Cascadia: Our Framework for Change
Cascadia - A lifelong journey
A Philosophy - Cascadia and bioregionalism is more than just a place or movement, rather it is a commitment to a way of life, and a life long journey each of us have made
On a personal level to continually strive to better ourselves in our habits, principles, how we eat, consume, work and play.
On a an interpersonal and societal level in how we treat each other, and shift our impacts as a region.
And how we improve our relationship to the land we live and rely on.
More than just an independent or autonomous bioregion, a Cascadian seeks to live bioregionally, to live and work according to bioregional principles, living in a sustainable manner with a net positive impact on their land and community.
An Inter-dependence Movement
A Movement - Cascadia, more than anything else, is a movement to help build the inter-dependence, sustainability and resiliency for the Cascadia bioregion. We start from our watersheds, and use the idea of Cascadia as a framework, guided by key principles, to break global issues down to a local level, increase the accountability and transparency of our regional economic and food systems, and move our actions and impacts to where individuals have the greatest say in the issues that affect their lives. Different communities will have different needs, and will be the best suited to confront the issues facing those communities, but by sharing a land base, we will all have common principles, values and concerns that will pull us together.
As an inter-dependence movement, we talk about a social and cultural movement – the sum of our interpersonal interactions, and in which every person can take responsibility for are own actions, and towards a community based model for watershed governance. Bioregionalism, at it’s root is the idea that maybe we should care about whats flowing from upstream of us, and what we ourselves are dumping downstream. Regardless of arbitrary political lines, it will take all of us living along that watershed to make real change happen. Rather than a segmented approach, Bioregionalism creates a model for decentralized placed based movements & hubs, rather than simply a political one in which we send people to a voting box every four years, or wait for someone else to do it for us.
This Theory of Change helps provide us with a framework to shift these actions. Culture stems from place, and together, this help builds a newregional identity rooted in a love of place, with shared principles, values, and concerns. Cascadia is a vision we can be working towards, and a movement that empowers every person to walk out their front door, make a difference about what they care about, and connect with the people already in their community making that change happen.
Bioregionalism is not a national or global solution. Instead, it is an alternative, place based model to ideas like nationalism or capitalism, and a framework to empower a mutual and collaborative network of bioregional movements around the world, each able to learn from each other, adopt models that are best suited for the issues in their own locality, and to empower every person to affect the change we need.
Cascadia is a social, economic and political movement that exists to steward this bioregional vision within our own watershed.
Principles of the Cascadia Movement
Together, this creates a rubric that guides our actions, organizational decisions, and movement:
Bioregional – Shift our impacts from the global to the local, into a bioregional framework. Uses the Cascadia bioregion as a framework to break global issues down to a local level, and can help connect people with those already making changes happen, which can help citizens or consumers have a greater say over their buying decisions or impacts, and works to increase transparency and accountability.
Data Driven - We use data to learn from what is working, and build models we can share with others.
Diverse & Inclusive – Support traditionally marginalized, under-serviced, at-risk, people of color, LGBTQ and front line communities, by creating safe spaces in our organization at every level, and movement, and by letting communities take the lead and supporting where they identify and need. Within this to create space for every community to have a voice, and lead on issues that are important to them. Reject any effort to disenfranchise or target any particular group or community based on gender, race, ethnicity, sex, religion, or ability. Build a positive or inclusive regional identity, rooted in a love of place or rooted in a vision for the future for something we can be working towards.
Independent - Support the sustainability, autonomy, independence or interdependence of the Cascadia bioregion. Build responsible and ethical models on a local level, which we can share with other bioregions, or that help us fit into a global framework in a way that is responsible, ethical and sustainable.
Movement of Leaders – where every person can stand up around issues they care about, and be held accountable for their actions and impacts.
Native Sovereignty – and work to build a just, equitable society that addresses injustices and inequality in the past, present, or in the future – and that celebrates the amazing diversity of our bio-regions inhabitants – people and other.
Open Source Movement – Cascadia and all affiliates operate under a Creative Commons license that ensures all work, research is open, public and available for educational purposes. We want every person or group to be able to re-use the work we do and help build greater resources available for education and action.
Protect Cascadians - Expands civil liberties, privacy, data protection, rights and freedom of Cascadian inhabitants. Increases the livelihood or well being of the people living within the Cascadia bioregion.
Watershed Revolutions - Devolve power from existing state or national actors towards watershed governance, that help move us from national/state borders, boundaries or representation which is arbitrary, negative or non-representative towards local and community empowerment, and bioregional and watershed borders that better reflect our ecology, geography, culture, economy and the people living here, and grow the systems we want to see, watershed by watershed, through small decentralized action.
Zero Waste, Future Positive - Is carbon neutral, has a zero waste, no impact or net-positive result. To have food and energy independence based on renewable resources, and and economic resiliency and autonomy.
An independent, autonomous and resilient Cascadia bioregion, with a higher standard of living for those living here, net positive impact on the land and earth, and increased ecological health and diversity for us living here now, and for generations to come.
To spread awareness of Bioregionalism: First and foremost – not many people had ever heard of bioregionalism or Cascadia. Even today, when most people say they know about Cascadia, many still have no clue what bioregionalism is, or what the fundamental principles are of the movement or organization.
Provide Key Services: For the past ten years, we were sick of watching great ideas fail, not because they were bad ideas, but because they lacked access to something – web design, graphic design, fundraising or development planning, or an audience to pitch it to. We want to see every person supported in their idea, and have the tools and audience they need to make it happen.
Create an Accountable Framework: Another big reason was that the idea and movement was becoming large enough, that we wanted to provide a framework that was accountable and transparent, allowed for decentralized & democratic self-organization, and is scalable on an exponential growth curve. A lot of these lessons were learned after earlier movements like Occupy, where many voices were shut out, spaces taken over, and no group responsible or accountable for a responsible use of funds. Our organizing models are fundamentally similar, but rather than a leaderless movement, we want a movement of leaders, of individuals and organizations that are responsible and accountable for the issues they are representing, and that can create an equitable organizing model for any group, cause or community.
Fit into a Global System: Create a network of bioregional movements, that are each building models that can be openly shared with other movements, and incorporating lessons and models already functioning around the world. Within this, to fit into a global supply chain in a way that is sustainable, ethical and responsible, in which we are more accountable for our actions and impacts, and in which the standards we hold ourselves to, or upheld in every level of the production chain.
See People Supported: One of the biggest goals we have is to see people supported in the work they do trying to make the world a better place. It is our goal to see a fundamental paradigm shift in our society in which we ask people to go out and do horrible things to get paid, and then require them to volunteer their time doing something meaningful. We want every person to be adequately compensated, for the work they want to be doing, but also for the work the world needs.
Build the Models we want to see: We wanted to move away from systems we disagree with, and towards empowering every person to build our own. Why wait to elect someone else to do it for us? Even in a utopian world where a vote might happen tomorrow – our region would still face many of the same underlying and systemic issues and challenges.
People Powered, Community Driven: We choose to be a supporter driven organization and movement. This means, all of our funding comes from members who believe in the idea, and that our organization can remain independent and accountable in our decision making processes.
Why the Doug Flag
The Cascadia Doug flag is nothing more than a symbol for our landscape and is a direct representation of the bioregion, and for our movement. Designed in 1994 by Portland native Alexander Baretich, the blue of the flag represents the moisture-rich sky above, and the Pacific Ocean, along with the Salish Sea, lakes, and inland waters. Our home is a place of continuous cascading waters flowing from the Pacific to the western slopes of the Rockies and Cascades where water cycles back to the Pacific. The white represents snow and clouds, and the green represents the evergreen forests and fields of the Pacific Northwest. The lone-standing Douglas Fir symbolizes endurance, defiance, and resilience. All these symbols come together to symbolize what being Cascadian is all about.
It is not ‘the Cascadia flag’ but rather, one of thousands. We hope that as an open source symbol, every community, ecoregion, watershed, business and cause will adopt and adapt the Doug Flag to their own purposes.
By using the Doug Flag, and the green white and blue, we show a shared regional identity, and that we share common beliefs, dreams and principles. Cascadia is a movement that was born in the northwest throughout the 1980’s. It is a gateway movement, that was created by people who live here, are from here, and both inspires those born here to protect what we love, and allows those moving here to hook in with something real, authentic and fun.
Much like the Rainbow Flag, or the Occupy Fist, symbols can be an incredibly potent means for making a public and visible statement about the values and principles that we share and identify with. With so many brands now being manufactured for our consumption, with global climate crises, and a rise of intolerance, now, more than ever, it is important that as citizens of this world, we have also have our own community inspired and created symbols, that can support the issues and causes we need, around the shared values and principles laid out here, that are driven by a love of place and our neighbors – something authentic, rather than rooted in a profit basis.
An Open Source Symbol & Brand
The Doug flag is an open source, not for profit symbol for the Cascadia bioregion, and the Cascadia movement. CC Use License: CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0. It is a grassroots, and people powered brand for every person interested in protecting our bioregion, improving our livelihood, and helping make the world a better place. We encourage every community, business, organization and individual to modify it for their own eco-region or cause, to help share the idea, around the common principles and values laid out in our Theory of Change. We are all the Cascadian, and together, we are the Cascadia movement.
A Symbol Against Hate
The Cascadia movement actively works to create a safe space for frontline and traditionally marginalized communities and voices. We reject all forms of hate, prejudice, and believe in an inclusive movement, that shows the beauty of this region, it’s people and our incredible diversity. We reject racism, hate, fear, sexism, white supremacy, or any type of discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, personal beliefs or choices, and these stances are reflected at every level of our organization. We look forward to building a coalition movement that empowers every person and community, and provides space for indigenous, POC, and traditionally marginalized communities, and of course the millions of amazing Cascadians who live here, to advocate with their own voices, find solidarity and support, and break down boundaries which are harmful and negative . Thank you!
Theory of Change: By Cascadia Founding Director, Brandon Letsinger