Today is the fifteen year anniversary of the founding of the Northwest Progressive Institute, which publishes this blog, the Cascadia Advocate.
At the time I started the Northwest Progressive Institute, I had been working in opposition to Tim Eyman’s initiative factory for about a year and a half. During those eighteen months, I made two important discoveries:
- It’s not enough to be against bad policies and bad actors like Tim Eyman and Donald Trump, nor is it satisfying to be on defense all of the time. People want to know what you are for — how you’d govern if given the chance.
- A massive infrastructure gap existed (and arguably still exists) between the right wing and the progressive movement.
These discoveries were very unsettling.
Towards the end of this eighteen month period, George W. Bush ordered American troops to invade Iraq under false pretenses — an action that Congress could have and should have opposed, but ended up going along with.
The invasion of Iraq helped galvanize what the late Molly Ivins called “the great liberal backlash of 2003”, which saw the founding of several new national progressive organizations and the strengthening of many existing ones.
Drawing inspiration from what I saw happening at the federal level, I decided to do my part to build progressive infrastructure here in the Pacific Northwest, figuring that our long term success absolutely depended on it.
As Gandhi said, you must be the change you want to see in the world.
Those wise words still ring true today. I couldn’t find a center for progressive thought working to equip activists with the intelligence needed to advance progressive causes, so I started building one.
And a decade and a half later, NPI remains under construction.
At the time it was founded, NPI had no money, no mailing list, no board, and no resources. All it had that first day was a web presence.
It would be a whole ‘nother year and a half before NPI was legally established as a nonprofit corporation. Talk about a humble beginning!
Today, NPI is a valuable center of progressive thought for the Pacific Northwest, serving activists, candidates, elected leaders, journalists, and the public.
We conduct research to gauge support for progressive ideas using surveys of our own design, provide essential intelligence to elected leaders and ballot measure coalitions working to advance progressive causes, and actively lobby for revenue reform and neglected causes that hardly anybody else is working on — like funding for geologic hazards research, which was one of our 2018 legislative priorities.
And, of course, through our Permanent Defense project, we continue to give Tim Eyman the vigorous, year-round opposition that he deserves.
Last month, on July 12th, the value of our many capabilities was on full display when we held a press conference in Seattle with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and five state legislators (Manka Dhingra, Jamie Pedersen, Roger Goodman, Laurie Jinkins, and our own Gael Tarleton) to announce our finding that 69% of Washingtonians surveyed prefer life in prison alternatives to the death penalty.
Bit by bit, NPI has been turning into the reframing hub and center for strategic progressive thought and long term thinking that I concluded our region needed all the way back in 2003. That would not have happened without the commitment of a great many people. As they say, it takes a village.
Nobody makes it on their own… there are no self-made individuals in this country or anywhere else, for this matter. We know this to be true because we are progressives. Empathy and mutual responsibility are our core values. We all get by with help from our friends… and our families… and our community.
The community of people who have come together to build NPI is truly incredible. To those Cascadia Advocate readers who have donated to support NPI’s work, thank you. I also want to recognize our current board and staff — Gael, Robert, Rick, Essie, Mario, Garrett, Diane, Keitha, Rennie, Greg, David, Theresa, Tammi, Alison, Caitlin, Brad, and Sungea — for their essential and invaluable contributions, as well as our members, who donate annually or monthly to support NPI.
Everyone who is a dues-paying member (including our awesome Commonwealth Bondholders) has played a special and instrumental role in NPI’s development.
If you are not a member, I invite you to take the next step and become one today. It’s easy: just follow this link and select a giving level, then complete the one-page form. You can choose to donate annually or monthly as a Bondholder. Even five dollars a month really helps.
At NPI, we are experts at stretching a dollar, so each membership represents great value to us. Every time a new member signs up is a cause for celebration.
We value all our members individually as opposed to only the cumulative power of lots of people giving small amounts.
When you become a member, you’re making a commitment to invest in NPI’s work.
That commitment is what drives our team to continue laying more bricks and reaching for new heights. And no matter what your giving level is, we will put your dues payment to work to accomplish progressive change. Count on it.
This Sunday is our Fifteenth Anniversary Picnic at Redmond’s Perrigo Park. Cooler marine air is rolling into the region and displacing the toxic smoke that has enveloped our region for much of the month. (Those east of the Cascades will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer for relief.) The forecast for this weekend calls for cooler temperatures and maybe even a few rain showers.
Given the smoky, yucky weather we’ve experienced, we’re not complaining. We fortunately have the biggest picnic shelter in Redmond, so there will be plenty of room under cover in the event it happens to be raining on Sunday evening. We are still accepting RSVPs for the picnic and we’d love to see you there.
If you will be joining us at Perrigo Park on Sunday evening, then I look forward to sharing some exciting and happy news about NPI’s future and the future of progressive infrastructure development at that time.
Again, readers, thank you so much for being part of the NPI community and for everything you do for progressive causes. The struggle continues. Let’s keep keeping on… we are the last, best hope for those coming after us.