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A Festival about What Works? Done!

Join a free, week-long celebration of good things happening in our bioregion. Welcome to Salmon Nation.

Ian Gill 9 Nov

Ian Gill is a journalist, author, conservationist and contributing editor at The Tyee. He is a co-founder of Salmon Nation. He lives in Vancouver and Clayoquot Sound.

What better time than the fractured present to imagine how we might live and work together in ways that build on community trust and collaboration?

With the very idea of nationhood being challenged in every corner of the globe, with our ecosystems under stress as never before, let’s celebrate a different kind of “nation.”

Let’s explore the promise of Salmon Nation, a nature state that stretches from northern California to the North Slope of Alaska. In Salmon Nation, people everywhere are meeting the challenges of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic in innovative and positive ways.

Our inaugural online festival is aimed at showcasing how we can accelerate a vibrant and growing movement towards healthier, localized, more regenerative economies and communities — and have fun doing it! Our region is already a hotbed of creativity and experimentation. Our aim is to identify who and what you know to invest time, energy and money towards building a bioregion where people, culture and nature all thrive.

These times can feel overwhelming. Many of us ask ourselves how we can create real, lasting change in our communities and beyond in the face of increasing crises. The truth is that thousands of people already are — including those who may not know it, or be recognized for doing it. The festival of What Works offers practical, achievable models for how we can support our local communities, whether through better community planning, localized food production, storytelling or advocacy. Let’s talk about what works — then replicate it.

The festival, which is free to attend (registration is required), runs from Nov. 15-22. Panelist, performers and participants include author Wade Davis, renowned carver Tuutahkʷiisnupšiƛ Joe Martin, rock band Portugal. The Man, celebrity chef Annita McPhee, Indigenous podcaster Ryan McMahon, food entrepreneurs Arzeena Hamir, Kevin Morse and Shantae Johnson, author Harold R. Johnson, Elder Gerry Oleman, author Eden Robinson, forest defender Gisele Martin, wild salmon advocate Homiskanis Don Svanvik, human rights scholar and advocate Napaġiak Dalee Sambo Dorough… and so it goes (as Kurt Vonnegut would say).

Learn more and sign up for free by clicking here.

And browse festival highlights below…

Just some of the lineup for Salmon Nation’s inaugural What Works Festival.


Seeding a restoration economy

What if we had the ability to restore forest health and mitigate climate change in a way that is economically viable and culturally appropriate? What if we did so in a way that not only restores land, but contributes to skills development, employment training and job security? Indigenous wilp (house) members in the inland temperate rainforest of B.C. are eager to engage in land-based work. A new, female-led company promises to offer just that while monitoring and restoring the health of vibrant interior forests. Learn about Seed the North’s unique marriage of business and community development, and its potential to be replicated in other forest communities with founder and CEO Natasha Kuperman.

BIPOC Farming

The call for equality and justice has never been more acute. Leaders from four Portland-area farms — Good Rain Farm, Black Futures Farm, Happiness Family Farm and Mudbone Grown — explore why BIPOC farming is essential to disrupting the status quo, and the importance of representation in agriculture. They’ll share the barriers they have faced, and practical ways to overcome systemic challenges, including land access, programs that lend support to BIPOC farmers, and how to build community both on the farm and in the region. And they’ll discuss what they’re doing as farmers to increase food security and sovereignty in their communities.

An End to Engineered Fish
Presented in partnership with Friends of Clayoquot Sound

This in-depth conversation between remarkable scientists, activists, Indigenous stewards and community leaders will explore the consequences of fish farms on local ecosystems — and how we can save our wild salmon and communities moving forward. Hear how scientists are tracking the latest realities of salmon stock; stories of blockade protests against fish farms; explanations of how wild salmon conservation is working in Indigenous communities across Salmon Nation; and more. It’s by using an integrated approach to learning, advocacy and regeneration that we can shape the future of our coastal waters.

Stock of Ages: Wild Salmon with Ray Troll

It’s like David Attenborough meets Bill Bryson: Ray Troll is beloved across Salmon Nation — and beyond — for his “scientific surrealism.” A visual artist whose quirky, stunningly detailed artwork of fish and other creatures has popularized science and increased public engagement with our natural world.

In this rollicking, hilarious evening, Ray will introduce clips from the film The Breach that animate his depiction of the lifecycle of salmon, before guiding us through the history of wild salmon in a whimsical, fascinating adventure of art.

A Conversation between Eden Robinson and Wade Davis

How do we relearn how to be in the world? One way is to listen to our storytellers, and what better than to eavesdrop on a conversation between celebrated author Eden Robinson, and one of our most articulate explorers, Wade Davis. Hear about the importance of writing from place, in an exclusive conversation between Eden and Wade.

Food Democracy at Scale

How do we scale local food production not only across geography but across institutions? What does food security look like when viewed through the lens of local jobs, local ecosystems and long-term investment in our region?

Three agricultural experts and entrepreneurs discuss how they were able to scale their food security work in their watershed. Kevin Morse is CEO of Washington state’s Cairnspring Mill, which demonstrates the central role community and authentic food like flour plays in life through a unique model working with local grain producers. Arzeena Hamir owns Amara Farm and is an elected representative of B.C.’s Comox Valley Regional District, and has transformed local policies to ensure local food is served in local schools. Cory Carman is a fourth-generation Oregon rancher who holistically manages 5,000 acres which serve as a model for sustainable meat. Join us for three case studies of transformational success and practical ideas for replicating it.

Portugal. The Man in Concert

One of the coolest bands in Salmon Nation, Portugal. The Man’s irresistible, boundary-breaking works of electro-rock-pop are a foundation for using music as activism: raising $1 million for instruments in schools throughout the U.S.; donating proceeds to the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation; and founding the PTM Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that primarily focuses on funding causes related to Indigenous peoples' communities. They are the 2019 recipient of the Native American Music Awards. They’ll speak to art as activism — and the relationship between music and justice — in a compelling pre-recorded interview with band member, Zach Carothers and a screening of a live-recorded What Works PTM performance!

Reimagining Philanthropy

Philanthropy needs to change with the times — and fast. How do we invest, now, in people and practices that bring human activity more in tune with natural systems? How do we create trust-based mechanisms for funding real change, systems change, to respond to the twin crises of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic? Hear from leading fundraisers, donors and legal experts about a radical reimagining of philanthropy that the times demand.

More programming will be announced as details are confirmed. Festival registration is now open.

We don’t claim to know everything that’s happening in our bioregion, so the festival is both a showcase — a “storytelling,” if you will — of remarkable people doing remarkable things to make our communities stronger, and an invitation to everyone in the bioregion to participate in keeping our corner of world as big and wild and welcoming and remarkable as we know it to be. All we need from you is an open mind, a dash of curiosity and best of all, a good story to tell.

WATCH: To learn about a new network linking next economy innovators in our bioregion.


The place: From the redwoods of northern California to the North Slope of Alaska, Salmon Nation is home to big cities, towns, small villages — and big wild places. Rich, diverse, generous — Salmon Nation’s abundant ecosystems provide everything we need to provide essential services for everybody.

The people: Local people are the creators of tremendous innovation and opportunity in Salmon Nation. Our human network is a search engine for practical and replicable ways to live well in place. We are the sum of our shared stories.

Our purpose: Salmon Nation exists to accelerate a vibrant and growing movement towards healthier, localized, more regenerative economies and communities.  [Tyee]

Read more: Indigenous, Environment

This article is part of a Tyee Presents initiative. Tyee Presents is the special sponsored content section within The Tyee where we highlight contests, events and other initiatives that are either put on by us or by our select partners. The Tyee does not and cannot vouch for or endorse products advertised on The Tyee. We choose our partners carefully and consciously, to fit with The Tyee’s reputation as B.C.’s Home for News, Culture and Solutions. Learn more about Tyee Presents here.

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