Residenthistorian renews sister city campaign

Published on Thu, Jun 15, 2006 by eg Olson

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Resident historian renews sister city campaign

By Meg Olson

Local writer and historian Richard Clark made a passionate and slightly sarcastic plea to Blaine City Council for consideration of a sister city relationship founded on the city’s theme as the Peace Arch city. He recieved no answer.

“It was like trying to get a constipated child to take his castor oil,” Clark said of his efforts to start a musical tradition in Blaine, which he compared to his current efforts to promote a sister city relationship with Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

After many years of organizing concerts and inviting musicians to Blaine, Clark said he felt he had fostered a strong local musical tradition. “Finally it turned out to be a pretty good movement!”

The sister city project is not doing as well. When Clark and Jerry Gay asked city council in April to officially endorse the sister city relationship, only one city council member, John Liebert, supported the idea. Jason Overstreet and Bonnie Onyon expressed serious concerns that a relationship with Pugwash, birthplace of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, would be too political.
In an April 10 city council meeting, Overstreet said the city of Pugwash had “really serious political overtones.”

Onyon agreed. “Nuclear disarmament is part of their message. That’s very political,” she said. “Everybody wants peace. How to attain it is where everyone differs.”

With Bruce Wolf siding with Onyon and Overstreet and two council members absent, the sister city proposal failed to get council support to move ahead.

“This could be very divisive in our community,” Wolf said, adding he wanted more information and to continue the dialogue with the full council present.

The mission of the conferences, which do not have an official connection with the village of Pugwash, is to bring together influential scientists and world leaders with the goal of “reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems.”

Clark first learned about the village of Pugwash and its historical role in promoting peace while researching the history of the Peace Arch.
“We have a connection with the Peace Arch not only in the past but in the present and the future,” he said. “I didn’t want my community not to know about the Peace Arch.”

Clark said that Blaine, as home of the Peace Arch, needed to deepen its connection to that tradition of peace, and a relationship with Pugwash was a step in that direction. “There’s a lot about Pugwash you probably don’t understand at this time,” he said. “There’s a great deal behind this sister city concept and I’d really like to tell you about.” He was not asked to do so by council members.

Clark asked if council would continue to consider the sister city proposal. “I want to know if the sister city concept is dead in the water because if it is I’m going to strategize some other way before I kick off,” said.

No council member responded to his request.