NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

We’ve been revolutionizing grassroots politics for a decade and a half: NPI is fifteen today!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

We devel­op and main­tain nifty tools like our State­house Bill Track­er and Pacif­ic NW Por­tal to help activists make sense of the leg­isla­tive and elec­toral land­scapes.

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.

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    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local pol­i­tics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you: we have nev­er accept­ed adver­tis­ing or place­ments of paid con­tent.

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2 Comments

  1. Hap­py Anniver­sary, NPI!

    # by Kendra Geach :: August 27th, 2018 at 1:25 PM
  2. Con­grat­u­la­tions, NPI, on fif­teen years! Keep up the great work.

    # by Celeste Welsby :: September 17th, 2018 at 5:38 AM