The Road to Cascadia

They call it Cascadia—a land of plunging waterfalls and snowcapped mountains, a mythical kingdom of towering trees and raging rivers. Here in Seattle, capital of this Arcadia, the sleekly modernistic Space Needle rises up against the backdrop of Mount Rainier, which dominates the horizon—a distinctly Cascadian juxtaposition of mountain and cityscape, forest and skyscraper, greenery and growth.

The name adorns hundreds of local businesses—from Cascadia Software to Cascade Steel Door and Hardware—and was inevitably appropriated by radical environmentalists—such as the "Cascadia Action Group," an Earth First!-type organization bitterly opposed to any and all development—as well as by more sedate "bioregionalists," such as admirers of Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, who peddle socialism under the aegis of regional planning. In a review of Robert L. Dorman's Revolt of the Provinces: The Regionalist Movement in America, 1920-1945, the bioregionalist writer Patrick Mazza asks us to "envision new cultural institutions meshing the knowledge gained through natural sciences with theater, ritual, narrative and music, recalling earlier native, folk and immigrant cultures while recognizing some fundamentally new synthesis is needed." Politically, this means "nothing less than creating new political institutions rooted in community and region, that work confederally...

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