In the Beginning...
Over four decades ago the Sister Cities International program was launched to encourage an exchange of ideas between citizens of cities around the globe. The Dixon Sister Cities Association has had opportunities and the good fortune to have four such opportunities. Our first “sister” was Dikson, in the Siberian region of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Our second “sister” was Herzberg/Elster, in the state of Brandenburg in Germany. Our third “sister” was Castlebar, in County Mayo in Ireland. Our fourth “sister” was Thika, in Central Province in Kenya.
Dikson is located in the Siberian far north of Russia, in the Krasnoyarsk Krai (Territory) of the Russian Federation. In 1989, a tentative relationship was started as a result of contact by a Russian journalist, Boris Ivanov. Dixon journalist Bill Shaw responded and this eventually led to a Sister Cities International relationship between Dikson and Dixon. It was formalized during a conference at Tashkent in Russia in May 1989 by Dikson Mayor Nikolai Kartamychev and Dixon Mayor James Dixon.
Herzberg is located about 90 miles southwest of Berlin in the state of Brandenburg in Germany (in an area which was a part of the German Democratic Republic [East Germany] between 1949 and 1990). In the mid 1990’s, Beverly Shepherd and Don Snodgrass helped develop the possibility of a sister city relationship with Herzberg. This relationship was formalized in Dixon on April 4, 1999 by Herzberg Burgermeister Michael Oecknigk and Dixon Mayor Donald Sheets.
Castlebar is located in western Ireland, in County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland. In January 2004 Dixon Mayor Jim Burke sent a letter with Patrick and Carol Gorman to Mayor Blackie Gavin of Castlebar in an attempt to develop a sister city relationship with a town in Ireland. This eventually led to the formalization of this relationship in Castlebar, Ireland in August 2005 by Castlebar Mayor Blackie Gavin and Dixon Mayor Jim Burke.
Republic of Kenya. In early 2005, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke was approached by representatives of the United Kenyans of Chicago (UKC) about the possibility of a sister city relationship between Dixon and a city in Kenya. This led to a proposal by Abraham Tumuti of the UKC to consider the city of Thika as a possibility in early 2006. The formal relationship was formalized in Nairobi, Kenya on September 16, 2008 by Thika Mayor Johnson Githaiga and Dixon Mayor Jim Burke.
The Dixon Sister Cities Association
Exchanges between our sister cities have continued since the first tentative inquiries were made. These exchanges have been both formal, involving entire delegations of citizens; and informal, involving interaction between individuals who first met and developed friendships during a formal exchange.
The underlying unifying factor in all of these is the fact that our world is made up of communities of individual people. There is no better way to work towards world peace than by understanding our neighbors, and no better way to do that than by inviting them into our homes and lives or by visiting and experiencing their homes and hospitality.
The Dixon Sister Cities Association is comprised of an 10-member board that includes the executive officers and committee chairpersons for membership, public relations, fundraising, cultural programs and exchange, housing and communications. The Mayor of Dixon is the Honorary Chairman.