Welcoming Cascadia Deaf Nation

Cascade Cooperatives is excited to welcome our newest member: Cascadia Deaf Nation!

Founded in February 2016, Cascadia Deaf Nation (CDN) is a social cooperative built on a hybrid model created for and by members of the BIPOC Deaf (BIPOCD*) community. CDN offers services and support for those who are identified as BIPOC Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind, and DeafDisabled, and it also sometimes helps incubate and support BIPOCD-led businesses.

Social cooperatives are an important part of many cooperative networks around the world, that allow social services to be managed using a less hierarchical model, thereby keeping control of the services in the hands of those who use them and the greater community.

Cascadia Deaf Nation was founded in 2016, and earlier this year, CDN moved into its new Meridian Street location in Bellingham.

During an open house in July, CDN co-founder Ashanti Monts-Tréviska discussed some of the difficulties faced by members of the BIPOC Deaf community here in Bellingham, including a recent incident that CDN responded to in which a Deaf person had the police called on them while trying to check into a Bellingham hotel room they had already paid for.

Cascadia Deaf Nation Founder, Ashanti Monts-Tréviska, offers a presentation at the CDN Open House on July 30. (photo by Hayley Steele)

“The hotel staff refused to create alternative effective communication approaches,” Monts-Treviska explained. Rather than switching to written communication, such as pen and paper writing, hotel staff refused to serve the person, and denied them access to their hotel room.

Unfortunately such instances are common in the BIPOC Deaf communities. Members of these communities also face housing discrimination and job discrimination. Cascadia Deaf Nation hopes to change that.

Members of Deaf communities engage in Zoom chat via American Sign Language (ASL) with those who attended the event remotely as part of the Cascadia Deaf Nation Open House on July 30. (photo courtesy of Hayley Steele)

Monts-Tréviska also discussed some of the visions for future projects that CDN Stewards and members are organizing in and beyond Whatcom County: obtaining buses with wheelchair ramps to help meet transportation needs within the BIPOCD* communities and the creation of a live-work space for CDN Stewards (worker-owners) and for BIPOC Deaf community members equipped with the DeafSpace tools that can help mitigate some of the effects of the of housing and job discrimination faced by members of the BIPOCD* communities.

CDN is also working to formalize its relationship with emergency services in Bellingham. Since the open house, there have already been two other incidents in which CDN provided services for BIPOC deaf people who had the police called on them while trying to access local businesses and public spaces. Visit Cascadia Deaf Nation’s website, Facebook, Instagram, MeWe, or Twitter.