Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton announced a proposal that will establish a Siblings Cities USA agreement between Bloomington and the city of Palo Alto, California, during a conference with Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois Tuesday.
As the first domestic relationship of its kind, Siblings Cities establishes a relationship between two cities in the United States seeking to promote community development, engage in civic dialogue and discuss public policy.
Both Bloomington and Palo Alto city councils will decide whether to approve of the agreement. Palo Alto is expected to make a decision by Nov. 15 after which the Bloomington city council will make their decision.
“On behalf of the Bloomington City Council, we are proud to be on the leading edge of a collaboration that is designed to promote civil exchange across differences in our country," Bloomington City Council President Jim Sims said.
This pilot program would adhere to three pillars that would dictate the goals of the agreement: community, commerce and civil discourse. Vicki Veenker, a Palo Alto attorney and IU graduate founded this program and its principles.
Bloomington and Palo Alto will form committees, composed of local representatives from their respective governments, service organizations, schools and universities. These committees will convene to report their respective progress of the new program after one year.
Bloomington will create a steering committee to administer the program locally and Neighbors Abroad, a Palo Alto non-profit, will oversee the program there. Karen Fernande, past board president of WonderLab Museum of Science and local attorney, has been selected as a coordinator to manage the day-to-day activity of the program in Bloomington, and Andie Reed from Palo Alto will run the program in Palo Alto.
Hamilton and DuBois both voiced their intention of advancing this relationship as soon as possible. The cities are expected to exchange visits as early as 2022.
“I believe this new relationship can significantly benefit the residents of our respective communities for years to come, with mutual learning and collaborations,” Hamilton said during the conference.