We are writing a
 book about Sarasota Sister Cities. The authors include the Sarasota Sister Cities Board Members and Past Presidents Tom Halbert, 
Bill Wallace, Linda Rosenbluth, Carla Rayman, and Hope Byrnes; and Board Members Gayle Maxey, Fred Bloom, Kenney DeCamp and David Harralson.

Click the title below to read the book. Your comments and improvements to the book are appreciated.


Sixty Years of Citizen Diplomacy

If you would like to help write and edit the document please contact Craig Hullinger at sarasotasistercities@gmail.com. Send me your changes or corrections.

The Book is online and is a Google Document and a PDF. It is primarily designed to be an EBook, but we can print it if we wish. And we will have the document online and future Boards can update it as needed. We may sell it on Amazon to give it more exposure.

Some of our Sister Cities have a great deal more information to impart than newer Sister Cities. We don't want 70 pages devoted to one sister city in the book while another city has only a few pages. So if one Sister City collects a great amount of info and photos we may keep a summary in the book and a link to the other file. This document could grow into its own EBook or EBooklet. The first one we created was for Tel Mond, Tel Mond Sarasota. So Tel Mond authors, fire away and put the kitchen sink in this one.

Any CD who would like a longer additional separate document let us know and we will create one. It will take a number of edits and improvements before the book will be complete.

Thank you for your review and effort.


Additional information and photos 



We can take photos and text from our online sites.




Twitter........... twitter.com/#!/SarasotaSisterC

LinkedIn.......  linkedin.com/in/sarasotasistercities

Email...........  sarasotasistercities@gmail.com

The following blogs were used by Sarasota Sister Cities. Some of them are still in use today while others are of value for the history of the organization.


Sustainable Economic Development

















Communication / Social Media



















Downtown Sarasota 2018



Thanks, Sue!  I put this text on the first page of the book. You can delete it.

Each time you make a change it will (or at least should) show up in the document and everyone will see it. We could download the document into a Word file and edit it in Word. I would prefer not to do it that way because the photos always move around a bit, but we can do it that way if this Google Document doesn’t work for you.

Part 1 Table of Contents


Mission Statement

Executive Summary

Our Sister Cities

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1990) - Our First Sister City Now Emeritus

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (1990) - Now Emeritus

Perpignan, France (1994) - The Genesis of the Sarasota Film Festival

Tel Mond, Israel (1999) - A Jewish Federation / Betty Schoenbaum Initiative

Our Songs at:  sistercitysongs.blogspot.com``

Dunfermline, Scotland- (2002) Our Centennial Sister City

Xiamen Siming District, Fujian Province, China (2007)

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (2010) - Our Newest Sister City

Raperswil - Jona, Switzerland Friendship City - (2014)

Busseto, Italy Friendship City - (2019) 

Planned Table of Contents For the Entire Book


Mission Statement

Executive Summary

Our Sister Cities

Santo Domingo (1990) (now emeritus)

Hamilton, Canada (1990) (now emeritus)

Perpignan, France (1994)

Vladimir, Russia (1994)

Tel Mond, Israel (1999)

Dunfermline, Scotland (2002)

Treviso, Italy (2007) (now emeritus)

Xiamen, Siming District, China (2007)

Merida, Mexico (2011)

Raperswil - Jona, Switzerland Friendship City (2014)

Busseto, Italy Friendship City (2019)

Offices / Description


    President and Past Presidents



Vice Presidents

    Arts and Culture

        Cities and Candidate Cities



    Economic Development



   Programs and Planning



    Youth Ambassador


    Luncheon Programs

One World Award Laureates 


    Meet and Greets

Young Playwrights Festival

Signage and Memorials


    Speakers Bureau


           Embracing Our Differences

Photos, Videos, Songs, Sunsets, Birds


Board of Directors 2021

Job Descriptions

Authors Short Biography

Help Wanted

Links and References


Downtown Sarasota in 2018 From the Rooftop of the Westin Hotel


Our Sister City Association of Sarasota (SCAS) is the international arm of the City of Sarasota. We promote world peace by fostering international relationships between Sarasota and international cities. We create exchanges in the areas of culture, education, tourism, sports, business and government. Our objective is to develop respect, understanding and cooperation through citizen diplomacy.

The cultural resources and creativity in Sarasota match well with the diversity of our sister cities. Sister Cities International began in response to President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision to enhance worldwide understanding one handshake at a time. Sarasota’s citizen diplomats are involved frequently in sister city outreach building bridges toward world peace.

We receive support from the city to assist our extensive international citizen exchanges. The City provides our office space for the organization in the historic Federal Building in downtown Sarasota.

Sarasota Sister Cities continues with numerous programs and efforts to promote world peace. We work with our Sister Cities to further “citizen diplomacy” . We meet personally with people from our Sister Cities, creating and maintaining personal relationships that are vital to furthering better relationships around the world. Sarasota Sister Cities members are proud of our efforts. We continue our active efforts to improve our relationships with our friends in our Sister Cities.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Sister Cities Association of Sarasota, Inc. is to foster international relationships between Sarasota and international cities that have similar interests by creating exchanges in areas of culture, education, tourism, sports, business and government. SSCA’s objective is to develop respect, understanding and cooperation through citizen diplomacy.

To accomplish this mission we develop relationships with people in our twinned cities that have interests and environments similar to Sarasota’s. Working outside the realm of government, but with its support, we maintain a special focus on areas with significant opportunities to facilitate cultural and educational exchanges, economic partnerships, increased tourism and humanitarian assistance.

Executive Summary

Sister City International began in Washington, D.C. in 1956 during the United States presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was the Allied Supreme Commander of the armies of Europe during World War II. He viewed the horrific devastation of human life and property resulting from that tragic moment in world history. He thought there must be a better way to a lasting peace – trying “citizen diplomacy” rather than “governmental diplomacy”, which had unfortunately resulted in continuing conflicts over the many centuries of humankind. “Citizen diplomacy” in Eisenhower’s way of thinking was an actual “eyeball to eyeball” interfacing of everyday citizens, meeting personally on each others “turf” (in the U.S. and overseas); learning how each lived, carried on their daily lives, overcame whatever challenges they faced, to bring about an enhanced understanding, and thus respect, of all global citizens. It was envisioned this could be accomplished through exchanges (visitations) of citizens, engaged in the arts, business, civic activities (service clubs, boy/girl scouts, etc), education, sports and government.

Sarasota Sister Cities was formed in 1963.  We have a very active organization, with numerous exchanges with our Sister Cities. Sarasota Sister Cities continues programs and efforts to promote world peace. We work with our Sister Cities to further “citizen diplomacy”. We meet personally with people from our Sister Cities, creating and maintaining personal relationships. As we reach our 60th anniversary we can be proud of our past activities and look forward to many more interactions with our international friends.

  Our Sister Cities

Santo Domingo (1990) (now emeritus)

Hamilton, Canada (1990) (now emeritus)

Perpignan, France (1994)

Vladimir, Russia (1994)

Tel Mond, Israel (1999)

Dunfermline, Scotland (2002)

Treviso, Italy (2007) (now emeritus)

Siming District, Xiamen, China (2007)

Merida, Mexico (2011)

Raperswil-Jona, Switzerland  Friendship City (2014)

Busetto, Italy  Friendship City (2019)

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1990) - Our First Sister City Now Emeritus

Dallas Dort founded the first chapter of Sister Cities with a Sarasota-Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic twinning in 1963, after a robust relationship had already developed. Unfortunately, a military coup in late 1963 installed a junta that was eventually overthrown, but the relationship was adversely affected.  Wells Purmort, a long-term member, accepted the presidency in 1976 spurring activities that incorporated baseball tournaments involving Sarasota, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and Santo Domingo. Other exchanges during this period involved Scout organizations, Rotary, Kiwanis, aid to Santo Domingo after a devastating hurricane, and introductions to business people. Santo Domingo was given emeritus status in 2002, and today they enjoy a fruitful Sister City relationship with Miami and New York City.  

Sarasota Sister Cities delegation Ron Gossett, Gayle Maxey, Tom Halbert, a representative from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Laura Flesh at the Sister Cities International 50th Anniversary Conference in Washington DC in July 2006.

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (1990) - Now Emeritus

In 1990 Sarasota twinned with Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to encourage more visitors to Sarasota and to build good will with our neighbors to the North.  Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow was instrumental in initiating the twinning. Hamilton boasts a diversity that combines education, culture and sightseeing attractions with business and commerce, especially steel manufacturing.  

We have exchanged American Legion baseball teams, TV news anchors, student video camps, arts, cultural, plus historical, horticulture and marine interests through Spanish Point, Selby Gardens and Mote Marine. Hamilton is home to world class McMaster University, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Nautical Institute and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.  Hamilton and Sarasota have exchanged television news anchors, hosted the John Laing Singers and celebrated the 20th year anniversary of the Sister City relationship with Hamilton by hosting the volunteers from Hamilton’s Westfield Heritage Village.

SSCA President Hope Byrnes on the left reacts to stories by Janet Knowles of Historic Heritage Village in Hamilton, Ontario at Spanish Point.

More photos at:    https://hamiltonsarasota.blogspot.com/

Perpignan, France (1994) - The Genesis of the Sarasota Film Festival

Sarasota twinned with Perpignan, Pyrénées- Orientales, France in 1994.  The official signing in Sarasota was by Sarasota Mayor Nora Patterson and the Vice Mayor of Perpignan, Dominique Schemia.

On September 7, 1995 an official signing was held in Perpignan by Mayor Jean-Paul Alduly and Sarasota Mayor David Merrill. The tie was initiated by Alain Taulere who had a home in Perpignan and Sarasota and owned the Cafe of the Arts in Sarasota.  He was very prominent in organizing the French Film Festival in Sarasota, which evolved into the prestigious Sarasota Film Festival. Perpignan is situated on the Mediterranean coast of France and straddles the Catalan border of Spain. The Catalan culture is dominant in culture and cuisine. Sarasota and Perpignan have hosted many activities over the years, particularly with students involved in exchange visits. A close relationship with the Alliance Française has facilitated many activities including scholarship opportunities.  In 2010, the Sarasota-Perpignan program “Sustainable Development - Energy” won a Sister Cities International award for innovation.

In 2019 City Director Marie des Neiges Grossas (Center, Left) led an outstanding exchange to Perpignan and nearby areas.  We met numerous people and developed mutual respect.

More photos at:  


Vladimir, Oblast, Russia (1994) - Theater, Venice Schools, and Rotary Ties

In l994 Sarasota twinned with Vladimir, the part of Oblast Russia, because of a tie between the Rotary Club of the Keys and a new club in Vladimir which continues today. On October 29, 1994, City of Sarasota Mayor Nora Patterson led a delegation to Vladimir for the first official signing of the partnership agreement. In April of 1995, a year that marked the Millennium Anniversary of the City of Vladimir, Mayor Igor Shimov led a large delegation for the official signing in Sarasota.     SSCA Delegation With Vladimir Mayor and Officials

The City of Vladimir is renowned as the first capital of ancient Russia and is a part of the Golden Ring of ancient cities with a rich culture and history.  It dates back to the 1100’s with today’s focus on development of tourist attractions while maintaining an impressive focus on the arts and education as well as industry. Vladimir students frequently have been chosen winners in the Florida Studio Theatre’s annual Young Playwright competition, and visit Sarasota to be honored and see their play presented by professional actors. Yelena Bychkovski, a Vladimir city employee involved in international relations, became an advanced degree student at the University of Florida after learning of our educational opportunities by involvement with former Mayor and mentor Lu Ann Palmer.

City Director Yulia Glaukman (right) delivered awards to young playwrights who submitted their plays to The Florida Studio Theater.  Yulia and her husband Alex did an outstanding job on leading the exchange to Vladimir, with trips to Moscow, St Petersburg and Suzdal. The SSCA group stayed in Russian homes.

Young Russian American dancers performing for SCAC

City Director Miriam Kramer organized a very nice online chess tournament between Vladimir and Sarasota. The tournament was very well received. Miriam serves as both the Vladimir CD and as SSCA President. She has met with the Vladimir leadership. 

More Photos at: http://vladimirsarasota.blogspot.com/  

Tel Mond, Israel (1999) - A Jewish Federation / Betty Schoenbaum Initiative 

In 1999 Tel Mond, Israeli Sharon, Israel became a new Sarasota sister city. Many interested people in Sarasota jumped on board, including philanthropist Betty Schoenbaum, who donated a library to Tel Mond. The agreement was signed by Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi and Sarasota Mayor Molly Cardamone. The official signing in Tel Mond was by Sarasota Mayor Gene Pilot and Mayor Shlomo Ratzabi.  

A 10th anniversary ceremony was conducted in Tel Mond with a delegation visit led by Mayor Lu Ann Palmer and Commissioner Ken Shelin.  Like Sarasota, it is a growing community which supports cultural interests and similar population demographics. Sarasota has had a long history of intense interaction with Tel Mond through many prominent Sarasota citizens and the Sarasota Manatee Jewish Federation who have helped in the development of this vibrant city. Tel Mond is a thriving regional center with an emphasis on arts, culture and education situated in the midst of orange groves and productive farmland. Tel Mond’s impressive arts and education program is evidenced in the submissions to elementary school art projects that involved all of Sarasota sister cities.  In 1997, four Sarasota high school students, including one from the Sailor Circus traveled to Tel Mond for a youth exchange.  Tel Mond has participated in many cross cultural visits over the years, including Boy Scouts, the award-winning Video Boot Camp and the Sister City International Art Show, the International Photography competition, the Florida Studio Playwriting competition, which has been won several times by youngsters from Tel Mond.  Tel Mond was the first Sarasota Sister City to have a song written about the relationship between the two cities. Sid Krupkin, a SCAS member, and Elie Matstree of Tel Mond combined to compose “Sarasota and Tel Mond” which features their musical talents combined with singing by school children from both cities. 


SCAS Visited Tel Mond in 2014. Numerous Exchanges have come to Sarasota from Tel Mond.  

Rabbi Jonathan Katz is the City Director.

More Photos telmondsarasota.blogspot.com    

Our Songs at:  sistercitysongs.blogspot.com``

Dunfermline, Scotland- (2002) Our Centennial Sister City

Sarasota was first chartered in 1903 by a group of Scottish businessmen.  In 2002, Dunfermline, located in West Fife; the ancient capital of Scotland, became Sarasota’s sixth Sister City during ceremonies at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.  The Asolo Theater contains the stage and interior décor from the turn-of-the-century Dunfermline Scotland Opera House.  In 2002, a framed, full-size rubbing of Robert the Bruce was donated to the Asolo and can be seen there today.  The 10th Anniversary of this twinning was held at the Silver Thistle Ball at the Bird Bay Yacht Club in February 2012, jointly sponsored by the Caledonian Club of West Florida and Sister Cities Association of Sarasota.

Many projects are supported by alliance members including the Royal St. Andrew Society and the Caledonian Club of West Florida. Riverview High School has the ‘Kiltie Band,” a pipe band and the famous Scottish metal sculptor, Malcolm Robertson, makes his winter home in Sarasota.  His sculptures can be seen in Scotland, at the Fruitville Library, and at the traffic circle on south Manasota Key.  The twinning was based on Sarasota being founded by Scots and the historical significance of John Gillespie, a Scot, being the first mayor of Sarasota and builder of the first golf course in Sarasota. Dunfermline is the ancient capital of Scotland and is the final resting place of King Robert the Bruce and the birthplace of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.  Dunfermline is just across the bridge from Edinburgh and a cat jump to St. Andrews, the world famous home of golf.  Students from Treviso come to Sarasota each year as winners of the Florida Studio Young Playwrights competition.

At the Highland Games

From L to R Isabelle Iedet, Tony Duval, Beth Ruyle,

Kenny Decamp, City Director Pauline Mitchell, and Marie de Grossas

Pauline Mitchell is the long time City Director of Dunfermline. She has led outstanding exchanges to and from Dunfermline.

Pauline Mitchell led the exchange from Sarasota 

Sister Cities to Dunfermline and Scotland in 2016.  An Outstanding trip.

Treviso Province, Italy  (2007) - Now Emeritus

In the Summer of 2007 Treviso Province, Veneto, Italy, located between Venice and the Adriatic and the foothills of the Italian Alps, became twinned with Sarasota.  The province of Treviso is one of Europe’s most dynamic growth regions. In addition to its art and history treasures, the province of Treviso is considered to be the most dynamic in Italy. Treviso and the Veneto region in which it is located have enjoyed one of Europe’s highest rates of economic growth. One of the important ties between the 95-community province and Sarasota is the Historic Asolo Theater which was the Opera House of Queen Cornaro in the town of Asolo, Italy.

It was on the stage of the Historic Asolo Theater were the partnership was signed between Mayor Fredd Atkins and the President of Treviso Province Leonardo Muraro on February 29, 2007.The twinning has resulted in a rich, active exchange program aided by interest of alliance organizations such as the Ausonia Society and Sarasota Italian Cultural Events.  The winner of our 2009 People and Places Photography Contest involving all our Sister Cities was Treviso artist Cristina Madeyski with her “Magic Reflections - Treviso on the Sile River” entry.  This led to a subsequent showing of her work at the Selby Auditorium on the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus in February 2012.  Frequent tours to locations suggested by Provincial President Muraro have attracted Sarasota residents to Treviso Province highlighting the Pearls of the Province of Treviso for necklaces of memories. And the highlights of the Culture Coast have attracted numerous visits from residents and officials of the province to Sarasota.  

More photos at:  

More photos at:   https://www.pinterest.com/sarasotasister/treviso-province-italy/

Xiamen Siming District, Fujian Province, China (2007)

In 2007 Xiamen (Siming District), Fujian Province, China became twinned with Sarasota.  An enthusiastic Sarasota delegation led by Mayor Lou Ann Palmer participated in signing ceremonies in Xiamen during June 5-11, 2007.  The signing came after an extensive search. Located along a mountainous coast, across the straits of Taiwan in Southeastern China,  Xiamen was recognized as a likely sister city by Dr. Carolyn Bloomer, a professor at the Ringling College of Art,  a regular visitor to China. China has such large cities that it was difficult to find a pairing that was right for Sarasota. Several Chinese-American Associations also participate in this pairing. The final signing was conducted by Mayor Lu Ann Palmer at a public ceremony on the evening of October 9 in the old Federal Building in downtown Sarasota.

Xiamen was ranked as China’s second “most suitable city for living” in 2006, as well as China’s “most romantic leisure city” in 2011.   Xiamen is a convention city with an annual international trade fair, a sports center for golf, water-sports & martial arts and holds the Xiamen International Marathon each March; a wealth of cultural & education resources including degree programs in Hospitality Management, visual art, artists & public art displays, symphony orchestras, opera companies, jazz groups; and a center for health care, sports medicine, complementary medicine.  Xiamen has a major international airport & seaport designated as a Special Economic Zone for foreign trade; a high level of agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture, and marine biology.  Recently, an “Exchange of Artists” program was begun in 2009 when Sarasota hosted two artists from China for two weeks.  In May, 2011, two local artists, Robert Farber and Julio Rodriguez, were chosen by a panel of local jurors and traveled to Xiamen for two weeks where they, too, were hosted by local families and experienced the Chinese art community. 

More photos of Xiamen at:  xiamensarasota.blogspot.com

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico (2010) - Our Newest Sister City

On December 19, 2010, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico was twinned with Sarasota. Mayors Angélica Araujo Lara of Mérida and Kelly Kirschner of Sarasota signed the official twinning documents in the Courtyard of the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art.  

Located 180 miles west of Cancun in the Yucatán Peninsula the two cities have many similarities including being located near the Gulf of Mexico, having tropical climates, being a regional center for commerce and higher education and sharing a love for culture and the arts. This colonial city on the Yucatán Peninsula is the ideal spot from which to explore important Maya archeological sites like Chechen Itza and Uxmal. The city has one of the largest historical centers in the Americas with many of the Spanish colonial buildings from its wealthy past remaining. Mérida is one of eight safe and popular marquee tourist spots that is exempt from U.S. State Department cautions against non-essential travel in Mexico. Latino Excellence of Sarasota, an alliance member of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota, conducted the first exchange custom tour from Sarasota on July 23, 2012 providing a unique opportunity to experience Mayan Life and Ancient Cities near our newest Sister City. The fully guided tour featured intimate close experiences including participating in sacred Maya ceremonies with Maya Priests and Healers. Mayor Willie Shaw, City Director Mike Fehilly, and President Beth Ruyle at the resigning of the Sister City relationship with Merida in 2019.

Kenney Decamp and dancers from Mexico who performed at the Ringling

Maya Performers in Merida

More photos at:  https://meridasarasota.blogspot.com/

Raperswil - Jona, Switzerland Friendship City - (2014)

Raperswil - Jona and Sarasota became Friendship cities in 2014.  This effort was supported by the Swiss American Club of Sarasota swissamericanclubsarasota.org

A photo of the club members below.

Famous Castle of Rapperswil - on Lake Zurich in Switzerland


Rappersville-Jona and Sarasota both have a history with the Circus. A Beach volleyball group and a canoe club from Rappersville-Jona have visited and competed in Sarasota. We enjoyed meeting them.

CityDirector Nellie Camardo and the Rapperswil-Jona Canoe Club

Ruth & Primo Bader, Jack & Isabelle Wright hosted the athletes from Rapperswil-Jona

More photos of Rapperswill-Jona at rapperswil-jonasarasota.blogspot.com

Busseto, Italy Friendship City - (2019) 

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Busseto in Parma, Italy is our newest friendship city. Sarasota and Busseto are in the process of completing a Sister Cities relationship. 

Busseto was the home of the famous composer Giuseppe Verdi. Sarasota Sister Cities has helped raise funding to restore his historic home.  In 2016 the Sarasota Opera completed an Operatic Milestone—28 Years in the Making. In 1989 Sarasota Opera began The Verdi Cycle—a unique undertaking to perform the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi.A picture containing text, building, outdoor, night

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The 2016 Winter Opera Festival marked the grand finale of this extraordinary journey with new productions of Aida and The Battle of Legnano, with the final week devoted exclusively to the Italian master, including concerts of his music, talks, panel discussions, and other special events.

The completion of the Cycle has made Sarasota Opera the only company in the world to have performed all of Verdi’s music!  For more complete information on Sarasota Opera's Verdi Cycle, visit www.verdicycle.org

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Verdi's house at Sant'Agata   From Wikipedia

Villa Verdi is the house that composer Giuseppe Verdi owned from 1848 to the end of his life in 1901. It is located in the village of Sant'Agata in the comune of Villanova sull'Arda in the Italian province of Piacenza less than five miles from the village of Le Roncole, where he was born in 1813, and the town of Busseto where he lived from 1824.Click to read more:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Verdi

Busseto (Bussetano: Büsé; Parmigiano: Busèjj) is a comune in the province of Parma, in Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy with a population of about 7,100. Its history has very ancient roots which date back to the 10th century, and for almost five hundred years it was the capital of Stato Pallavicino. The first written sources the name "Busseto" were in the form of "Buxetum", which dates from the early twelfth century. It is believed that the town's name derives from "buxus" (meaning boxwood) or, in another form, as "busetum" (an enclosure for oxen).

More info at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busseto

More photos of Busseto at:   https://bussetosarasota.blogspot.com/

We are writing a  book about Sarasota Sister Cities.  The authors include the Sarasota Sister Cities Board Members and Past Presidents Tom H...