Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia

“Cascadia,” this bioregion of ours, is a greenhouse for unique earth-wise cultural/spiritual goings-on. A new book which captures this zeitgeist is CASCADIA: THE ELUSIVE UTOPIA: Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest., a $21.95 paperback from Ronsdale Press here in Vancouver. It’s been edited and introduced by Douglas Todd, the Vancouver Sun writer.

This book will appeal to anyone who wants to understand the unique culture and spirituality of the fast-growing Pacific Northwest, which in-cludes British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Envied by people around the world, Cascadia—as it is known—is renowned for its mountains, evergreens, eagles, beaches and livable cities. Most people, however, do not realize that Cascadia, named after the region’s “cascading” waterfalls, is also home to the least institutionally religious people on the continent. Despite their unusual resistance to old ways of doing religion, Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia argues that most of the 14 million residents of this rugged land are eclectically, informally, of-ten deeply “spiritual.” They gain their sense of the sacred through the land, which in Cascadia, unlike in most parts of North America, is un-tamed and spectacular.

In this original book, 15 leading writers, historians, bio-regionalists, pollsters, scholars, economists, philosophers, eco-theologians, literary analysts and poets explain how the Pacific Northwest is nurturing a unique “spirituality of place,” which could become a model for the planet. Brought together by Vancouver Sun spirituality writer Douglas Todd, the contributors to this book highlight Cascadians’ unusually strong attraction to personal freedom, do-it-yourself optimism, “secular-but-spiritual” nature reverence and the vision of a healthy future that has never before been realized: an elusive utopia. Contributors include historian Jean Barman, Canadian poet laureate George Bowering, political philosopher Philip Resnick, religion scholar Patricia O’Connell Killen and American-Canadian eco-theologian Sallie McFague, among others.

“They are mature utopians who know the struggle will never end. Yet even while they are working towards something better, they celebrate that some of the longed-for future is already here—Cascadia’s residents are every day creating glimmers of beauty and goodness.”

“Douglas Todd has assembled some of Cascadia’s best thinkers and essayists to show how the Pacific Northwest’s stunning wilderness and in-tricate ecology have inspired modern environmental movements, a self-reliant secular spirituality, ethnic pluralism and rugged independence. As this volume reveals, something special is going on in Cascadia.” —Rex Weyler, author of Greenpeace: The Inside Story

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