Happy Birthday CascadiaNow!

I was raised to LOVE birthdays, and September 8 is a big one for me. We made it one more revolution around the sun - let’s celebrate! On this anniversary of the founding of CascadiaNow! (CN!), I am reflecting on some of the words of wisdom that continue to motivate my Cascadian identity.

I hear this a lot from CN! supporters: “I have always been a Cascadian bioregionalist, I just didn’t know it until now.”

That is how I felt in 2014 when CN! Founding Director Brandon Letsinger bought me a beer and convinced me to quit my job and partner with him to formalize CN! as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

One of the things he said to me has really stuck, and I repeat it in my own words all the time:

If we woke up tomorrow with new, imaginary political boundaries that reflected the Cascadia bioregion, some things might change. But if we woke up tomorrow and the 17 million human inhabitants of Cascadia all unified to choose behaviors that are beneficial to our bioregional community - imagine the impact!

It has never been CN!’s strength to create long-term programs with staff-controlled activities. Our strategic objectives revolve around empowering others, and our success is defined by amplifying the potential of all our neighbors to create their dream for Cascadia. Now!

At one of our earliest Seattle Chapter meetings (in Brandon’s living room, of course), a CN! Member said something else that has continued to fuel my journey at CN!:

When we act from a place of fear and dread of the worst case scenario, we create things that are fearful. When we act from a place of love and solutions-based thinking, we have the power to create real solutions that will further the agenda of love.

Putting love first is my dream for Cascadia, and one that I am proud to contribute to through my work at CN!. I never imagined that we would grow to a nonprofit family of 40 projects and chapters in just a few years. Every CN! project and chapter pursues its own unique vision, but they are all united in one thing: loving their bioregion, loving their bioregional neighbors. And, my goodness, isn’t it time to start putting love first?

OK, stay with me here - I am going to quote bathroom stall graffiti: “Be kind to everyone. Even the jerks. Let them be jerks. You be a kind person.” This is in the women’s room at the Blue Moon, a historic Seattle tavern (with a Cascadia flag on the ceiling.) And this is what I think of everytime we discuss the nauseating challenge of white supremacists co-opting Cascadian imagery to further their agenda of hate. These words of wisdom help keep me focussed. Yes, I feel anger toward individuals who choose to discriminate. No, that anger won’t combat those ideals - it just breeds more hate.

As a founding CN! staff member and, more importantly, as a human, I am excited for the future. I am excited to live in a time when we acknowledge the power of the feminine, the spectrum of gender identity, the social benefits of diversity, the necessity of equity. We still have a lot of work to do, but to my eyes the trend is clearly headed toward these values. My eight-year-old nanny child says, “it really doesn’t matter what gender someone is.” I wish I was that enlightened at 8.

In the spirit of sharing, I humbly offer my own words of wisdom: There is no such thing as failure. Sometimes we don’t meet our goals, in which case we learn something for next time.

So be bold in your love, Cascadia, you cannot fail! I confess that I am sometimes embarrassed to be compassionate, generous and grateful in public ways. Luckily, success doesn’t require that I overcome this overnight. I just have to try and do a little better every day. And when we all make that commitment, as I said earlier - imagine the impact!

It is an honor to be on team Cascadia with all of you, and to love you as my bioregional neighbors. Thank you.


Naomi Botkin
CN! Founding Staff Member and Operations & Resources Director