You & Cascadia
.... what you can do, as an individual, to make your dream of Cascadia evolve into a reality...
One word that encompasses so much, means so little, and yet is so consequential to the land where I was born and where we reside. I feel like Cascadia is an abstract desire: an unknown goal with no path, but a destination that is inevitable.
I want to lay out my thoughts on the matter in the hopes to provide inspiration about what you can do, as an individual, to make your dream of Cascadia evolve into a reality. I'm going to present some concrete steps that one could take, but I think we ought to remain somewhat wayward in a community's goals, and instead think about the individual changes we can make that are both positive towards our own selves, positive towards others, and help make the concept of Cascadia (however the concept is to you) a bit more real and connected than it has been previously.
Here's the elements I propose in broad strokes:
These are steps that will affect you, and only you, and you should not assume that others will embark upon an identical path, and you must simply accept that the end result will be diverse, dynamic, and difficult. It is you, the individual, that will make this change happen, and in doing so you might inspire others to do the same. As your author today, I beg you: do not hold judgment against those early in their journey, to accept change in one's life is a process that happens one individual at a time. There will never be a moment where the truth is universal, that ignorance is dispelled, and freedom is blessed upon everyone. Simply live your life in peace, create prosperity when you can, and protect the things you hold dear.
I think the first question is perhaps the most compelling: What is Cascadia? Is it the sum of our mountains, forests and water - or is it dependent upon the life and culture? Or perhaps, it none of these things, and something more, something yet defined that will transform into a greater unknown? This compelling question will likely not be answered by a collective, but by each individual, and I think this is where the journey begins: with you, my reader.
There's many sources of answers as to the question of what Cascadia is, but the compelling element of this question is not your actual answer, but simply that you think about the question. Once this question is implanted in a mind it opens up several possibilities, and importantly opens up a desire for an unknown ideal for which you can strive to achieve.
The second element is the manufacturing of culture.
I think culture happens in two methods: in the slow process that tallies the things that many people enjoy; and the other, in which culture is introduced and created deliberately.
The slow process is organic: that those in Cascadia fall in love with nature, that our wines and hops are abundant and unmatched, and that our weed is some dank ass greens, and that we demand the highest quality food for our enjoyment. These tabulate into one culture that already exists, that unites many people, and is often times shared without hesitation. These are the compelling parts of our communities that draw people here and export easily.
When one thinks of our brothers and sisters in France, we can think of many similar cultural distinctions that separate the French on a minor level from those of the Germans or Spaniards. Cascadia, too, must come to have these distinctions embedded within our culture in order to distinguish ourselves from those in California, or in the Mormon's desert. I do not think that we ought to allow these distinctions to form only on an organic level, but that small communities should go into manufacturing these distinctions purposefully.
For example: Cascadia has a flag that is well accepted and recognized, that will likely be passed on to the next generation. This wonderful flag was inspired by nature, but it was not a product of nature, for it was manufactured. Similarly, we must manufacture other elements of culture:
Who will come up with the song that unites us?
Who will set the standards that inspire us as people?
What foods can create with our abundance, and name, and share?
Who will come up with the holidays that we share with loved ones?
What lexicon can we introduce into our language to make us distinct from others?
These distinctions may not be essential for a group of people to be called a community or society, however they are small components that can create a distinct culture, and in recognizing their importance, an individual can make a cognitive effort to promote the cultural components they enjoy. As an example: a series of Cascadian holidays, where commerce gives way to the enjoyment family, will definitively set Cascadians apart from our neighbors. Similarly, an entree prepared with the unique foods of our region, that is named from our region, and is passed on to the next generation, would be an enormously beautiful component of a culture that must be created.
As individuals we must individually create, but also seek out, and participate in, the unique culture of Cascadia. Find this culture within you, based upon however you define it, and become inspired to spread it to others. Your creations and additions are inseparable from this journey, you must innovate practices and a lifestyle that others will wish to adopt, and overtime the shared adoption will bubble up to equal a part of your community. Today, for example, think of a new word for something that is unique to your area and lifestyle, and then spread that word to others. What word can be created to define the admiration, respect, and beauty for Mother Nature, or our falling waters? What word can explain your feelings towards the Salmon of our rivers?
The next element is commerce and economies.
Cascadians must create self-sufficient economies. I believe that economy is inseparable from the human experience, and that we can either accept and understand this, or be conquered by it through the manipulation of others. The former must be our choice and this is something we must also purposefully adopt, if for no other reason than for our own self protection against exploitation. The macro-economy of our region is only the total of our individual micro-economic choices. As it is said, "You vote with your dollar." You, as the individual, can come to support things that are produced and sold in Cascadia, and by doing so, you make the community's industries and economies stronger.
Purchasing power and participating in the economy is not enough. All individuals must do their best to learn to become self-sufficient: that simply having a job where you get a paycheck is not a lifestyle of happiness, but one of servitude. I am not saying you must embrace a currency and take a job at a factory; for if you can produce and barter to meet your desires, then you have achieved an ideal state. I believe that each individual has at least one thing that they are truly good at, and that the sum of our economy can become unrivaled simply by embracing our individual skills and going into commerce with each other.
You, as an individual, should find a method of production or services in which you can excel. The oldest, simplest, and most necessary form of production is the cultivation of food. By growing, consuming, and trading food that you manufacture, the economy of Cascadia is divested from outsiders and becomes immediately localized. If food is not your forte, then create another product that you can easily manufacture, or study a service in which you can barter. In any case, our collective economy is based upon participation and individual choices.
A currency, at some point, will be a necessary distinction to. You can measure the influence and size of a community by the boundaries of where their currency is accepted. I do not think that it is an advantage within a society to adopt a singular currency, and that multiple competitive currencies can be introduced and prosper within a single community. This is obviously not an immediate step, but something worth considering as communities mature, otherwise we will be manipulated by outsiders.
The last element is to stoke tension between the cultural communities that we create, and the existing cultural community.
By this, I do not mean that a civil war should be created, or that we should disrespect our neighbors. Instead, when we have portions of the culture identified it will inevitably end up in contradiction to the existing norms. For example: Imagine one of the Cascadian holidays where it becomes traditional for businesses to be closed: those businesses that do not buy in to the new culture will be ostracized by their employees, or might notice the lack of customers. An individual could close their business for the holiday, or Cascadian employees could request the day off. This is how the culture will spread: simply by participating in it, then it will naturally come into conflict with existing norms.
As the Cascadian culture matures there will be elements that we find undesirable, for example: I find bigotry and racism repugnant, they are not a part of my life whatsoever, and I find their practices and promotion intolerable. Therefore, I am perfectly content challenging and confronting those who practice these offensive ideologies that stand in contradiction to my own. These conflicts have to be created, for unpleasantries are not challenged by pacifism, and it is useful for individuals to pick and choose their battles when confronting noxious ideologies.
The four elements I have laid out are not a singular path way, they are a process, and this process is about modifying your lifestyle choices. This process is built upon itself, and every step is only supported upon the previous step. When you have realized a dream of Cascadia you can modify your behavior to create a culture that fits your dreams, and then modify your economic choices to empower the community that participates in your culture, and finally stand up for the community and culture that you have created. If you approach these steps from the opposite direction, and you begin battling for a community that is both economically and culturally weak, then your actions will be futile and the cultural that is organically created will not resemble the one you desire. In addition, it is useful to revisit the initial question frequently, then to modify your behavior based upon your understanding, and then to invest your resources back into a community that supports your behavior. In the end, the destination of Cascadia will involve you going through this process multiple times, and spreading this process to others.
If you've finished reading this, then the next step is simple: What is Cascadia?
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