sure to attribute the flag creator Alexander Baretich, and read his statement against use for any type of perceived hate speech. Please use, re-use, create and share!

The Cascadia Doug Flag was designed by Portland native Alexander Baretich in 1995, and is nothing more than a direct representation of the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. The green are for the forest, the white for the mountains and glaciers, and the blue for the skies, rivers and bodies of water and the Douglas fir because it stands as a symbol of resilience, whose growth range closely follows that of the bioregional borders of Cascadia. It the most common symbol for the Cascadia movement, but every person is encouraged to adapt and change to a way that is special for them.

Learn more about the Cascadia Doug Flag here

Buy a Flag:

You may also buy a flag directly from Alexander and the flag making coop here or through the CascadiaNow! Store here.