Thursday, September 05, 2013

People outside of Cascadia don't think about Cascadia. Is that a bad thing? (Cascadia exists #6)

This map series in the Business Insider is fascinating. It is a series of graphic answers to questions asked to Americans about what they think about other states.

What state is the rudest, has the best food, best or worst sports fans and that sort of thing. California, the South in general and New York seem to engender the most opinions. But, one thing I found consistent is that Cascadia (in this case Oregon and Washington) are generally out of the collective conscious.

Washington does rate fairly well as a "smart" state (thanks Bill Gates!) but not at the top. What we do rate the highest in is being under-rated. The last map of the series highlights Cascadia in deep blue, the most underrated place in the country.

Well, at least folks know they're not thinking about us.

This sort of back of the mindness to the rest of the country is either a good thing or bad thing. You can either seek to solve it or seek to accept it. Or, actually encourage it.

It is a fact that we don't really have a regional narrative to tell the rest of the country, at least in a historic sense. Much of our history never played out here, since we're so newly established (I'd even call us a post-WWII region). We aren't California, we aren't the Rocky Mountain states, we don't have much a pronounced presence.

You could take a look at this and hope to tell our region's story to the rest of the country. But, I'm going to cut you off right. Seriously, why bother?

The attitude of Oregon governor Tom McCall (of enjoy your visit, but don't stay fame) I think rules this point. We should create our own story, our own narrative for our region and not worry about aggressively presenting it to anyone else.

I don't have a totally formed though here, but it just seems that we should focus this energy within our region. I keep on coming back to Jim Lynch's book Truth Like the Sun, which is probably one of the best pieces of fiction (historic or otherwise). I especially appreciate how it focused my thinking about our region and the important transition period that was the 1960s.

But, how important is the story of Truth Like the Sun to someone in Kansas? The 1960s and the World Fair and what it represented was important to our region, but it hardly informs the story of the larger America, beyond the obviously well written human story.

Back to my main point. We know what Cascadia means, we need to keep on telling that story to ourselves and grow it. Maybe people who answer poll questions to business websites will get it, but that will be secondary to what we find out for ourselves.

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