The City of Palo Alto, California and the City of Bloomington, Indiana on the way toward creating the first domestic sibling city agreement in America. On November 15, 2021, the City Council for the City of Palo Alto passed an agreement, later in December 2021 the City of Bloomington will act on a reciprocal agreement. The goal of the relationship is to promote cross-regional connection by 1) introducing opportunities to build understanding, respect, and friendship through the collaborative exploration of the culture, arts, community service, and unique attributes of each city; 2) promoting economic and business opportunities, including sustainability practices; and 3) engaging in respectful civil discourse about the issues that face our nation today.
Introducing Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is located in Monroe County in southern Indiana. It is Indiana’s sixth-largest city, with a population of 80,500. The demographics of the Bloomington population are non-Hispanic White/Caucasian (82%), Asian(10%). African American (4%) and Hispanic (4%).
In fact, much of Bloomington’s demographics reflect those of a university town. Bloomington is home to many young people; the median age is just 28 years. Moreover, the population is highly educated: over 90% have high school diplomas, and Monroe County ranks in the top 2.2% of counties nationwide in terms of education. Not only is Bloomington home to Indiana University, it is also home to Ivy Tech Community College and numerous other scientific, technical, and professional establishments. The high level of education also contributes to a thriving workforce. Indiana University has numerous top-ranked programs, including its School of Music and Environmental Policy & Management graduate program.
The largest employers in Bloomington are Indiana University and Crane Naval Base. However, major employers in the area also include health care, technology, social services, and education. In fact, 50% of Bloomington’s workforce is engaged in white-collar work, health care employment in Bloomington is six-times the national average, and Bloomington ranks #1 in high-tech employment among 124 small metropolitan cities.
Tourism is also a major employer in Bloomington. Bloomington has many tourist attractions including art galleries, museums, and cultural centers. Downtown Bloomington has active nightlife, great restaurants, shopping, and many family-friendly activities. One beloved Bloomington event is Food Truck Friday, where a variety of food trucks park at Switchyard Park every Friday from June to October, and participants enjoy food, live music, and other events such as balloon artists or body painting.
Three Pillars of Connection
Bloomington and Palo Alto are following Sibling Cities USA Three Pillars of Connection. These pillars inform the programs that are facilitated by the respective local governments, and by local community committees. Neighbors Abroad is the home for community engagement with Bloomington. The committee is establishing programs consistent with the three pillars.
Sibling Cities USA is a new non-profit organization that promotes unity in America by building deep relationships between US cities in different regions of the country. To help bridge regional and political divides, Sibling Cities USA facilitates cross-regional pairing of cities or metropolitan areas. A city or metropolitan area from “the Coasts” might pair with one from “the Heartland,” or a city from a “blue state” with a city from a “red state.” Palo Alto and Bloomington form the first pairing for Sibling Cities USA and America!