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Feeling a disconnect with Ottawa? Why not join Cascadia

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Feeling a little disenchanted with Ottawa as Parliament starts its fall session today?

There are plenty of people in Washington and Oregon who feel the same way about Washington, DC, and some of them feel there’s a better alternative in the formation of the free and independent country of Cascadia.

The Doug flag — green, white and blue behind a Douglas fir — is one of the symbols of an independent BC, Washington and Oregon and some flag shops in Vancouver say they’ve been getting more requests for it.

“A lot of people actually take the idea very seriously,” says Brandon Letsinger, the Seattle coordinator of the Cascadia Now group who runs the movement’s website.

“Social media is one of the primary platforms that we base our movement on. We talk a lot about it being a grassroots social movement and that’s really represented well with the social media aspect,  we’ve seen a really strong growth. We use the Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, those are our three primary platforms, and our most successful is Reddit,” he says.

“Anybody can submit anything they find interesting, anybody can submit merchandise ideas or ideas for actions, ways to get involved or to start a discussion. The best of those are then up-voted or down-voted so social media really has a strong influence that allows people to get engaged, gives people access and lets them talk among themselves and get involved. That’s really powerful,” explains Letsinger.

The proposed country of Cascadia is generally accepted as a union of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon (with parts of southeastern Alaska and northern California sometimes included) meant to reflect larger ecological, cultural and economic boundaries.

A sense of place is what drew Mike Hodges to the movement. He moved from Florida to Seattle and became Cascadia Now’s student coordinator at the University of Washington.

“I only moved to Cascadia about four years ago for graduate school,” says Hodges, who is also the copy editor of Cascadia Monthly, an online newsletter. “When I got here, I was immediately struck by the way people were connecting with the places they were living. As I became more accustomed to the culture and started integrating myself, I found I was really beginning to identify with it in much the same way.

“This is beautiful country on the West Coast and it’s hard not to love it, hard not to feel a real attachment to it and identity with it,” he adds.

Some feel the Cascadian independence movement started as early as the 1940s when a group of angry citizens fought for the secession of northern California and southern Oregon to form the separate State of Jefferson.

From utopian society to soccer team rivalry, the idea of Cascadia has since been co-opted by various groups.

There’s no shortage of Cascadian statistics on sites like Wikipedia, which lists the proposed country as home to just over 15 million people, with an economy generating more than $675 billion worth of goods and services annually.

“We understand the idea is not for everybody,” adds Letsinger. “What’s great is the diversity of interest, that a lot of people see it as a northwest unity and pride, a symbol of our commonality.”

Whether it’s about forming a separate state or simply a connection of culture, he feels the movement is gaining ground.

“For a lot of people, they do feel more kinship with Vancouver and Portland than they do with Ottawa or Washington, DC,” he says.

“I think Cascadia is already a reality in a lot of ways,” adds Hodges. “In terms of kinship, it’s already a very real thing. It’s just going to be a matter of consciously building on that.”