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Erasing National Borders to Build A Trade Region

Movement strives to create a vast area in Northwest that will be known as Cascadia

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Mr. Schell and other Cascadia advocates say the days of national economies are numbered. They point to the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and decentralization of other nations as evidence that the "new regionalism" is here to stay.

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"We can do a better job of managing our resources at a Cascadia level," Schell says. "The message to nation states is that we hope you guys don't get us involved in a war - but, beyond that, you're irrelevant."

In response to this new perspective, Cascadia proponents have launched a series of bold agendas including:

* Meetings to find common solutions to timber, fishing, and other environmental problems.

* Promotion of "two-nation vacations" as part of a joint marketing strategy.

* Opening of US banks and law firms in Canada to establish links with Asian investment there.

* Sharing of business directories and research databases to promote networking.

* Workshops on differing US and Canadian trade regulations.

* Proposals for a regional arts festival, shared symphony orchestra, linking of college libraries, and a Cascadian major-league baseball team.

* Efforts to link Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland by high-speed train while preserving the urban corridor's quality of life.

"We're trying to prevent "Bos-Wash,' " says Washington Rep. John Miller (R), a proponent of corridor development, in reference to congestion between Boston and Washington, D.C. "We want to see our area grow in a dynamic, constructive way that preserves the amenities we have. Canada and the US have a relationship on which to build something like this."

Nevertheless, support for Cascadia is not unanimous. In Canada, separatist movements remind some officials of Quebec's bid for secession: and the "new regionalism" gives a few British Columbians nightmares about invading US hordes. Oregonians wary

Meanwhile, some Oregonians are concerned that a Cascadian alliance will obscure their doggedly individual identity. Others say public policies are best handled at more localized levels.

"There are a lot of areas where states have to, and will, retain their jurisdiction over certain activities," says Terry Morlan, a hydroelectric manager with the Portland-based Northwest Power Planning Council.

"That doesn't mean there aren't benefits for cooperation. But I think it would be a long time before we came to a state of Cascadia," he adds.

Proponents insist that individual sovereignty and regional affiliation can exist side by side.

"Governors will still be governors and states will still tax and regulate," says David Harrison, executive director of the Northwest Policy Center in Seattle. "What Cascadia is built on is a doctrine of the value of shared circumstances - that if you start figuring out what you can learn from across state and provincial lines, you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you put your shoulder to the cart.