Wednesday, January 25, 2017

CalExit + State of Jefferson = Ecotopia!

As the election results came in on the evening of November 8th, 2016… frustrated Westerners grew increasingly outraged. Their dissatisfaction was triggered as their votes were seemingly rendered non-impactful by the 3 hour time difference from the closing polls on the East Coast. By the time Washington State, Oregon and California’s (let alone the temporal laggard: Hawaii) Electoral College votes overwhelmingly went to Hillary… it was already too late. No one out West (but a select few) expected the apparent outcome that would elevate “the Donald” to President-elect status.

In the days that followed, massive protests erupted up and down the West Coast. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA… all mobilized a robust counter-strike against the Empire. Signage proclaiming: “Dump Trump” “Not my President” “Love trumps Hate” festooned the angry (yet, as always, somewhat festive) uprising. Although mostly peaceful… there was some violence. “Fuck Trump” and “Kill Trump” graffiti was marked on a block in Oakland before being set on fire, where more than 6,000 were part of what allegedly was one of the most violent protests. In Los Angeles, protesters blocked a freeway, started fires and waved Trump heads on sticks outside City Hall. 

Amid the rebellion, a group calling for California to secede from these United States was rekindled. Calls for “CalExit” began to circulate amongst the protesters. Yes California, a nonviolent campaign to establish the country of California using any and all legal and constitutional means to do so, had submitted a new petition asking voters to start the process. The Yes California Independence Campaign hopes to put a question on the November 2018 ballot authorizing an independence vote in spring 2019.

The group proposed the idea more than two years ago… but now that the Donald has won the presidential election, the CalExit movement is gaining serious traction. Yes California’s Vice President, Marcus Ruiz Evans says if a majority of Californians approved the measure proponents hope to make their case to the United Nations. One minor catch… the only way for California to legally secede would be to change the Constitution… which requires the approval of Congress and 38 states.

None the less… increasingly alienated Californians have had enough. This is not, however, the first such popular uprising out West…

State of Jefferson

Up in the “Frontier Counties” of Northern California (& Southern Oregon), there has for decades been an interstate secessionist movement brewing, intended to create the 51st State of Jefferson. The following is a description and brief history of the movement… 

After attempts in the mid 19th century at forming the State of Jefferson prior to becoming Oregon… and then again in the 1930s, citizens attempted the best known of such movements in the region. During 1940 and 1941, organizers attracted media attention by arming themselves and blockading Highway 99 (well before Ike Eisenhower’s militarized interstate highway system) to the south of Yreka, California, where they collected tolls from motorists and passed out proclamations of independence. When a California Highway Patrolman turned up on the scene, he was told to "get down the road back to California." 

The movement was created to draw attention to the area by proposing that Southern Oregon and Northern California secede from their respective State governments to form a separate State within the United States. A perceived lack of attention and resources from their state governments led to the adoption of a flag design bearing a gold pan and two X's, a "double cross." The movement quickly ended however after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. - Wikipedia

In recent years, the lack of adequate representation of California’s frontier counties in the state capitol: Sacramento, has resurrected the movement. Although Southern Oregon shares Northern California’s sentiment, the State of Jefferson is most visibly militant between Redding, CA and the CA/OR border. If the CalExit movement in Southern California is perceived as progressive in political slant, the State of Jefferson is equally conservative. The liberals in So Cal find their balancing counterpart in No Cal’s Tea-party ranching communities. Hey, it takes all kinds.

The entire West Coast’s alienation from the rest of the US of A... has been politically evident for decades. For the last 25 years, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii have consistently been a democratic stronghold… always showing a resounding Blue (indigo in CA) on the political map. Within the same timeframe, the West Coast’s international trading economy with Pacific Rim Countries grew larger than domestic trade with our own East Coast. The US West’s economic interests are literally more aligned with other Pacific Rim countries, such as Japan & S Korea, than they are with the US east coast.

Mount Hood, Oregon’s majestic 11,249 ft strato-volcano, is the second most photographed mountain in Japan (Mt Fuji is first). This fact illustrates the geo-political reality that the US west coast rightly belongs in the Pacific “ring of fire” economy, vs. the US east coast’s more EU aligned trans-Atlantic economy. 

The times being what they are… the idea of a 51st State of Jefferson may not go far enough for what is called for on the West Coast. The vision of an independent west coast did not begin with CalExit, however…  


Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston is a seminal utopian novel by Ernest Callenbach, published in 1975. The society described in the book is one of the first ecological utopias and was influential on the counterculture and the green movement in the 1970s and thereafter. The citizens of Ecotopia share a common aim: they seek a balance between themselves and nature.

Scientific discoveries in the fields of ecology and conservation biology, the urban-ecology movement, new approaches to urban planning, the renewable energy movement, were primary influences on Callenbach’s vision. Callenbach’s concept did not reject high technology (or any technology) as long as it did not interfere with the Ecotopian social order and serves the overall objectives. Members of his fictional society prefer to demonstrate a conscious selectivity toward technology, so that not only human health and sanity might be preserved, but also social and ecological wellbeing. - wikipedia


Cascadia is a bioregion and possible proposed country located within the western region of North America. Potential boundaries differ, with some drawn along existing political state and provincial lines, and others drawn along larger ecological, cultural, and economic boundaries.

The country is envisioned to consist of Washington, Oregon, portions of other U.S. states and British Columbia, Canada. At its maximum extent, Cascadia would stretch from coastal Southeast Alaska in the north into Northern California in the south, and inland to include parts of Idaho, Western Montana, Wyoming, and Yukon. More conservative proposed borders include the land west of the crest of Cascade Range, and the western side of British Columbia.

As measured only by the combination of present Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia statistics, Cascadia would be home to slightly more than 15 million people (15,105,870), and would have an economy generating more than US$675 billion worth of goods and services annually. This number would increase if portions of Northern California, Idaho, and Southern Alaska were also included. By land area, Cascadia would be the 20th largest country in the world, with a land area of 534,572 sq miles. - Wikipedia

Under some definitions, Cascadia is energy sufficient, due to the high propensity for renewable energy resources (mostly hydroelectric and geothermal) and supplies many other western states such as California and parts east with electricity.

The area from Vancouver B.C. down to Portland has been termed an emerging mega-region by the National Committee for America 2050, a coalition of regional planners, scholars, and policy-makers. This group defines a mega-region as an area where "boundaries  (between metropolitan regions) begin to blur, creating a new scale of geography." This megacity begins to mirror William Gibson’s “Sprawl” concept, albeit a West Coast version. 

Given the changing politico-economic environment, the 21st Century vision of Ecotopia/Cascadia would not only encompass the Pacific Northwest, it would include California and Hawaii. BC is considered... but might prove too entangling with our great ally and trading partner to the north: Canada. Adding California to the Ecotopia concept would add over 2 trillion dollars annually, creating a national economy that would arguably weigh in as one of the Planet’s top economic powerhouses. This would combine the natural resources, tourism and renewable energy economy of the Pacific Northwest, the Hawaiian Islands strategic location (and tourist economy) …to California’s mighty agricultural, entertainment and technology base. The combined economy would total well over 3 trillion dollars, annually.

In an era of Brexit, the Trump Presidency and the increasing Popularist, Nationalist tendencies, both domestic and abroad… it becomes increasingly evident that new alliances, new sovereignties, new loyalties are rapidly morphing.  What were once common interests are looking increasingly foreign. More and more, the American Midwest considers the West Coasters as elitist and... quite frankly... suspect.

Meanwhile… out West, Marijuana is not only legal for medicinal purposes… it is fast being legalized for recreational activity, as well. Western growers within the Humbolt growing region in N California, in Southern Oregon, not to mention Hawaii’s legendary “Maui Wowi” growers… have applied good-old yanky ingenuity to create the West Coast’s newest Multi-Billion Dollar Industry. Even as the mid-west and the Rust Belt brought Trump and his brand of “Newspeak” to power, the situation couldn’t be mellower… in Ecotopia.

The above scenario is more of a West Coast pipe dream, than a reality. As mentioned above… the only way for California to legally secede would be to change the Constitution… which requires the approval of Congress and 38 states. Based upon recent presidential election results and the anecdotal opinion of America’s heartland populations toward those crazy West Coasters (especially Californians)… it does not appear that the rest of the US would miss the West Coast at all.

One thing I know… the New Ecotopia wouldn’t need a wall to separate themselves from the rest of the States… Immigrants will be welcome! The new Ecotopian's border will be drawn by a mindset that marks the High Frontier. The new Ecotopians will identify their latitude with attitude!

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