Anyone reading the Vancouver Sun this morning who is a Cascadian will certainly relate to the article on The Elusive Utopia. That includes Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia is the title of a new book by Douglas Todd. He asserts that Cascadians, more than most, find meaning in nature and in yearning for a fresh future. Having lived here for just over a year, I can attest to that.
Cascadia is remarkable for its mountains, evergreens, eagles, beaches and livable cities. It is named after the region’s cascading waterfalls and is also home to the least institutionally religious people on the continent. Nevertheless Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia argues that most of the 14 million residents of this rugged land are eclectically, informally, often deeply “spiritual.” They gain their sense of the sacred through the land, which in Cascadia, unlike in most parts of North America, is untamed and spectacular.
This is perhaps typified by the large photograph in the article of Eckhart Tolle, the Vancouver spiritual teacher much praised by Oprah Winfrey and author of the books, The Power of Now and A New Earth. He is shown sitting on a large tree stump with the striking panorama of Vancouver behind him.
Knute Berger has raised the question whether the Cascadian nature worship has a neurological basis.
The basic idea is that nature, unlike a city, is filled with inherently interesting stimuli (like a sunset, or an unusual bird) that trigger our involuntary attention, but in a modest fashion.
A walk in the woods is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex.
I am sure that many fellow Cascadians will relate to that.