The Brooklyn Park City Council approved the formulated policies and criteria for accepting a new sister city and the proposal from Garowe, Somalia, to become its sister city on July 22.
“I was quite honored for my kinfolks to approach me and ask if it would be a possibility for Brooklyn Park to have a sister city with our city that we all share heritage with. We are going to have an active engagement in terms of bringing in new ideas and new events,” said...
Currently, the city of Brooklyn Park has a sister city with Kakata, Liberia, in West Africa established in 2012. The goal of a sister city relationship is to create an atmosphere that strengthens economic development and community engagement. The relationship is also to nurture a municipal partnership to help creatively learn, work and solve problems together through reciprocal cultural, educational, business and leadership development.
The mutual goals between Brooklyn Park and Kakata were to encourage Liberians to greater inclusion and responsibility for the welfare of Brooklyn Park by increasing engagement and volunteerism.
During the length of the sister city with Kakata, there have been multiple visits by delegations from Brooklyn Park to Kakata and vice versa. Airfare expenses are paid solely by Mayor Jeff Lunde and city council members.
“I support the sister city relationship. I think it was important to separate out that we were doing something unique so taxpayers can see the value of the sister city and not be worried about the money we are spending,” Lunde said.
In April, a group of residents interested in establishing a sister city relationship with the city of Garowe, Somalia, approached the city. This is when a need to develop a process and criteria to evaluate proposals and clarify expectations was done by staff officials.
The process includes the city manager reviewing the proposal of establishing a sister city relationship and recommending it to the city council for review. The proposal must be approved by the council and mayor before an official invitation is sent to the proposed city.
The criteria for a sister city relationship includes not having a sister city with any other city in the country of the proposed city. The relationship is multi-purpose and presents the opportunities for benefits to both cities. The relationship must support the city of Brooklyn Park’s goals and objectives and provide solid current and long-term local support for the new relationship and demonstrates a strong interest in and commitment to the relationship.
The objective of the relationship is to increase community awareness and provide more options for residents to experience, understand and appreciate other cultures.
In order for the proposed city to become a sister city, the city is required to enter into a sponsor agreement with Brooklyn Park stating they have a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization registered in the state of Minnesota.
The sponsor organization for Garowe, Somalia, is called the Confederation of Somali Community. The organization will be supporting three of Brooklyn Park’s 2025 Goals ––a united and welcoming community strengthened by our diversity, a balanced economic environment that empowers businesses and people to thrive and effective and engaging government recognized as a leader.
Many of the council members think having sister cities is a great opportunity to bring people together from across the world and become a better city.
“One of the benefits of the relationship is having that connection helps us as a city be a better city because we get to understand things and ask questions and understand where many of the people come from,” Lunde said.
“There are people who want to connect with their heritage and I think that is very important. I was so proud to make the motion and look forward to moving on.”
The council hopes to finalize the agreements with Garowe, Somalia, soon and officially establish a sister city relationship.
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