The Sister City Association of Sarasota 


A Brief History

The history of the Sister City Association of Sarasota (SCAS) really had its beginning in Washington, D.C. in 1956 during the United States presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was Eisenhower, who after serving as the Allied Supreme Commander of the armies of Europe during World War II, and viewing the horrific devastation of human life and property resulting from that tragic moment in world history, thought there just might be a better way to a lasting peace – trying “citizen diplomacy” rather than “governmental diplomacy”, which had unfortunately resulted in continuing conflicts over the many centuries of humankind.


“Citizen diplomacy” in Eisenhower’s way of thinking was an actual “eyeball to eyeball” interfacing of everyday citizens, meeting personally on each others “turf” (in the U.S. and overseas); learning how each lived, carried on their daily lives, overcame whatever challenges they faced, to bring about an enhanced understanding, and thus respect, of all global citizens. It was envisioned this could be accomplished through exchanges (visitations) of citizens, engaged in the arts, business, civic activities (service clubs, boy/girl scouts, etc), education, sports and government.

Seven years later, in 1963, the Sister City Association of Sarasota SCAS) was formed under the leadership of Dallas Dort and Mayors Marshall Marable and John Binns and the Sarasota City Commission. Considered the “International Arm” of the city of Sarasota, SCAS is headquartered in Sarasota’s City Hall, overseen by the City Clerk and Auditor, and currently receives a stipend from the city which assists in enabling its extensive international citizen exchanges.



Our Sister Cities

Sarasota’s first sister city, circa 1963, was Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Citizen exchange visits began and a street was named in each city for the other community (the block-long Santo Domingo Avenue runs parallel to the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Sarasota). The initial relationship was viewed enthusiastically and cultural and commercial exchanges resulted in a fire truck, medicine, medical supplies and office equipment being sent from Sarasota; an internship was created by Mote Marine laboratories for a marine biologist; school equipment and books were sent to Santo Domingo following a devastating hurricane, County Commissioner David Mills traveled there to represent Sarasota at the Third Western Hemispheric Forum held in Santo Domingo and finally a baseball tournament involving teams from Hamilton, Canada, Santo Domingo and Sarasota was held. However, in later years, activity diminished for lack of citizen exchanges coming to Sarasota and Santo Domingo was placed in “emeritus” status (inactive) in 2002.

Because of the somewhat lanquid Santo Domingo relationship over many years, local interest in the sister cities movement was at a low point until Hope Byrnes as president and Senator Robert Johnson, board chair, assumed office in 1994. Just six short years later, before the end of the 20th century, four foreign cities “twinned” with Sarasota, including:

Hamilton, Canada (1990) (now emeritus)

Perpignan, France (1994)


Vladimir, Russia (1994)

Tel Mond, Israel (1999)

Since the year 2000, four additional cities have created a formal “sister city” relationship with the Sister City Association of Sarasota. They include:

Dunfermline, Scotland (2002)

Treviso, Italy (2007)

Siming District, 
Xiamen, China (2007)

Merida, Mexico (2011)


The SCAS Organization

SCAS maintains a 501©3 federal tax-exempt status; its expenditures are exempt from state sales tax upon presentation of “Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption” form. In recent years, SCAS, has revised its organizational structure to insure continual exchanges between Sarasota’s citizens and the citizens from its active sister cities, by creating an expanded board of directors, now including a president, secretary and treasurer; the position of “past president”, seven vice presidents, seven city directors, an “events coordinator” (who creates local events to keep our membership informed and interested), a “protocol director” to ensure we are aware of the proper manner in which to host foreign guests and a “youth representative” who keeps area youth informed and interested in international affairs and the work of SCAS.

While the president, secretary and treasurer conduct and record the meetings, business and finances of SCAS, the primary annual “exchanges”, the reason SCAS exists, are the responsibilities of the city directors, with major assistance from the vice presidents who are responsible for maintaining local contacts that can assist when our foreign visitors are in Sarasota.

SCAS operates under a defined set of bylaws, which include job descriptions for each position on the board. Frequent updates of these two documents help us keep pace with our rapidly changing world. For current documents, see

The SCAS is a longtime member of Sister Cities International (SCI), headquartered in Washington D.C. and a current SCAS member (Ronald Gossett) is a member of that board.

Special Events, International Awards

Among the most active “chapters” in Florida, the SCAS has hosted three Florida state annual conventions in May of the following years:

1995 . . . Directed by Hope Byrnes

2005 . . . Directed by Linda Rosenbluth

2013 . . . Directed by John (Tom) Halbert

Recognition by Sister Cities International has also come in three’s (to date)

1998 . . . Best Youth Program Award (Video Boot Camp)

All five sister cities involved

2002 . . . Best Overall Program Award (Dunfermline Signing Ceremony)

All five sister cities involved

2014 . . . First Prize: Innovation: Energy/Sustainability Development - Directed by VP Ray Young

Speakers from six of our sister cities participating 







Bill Wallace, 

Past President











Perpignan, France


Exchanges 2005 -  2013

Sarasota    ­Perpignan


2013:


In association with our Alliance Member, Alliance Francaise, we helped find an intern from the Perpignan area who is spending four months as an intern at Alliance Francaise. Four young students from Perpignan spent two weeks with home host families in Sarasota and attended classes at Pine View. A university of Perpignan professor, Xavier Py, spent a week in Sarasota as apresenter and participant at the Sarasota Sister Cities International Sustainability Conference.

Three families heavily involved in the Perpignan ­ Sarasota Sister Cities alliance spent a total of more than three weeks in Sarasota participating in several events, including theInternational Sustainability conference. One of the families was home hosted. A Sarasota Sister Cities member (Marie des Neige Grossas) spent the summer in Perpignan and had very productive meetings with Perpignan representatives.

2012:

Two students from Perpignan spent two weeks during the summer in Sarasota aspart of a family to family exchange. A student from Perpignan was home hosted with a family in Sarasota as part of a Family to Family Exchange and the Sarasota student spent two weeks with the Perpignan student's family


2011:

Seven SSCA members were invited to attend, as guests, the dedication and opening of the grand new performing arts center in Perpignan, and also had meetings with the Perpignan Chamber of Commerce, the University of Perpignan's solar energy department, the dedication of a very large solar panel array in the Saint Charles Distribution center, a luncheon meeting with Perpignan business leaders and a reception/dinner with representatives of Perpignan's other sister cities from Israel, Algeria, Germany, and England.


2010:

A graduate student from Perpignan came to Florida to attend graduate school, and to work. Through SSCA he found a job and a place to live, as well as transportation. Eighteen Riverview students spent thanksgiving vacation hosted by families in Perpignan. The students attended classes at Lycee Pablo Picasso, and toured the Pyrenees Oriental. Some of the Sarasota students experienced snow, and saw mountains for the first timein their lives.

Two representatives of SSCA spent several weeks in Perpignan meeting with city officials , teachers and Lycee Pablo Picasso students who were guests of SSCA in the fall of 2009.


2009:

Two SSCA members spent several weeks in Perpignan working with city officials, teachers and others to plan the 2009 fall exchange for Lycee Pablo Picasso students to spend a week in Sarasota. From November 7­ 15, 2009, Twenty four Lycee Pablo Picasso students and four teachers spent the week in Sarasota deeply immersed in educational, tourism and the arts of Sarasota. All of the students and teachers were home hosted.


2008:

Eight students, along with two chaperons, representing several of the Sarasota high schools and the Sarasota Sailor Circus, were guests of the City of Perpignan as part of a week ­long Catalan Culture Festival. The Sarasota students were all experienced in performing arts, and as part of the festival they had to create their own performances. An engineering student, who came to Sarasota as part of a work study program, needed help finding a place to live, and transportation. When he arrived at the Sarasota airport he was met and shown around the city. SSCA members stayed in touch with him and hosted him on several occasions. He is still in periodic communication with us, which is one of the rewards of involvement in SSCA

2007:

An SSCA group of 25 participants toured Perpignan, Barcelona, Carcassonne, and the Pyreenes Oriental. The City of Perpignan hosted a welcome dinner and a farewell reception. Some of the travelers chose home hosting.

2006:

Two members of the Sarasota/Perpignan committee traveled to Perpignan and spent a week working with officials on future exchanges.

2005:

Two Sarasota Sister City / Perpignan committee members had an initial meeting with Perpignan officials to discuss the then current status of the relationship and future possibilities.

2003:

 Visit to Perpignan by Mayor Palmer and Barbara Hopkins







Harry Dunn 
12.02, 2013


Tel Mond, Israel

Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) has eight sister cities. Tel Mond Israel is one of Sarasota’s eight sister cities. The mission of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota is to foster international relationships between Sarasota and cities that have similar interests by creating exchanges in areas of culture, education, tourism, business, and government.

Tel Mond is located in the beautiful Sharon Valley. Although it is a regional center, it is surrounded by orange groves in a lovely pastoral setting. Like Sarasota, it is a growing community which supports cultural interests. Tel Mond was founded in 1929 by Sir Alfred Moritz Mond, a former British president of the British Zionist Federation. In the beginning there was only sand. The first settlers arrived from Eastern Europe. In 1948, the second major wave of immigrants came from the Arab lands of Iran, Iraq, and Yemen. In 1982, Tel Mond became part of a program called Project Renewal conceived by then Prime Minister Manachen Begin. Project Renewal was formed to rehabilitate distressed areas of the country. 


Tel Mond was twinned with the Jewish community of Sarasota. Coordination, visitations, exchanges, and dialogue between many citizens in the community brought a new understanding to relationships within both communities. This commitment was extended through various visits and special projects. 


In 1995, Sarasota Mayor David Merrill encouraged Sarasota to explore including Tel Mond in the SCAS program. In March 1998, the International Sister Cities meeting was held in Jerusalem and Sarasota Mayor Gene Pillot went to Tel Mond with some Sarasota residents for a meeting with Moshe Babel-Pour (Executive Director of Matnas Center in Tel Mond), and Shlomo Ratzabi (Tel Mond Mayor) for the official signing of the proclamation to establish a permanent relationship between the two cities. In 1999, Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi headed a delegation to Sarasota to complete the official Sister City proclamation process with Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamore. Sarasota and Tel Mond residents have had many exchanges.

In the 1980s and 1990s, high school students from Tel Mond were camp counselors in Sarasota. In the 1990s, college students from Sarasota were camp counselors in Tel Mond. Many trips have been coordinated by various groups in Sarasota to visit Israel and Tel Mond is often on the itinerary. Singing and dance groups from Tel Mond have performed in Sarasota for large audiences at the Van Wezel and the Bea Friedman Auditorium as well as area schools.


In 1998, Sister Cities International selected the SCAS Video Boot Camp as the Best Youth Program Camp. The Video Boot Camp involved students from Santo Domingo, Hamilton, Perpignan, Vladimir, Tel Mond, and Sarasota. This camp was initially planned for Tel Mond to encourage its youth to enter the field of cable communications but was open to all of Sarasota’s Sister Cities. In the end, 20 students from the Sister Cities and four area Sarasota high schools were able to mesh their different cultures.

In 1996, Tel Mond resident Bat-Chen was killed on her 15th birthday by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center. Bat-Chen had always wanted to be a writer. After her death, her parents gathered her diaries and published a book. Her mother visited Sarasota and spoke about her daughter’s book in Sarasota’s schools and community.
In 2001, students participated in Pen Pal programs, City In A Box program, and four Tel Mond students became the first international winners of Florida Studio’s Young Playwright Festival.

In 2004, Tel Mond participated in a Children’s Art Exhibition at Ringling College of Art and Design.

In 2005, Sid Krupkin, a SCAS member, and Elie Matstree of Tel Mond combined to compose “Sarasota and Tel Mond” and became the first Sarasota Sister City to have a song written about the relationship between the two cities.

In 2006, Tel Mond was the first international city to participate in the Embracing Our Differences exhibit on Sarasota’s Bayfront and has had several winners over the years.

In 2007, a Sarasota resident visited a Tel Mond home filled with photographs of Tel Mond. These photos prompted the idea to have a photo contest among Sarasota and all of its Sister Cities. In 2009, the 60 winning international photos were displayed at a “People and Places” exhibit at the Ringling College of Art and Design. Currently, 16 of these photos hang in the Sarasota City Hall.

In 2013, SCAS hosted an International Conference on “Sustainability through Renewable Energy & Aquaculture” at the University of South Florida in Sarasota. Representatives from six of our nine sister cities and from four area colleges and universities gave presentations at the conference. Over 300 people were in attendance. The theme for the first day of the conference was Sustainability Concepts and Practices; in this session Professor Ori Lahav, the Sister City delegate for Tel Mond provided an enlightening presentation on “Improving the Quality of Desalinated Seawater”. Professor Lahav is planning to develop cooperative work with Dr. Kevan Main, the Director of the Mote Marine Laboratory Aquaculture Facility in Sarasota.

In April 2014, a group of thirteen visitors participated in a special SCAS delegation to Tel Mond and other parts of Israel. The group met with Mayor Roni Golan, Council members, and various members of the community. Meeting with the group, Mayor Golan pledged an active relationship with Sarasota and Tel Mond. The delegation shared a unique Shabbat experience with families in Tel Mond. A special ceremony recognized the previous winners of the Florida Studio Theatre Young Playwrights program. Certificates were presented to the former winners and the teacher who led the program. 




  
__________________________

Linda Rosenbluth past president of SSCA and first City Director for Tel Mond, Israel and her husband, Bob, were visiting Tel Mond with Smadar Dromy, former chair of Tel

Mond’s Sister City Committee, on the day of Giliad Shalit’s release in October 2011.



The swap that traded 1000 Palestinians for one soldier was not without controversy within the general population of Israel. Despite the debate, Smadi’s comment Linda thought reflected the thoughts of all Israeli’s that day. Smadi said that it was like a stone was taken from everyone’s heart. On that day Giliad was everyone’s son. Signs and flags were out all over Israel welcoming Giliad home. Udi Segal, one of the students who visited Sarasota and is now a correspondent for Israel’s. Channel 2 news covered the event.



With her three children Smadi and Linda watched the controversial interview by Shahira Amin, Egypt’s most famous TV journalist, of Giliad on Egyption TV before his helicoper flight to an army base in northern Israel. On the plane Gilliad was checked by an Israeli IDF doctor.  Prime Mister Netanyhu, Defense Minister Barak, as well as his Mother and Father greeted Gilliad as he disembarked from the plane.



After a medical checkup Giliad was flown home where his neighbors welcomed him home with flags and signs along the road leading to his house and from the windows and porches along the way too.



Linda said each visit to Israel is special but this was a unique experience. It was a deeply emotional time in Israel and being among our friends in Tel Mond has enabled her to develop an even deeper understanding of life in Israel.


Two interesting facts


To protect the family’s privacy there was only one photographer and one videographer that were allowed to cover this event.

Any pictures or video had to be approved by the family.


Giliads mother had a big bowl of Bomba his favorite snack food waiting for him on his arrival (Bomba is like our cheese curls in the US but it is made out of peanuts and sometimes is filled with peanut butter or chocolate).








Linda Rosenbluth
































Pictoral History

Gayle Maxey
We have a great pictoral history of Sarasota Sister Cities created by Gayle Maxey and Tom Halbert.

Click to see our Pinterest Page:

https://www.pinterest.com/sarasotasister/

Past Presidents

Past Presidents

Sister Cities Association of Sarasota


Dallas Dort 1963-1967


Donald Spivey 1968-1975


Wells Purmort 1976-1985


Julio Claret 1989-1991


Asim Mohammed 1992-1994


Hope Byrnes 1995-2000


Linda Rosenbluth 2001-2005


William Wallace 2006-2007


Carla Rayman 2008-2011


John Halbert 2011-2013


Beth Ruyle Hullinger 2014-2015




Stories About Sarasota Sister Cities

History - From Our Web Site By Tom Halbert

History Cultural Coast Sister Cities



Sarasota, on Florida’s Cultural Coast is home to the greatest concentration of natural beauty, art museums and galleries; an abundance of theaters; performing halls featuring orchestra, opera, choruses; film production, and educational centers that make this remarkable city an important venue of creativity. The wealth of cultural resources and creativity in Sarasota match well with the diversity of our sister cities relationships that began in 1963 in response to President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision to enhance worldwide understanding one handshake at a time. Sarasota’s citizen diplomats are involved daily in sister city outreach building bridges toward world peace.

In 2002, Sister Cities International awarded the Sarasota Sister City Association a best “overall achievement” award in bringing together all of our sister cities into a three-dimensional relationship. To celebrate Sarasota’s Centenary and also sign the Dunfermline twinning, members from all cities, many of them participating in home stays, gathered in Sarasota to get to know one another. The City of Sarasota, under the aegis of former president Hope Byrnes, has planted a tree for every Sister City where they can be enjoyed on the Island Walk in Bay Front Park.

Also at the beginning of the walk is a beautiful, hand-tiled sign, crafted and donated by the students and teachers of Englewood Elementary School and dedicated to our newest Sister City of Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico


Santo Domingo—Our First Sister City

Dallas Dort founded the first chapter of Sister Cities with a Sarasota-Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic twinning in 1963, after a robust relationship had already developed. Unfortunately, a military coup in late 1963 installed a junta that was eventually overthrown, but the relationship was adversely affected.  Wells Purmort, a long-term member accepted the presidency in 1976 spurring activities that incorporated baseball tournaments involving Sarasota, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and Santo Domingo. Other exchanges during this period involved Scout organizations, Rotary, Kiwanis, aid to Santo Domingo after a devastating hurricane, and introductions to business people. Santo Domingo was given emeritus status in 2002, and today they enjoy a fruitful Sister City relationship with Miami and New York City.  


Hamilton, Ontario, Canada—Our Oldest Active Sister City

In 1990 Sarasota twinned with Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to encourage more visitors to Sarasota and to build good will with our neighbors to the North.  Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow was instrumental in initiating the twinning. Hamilton boasts a diversity that combines education, culture and sightseeing attractions with business and commerce, especially steel manufacturing.  

We have exchanged American Legion baseball teams, TV news anchors, student video camps, arts, cultural, plus historical, horticulture and marine interests through Spanish Point, Selby Gardens and Mote Marine. Hamilton is home to world class McMaster University, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Nautical Institute and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.  Hamilton and Sarasota have exchanged television news anchors, hosted the John Laing Singers and celebrated the 20th year anniversary of the Sister City relationship with Hamilton by hosting the volunteers from Hamilton’s Westfield Heritage Village at Sarasota’s historic Spanish Point.  Hamilton businesses also participate in the Sarasota-Manatee Trade Show.

Perpignan, France—the Genesis of the Sarasota Film Festival

In 1994 Sarasota twinned with Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales, France.  The official signing in Sarasota was by Sarasota Mayor Nora Patterson and the Vice Mayor of Perpignan, Dominique Schemia.
On September 7, 1995 an official signing was held in Perpignan Mayor Jean-Paul Alduly, and Sarasota Mayor David Merrill. The tie was initiated by Alain Taulere who had a home in Perpignan and Sarasota and owned the Cafe of the Arts in Sarasota.  He was very prominent in organizing the French Film Festival in Sarasota, which evolved into the prestigious Sarasota Film Festival. Perpignan is situated on the Mediterranean coast of France and straddles the Catalan border of Spain. The Catalan culture is dominant in the culture and cuisine. Sarasota and Perpignan have hosted many activities over the years, particularly with students involved in exchange visits. A close relationship with the Alliance Française has facilitated many activities including scholarship opportunities.  In 2010, the Sarasota-Perpignan program “Sustainable Development - Energy” won a Sister Cities International award for innovation.

Vladimir, Oblast, Federation of Russia—Theater, Venice Schools & Rotary Ties

In l994 Sarasota twinned with Vladimir, the part of Oblast Russia, because of a tie between the Rotary Club of the Keys and a new club in Vladimir which continues today. On October 29, 1994, City of Sarasota Mayor Nora Patterson led a delegation to Vladimir for the first official signing of the partnership agreement. In April of 1995, a year that marked the Millennium Anniversary of the City of Vladimir, Mayor Igor Shimov led a large delegation for the official signing in Sarasota.


The City of Vladimir is renowned as the first capital of ancient Russia and is a part of the Golden Ring of ancient cities with a rich culture and history.  It dates back to the 1100’s with today’s focus on development of tourist attractions while maintaining an impressive focus on the arts and education as well as industry. Vladimir students frequently have been chosen winners in the Florida Studio Theatre’s annual Young Playwright competition, and visit Sarasota to be honored and see their play presented by professional actors. Yelena Bychkovski, a Vladimir city employee involved in international relations, became an advance degree student at the University of Florida after learning of our educational opportunities by involvement with former Mayor and mentor Lu Ann Palmer.   

Tel Mond, Israel—A Jewish Federation/Betty Schoenbaum Imitative

In 1999 Tel Mond, Israeli Sharon, Israel became a new Sarasota sister city. Many interested people in Sarasota jumped on board, including philanthropist Betty Schoenbaum, who donated a library to Tel Mond. The agreement was signed by Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi and Sarasota Mayor Molly Cardamone. The official signing in Tel Mond was by Sarasota Mayor Gene Pilot and Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi.  
A 10th anniversary ceremony was conducted in Tel Mond with a delegation visit led by Mayor Lu Ann Palmer and Commissioner Ken Shelin.  Like Sarasota, it is a growing community which supports cultural interests and similar population demographics. Sarasota has had a long history of intense interaction with Tel Mond through many prominent Sarasota citizens and the Sarasota Manatee Jewish Federation who have helped in the development of this vibrant city. Tel Mond is a thriving regional center with an emphasis on arts, culture and education situated in the midst of orange groves and productive farm land. Tel Mond’s impressive arts and education program is evidenced in the submissions to elementary school art projects that involved all of Sarasota sister cities.  In 1997, four Sarasota high school students, including one from the Sailor Circus traveled to Tel Mond for a youth exchange.  Tel Mond has participated in many cross cultural visits over the years, including Boy Scouts, the award-winning Video Boot Camp and the Sister City International Art Show, the International Photography competition, the Florida Studio Playwriting competition, which has been won several times by youngsters from Tel Mond.  Tel Mond was the first Sarasota Sister City to have a song written about the relationship between the two cities. Sid Krupkin, a SCAS member, and Elie Matstree of Tel Mond combined to compose “Sarasota and Tel Mond” which features their musical talents combined with singing by school children from both cities.

Dunfermline, Scotland—Our Centennial Sister City

Sarasota was first chartered in 1903 by a group of Scottish businessmen and in 2002, Dunfermline, located in West Fife; the ancient capital of Scotland became Sarasota’s sixth Sister City during ceremonies at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.   The Asolo Theater contains the stage and interior décor from the turn-of-the-century Dunfermline Scotland Opera House.  In 2002, a framed, full-size rubbing of Robert the Bruce was donated to the Asolo and can be seen there today.  The 10th Anniversary of this twinning was held at the Silver Thistle Ball at the Bird Bay Yacht Club in February 2012, jointly sponsored by the Caledonian Club of West Florida and Sister Cities Association of Sarasota.

Many projects are supported by alliance members including the Royal St. Andrew Society and the Caledonian Club of West Florida. Riverview High School has the ‘Kiltie Band,” a pipe band and the famous Scottish metal sculptor, Malcolm Robertson, makes his winter home in Sarasota.  His sculptures can be seen in Scotland, at the Fruitville Library, at the traffic circle on south Manasota Key and occasionally at the annual Season of Sculpture on the Sarasota Bayfront.  
The twinning was based on Sarasota being founded by Scots and the historical significance of John Gillespie, a Scot, being the first mayor of Sarasota and builder of the first golf course in Sarasota. Dunfermline is the ancient capital of Scotland and is the final resting place of King Robert the Bruce and the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  Dunfermline is just across the bridge from Edinburg and a cat jump to St. Andrews, the world famous home of golf.  Students from Treviso come to Sarasota each year as winners of the Florida Studio Young Playwrights competition.

Treviso Province, Italy—Summer Vacation Haven for Venice, Italy

In 2007 Treviso Province, Veneto, Italy, located between Venice and the Adriatic and the foothills of the Italian Alps, became twinned with Sarasota.  The province of Treviso is one of Europe’s most dynamic growth regions. In addition to its art and history treasures, the province of Treviso is considered to be the most dynamic in Italy. Treviso and the Veneto region in which it is located have enjoyed one of Europe’s highest rates of economic growth. One of the important ties between the 95-community province and Sarasota is the Historic Asolo Theater which was the Opera House of Queen Cornaro in the town of Asolo, Italy.
It was on the stage of the Historic Asolo Theater were the partnership was signed between Mayor Fredd Atkins and the President of Treviso Province Leonardo Muraro on February 29, 2007.The twinning has resulted in a rich, active exchange program aided by interest of alliance organizations such as the Ausonia Society and Sarasota Italian Cultural Events.  The winner of our 2009 People and Places Photography Contest involving all our Sister Cities was Treviso artist Cristina Madeyski with her “Magic Reflections - Treviso on the Sile River” entry.  This led to a subsequent showing of her work at the Selby Auditorium on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus in February 2012.  Frequent tours to locations suggested by Provincial President Muraro have attracted Sarasota residents to Treviso Province highlighting the Pearls of the Province of Treviso for necklaces of memories. And the highlights of the Culture Coast have attracted numerous visits from residents and officials of the province to Sarasota.  

Xiamen (Siming District), Fujian Province, China

In 2007 Xiamen (Siming District), Fujian Province, China became twinned with Sarasota.  An enthusiastic Sarasota delegation led by Mayor Lou Ann Palmer participated in signing ceremonies in Xiamen during June 5-11, 2007.  The signing came after an extensive search. Located along a mountainous coast, across the straits of Taiwan in Southeastern China,  Xiamen was recognized as a likely sister city by Dr. Carolyn Bloomer, a professor at the Ringling College of Art,  a regular visitor to China and a dedicated group of sinologists. China has such large cities that it was difficult to find a pairing that was right for Sarasota. Several Chinese-American Associations also participate in this pairing. The final signing was conducted by Mayor Lu Ann Palmer at a public ceremony on the evening of October 9 in the old Federal Building in downtown Sarasota.
Xiamen was ranked as China’s second “most suitable city for living” in 2006, as well as China’s “most romantic leisure city” in 2011.   Xiamen is a convention city with an annual international trade fair, a sports center for golf, water-sports & martial arts and holds the Xiamen International Marathon each March; a wealth of cultural & education resources including degree programs in Hospitality Management, visual art, artists & public art displays, symphony orchestras, opera companies, jazz groups; and a center for health care, sports medicine, complementary medicine.  Xiamen has a major international airport & seaport designated as a Special Economic Zone for foreign trade; a high level of economic development with opportunities for joint investment, real estate & joint ventures; agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, and marine biology.  Recently, an “Exchange of Artists” program was begun in 2009 when Sarasota hosted two artists from China for two weeks.  In May, 2011, two local artists, Robert Farber and Julio Rodriguez, were chosen by a panel of local jurors and traveled to Xiamen for two weeks where they, too, were hosted by local families and experienced the Chinese art community. 

Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico—Our Newest Sister City

On December 19, 2010, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico was twinned with Sarasota. Mayors Angélica Araujo Lara of Mérida and Kelly Kirschner of Sarasota signed the official twinning documents in the Courtyard of the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art.  
Located 180 miles west of Cancun in the Yucatán Peninsula the two cities have many similarities including being located near the Gulf of Mexico, having tropical climates, being a regional center for commerce and higher education and sharing a love for culture and the arts. This colonial city on the Yucatán Peninsula is the ideal spot from which to explore important Maya archaeological sites like Chechen Itza and Uxmal. The city has one of the largest historical centers in the Americas with many of the Spanish colonial buildings from its wealthy past remaining. Mérida is one of eight safe and popular marquee tourist spots that is exempt from U.S. State Department cautions against non-essential travel in Mexico. Latino Excellence of Sarasota, an alliance member of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota, conducted the first exchange custom tour from Sarasota on July 23, 2012 providing a unique opportunity to experience Mayan Life and Ancient Cities near our newest Sister City. The fully guided tour featured intimate close experiences including participating in sacred Maya ceremonies with Maya Priests and Healers.


- See more at: 

http://sarasotasistercities.org/en/blog/history-cultural-coast-sister-cities#sthash.xFMUP7V4.dpuf






Tom Halbert, 

Past President