Carlsbad City Council hands over sister city relations to nonprofit group

CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council unanimously agreed on April 24 to hand over its Sister City Program reins to the nonprofit CSCA (Carlsbad Sister City Ambassadors, Incorporated). 

The council decided it was both essential and in the public’s best interest to have the not-for-profit run the community-based program and continue its relationship with its sister cities located in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic and Futtsu, Japan.

“The agenda is to set a policy for the city that essentially defines the relationship between the city government and the organization that conducts the Sister City Program,” said Colleen Finnegan, community arts coordinator at city of Carlsbad. “The second aspect of the resolution is to authorize the Carlsbad Sister City Ambassadors, Inc., as the entity.”

In 1988, Finnegan said, the city of Carlsbad established its first sister city relationship with Futtsu, Japan. For the first 18 months, the program was run by a Steering Committee of citizen volunteers who represented different organizations in the community.

A couple years later, in 1990, the city created the Carlsbad Sister City Program and with it, a Sister City Committee of non-appointed members.

A year later, the Czech Republic city of Karlovy Vary was added. In earlier times, this town was known as the Bohemian city of Karlsbad.

“The city managed the program for 20 years and then it was determined that most Sister City Programs are actually run by nonprofit organizations,” said Finnegan, adding how staff thought it would be a good idea to follow that protocol. “The people on that committee actually formed the not-for-profit organization.”

Since June 2010, CSCA has been the interim managers of the program.

“We are thrilled that the city is taking the next step in authorizing and designating CSCA to manage its sister city relationships,” said Joanne Brouk, member of the board of directors and events chair at CSCA. “The proposal demonstrates the confidence the city has in CSCA to responsibly manage its organization and sister city relationships.”

CSCA currently has 195 members.

Finnegan said that a membership organization such as this means more can be done in the community.

“Our mission is to create active and meaningful connections between Carlsbad and its citizens and comparable yet internationally dispersed communities,” Brouk said. “These connections are intended to promote peace, cultural awareness and economic opportunities through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.”

Rooted deep in history, it was President Dwight Eisenhower who thought of the Sister Cities notion. It was established in 1956 to encourage cultural and commercial ties.

Brouk pointed out that in 1967 it evolved into the Sister Cities International (SCI) organization, a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network for partnerships with international communities.

“SCI leads the movement for local community and volunteer action by motivating and empowering private citizens, municipal officials and business leaders to promote peace one individual and community at a time,” Brouk said.

The CSCA board of directors keeps the city council informed of any pertinent information such as events, fundraisers, cultural exchanges, and international visits. Although they really aren’t required to do so, Brouk said, the board feels it’s imperative to brief the city council on such happenings.

Although the city no longer champions the sister program, they are still very much involved.

Finnegan shared that activities of any sister city program generally requires some participation when there are visitors such as government or student delegations by their city council members and city staff.

“The city of Carlsbad has the interest to protect its community and the desire to have international relationships with the benefit of its own community members,” Finnegan said. “I am very pleased that these Carlsbad residents (CSCA) want to further the sister city program and I really foresee great things.”