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Meet Cascadia Underground: A new media collective with digital tools to rally people around issues like net neutrality

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(Cascadia Underground Photo)

A new media collective is launching in Seattle, born out of a war between progressive activists and white supremacists over what it means to call yourself Cascadian.

Brandon Letsinger is the founder CascadiaNow, a non-profit that supports individuals and organizations promoting environmental stewardship, inclusion, and other causes in the communities clustered around the Cascade mountains. Earlier this year, he saw white supremacist groups, like True Casacadia, appropriating the words and symbols associated with the movement. CascadiaNow wanted to respond in a big way.

“Most of us felt the best way to do that was to create a group, which could be a little bit more radical, but also work to include voices and faces that maybe hadn’t been present in the Cascadia movement yet,” Letsinger said.

He and some of his colleagues launched Cascadia Underground, a group that uses technology and digital media to help people in the Northwest get involved with political causes.

The site launched Sunday with a Net Neutrality Action Kit. It’s a guide for Pacific Northwesterners to pressure their lawmakers and the FCC not to roll back regulations that require internet providers to offer the same speed of service to all sites. The toolkit has sample content to send to representatives, instructions for commenting with the FCC, information on where leaders in the region stand on net neutrality, and other resources. Letsinger says this is just the beginning.

“It can be very overwhelming and very fatiguing to try and figure out ways to plug in, so making those tools easy and accessible for people is really important,” he said. “But more than that, we live in these new digital ecosystems where the world changes very quickly on a day-to-day basis. We want to have the capacity to really confront that.”

The site will be fully operational at the beginning of 2018, with additional toolkits and video and multimedia content, Letsinger says. Cascadia Underground is operating out of a shared space with Horizon Books in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Cascadia Underground will continue updating its net neutrality toolkit in the days leading up to the nationwide day of action Dec. 7 and FCC vote on Dec. 14.

“We want to make sure that we’re putting out these kits for different issues as they arise,” Letsinger said. “We want to have a very swift response.”

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