Booming cities are driving global economic growth in many parts of the world. We live in an age of extraordinarily rapid urbanization: The number of people living in cities is predicted to grow by more than 2.5 billion over the next 40 years—mostly in emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico. Much of this growth will occur in places that were small towns or modestly-sized cities only a few years ago, but are now on the way to becoming much larger than New York or Los Angeles.
Cities can often be conceived as an urban narrative expressing a national reality. They reflect a true image of the society that constructed them and frame the power logics imprinted upon their inhabitants interactions. The unconscious dialectic between space and its relation to the city’s inhabitants becomes the silent discourse reproducing power structures imprinted upon the nation’s history. In this sense, space and the political organization of space express social relationships. As noted by several post-Marxist scholars, space in itself might be conceived as a physical context, but the organization, and meaning of space is a product of social translation. According to Harvey, spatial forms are seen not as inanimate objects within which the social process unfolds, but as things containing social processes in the same manner that social processes are spatial. Therefore, social relationships can be understood as both space-forming and space contingent. Urban practices articulating spaces where life is to be experienced, silently organize the language determining the conditions of the social. Hence, space becomes an operator of power.
There is nothing so influential, so central to our daily lives as our immediate physical environment. Our environment influences and shapes our behavior to such a great extent that its design deserves a prominent place in the discussions about conflict management, foreign policy, and diplomatic relations. What if we used urban planning, in sync with local ecology, to directly address armed conflicts, crime, poverty, and health epidemics? It may be that changing an area’s urban infrastructure will prove to be more effective—and cost less in lives, time, and money—than conventional policy and traditional intervention solutions that underestimate the power of a physical space’s persuasion.
Early in 2009, Robert J. Lovero was elected Mayor of Berwyn, Illinois. Six members of his organization, Democratic Citizens of Berwyn (DCOB) were elected aldermen, giving Mayor Lovero’s Party a convincing majority on the eight-member City Council of Berwyn, a near-west suburb of Chicago called “The City of Homes.”
As one of Washington state’s most progressive, international cities, Tacoma has maintained its commitment to the Sister Cities Program since 1959. Since then, the program has transformed the city in some pretty remarkable ways.
If someone asked you: What is the only state in the nation to have increased its international exports every year since 2007, would you likely guess a relatively small state in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, without a seaport?
On behalf of the citizens of Fort Wayne, Indiana, I can proudly say that our city has been enriched by the numerous exchanges experienced as part of Sister Cities. The program greatly benefits our local schools, government offices, businesses, universities, and our entire community.
As a city with a population of more than 90,000, new residents to the City of Beaverton are amazed by the number of sister cities partnerships the Beaverton Sister Cities Program has maintained over its 26 year history: six! Our first partnership was formed with Gotemba, Japan; the latest with Cluses, France; and plans for expansion into Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and China are being considered. With a mission to encourage cross-cultural understanding through promoting educational and economic exchange between the City of Beaverton and her sister cities around the world, our program is poised to celebrate the next 26 years and beyond.
When I became the Mayor of Indianapolis in January 2008, given my more than two decades of service as a U.S. Marine living and working around the world, I knew immediately that one of my goals for the city of Indianapolis was to expand the visibility and awareness of Indianapolis as a global city. Today, corporations can expand their business and individuals can choose to live anywhere in the world. Indianapolis is home to many newcomers from around the world. We are proud when they choose to call Indianapolis home. We need to make them feel welcomed and engage them as a part of our community. We also need to continue to increase the awareness of Indianapolis around the world. I am proud to say that in a few short years, Indianapolis’ international profile has risen considerably. We must prepare our city to be competitive globally not only for today, but more so for decades in the future. Today, we live in a global economy. This will only continue to magnify.
The City of San Antonio is proud to have nine sister cities and two friendship cities around the world. In 1953, three years before Sister Cities International was created by President Dwight Eisenhower, San Antonio and Monterrey, Mexico, established the first U.S.-Mexico sister city relationship. Now in its 60th year, the sister cities program in San Antonio is managed through the City’s International Relations Office which is responsible for maintaining official relationships with our sister cities in China, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and Taiwan, as well as alliances in many other countries.
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