If I were to tell you that Santa Cruz had something called a “sister city”, you might expect it to be some place like Capitola or Soquel. What you might not expect (unless you watch Parks and Recreation) is for the sister city to be in Uganda. In fact, Santa Cruz has eight sister cities located around the world
What is a ‘sister city’?
A sister city relationship is an officially approved relationship between two municipalities in two countries. The relationship agreement must be signed off on by the highest elected officials in each of the cities before it is officially recognized.
The purpose of a sister city organization is to promote peace via the relationship. Sister city organizations, usually comprised of volunteers, pursue business, trade, educational, and cultural exchanges with their sister cities.
Sister Cities International serves as the national member organization for cities across the US. It was founded by President Eisenhower in 1956 as a means of uniting people around the world. One of the first partnerships was between Seattle, Washington and Tokyo, Japan. The bond was meant to restore post-WWII tensions by creating cultural and educational exchanges.
As was noted, Santa Cruz has eight sister cities: Alushta, Ukraine; Jintope, Nicaragua; Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela; Sestri Levante, Italy; Shigū, Japan; County Roscommon, Ireland; Galway, Ireland, and Kasese, Uganda. A monument is located next to the post office downtown recognizing those cities which have been sister cities for a long time. The monument is comprised of several pillars with bronze maps on top of them. Next time you’re mailing a package you might go take a look.