Seminar Abstract

Eric de Place

Thursday, April 1, 2004
1:30 to 3:00

The Cascadia Scorecard: Seven key trends shaping the future of the Northwest

Over the past century, the Pacific Northwest -- the region encompassing British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and western Montana -- has changed dramatically: Northwesterners have multiplied their number ninefold, added three decades to their lives, and increased their economic output thirtyfold. Their cities and farms have spread across the most fertile lowlands in the region and their clearcuts, dams, and roads have transformed much of the rest.

These changes are extreme over decades but almost imperceptible day to day. But in most ways they shape the region's future more profoundly than fleeting, headline-grabbing events. Even the few indicators of long-term trends reported in the media -- the Dow Jones or the gross domestic product (GDP), for example -- are misleading. The GDP, for example, can rise even as economic security diminishes.

To fill this gap, Northwest Environment Watch (NEW) introduced the Cascadia Scorecard in March 2004, an index of seven key trends shaping the future of the Northwest. The Scorecard puts a spotlight on the long view and the questions that most matter over time: Are we living longer, healthier lives? Are we building strong human communities? Are we handing down to our children a place whose ecosystems are regenerating?

By highlighting the places who "score" best, the Scorecard will also offer a practical vision for a better Northwest. A first report on the Scorecard was published in March 2004, and will be published regularly thereafter. The seven trends include health, economy, population, energy, sprawl, forests, and pollution.

Speaker bio:
Eric de Place has a Masters degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. Eric spent two years working with the Northwest Area Foundation, based in St. Paul, Minnesota on regional economic development and poverty reduction, particularly in the Yakima Valley. Eric has been with Northwest Environment Watch for almost three years during which time he has researched and written on a wide variety of social and environmental trends including population growth, climate change, economic inequality, sprawl, and deforestation.

For more information on Northwest Environment Watch, visit