Cityto pursue sister city status with Pugwash

Published on Thu, Jun 2, 2005 by eg Olson

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City to pursue sister city status with Pugwash

By Meg Olson

Fifty years ago, 11 of the world’s most recognized scientists signed a plea for governments of the world “to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.” Known as the Russell-Einstein manifesto in recognition of its creator and its most influential signer, the document spawned a conference two years later in the small Nova Scotia town of Pugwash to discuss the dangers of arms proliferation and ways to peacefully solve the world’s conflicts.
Today the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs are an international organization promoting peace. The village of Pugwash is proud to be the only location to boast a Nobel Peace Prize after the conferences and co-founder Joseph Rotblat were awarded the honor in 1995. The village is also like many coastal towns: hugging a harbor that was once the hub of an economy based on fishing, forestry, farming and shipbuilding; combining history, scenic beauty and growing recreational amenities to draw visitors; proud of its small but vibrant community.

Sound familiar?

It did to Blaine resident and historian Richard Clark, who came across the Pugwash story while researching his history of the Peace Arch and thought the two made a good match.

Jerry Gay joined Clark in trying to promote the possibility of a sister-city relationship with Pugwash, bringing the idea to Blaine city council on April 25 and making contact with the organizers of the Pugwash Conferences.

“It would be a great thing if we could promote and grow our communities around the idea of peace,” Gay said. “It’s a perfect dovetail.”

At the April 25 meeting Blaine mayor John Leibert agreed the idea deserved consideration. “I’d be willing to look at the preliminary stages,” he said. “We want to at least see if this is a possibility.”

Gay said that the next official step was for the city to start talking with the government of the village of Pugwash, but that preliminary responses from the conference organization had been encouraging. “We’re in the beginning of a dating process,” he said. “There’s not much concrete yet, just a lot of smiles.”

City manager Gary Tomsic said he remembered successful sister-city relationships from his time as city manager of Wenatchee, but that the driving force had to be a strong base of committed community volunteers. “There was a group of people in the city that kept it active,” he said. “It’s more than just a letter.”

Tomsic said the city had not approached Pugwash village officials about the idea yet but that Leibert intended to do so soon.