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Welcome to Cascadia _ the Oregonian

an article in the Oregonian about Cascadia by the Oregonian writer Steve Woodward
The Oregonian
Welcome to Cascadia
Sunday, November 14, 2004

Nearly three decades before the 2004 elections, author Ernest Callenbach asked a prescient question: If we Oregonians, Washingtonians and Northern Californians were in charge, what would we do?

His answer: We'd leave the United States to its own self-created woes and build Ecotopia, our independent utopian society.

The idea was a fringe notion in 1975, when Callenbach's classic novel "Ecotopia" first captured a young generation's imagination.

But in the wake of recent national elections, a sovereign Ecotopia -- or Cascadia, as it is now widely referred to -- is re-emerging as a subject of interest for some. Long bandied about as little more than an engaging thought experiment, the secession of Oregon, Washington, northern California and possibly British Columbia from the United States and Canada suddenly is intriguing everyone from whimsical Web masters to earnest political activists.

That's right: Cascadia, our Cascadia, a new peaceful, sustainable, neighborly, environmentally friendly strip of fir green and fog gray that stretches anywhere from southern Alaska to northern California.

That is, except for the proposed state of Jefferson, an island of conservative red in a liberal blue sea at the Oregon-California border. But more about that later.

"Ecotopia," set 20 years after the secession of Oregon, Washington and Northern California, describes a land of electric mass transit, outdoor recreation, video-conferencing and a 20-hour workweek. Freed from the political controls and traditions of the United States, Ecotopia develops an ecosystem that is a perfect balance between humans and the environment.

"It focuses the mind to think about separatist sentiment," Callenbach says now, "regardless of whether it ever gets serious."

As he prepares a 30th anniversary edition of "Ecotopia," Callenbach says the book has become popular again among young people, who don't see its original environmental messages as impractical fringe theories.

Callenbach also sees a long-term trend toward smaller, localized governments.

"The U.S. is too damn big," he says. "Small countries are best. They don't have armies careening around on the other side of world."

Callenbach points to collaborative governments, such as Oregon's watershed councils, which bring ranchers, environmentalists, recreationists and Native Americans together to attempt consensus on contentious issues.

"That kind of thing will grow a lot, no matter who is in office," he says. Cascadians organize

In Portland, people interested in Cascadian independence have already begun organizing.

"There's a huge buzz in the activist community about Cascadia rising," says Bryan W., an 18-year-old Portland State University freshman who asked that his last name not be used for fear of reprisals from the federal government.

"There's a large section of Cascadia that I've been in contact with," he says, "but with Bush being elected, it has gotten even moderates involved."

The Cascadia Confederacy message group on Yahoo has seen a minor explosion in e-mail traffic, from eight in January to 69 in October and 42 so far in November, according to Yahoo statistics. The confederacy is seeking full sovereignty and self-determination for its citizens, according to its self-description. Cascadia, it says, would move away from capitalism and a nation-state form of government to "a social organizational form that allows for autonomous direct democracies and the flourishing of indigenous culture."

The Cascadian National Party, a tiny, near-dormant political party launched the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, also has seen a recent surge of interest, says Brandon Rhodes, a 20-year-old college student who is the party's Eugene representative.

It's not exactly a groundswell: Rhodes' in-box has gotten about half a dozen e-mails on the subject in the past week. Nevertheless, that's up from the usual pace of one a month.

The party's ultimate goal is for Oregon and Washington to secede peacefully from the United States and form the sovereign nation of Cascadia. The party's priorities would be decentralized government, greater civil liberties, less control by corporate interests and more environmental safeguards.

"Right now, it's still a matter of kind of saturating the market with the idea instead of running to Canada," says Rhodes, a third-year student in political science and environmental studies at the University of Oregon. "The Democratic party disappointed a lot of people. A lot of people didn't like (Kerry) at all. I didn't vote for him." Auto sticker sales increase

One of the most whimsical efforts is being waged by Lyle Zapato, who suggests that the sovereign nation of Cascadia already exists in spirit, if not yet in the world atlas.

His Web site, Republic of Cascadia ( http://zapatopi.net/cascadia.html), defines the country as Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

"The Republic of Cascadia," the Web site acknowledges, "is not yet officially recognized by Canada, the United States of America or the United Nations. Not that it is any of their business."

Zapato, who reveals his geographic location as central Cascadia "near the surface," created the site in 1998, he writes in an e-mail. The purpose is "to help bring about the revolution to liberate the people of Cascadia from remote Federalist control" -- a sentiment also expressed by other, more serious separatists.

Zapato says orders for his Republic of Cascadia auto sticker hit 63 between Nov. 2 and Nov. 5, up from a handful prior to that. Orders are coming from all over Washington and Oregon, with one person ordering 12.

Not exactly huge sales, Zapato writes, "but considering I didn't do any special advertising of them other than the link on the Cascadia page (that's been there for well over a year) or try to tie them into current events, it's kind of amusingly unexpected." Linking Cascadia by rail

A much more serious effort to link Cascadia together is under way at the Cascadia Center of Seattle's Discovery Institute. The center doesn't advocate secession, but rather cooperation among Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

"The reality is that opportunities lie not in political union, but in strategic alliances," says Bruce Agnew, the center's director.

The center's overarching goal is to promote the notion of a land without borders. Specifically, the think tank is targeting the development of a better transportation system, such as high-speed rail, for people and goods throughout Cascadia.

The 12-year-old center also keeps its eye on the Northwest's tourism, economics, technology and alternative energy.

Not to mention health care.

"Hordes of people are going to Canada for flu shots and prescription drugs," Agnew says. "The Bush administration will have to deal with the drug issue." Reviving Jefferson state

Toward the opposite end of Cascadia, in Northern California, some folks embrace the idea of secession, but not with the rest of Cascadia.

Brian Petersen, a 38-year-old landscaper, tractor mechanic, promoter and part-owner of a car wash in Yreka, Calif., would rather see Northern California merge with Southern Oregon to form the new state of Jefferson.

Petersen lays out his vision on his Web site, www.jeffersonstate.com, which has existed since 1998.

Fed up with what they see as liberal control from far-flung state capitals, the citizens of Jefferson would constitute a conservative new red state. The driving issues are property rights and local government control.

"Jefferson went for Bush," Petersen says.

The Jefferson secession effort is hardly new. On Nov. 27, 1941, four Northern California counties, plus Oregon's Curry County, declared themselves the 49th state of the union. (Alaska and Hawaii had not yet been admitted to the union.)

"Patriotic Jeffersonians intend to secede each Thursday until further notice," read the declaration, which was handed out to motorists stopped at highway blockades outside of Yreka, the state's interim capital. Ten days later, the United States was plunged into World War II, and the Jefferson movement evaporated.

Today, Petersen suggests that Jefferson could incorporate the 12 northernmost California counties, along with Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake counties in Oregon.

"All the pieces are there," Petersen says. "It's just a matter of sounding the horn."

In the San Francisco Bay Area, at the far southern end of Cascadia, "Ecotopia" author Callenbach says he's now writing a piece about where the United States is in the evolution of empires. Titled "Going Down With the Empire," the piece notes that, as always, old institutions crumble and new ones rise up.

"There's a reasonable chance of an ecotopian empire rising up," he says.

"We have to keep our spirits up," he adds. "This country has been crazy for a long, long time."

Steve Woodward: 503-294-5134;  stevewoodward@news.oregonian.com




homepage: homepage: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Cascadian_Bioregionalism/

go cascadia!!! 16.Nov.2004 06:35


go go cascadia!!!!

keep the Cascadia movement moving 16.Nov.2004 08:23


This is a great sign that the meme of Cascadia is beginning to take root. This is a necessary step in the process of secession, when a majority of people in the area haven't even yet seriously considered the idea. New songs, new Cascadian jokes, discussion groups, and militias need to be created and spread, as the obvious becomes apparent to more and more of us. The Northwest is no longer, in fact, a part of the USA. We have our own culture, our own geography, and our own political beliefs, and it is time to begin the process of separation.

bioregionalstate.org active soon, until then... 16.Nov.2004 10:25


related link(s):

1.  http://www.bioregionalstate.org will be active soon as well.

2. Until then there is, Toward a Bioregional State:

3. TOWARD A BIOREGIONAL STATE: People Have Right to Stop Ecological Tyranny & Make Democracy
Date: 2003.12.25 12:52
Description: "Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?" . . . ". . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography. . . .Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."

Don't get it 16.Nov.2004 12:17


While secession is a great idea,I just don't see how it would be allowed.The fed. gov't. would never support it or tolerate it.Don't you get it?The states don't have enough freedom to make this decision on their own.We are totally controlled by the feds.We would need an army and how could we beat the the U.S. juggernaut? I'm not opposed to the idea.It just seems like there's a lot of idealistic talk about it but not much sense of reality.If you really think you have the autonomy to make this happen,I just think you're deluded.

I would be happy to be proved wrong as I also think the idea of a free Cascadia is a beautiful dream.Any thoughts?

Website on the way... 16.Nov.2004 12:58

Brandon rhodesb1984@hotmail.com

This is the Brandon quoted in the article.

Just so y'all know, the current CNP website is idle because it's webmaster John Philip abandoned the cause around the time after the war started.

But we WILL have a new website up and running before the year's end! :) Portland Indymedia will be the first to get the link to the new website.

Also before year's end, I'll release an essay outlining the direction of the party. I've worked with the CNP for three years now, and I've learned a lot in that time about what works and what doesn't in terms of advancing the Cascadian meme (good phrase, btw).

In the meantime, I ask that everyone stop talking about violent uprising and militias organizing. Now, I'm a firm believer in the second amendment. But Cascadia must above all else be PEACEFUL and NONVIOLENT. If it will ever be politically feasible, it must remain peaceful.

Otherwise, I am thrilled to see the resurgence in support for Cascadia. Keep spreading the word! :)

Cascadia libre!

oh great 16.Nov.2004 14:58

why don't you stop talking?

Here come the secessionist peace cops ...

Now commenceth the race to the bottom!

Who can get the most people to "stop talking" in the name of not alienating our enemies too much?

Dear Brandon 17.Nov.2004 06:18


Cascadian national party? Last I heard there were a lot of groups trying to come together on this. Not one blanket group that oversaw us all. Does the fact that the cascadian movement has gained little traction untill this catalist say anything at all about your exclusivity? All I ask is that you think about it. The people I'm talking with about this effort are talking about building coalitions with people that value thier civil liberties, including the right to bear arms. No-body seeks violence, we hope for the best, and prepair for the worst. Is it really your place to tell us what will and will not happen here? Do you really speak as some representitive authority for us? Do you really have a place speaking for us, if you don't know us, we didn't ask you to, and you're turning away people that might otherwise work with us twards this important common effort. Don't confuse a tactic with a strategy, and please stop polarizing the left.


There is no red island ... 17.Nov.2004 06:22


It always blows me away how Southern Oregon and Northern California (aka. the State of Jefferson), has become tagged "a red island in a sea of blue". Sure, Bu$h won our area (despite bringing snipers to Jacksonville and making Jackson County foot the bill so he could have a peaceful dinner), BUT over 75% of the population age 18 or over in our area did NOT vote for George Bu$h or the Republican Party.

That so-called "red island" does NOT exist.

But on the upside, job well done to those who have made enough noise that even The Oregonian is having to mention Cascadia. It's a start!

And yes, enough with the armed resistance bullshit (for now). Only when all other avenues honestly fail should that be considered any sort of option.

Of course the Feds will oppose it. Of course you must then secede anyway. 17.Nov.2004 14:26


The Federal government, by nature, will oppose any secession. So what? Secede anyway. Do we need the Federal government's permission to talk too? Move foward with secession.

Armies and secession 18.Nov.2004 11:24


I'm surprised this article didn't mention the more contemporary secessionistic work of Starhawk called the Fifth Sacred Thing. In that story, there is a non-violent revolt that the occupying powers in the East ultimately fail to control (they're dealing with uprisings everywhere). While the society she envisions develops a security role (the top echelons of which are filled by old women), they need no standing army. And in the end, as the independents are re-invaded decades later by the decendants of their oppressors, Starhawk makes the reader take a hard look at what is really required to successful revolution.

In the Middle East, there is no Iraqi-independence-oriented, internationally recognized Army, the people resisting or fighting the American invaders are called Islamic fanatics, or terrorists, or gunmen, insurrectionists, rebels, etc. Resistance to an oppressive force does not always even require guns. Refusing to pay taxes, register for ID cards, or do anything else the controlling power tries to force you to do all counts. Refusing to be silent, or gather in public can do more for a cause than hundreds of machine guns. Sabotage of machines and supply-lines can cripple the invader's ability to maintain an occupation, especially when those same invaders are fighting on many fronts globally. And finally, when they employ brutality to get their way, to make the taxes get paid, silence the unsilenceable, they will lose the hearts of other Americans who may have supported their invasion.

Secession or anything else isn't something we need to rush to. Keep it in your hearts, introduce it to new people, let the evils of the world continue to show their true colors. The time may come sooner than you'd think.