Bloomington City Council passes resolution embracing Palo Alto, California as sibling city

BLOOMINGTON – At their December 1 meeting, the Bloomington City Council approved  Resolution 21-36 “supporting the establishment of a sibling city relationship with the City of Palo Alto, California.”

The cities will pilot the first domestic relationship of its kind in conjunction with a national program being launched simultaneously, Sibling Cities USA (SCUSA). The goal of the relationship is to foster a cross-regional connection to forge understanding, respect, and friendship through cultural exchange, community service, and civil discourse; and to promote economic and business opportunities.

Bloomington’s proposed pairing with Palo Alto was announced in a joint press conference on November 9 and approved by the Palo Alto city council on November 15 before the Bloomington City Council’s vote last week.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton

“The idea is to help knit our country back together, help create relationships across different regions of the country,” said Mayor Hamilton at the December 1 council meeting. “We all know how much stereotyping and sense of division we see in different ways within our own country.  Municipalities and communities can help at the ground level to create linkages that will strengthen our community and our country.”

Local committees in each city will connect community organizations and build programs to expand public awareness and generate impact within each city. Karen Howe Fernandez and Andie Reed will serve as city coordinators to manage daily activity in Bloomington and Palo Alto, respectively. The committees will include representatives from local government, service organizations, schools and universities, and other community leaders. The committees will report at the one-year mark to each city council identifying the progress and prospects for an ongoing program.  

Karen Howe Fernandez

“We have really deep community interest,” Fernandez told Bloomington City Council members on December 1. “It’s been so exciting to me [to witness] the number of people who have contacted us to tell us they want to make a connection, or they have a connection, they have the expertise, or want to volunteer in some way to be a part of this.”

Plans are underway for a kickoff event in early 2022 that could include in-person and virtual components, depending on the public health situation. Bloomington residents interested in getting involved may contact Fernandez at

As referenced in Resolution 21-36, Bloomington’s participation in this agreement complements two longstanding international sister city relationships with Posoltega, Nicaragua, and Santa Clara, Cuba that have proven mutually beneficial.  

A city of 68,572 in the western part of the San Francisco Bay Area, Palo Alto is home to Stanford University and is known as the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.” “I’m really excited about our two cities exchanging ideas, possibly exchanging students, and best practices,” said Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois. “I’m also excited about our two cities leading the way on what we hope to become a national program that will encourage more and more cities to form these relationships.” The resolution references the two mayors’ agreement “that the communities share similar goals of cultural and civic interaction, economic and business collaboration, and civic discourse.”

Vicki Veenker

“These two cities will be the first city pair, but not the last,” said SCUSA founder Vicki Veenker on December 1. “Sibling Cities USA is already making plans to grow and expand their networks. Building bridges between Bloomington and Palo Alto will be a historic first step.”