The Doug flag, also referred to as the Cascadian flag or the Cascadia Doug flag and nicknamed "Old Doug" or simply "the Doug", is one of the primary symbols and an unofficial flag of the Cascadia bioregion, which roughly encompasses the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, the Canadian province of British Columbia, and other parts of North America's Pacific Northwest. It was designed by Portland, Oregon native Alexander Baretich in 1994.
Conception and description
The Doug flag was designed by Portland, Oregon native Alexander Baretich in 1994. He recalled:
I designed the Cascadian flag, aka the Doug, way back in the mid 1990s when I was a graduate student studying in Eastern Europe. Though I totally love the people, cultures and landscape of Eastern Europe, I was deeply homesick for the forests of Cascadia, specifically the Willamette Valley forests I grew up around. One day as I sat on a hill with my companion, I had this vision of a flag where the Cascadian landscape came to mind. Prior to the design and its popularity, the idea of Cascadia–specifically the bioregion–was pretty much an abstract concept reserved for radical geographers and hip sociologists. The flag conveys something far more tangible than an abstract concept of demarcation of space; the flag captures that love of living communities in our bioregion. Unlike many flags, this is not a flag of blood, nor of the glory of a nation, but a love of the bioregion; our ecological family and its natural boundaries; the place in which we live and love.
According to CascadiaNow!, an organization "dedicated to cultivating a resilient and inclusive Pacific Northwest community that honors the values of bioregionalism through stewardship and civic engagement", the flag symbolizes "the natural beauty and inspiration that the Pacific Northwest provides, and is a direct representation of the bioregion". It consists of three horizontal stripes of blue, white, and green, with a single Douglas fir tree in the center. The blue stripe represents the sky, Pacific Ocean, Salish Sea, and inland waters. The white represents clouds and snow and the green represents the region's fields and evergreen forests. The tree symbolizes "endurance, defiance and resilience against fire, flood, catastrophic change and even against the anthropocentric Man". According to Baretich and CascadiaNow!, "all these symbols of color and images come together to symbolize what being Cascadian is all about."
Since its inception, Baretich's design has gained popularity and earned status as the unofficial flag of Cascadia. In 2014, Kelton Sears of Vice Media said the flag "quickly became the dominant symbol of the nascent Cascadian identity", appearing on microbreweries' beer labels and at local events, including Portland Timbers games, gay pride parades, environmental protests, and activities affiliated with the Occupy movement. The flag appears on boxes of beer from Phillips Brewing in Victoria, British Columbia. The Seattle-based folk band Fleet Foxes included the flag on the back of their 2011 studio album Helplessness Blues.
In 2015, Baretich expressed his hope that his designs "will not be used for hate, exploitation, and against the values or principles of bioregionalism". Furthermore, he said, "In seeking out a bioregional flag, I believe that it's the bioregion that will capture the artist—not the artist capturing the bioregion."