Jen Myers put together a great summary of the Lowell Sister Cities Initiative meeting on May 19th over at Abu Nawas on Hurd Street. What makes Sister City relationships so exciting is that there are literally endless possibilities for the ways they could enrich Lowell -- culturally, educationally, and financially. A relationship might start with some Christmas cards going back and forth for a couple years but wind up blossoming into something much more substantial (i.e. an import-export business tie) after a few major twists along the way. Or, it might just be a way to remind students that we're all global citizens who need to improve our knowledge of geography! The bottom line is that no one knows...but with a nod somewhere towards Chairman Mao, even a single spark can start a prairie fire.
As for right now, we are working with a list of Eight Sister Cities. However, there are almost certainly others. For seven cities, we were able to get the official Council resolutions from the Clerk's office (Berdyansk, Ukraine; Bryansk; Russia; Winneba, Ghana; Bamenda, Cameroon; Barclayville, Liberia; Lobito, Angola; and Nairobi, Kenya). For one other city, we were able to locate correspondence from that city, affirm the existence of the relationship online, and then further confirm it via Richard Howe, Jr., who remembers a trip his dad made there during one of his mayoral terms (St. Die des Vosges, France).
If you know of other Sister Cities, or even think you know of others, please call the Mayor's Office -- 978.674.1551. We can't officially list another Sister City based solely off recollections, BUT a start point that includes a general timeframe that the relationship was created could be enough for us to find the proverbial needle in a haystack that could answer questions such as: Is it Kilkenny or Limerick? Neither? Both? Do we really not have a Sister City in Cambodia? Why not? What about Greece? Portugal? In addition to the proverbial "lost in the sauce" problem, magnified by the general way these relationships go (initial flurry of excitement followed thereafter by dormancy), there is another issue that could be attributed to confusion/misunderstanding. For instance, UML, Middlesex, NPS, or another entity could have created a partnership (for instance, UML has 80 overseas partnerships), but that would not be the same as a Sister City relationship.
All that said, absent anything tangible that says that a relationship is, the general assumption going forward is that it isn't. However, it wouldn't be extremely difficult to just quell any doubt and formally establish something via a new resolution.
And speaking of cities and relationships, anyone interested in creating a relationship with any foreign city is encouraged to reach out...you do not need to be a member of the corresponding ethnic group (for instance, if you're just really interested in Denmark, or South Africa, or the Seychelles, that's all that matters)...give the Mayor's Office a call and start a conversation about how to get the ball rolling. Thanks!
UPDATE: The minutes of the CC meeting on 15FEB1972 show that a motion introduced by Mayor Ellen Sampson to establish a Sister City relationship between Lowell and Limerick, Ireland passed 8-0. A Lowell Sun article provided by Eileen Loucraft (who provided the 'tip' that led to a search of meeting minutes from early 1972) showed that Mayor Sampson traveled with the Sacred Heart Marching Band to Limerick to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in 1972. An Irish hotelier quoted in the article said that while the kids were "enjoyable" he would not be "kissing" some of the adults as they left the Emerald Isle. So it goes.