Calls for national unity are increasing in response to today’s national divides. Americans yearn to move past the polarization afflicting our country. Knitting this country back together is essential, but will be neither easy nor quick. Coming together will require a focused, sustained, multi-faceted effort. Reminiscent of President Eisenhower speaking of Sister Cities International, President Biden in his inaugural address proclaimed that we “can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.” Sibling Cities USA's mission is to bring Americans together so that “disagreement does not lead to disunion.”
As explained below, we use Three Pillars of Connection to bridge our divides.
Showcase each city’s unique heritage, culture, and attributes.
Discover common values and aspirations.
Build relationships, trust, and mutual respect.
Explore opportunities for economic collaboration.
Share best practices for city management and addressing civic issues.
Engage in public dialogue on policy issues.
Watch a Short Overview About Our Program!
Sibling Cities USA assists America’s communities in recognizing the assets each community brings to the table, the benefits that come from exploring partnerships across the miles, and our commonalities as fellow Americans committed to the prosperity of our country and the success of our democracy.
To accomplish this, Sibling Cities build relationships through three types of interactions using our
Three Pillars of Connection.
Every city or region has its unique and distinguishing culture, history, and assets of which it is proud. Pillar One interactions showcase these unique attributes and provide easy opportunities for city residents to enjoy getting to know each other. Initial interactions may mostly be virtual (meetings on zoom or other platforms). Over time, in-person delegations may visit the other city or even meet at a third location for a service project or a class trip. Opportunities include student exchanges, arts and culture events, racial justice, LGBTQ, and environmental group joint meetings, service/neighborhood organizations sharing volunteer opportunities, and athletic clubs providing joint training and/or friendly competition.
Working together is one of the best ways for Sibling Cities USA residents to get to know one another. Sibling Cities are encouraged to explore economic and business collaboration that would drive equitable development, innovation, sustainability, and mutual prosperity in both places. Identifying workforce, capital, space, and other economic needs in the two regions could lead to opportunity for cross-regional investment or other types of economic partnership. Strategies for meeting sustainability and climate goals, including the development of well-paying sustainability-related jobs, can be shared and developed.
Exploration of economic partnerships may include:
· Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development entities trading economic profiles, strategies, and goals.
· Universities, colleges, and community colleges engaging with economic actors in the other city regarding workforce training, research collaboration, intellectual property licensing, and venture investment opportunities.
· Venture, angel, and private equity investors having opportunities to hear pitches from businesses in the other city.
After Sibling Cities residents have begun to develop friendship, mutual respect, and trust through the community interactions and commerce activities of Pillars One and Two, they will have an opportunity to discuss our nation’s challenging policy issues. Joint town halls and smaller group discussions will provide opportunities to hear each other out in a respectful, safe, and open manner. These discussions aim to uncover both shared values and differing perspectives. The goal is to increase understanding that will foster empathy and ideas for better ways forward—together as a more united country.
Several organizations have developed protocols for balanced and respectful policy dialogues on difficult topics that the two cities can use, including:
While we hope some city residents will be able to travel to the other city to have conversation in person, convening these dialogues online offers opportunities for easy and sustained remote conversation among residents of the two cities.