Announcing the Winners and Special Honorees for The Edge Prize 2023: Weaving a Bioregional Fabric in the Edges of Salmon Nation

The Edge Prize celebrates regenerative projects from rural, Indigenous, and historically marginalized communities across the bioregion — from Alaska to California and between.

The Edge Prize celebrates regenerative projects from rural, Indigenous, and historically marginalized communities across the bioregion — from Alaska to California and between.

Throughout what we call “Salmon Nation,” a bioregion defined by the historic range of wild Pacific salmon, from the Salinas River in California, north to the Yukon River in Alaska, there are extraordinary leaders and entrepreneurs working on regenerative projects that benefit the lands, waters, and people of the bioregion.

They are growing food ways that heal the land, protecting and restoring ecosystems for future generations, building resilient communities, educating our youth, developing innovative technology, transforming systems and governance, and preserving traditional wisdom.

The goal of The Edge Prize is to identify these leaders, called “Edgewalkers,” bring them together to help them discover each other as collaborative peers, offer them resources and support, and amplify their stories to grow their work.

To find and select these Edgewalkers, we sought out projects and solutions that are:

  • Proven, and already working in place (rather than start-up initiatives)
  • Creating real positive change to benefit the lands, waters, and people
  • Not fundamentally based on proprietary methods
  • Replicable in different parts of the bioregion as “templates”

Between February and May of 2023, the first cohort of Edgewalkers was convened, bringing together 130 Edgewalkers, along with dozens of experts and leaders in the fields of regenerative agriculture, philanthropy, business, communications, and more.

In addition to workshops led by our expert mentors, Edgewalkers prepared and presented workshops to each other, collectively representing the leading edge of regenerative practices.

The Edge Prize also facilitated a series of regional dinners where the Edgewalkers gathered in person to share a meal, from as far north as Cordova, Alaska, to Oakland, California, and many gatherings in between.

The culmination of The Edge Prize invited our Edgewalkers to create short videos and written descriptions of their work, for which the most impactful, innovative, and inspiring were awarded, by a vote of the Edgewalkers, mentors, and the Edge Prize team, prize money.

The awards include the “Edge Prize”, a grand prize of $20,000, and ten additional $5,000 prizes in specific categories of regenerative work. The Edgewalkers also collaboratively allocated amongst themselves a shared funding pool of $20,000. Additionally, there were Special Honorees for each prize category, who will be receiving ongoing recognition and support.

All of these videos and written descriptions are publicly visible.
By sharing these videos and written descriptions in public, we are building an open-source library of “what’s working” to help scale and accelerate regenerative practices in Salmon Nation and beyond.

For 2023, The Edge Prize Grand Prize was awarded to Edgewalker Allayana Darrow, representing the Lomakatsi Restoration Project: As the climate warms, and weather changes, the risk of severe wildfires is elevated. Lomokatsi answers the call by engaging a diversity of youth in ecological restoration to build fire-adapted forests and communities. This model creates meaningful, living-wage work experiences that provide the foundation for the next generation of workers in the forest product and ecological restoration industries.

Over the past 15 years, Lomakatsi has led hundreds of youth and young adults in the restoration of thousands of acres of public and private forest lands. They have created precedent-setting collaborative agreements that employ these youth to work side-by-side with forestry experts and seasoned professional forestry workers.

“It’s inspiring to be a part of The Edge Prize. It’s a network of driven, innovative people and organizations working in service to ecosystems and communities across the West,” said Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey. “We’re honored to be recognized for our ecological workforce training and education model that for 28 years has provided a blueprint for partnership between tribes, agencies, and nonprofits, while reducing the risk of severe wildfire, growing the ecological workforce, and restoring healthy forests and watersheds across Oregon and northern California.”

“The Grand Prize will support the Taktokeewa Habitat Restoration Project as we work to expand the initial 3,100-acre project area tenfold over the next decade,” said Lomakatsi Tribal Partnerships Director Belinda Brown, enrolled member of the Kosealekte Band of the Ajumawi-Atsuge Nation (Pit River Tribe) and descendant of the Northern Paiute Gidutikad Band. “Together we’re raising capacity to accomplish more restorative work across all lands, providing tribal crew members with hands-on experience in technical forestry and cultural monitoring through peer-to-peer training, and laying the groundwork for future ecological forestry treatments and the return of good cultural fire on Kosealekte Band homelands.”

A specific recent project of Lomakatsi, the Taktokeewa Habitat Restoration Project, is a collaborative forest restoration initiative between Lomakatsi, the USDA Forest Service Modoc National Forest, and the Kosealekte Band of the Ajumawi-Atsuge Nation (federally recognized as the Pit River Tribe). The purpose of the Taktokeewa Project is to improve forest health, enhance wildlife habitat, maintain cultural values, build local workforce capacity, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the region.

The Taktokeewa Project supports employment opportunities for tribal members and local contractors and helps meet partners’ mutual goals of increasing local capacity for forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction in the face of climate change and increasing threat of severe wildfire. At the request of tribal partners, Lomakatsi is layering in their workforce training model, creating opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and job mentoring, while incubating tribally owned forestry businesses. Byproducts of ecological restoration will be sold to local mills, supporting industry partners and creating revenue to reinvest into the project.

The Edge Prize Grand Prize Special Honoree is Anthony Myint, with his Zero Foodprint initiative, which is a new mechanism that makes it possible for a citizen or business to directly team up with local farms and ranches to help them transition to regenerative, carbon sequestering practices, at scale. They are funding this innovative work through simple win-win-win mechanisms like restaurants adding an optional 1% fee that goes to regenerative partner farms, as well as working with state and local agencies to create new categories of taxes and fees to fund farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture, generating real resources for this critical work.

The Edge Prize also led to new collaborative projects among Edgewalkers. One such collaboration is Regenerate Cascadia, where two participants, Brandon Letsinger and Clare Atwell, are now co-planning a bioregional event series this fall in Cascadia bioregion, which overlaps Salmon Nation. Regenerate Cascadia, which is the Edge Prize awardee in the category of Systems and Governance, will grow a network of place-based groups to accelerate the regeneration of Cascadia, culminating in a Bioregional Activation Tour and a Cascadia Bioregional Summit in September & October 2023.

Edge Prize 2023 Grand Prize Winner and Special Honoree


Alturas, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Lomakatsi has employed an innovative and highly successful model for engaging a diversity of youth in ecological restoration to build fire-adapted forests and communities. This model creates meaningful, living-wage work experiences that provide the foundation for the next generation of workers in the forest product and ecological restoration industries.”


Portland, Oregon | Video | Connect on Hylo

Zero Foodprint is a new mechanism that makes it possible for a citizen or business to directly team up with local farms and ranches to help them transition to regenerative, carbon sequestering practices at scale. They are funding this innovative work through simple win-win-win mechanisms like restaurants adding an optional 1% fee that goes to regenerative partner farms, as well as working with state and local agencies to create new categories of taxes and fees to fund farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture, generating real resources for this critical work.”

Edge Prize 2023 Category Winners and Special Honorees


Portland, Oregon | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Black Futures Farm is both a community-building and production farm, where we grow meaningful relationships alongside vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Our main goal is to heal the connection between Black people and the land, and we achieve this by cultivating a healthy place for the Black community to gather in joy and source fresh food.”

Food and Agriculture Special Honoree
Laurie Racicot: Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture
Orcas Island, Washington | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Orcas Community Participatory Agriculture (OCPA) is a locally-based model of agriculture, education, food distribution, and community connection. Our purpose is to empower people to be creators of the food that nourishes them, in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement. Their innovative organizing model creates a framework for private landowners to make their land for community cultivation.”


Langley, British Columbia (Fraser Watershed) | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Rivershed Society of BC’s Foodlands Corridor Restoration Program (“Foodlands”) is restoring and connecting adjacent, small parcels of privately held land to form a larger restored natural corridor. The term Foodlands acknowledges a diversity of food harvesting systems that the land represents, both from a western farming perspective and from a traditional hunting and gathering perspective. Once fully restored, a Foodlands Corridor will support a food system that is healthy, sustainable, just and inclusive.”

Ecosystem Restoration Special Honoree
Ingrid Figueroa: When the Cycles of the Salmon, Corn, and Bison Meet
Vancouver, British Columbia | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Ancestral Food Ways Collective Society emerges from the need to give continuity to Indigenous governance represented by local BIPOC groups and the vision led by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. The programming is created by the pedagogies and methodologies of Indigenous Food and Freedom School at Strathcona Park. The mission of this group is to restore and sustain the Indigenous Foodlands Conservation Garden by giving community access to land and providing a safe space to carry out cultural practices and intergenerational-knowledge transmission, as well as uphold and amplify the voices of the community throughout the general population.”


Port Moody, British Columbia | Video | Connect on Hylo

“I am a Coast Salish dance and theatre artist leading arts based Coast Salish Cultural resurgence projects in my community, currently known as Port Moody. In the Presence of Ancestors is a life-long exhibition of five magnificently carved house posts raised along Port Moody’s iconic 3.5 km Shoreline Trail, reasserting Indigenous values and reminding current residents of our shared and sacred responsibilities to the future of all of our relations.”

Culture Prize Special Honoree
Amikaeyla Gaston: Women Carry Water
Oakland, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Women Carry Water is an immersive docuseries that lifts the voices, experiences, and work of female-identifying people championing vital, healing, sustainable, spiritual practices as Water-Bearers. The series features interviews from Indigenous healers, folk artists, carbon sequestration scientists, a musician who sings with whales, and stories of women like Thandekile, who carry water to her home and family in Sub-Saharan Africa.”


Port Townsend, Washington | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Symbiotic Schoolyard provides a curriculum for middle school teachers to help their students take on the role of restoration ecologists to help increase the biodiversity of their schoolyards. Through hands-on lessons, students discover that planting a variety of native plants can help to restore a complex food web in their schoolyard.”

Education Prize Special Honoree
Starhawk: The Earth Activist Training Story
Cazadero, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Earth Activist Training teaches regenerative design and permaculture to activists, and activism to regenerators. Our permaculture training is rooted in spirit, not enforced belief in things we can’t see, but in reverence and wonder for the everyday miracles we see all around us: the alchemy of a leaf making food from air and water and sunlight, the water’s journey from raindrop to spring, river, ocean, cloud and back to rain. Along with science, theory and practical experience, we focus on organizing and activism. Over two decades, we have trained thousands.”


Igiugig, Alaska | Video | Connect on Hylo

“We are creating a community-based monitoring (CBM) program in the Nanvarpak / Lake Iliamna and Clark region. Community-based monitoring, led by Indigenous Knowledge and supported by science can fill in gaps that inherently exist in the management, academic, and research realms, where priorities and results are not often shared back with tribes. These programs will uplift Indigenous voices, address Indigenous concerns, and create opportunities for agency within these small communities, connecting people with their traditional values and culture by reconnecting them with the land, which can provide positive and necessary healing opportunities, spiritually, mentally, and physically.”

Community Resilience Prize Special Honoree
Carla Frenkel: The Strathcona Community Garden Wetland Project
Vancouver, British Columbia | Video | Connect on Hylo

“The Strathcona Community Garden Wetland Project is located on the Unceded territories of the Musqueam (xwməθkwəy̓əm), Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh), and Tsleil-Waututh (Səl̓ílwətaʔ) nations, known today as Vancouver, British Columbia. Long before the garden, this land was a tidal flat, supporting a robust aquatic ecosystem. Colonization and development altered this landscape, filling in the flats. Working with a regional wetland expert we reshaped and reinforced the original hand-dug ephemeral pond. We installed a liner in a portion of the pond to extend the wet season. Paths were reinforced, changed and recreated; infiltration ponds were dug. The birds are thrilled. Countless ducks, crows, robins, and red-wing blackbirds have been enjoying the wetland. School children have flocked to the wetland, exploring the edge and new plantings. We are seeing our goals of habitat creation, stormwater management, and community sanctuary come to fruition!”


Juneau, Alaska | Video | Connect on Hylo

“At Sitkana, we are developing technology to generate low-cost, predictable renewable energy from ocean tidal currents. Our shielded turbines are inspired by snail shells and our stacked arrays were inspired by schools of salmon. The turbines are shrouded so they do not have external blades to slice wildlife. Electricity gets sent to shore where it can be used by coastal communities.”

Innovation and Technology Special Honoree — Linda Behnken: The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Boat Energy Transitions Accelerator
Sitka, Alaska | Video | Connect on Hylo

“The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Boat Energy Transitions Accelerator seeks to decarbonize Alaska’s commercial fishing fleet while providing a replicable decarbonization strategy for fishing fleets around the country. We can and should create hybrid boats where clean fuels are available for recharge — and there are hundreds of boats in Alaska that fit that bill. Fishermen are ready to invest in new technology, but upfront costs are daunting. With investment and grants, we can lead.”


Juneau & Sitka, Alaska | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Spruce Root is a Native-led, non-profit organization based in Língít Aaní. From our offices in Dzántik’i Héeni (Juneau) and Sheetʼka (Sitka), we drive regenerative economies across Southeast Alaska so communities can forge futures grounded in this uniquely Indigenous place. Through our small business loan program, our business training programs, and our support for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, we’re building entrepreneurship in rural communities while fostering community-based coalitions committed to long-term economic well-being.”

Community Development and Finance Prize Special Honoree
Jenny Kassan: Moving Money from Wall Street to our Communities
Fremont, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“We believe that to see a massive shift in how financial capital is allocated we need to create super supportive ecosystems to make it easier and more comfortable for people to invest in their own communities. We need a place where we can teach small business owners and changemakers how to invest and seek investment in a way that is legally compliant, financially responsible, and supportive of all stakeholders. Let’s build these Community Wealth Building Hubs throughout Salmon Nation so that we can access the vast pool of investment capital that is controlled by U.S. residents and use it to revitalize our communities and support the projects and ventures we love most.”

Community Development and Finance Prize Special Honoree — Midi Berry: Vivero — A Regenerative Finance Community Platform
Santa Monica Mountains, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Vivero is a regenerative finance platform that can change the face of traditional economics, by recognising and valuing many forms of capital in bioregional and regenerative project development. Vivero Contributors and beneficiaries are all visible in the app and Vivero transactions are tracked transparently. Vivero members can interact and collaborate directly with each other and they decide collectively where gifts will go. Vivero storytelling brings in diverse voices to feed an action-learning path that we can all walk together. Vivero’s open source architecture is designed to branch and network out into bioregions, and be adapted to local contexts and needs.”


Warm Springs, Oregon | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Salmon has been a part of my existence since time immemorial. I have worked with fish my entire life. I helped move fish from a very small child and was shown how to clean, bleed, fillet and cut fish at age 8. My favorite processing technique is wind dried salmon. The process has not changed since the Creator gave us the fish to sustain ourselves. As a young lady, my grandmother told me; Learn well what I’m teaching you, for it will take care of you. The intent of my work is to document the fish as they swim up the river, along with interviews of families and elders to share their teachings and experiences.”

Storytelling and Knowledge Weaving Special Honoree — Ricky Reyes: Community Archiving Through Oral History — Black & Indigenous Water Stewards
Seattle, Washington | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Over the past three years, I have been a member of the Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute which is a cohort aiming to tackle and explore the ethics, techniques, best practices, tensions and dilemmas of oral history and Black and Indigenous memory work. The institute is a part of Wa Na Wari’s general programming which serves as a center for Black art and stories sited in a 5th-generation Black-owned home in Seattle’s historically redlined Central District. Wa Na Wari has seeked to create space for Black ownership, possibility and belonging through art, historic preservation and connection.”


Cascadia Bioregion | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Regenerate Cascadia is a long-term vision and process that works with on-the-ground communities to design and implement new frameworks of governance, ecology, and economy for the regeneration and health of our bioregion. This includes two specific events: a Bioregional Activation Tour and a Cascadia Bioregional Summit. Our focus is not only a one-time moment, but also the way we travel from the activation tour to the summit, the culture that coalesces through the experience of activation, and what is sustained after the “events.”

Systems and Governance Special Honoree
Julian Hockin Grant: Allied Certifications Ltd. — Foundations for Right Relationship
Tofino, British Columbia | Video | Connect on Hylo

“Allied Certifications Ltd. was established in 2018 to co-develop the Tribal Parks Allies certification standard with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. On behalf of Tla-o-qui-aht, we encourage local businesses in the colonial settlement of Tofino to establish the foundations upon which respectful relationships with Tla-o-qui-aht can flourish. We provide the scaffolding for settler entrepreneurs to confront the uncomfortable realities of colonialism in Tla-o-qui-aht haḥuułi and offer a pathway away from practices which perpetuate colonial oppression and towards relationships which are supportive to Indigenous self-determination, Nation-building, and cultural resurgence.”


Kirkland, Washington | Video | Connect on Hylo

“The Save Our Salmon (SOS) Mural Initiative is a project created by youth, involving youth. I’m an 18-year-old artist and senior at Juanita High School in Kirkland, Washington. I paint interactive, educational “Save Our Salmon Murals” along PNW salmon streams. So far I’ve led 400 painters and 1,000 attendees painting SOS Murals on over 300 feet of walls. My goal is to not just create a mural that’s nice to look at — but a mural that teaches and inspires my community to protect salmon.”

Youth Engagement Special Honoree — Cheryl Williams: Santa Cruz Black Project — Creating Resilience, Joy + Power
Santa Cruz, California | Video | Connect on Hylo

“We are intergenerational, intersectional and passionate about creating a thriving sustainable Black Community here in Santa Cruz, CA. We each bring different perspectives to the table but we all wanted to institutionalize aspects of the Black Liberation movement. Our Committee on Black Residential Affordable Housing leg of our programming serves to address the issue of Black flight from our county due to the prohibitive cost of housing. The Melanated Makerspace, also known as M2, is the mentee-to-mentor youth leadership program leg of our programming.”

That’s a lot of incredible projects! Our winners and special honorees prove that regeneration of all kinds is alive and flourishing in the Edges of Salmon Nation, and local leaders are hard at work restoring the wellbeing of our lands, waters, culture, people, and economies. Thank you all for your work.

Every project submitted was powerful and inspiring, so if you want a dose of hope and gratitude please check them all out and connect with projects that interest you!

The Edge Prize is a partnership between Salmon Nation Trust, Terran Collective, and Magic Canoe, with funding generously provided by Salmon Nation Trust. Salmon Nation is a people, a place, and an idea: that we can organize ourselves as a nature state in a big, diverse, powerful and holistic integration of people and place, with thriving local communities living in deep relationship with the lands and waters that nourish all of us.

This post was authored by Edward West, Clare Politano, and Zoe Grams.

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Pre-Amble: Welcome Home!

A growing number of people are recognizing that in order to secure the clean air, water and food that we need to healthfully survive, we have to become guardians of the places where we live. People sense the loss in not knowing our neighbors and natural surroundings, and are discovering that the best way to take care of ourselves, is to go out, and take action for ourselves. News of crisis permeates our society daily and is slowly seeping into the consciousness of America and Canada, and after many years of denial and willful ignorance, many are finding latest barrage harder to deny or ignore.

No longer restricted to isolated areas, threats assume regional and global proportions. Warming caused by greenhouse gasses has wide spread implications, while a pandemic challenges assumed realities and status quos – and the interconnectedness of all of our movements, human rights, climate change, economic justice, criminal reform, racial and social equity is on display like it never has been before. Together, Cascadia is on the front lines of each major crisis and issue currently facing our world. We contain 7/10 world largest carbon storing forests, are the thin green line between resource extraction in the east and booming global markets in Asia, are a patchwork of nations and cultures, an epicenter for the discussion of surveillance and digital rights as we host the wealthiest corporations and individuals while others struggle, starve and die in our streets due to extreme inequity. Every year forest fires and droughts are becoming a yearly norm, while heavier flooding, natural disaster and waves of economic migration increasingly strain our food, resources and ecosystem.

Everywhere in the world right now, and everywhere across our countries and region, people are saying that we need a change, but no one is saying how, or presenting a real way of how to achieve it.

To begin discussing these issues, and what actions they should take, more than 100 individuals gathered at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington on a sunny day in July to help shape a positive future for the Cascadia bioregion. They met deliberatively, in a participatory process that included representatives from watersheds, towns, organizations, groups and species, examined challenges to the region, and explored strategies and goals to overcome them. Over that weekend, bioregional organizers, policy planners, feminists, anarchists and indigenous leaders gathered with the first Cascadia flag, bearing the stars and crescent, for what became the first ever, Cascadia Bioregional Congress, hosted in 1986.

In the midst of widening and deepening crises, and over the last 40 years, a new movement is emerging across the North American continent that offers solutions — solutions not only to ecological problems, but social ones as well. In the face of a society growing ever more centralized, bureaucratized, homogenized, militarized, industrialized, and beyond popular control, this movement calls for a scaling down of human institutions, the decolonization and dismantling of colonial and arbitrary constructs and borders, technologies to be more rooted in, and controlled by local communities, and more adapted to local environments. It calls for more participatory democracy, more equity, justice for past wrongs, more cooperation, and more awareness of our interconnectedness — with other people, other cultures, other species, and our planet.

It can be difficult to put a single name on such an all-embracing, still-coalescing movement, but “bioregionalism” and “Cascadia” serve as useful umbrella terms* that include many strands of the movement, such as appropriate technology, permaculture, feminism, Black rights, Indigenous nationhood and community self- reliance and empowerment, civil rights, Black rights, privacy and digital rights, LGBTQ2A rights, equal representation and equity, social justice, and peace.

The Cascadia movement does not seek superficial reforms, but a fundamental rethinking and restructuring of our society. Here the task is to think globally, and also think, plan, and act locally. The bioregional perspective not only criticizes prevailing mass institutions, but creates positive alternatives that can be controlled by the local community and adapted to the constraints, opportunities, and rhythms of the local environment, people and its inhabitants.

Seeking Sustainability and Self-Determination in Cascadia

People living in Cascadia, the bioregion west of North America, have begun coming together in gatherings during the past several years to discuss how to bring about some of the needed changes in our own region and home. We find that from northern California to Southeast Alaska we are faced with many similar challenges and opportunities.

For example, what is an appropriate and sustainable balance between getting jobs and useful products from our forests and preserving the wilderness unique to our bioregion? How can we manage our rivers in a way that balances hydroelectric energy, fishing, recreational uses, and wilderness? How can we build communities that can provide for all of the people living within it and account for historic and systemic imbalances? How can we meet our region’s energy needs without dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels or nuclear power? How can we reduce our economic dependence on economic systems we don’t like? How can we create community economies that provide sustenance and dignity for all without dependence on unsustainable growth and environmental abuse? How can we honor, learn from, and include the many First Nations indigenous to this bioregion in both the stewardship of our land and represented in government? Can we find a new way before it’s too late?

While the states of Washington and Oregon are known as belonging to the Pacific Northwest, this term “Northwest,” is only a framework that makes sense in respect to the 48 contiguous states of the United States and to our relationship with Washington DC. The boundaries of this enormous nation-state constitute the frame of reference within which the designation “northwest” makes sense, but for us, it is time to begin to break away from this juggernaut and rethink our own relationship as citizens of our watersheds and place. Instead, we choose to use rivers and mountain and the Earth itself as a frame of reference we find important. Unilateral borders imposed by the United States and Canada are irrelevant, arbitrary and non-representative of the people, inhabitants and place. Where you were born matters less than where you choose to live, and the watershed you live in now.

When we use the continental landmass of North America as the frame of reference, we find that the “Pacific Northwest” is not in the northwest at all. That’s why people who use the Earth as the frame of reference have begun to refer to the region as “Cascadia” in reference to the major land form in the region, the Cascade Mountains, and also in reference to the plentiful waters cascading from the mountains to the sea. First Nations of Cascadia have similarly come together to call this region “Salmon Nation” in reverence to the rivers that flow and stretch from Northern California to Alaska, and where the Salmon ran at their fullest extent before colonial contact.

Clearly, Earth-based affiliations do not stop atthe 49th parallel, which forms the border between the United States and Canada. To say that the cities of Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C., have more in common with Washington, D.C., and Ottowa, respectively, than they do with each other just doesn’t make good sense. To create a political system that links Seattle with Washington, D.C., but not with Vancouver does not make sense either. Cascadia is a place that crosses a patchwork of dozens of nations and cultures. Our largest watershed by itself spans parts of six US states and one Canadian province and is traced, “not by governments or treaties, but by every drop of liquid that finds a common path to the ocean”.

We contain some of the largest tracts of untouched old growth temperate rainforests in the world, including 7 of the top 10 worlds carbon absorbing forests made of fir, cedar, hemlock, redwoods, alder, maple, the worlds tallest trees, thousands of volcanoes, hot springs, rivers, lakes, inlets, island and ocean, and some of the last diminishing, though still impressive wild habitats of salmon, wolves, bear, whale, orca. In all –  more than 350 bird and mammal species, 48 reptiles, hundreds of fungi, lichen, and and thousands of invertebrates and soil organisms and now more than 16 million people call Cascadia home.

When we define our places using the Earth as the frame of reference, taking into account flora, fauna, landforms, climate, and so on, we are talking in terms of bioregions. Can we move from our status of internal colony of the American industrial system, used for resource extraction, technology services and holiday vacationing, to a more self- reliant and self-determining bioregional community? Can we gain greater control of our common destiny at the local level?

Can we? Perhaps. But it all depends. It depends on what we do and how we do it. The challenge of change is great. Without a clearly articulated, collective vision for what we want to do and coordinated strategies for how to move forward, our ability to effect deep and widespread change is stymied. Is there a way to create greater “connective tissue” between various parts of our movement for change, so that we can strengthen and nourish one another? Can we interject a clear and comprehensive agenda for change into the stale debate that passes for politics these days?

These are the questions and challenges that we must face, and it is in that hope that we have drafted and created these documents, not as an answer to this debate, but hopefully, to open up a conversation. It is up to Cascadians, each in their own way, to create and promote these changes, and lead the way forward, rather than wait for someone else to do it for us.

After nearly forty years, Cascadia is a movement that is ready to begin.

We hope you join us.

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