Cracker Climate Refugees Coming to Cascadia

September 24, 2014
by Splabman

Was going over last year’s journal entry for this date and came across John Olson’s wonderful birthday poem for me, as well as some of his comments regarding my essay Organic In Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies. He said:

Dear Paul,

Birthday Acrostic for Paul by John Olson

Birthday Acrostic for Paul by John Olson

Glad you dug the acrostic. I quite enjoyed your essay. My head was spinning after I read it. It’s so full of ideas. All the quotes you’ve generously incorporated into your essay interrelate synergistically to create a  compelling case of resistance through process-oriented models of thought rather than the more orthodox and mechanistic views inculcated into our culture. Duncan’s statement about cooperating with language (“… I do not use language, I cooperate with language and that is a great distinction”), really speaks to me. And it supports, magnificently, the theme of your essay concerning issues of control, both in language and society, and how the right kind of poetry, the organic/organismic impulse given free rein, that trust in interrelation and otherness, can act as a pollinating force of multiple hymns & hives, fertilizing and energizing the “remarkable wilderness” of language, and the wilderness embraced and loved in its most literal sense, moss, mushrooms, and biomass combined…

Few people get my work so deeply, that it is a joy to read this a year later and gives me hope that there are successes on the way despite the grant applications missed and other disappointments in running a non-profit organization that seeks to work at a deep, radical and subtle way, too subtle for the folks who can easily navigate our increasingly materialistic and narcissistic world.

And by radical, I mean affecting at the root level. Federal governments in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, Canada, are increasingly out of touch with those outside the halls of power and that cluelessness is exacerbated by the distance of those power centers from our North American West Coast. That the U.S. is no longer a functioning democracy, as a recent Princeton study concluded, is quickly being mirrored in Canada with the push towards tar sands and the complete ecological devastation of those areas in Alberta. So the key lies in localism while we also embrace the fact that globalization and localism are happening simultaneously, as Peter Berg, the late advocate of bioregionalism understood. A sense of place AND a sense of planet are required at this time, as we develop empathy for those under the smart bombs launched by unconscious people and the climate refugees that will increasingly be part of the story of future cataclysmic climate events.

Peter Berg The Biosphere and the Bioregion

The Biosphere and the Bioregion

Reading the new book of Peter Berg‘s essential writings: The Biosphere and the Bioregion, the publisher points out in that their Environmental Humanities series operates with the understanding that all the world’s current crises are all crises of culture. I guess I understood this long ago, perhaps as early as 1994, when I quit my activism in the Democratic Party (I had been Chair of the 31st District Democrats) and became more active in poetry.

So I continue to write grant applications stressing my ongoing 20 year cultural investigation of Cascadia. And the 3rd Cascadia Poetry Festival is set for Nanaimo, BC, in 2015 and the group there is highly organized and motivated. I am working on the development of future local organizing committees in other Cascadia towns to host future iterations of the fest. I am working on an anthology of Cascadia poetry to be published next May, as well as a MOOC on innovative Cascadia poetry to happen through Cascadia Community College and Jared Leising.

And I was fascinated by a recent post by Cliff Maas, weatherman extraordinaire, who suggested that the Pacific Northwest will be a climate refuge as spots on the globe become inhospitable to human life even with all their groovy apps and technology. (I had already posted on this subject a year ago.) As Knute Berger summarizes the post at Crosscut:

“The Pacific Northwest is likely to experience relatively minor impacts from climate change compared to the rest of the country and many parts of the world,” concluded a 2011 study by The Resource Innovation Group at Portland State University. “However, it is likely that human migration patterns will shift, and potentially the Willamette Basin will experience growth from climate refugees.” In short, global warming could unleash a deluge of newcomers.

One map Maas posts is about cool, clear water. Not as tasty as Monster, Rock Star or Red Bull, but a handy ingredient for rice and beer and ugly bags of mostly water.

Water Availability

Water Availability (USGS)

And of course all this gets into the writing, even if in a neo-barroco/head-spinning (John Olson’s term) way. If writing is a map or graph of the mind moving, as Philip Whalen said of his work, then trying to graph the mind of a half-Cuban/Type A/energetic poet fascinated by the wilderness of the mind and all its non-local dimensions is quite a ride. (Not unlike my driving.) So, buckle up and enjoy my rants below addressed (in part) to those who’d come here with their guns, their fantasies about the “independent” cowboy of the Western U.S. (& Canada) and the other illusions burned into their one-dimensional consciousness by the industry-generated (anti) culture.

William Claxton - the lead marcher of the George Williams Brass Band in a parade, New Orleans, 1960.

William Claxton – the lead marcher of the George Williams Brass Band in a parade, New Orleans, 1960.

417. to Teresa Jarmick, Kenmore, WA  – Climate Refugee Secession


70. The Return of the Elwha King (1)

70. Return of the Elwha King (2)



  1. Kevin

    what a wonderful end to this the last, ‘don’t forget to say grace,’ perfect.

  2. Splabman

    Thanks for being a regular here, Kevin. I am engaged in an investigation of Cascadia culture and how it differs with Dixie or Southern U.S. culture and their hold on U.S. federal policies in general kinda sticks in my craw. So when their ignorance of the biosphere renders their part of the world inhabitable and they come here, they’ll need to adapt to our culture because we’re not warmongers and that is not just wars against Commies and Arabs and other perceived “others” but also means we do not engage in war against the planet. Very important to discuss Cascadia culture in advance of the inevitable invasion.

  3. David McCloskey

    Inspired rap on return of Elwha Kings!

  4. Splabman

    Thanks David. Got your map and letter. I hope to finish the Peter Berg book next week. Am meeting with folks in Portland tomorrow to see about a venue for CPF5 in 2017.

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