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NPR Arts & Life

Cities Dating Cities

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Sister Cities International

Charlotte has eight “sister cities” on four continents. How do sister cities find each other in the first place? WFAE’s Ben Bradford looked into it, and he reports it’s less like growing up with siblings, and more like dating.

The website for Sister Cities International (founded in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower) has a search function, where cities can look for “Cities Seeking Cities.”

Concord currently has one sister city, Killarney, Ireland, but is looking for another. Here’s the city’s “personal ad” on the Sister Cities International website:

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Credit Sister Cities International

John Dunlap is the head of Concord’s Sister Cities Association, which is in charge of the search for a new relationship.

“We need to have cultural interactions, we need to find out what other people think about us, and we need to expand our vistas,” Dunlap says. “And, I think that’s what the sister city program is all about.”

Dunlap has visited sister city Killarney several times. Dunlap also produces artwork, including this hand-manipulated Polaroid of the Gap of Dunloe, just outside Killarney, Ireland. 

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Credit John Dunlap / Dunlap Photo Art
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Dunlap Photo Art

Dunlap says another Polaroid hangs in Killarney City Hall. It’s common for a city to feature gifts and paraphernalia from its sisters. There can be other connections, as well. Concord’s Rocky River Golf Club (below) is a “sister golf course” with the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.

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Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE
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WFAE

Visitors from Concord get a discount at the Killarney course, and vice-versa. A wall of the clubhouse lobby commemorates the relationship, and includes brochures for Killarney’s course.

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Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE
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WFAE

The Concord city council and mayor signed a resolution in 2006 that affirms the relationship.

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Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE
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WFAE

The second floor of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center exhibits art from its eight sister cities, as well.

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Credit Julie Rose / WFAE
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WFAE

Like any relationships, sometimes sister cities can experience turmoil. Crackdowns in Russia against its LGBT citizens have led to calls to boycott the Olympics, and, locally, for Charlotte to ends its relationship with Voronezh, its Russian sister city.

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Credit Julie Rose / WFAE
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WFAE

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