Monthly Archives: July 2016

Conference Feature: Urban Cascadia


Ryan Centner
London School of Economics
CUSS Newsletter. Summer 2016. Vol 28. No. 3

For those of you attending the Seattle annual meetings: Welcome to the northwestern edge of the Americas – “Cascadia” – a region I am proud to call home, even though I currently live some 5,000 miles away in an increasingly provincial archipelago known as the British Isles. If this is your first encounter with the Pacific Northwest, you may be scratching your head. What is Cascadia? And how can someone so far away still consider it “home”? I aim to answer these questions while briefly conveying some of the distinctive features that define the three largest Northwestern cities of Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland (see map in Figure 1), including innovations and inequalities. Cascadia, to begin, is a somewhat contested term (Helm 1993; Smith 2008; Abbott 2009). As a regional moniker, clearly it references the Cascade Range of mountains that run from northern California up to southern British Columbia. Its vernacular origins derive from popular depictions of the Pacific Northwest as a kind of “ecotopia” (Callenbach 1975; Garreau 1981), reflecting both a unique landscape and unusual society-environment rela-tionship. Seattle-based sociologist David McCloskey (1988: n.p.) developed the notion of a cross-border bioregion, noting that:

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