This historic first-ever Sibling Cities USA city pair connects a coastal city in the midst of a large urban area with a Midwestern city surrounded by rural area. The intent to enter this Sibling Cities relationship was announced in November 2021 by the mayors of Bloomington, Indiana and Palo Alto, California. Founding Mayor Tom DuBois in Palo Alto (who independently conceived of a domestic sister city program) and Founding Mayor John Hamilton in Bloomington, Indiana (who has been instrumental in developing the national program), each brought a resolution to enter a sibling cities agreement to their city councils, and both passed with flying colors. Citizen leaders in each community then began planning to make connections across the miles. The Inaugural Sibling Cities Agreement, making it official, was signed on February 15, 2022.
Learn more about the history of Bloomington and Palo Alto.
(L-R) SCUSA Founder Vicki Veenker, former Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois, and Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton after a tour of Bloomington City Hall, seen in background, in spring 2021.
Want to get involved?
To connect your group with a counterpart in the other city or to volunteer to help, contact your City Coordinator:
Karen Howe Fernandez
In Palo Alto:
in coordination with Neighbors Abroad
Want to find out what's happening in these cities?
Counterpart organizations in the two cities have begun connecting, including:
CanopyBloomington and Canopy in Palo Alto (urban forest advocacy & tree-planting)
High School Civil Courage essay contest
Kiwanis International Clubs
held a joint food drive, June 2022
League of Women Voters
Rotary International Clubs
Palo Alto Rotarians visited Bloomington, May 2022
Don't see your group listed? Let us know what bridge you are building and we will add it.
Winners announced soon!
The Leendert Overduin Civil Courage Essay Contest, was open to high school students in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation, as well as Palo Alto, its neighboring cities and Sister City peers. The contest offers cash prizes and an opportunity for the winners to visit Enschede, the Netherlands, as Sister/Sibling City ambassadors. The deadline was May 1 and submissions are under review. Winners will be announced soon! For more information and entrance details, click here.
The Historic Bloomington-Palo Alto
First-Ever Sibling Cities Agreement
Executed February 15, 2022
Praise for this first Sibling Cities Pair
“Bloomington and Palo Alto share several similarities and also reflect some differences. I believe this new relationship can significantly benefit the residents of our respective communities for years to come, with mutual learning and collaborations. We can imagine a focus on community priorities such as community engagement, sustainability and economic and business opportunities. I expect there are also some exciting possibilities we haven’t yet imagined. Connecting together as communities is more important than ever, as we emerge from the pandemic and address big challenges ahead.” - Mayor John Hamilton, City of Bloomington
"I am thrilled to recommend establishing a Sibling City relationship between Palo Alto and Bloomington and thank the City of Bloomington for their leadership in creating this innovative partnership. I’ve felt that our country could really benefit from a program that encourages building bridges from coast to heartland. We can learn from each other and seek ways to combine our strengths for the benefit of the country. I believe the Palo Alto/Bloomington arrangement will pave the way for other United States cities to establish similar partnerships.” - Mayor Tom DuBois, City of Palo Alto
"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. In contrast to the destructive polarization of political discourse that is so common these days, this initiative is an affirmation that diversity is a source of strength, because it requires that we listen to and gain empathy for others. It's an honor to play a founding role in nurturing a national culture of respectful dialogue across differing perspectives." - Bloomington Common Council President Jim Sims
“Really delighted to hear about the Sibling Cities effort. If ever there was a time when we need to connect with our fellow Americans, this is it. It is so, so important that we understand the lives of folks in cities and towns across the country. The only way we can ever bridge the divide is to listen, learn and understand one another. Finding common ground requires just the kind of person to person interaction Sibling City relationships can provide.” - Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian