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Collecting our History of Sister Cities

The day that City Hall closed down, our Liaison Debbie Bingham was told to work from home. It was the same day that we were scheduled to begin our research into the Sister Cities boxes that have been stored in the City’s Basement for many years. It couldn’t happen.

Fortunately, Sylvia Sass had generously donated to us her personal papers and photos of 60 plus years of Tacoma Sister Cities activities. Our intern, Timofey Abramov, organized many of those documents into decades, starting in the 1950’s. I brought the files home and have discovered so many treasures.

The very first letter sent to a group of Tacomans suggesting which cities in Japan they might consider as partner. The actual words Ronald Reagan spoke on the 10th Anniversary of Sister Cities International (then it was the Town Affiliation Conference) in Washington DC. Old Committee membership lists. Documents of the National League of Cities, the original sponsor of Sister Cities. Scores of newspaper articles about TSC activities and the gift of a 35 foot tall Totem Pole to our first Sister City.

Did you know there is a Shinto Shrine, gift of Kitakyushu, in Point Defiance Park? (I jumped in the car to go find it only to be met by locked gates and a closed Park.) Can you guess which University is the Sister University of U.P.S.?

Being a resourceful and flexible Citizen Diplomat, consider this a special time to reflect on the history of your Committee, write down some of the important dates and activities and remember some of your favorite stories. Write them down or record them on your smartphone for an intern to write down. Or use your phone to make a video recording of some of your best memories.

We have the first draft of a Tacoma Sister Cities timeline but it needs everybody’s input.

Send anything you have to clare@tacomasistercities.org .

We have an incredible history to be proud of and to share with all of Tacoma!

By Clare Petrich, Chair TSC Council

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