The nonprofit Neighbors Abroad is set to hold an international festival this Saturday to showcase Palo Alto’s relationship with its eight sister cities and its recently announced domestic sister city – Bloomington, Indiana. The highlight of the festival, which will run for five hours beginning at noon in front of Palo Alto City Hall, will be the unveiling of the new Sister/Sibling City sign at 4 p.m.
Representatives from Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as Heidelberg, Germany and Bloomington will join the Aug. 27 celebration, according to the event’s webpage. Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt, City Councilman Tom DuBois and others will also attend the ceremony. Admission is free to the festival, which will include food and drink provided by local vendors and performances by artists from around the world. Vendors include Mexican food truck Zaida’s Kitchen, Waffle Amore food truck, and Griffin Hill, a winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
International Festival performers will range from instrumentalists to martial artists. Verlene Schermer and Fête Musette will each play instruments hailing from Sweden and France, respectively, and stick fighters from the Legacy Filipino Martial Arts School will perform traditional Filipino martial arts to honor sister cities of Palo Alto – Linköping, Sweden, Albi , France and Palo, Philippines.
The highlight of the event will be the unveiling of the new directional sign by Palo Alto leaders honoring Palo Alto’s International Sister Cities and its National Sister City. After the old Sister Cities sign is removed, local leaders will reveal the new position, which will include Bloomington.
In 2021, Palo Alto announced a one-of-a-kind program linking the city economically and culturally with an American counterpart, according to information from The Weekly. This effort was led by the new non-profit Sibling Cities USA, which brings US cities together in pairs to build relationships, and Neighbors Abroad, host of the International Festival.
Neighbors Abroad has embodied the idea that citizen diplomats can change the world since 1973, according to the non-profit organization’s webpage. The organization is affiliated with Sister Cities International as well as the City of Palo Alto and works to develop partnerships around the world.
“We model the leverage a nonprofit can bring to local government by bringing community and business to support a formal relationship of Palo Alto as government with the local governments we call our sister cities. and now sister cities,” said Bob Wenzlau, president. neighbors abroad.
A focus on diplomacy and, more recently, sustainability has been his life’s calling for Wenzlau. While a student at Stanford University, Wenzlau participated in an initiative to create a curbside recycling system that was later launched by the city of Palo Alto.
Through Neighbors Abroad, Wenzlau has spearheaded numerous environmental initiatives with sister cities, including the first carbon offset purchase between California and Mexico, according to her biography. Currently, the nonprofit organization has offset about 25,000 tons of carbon emissions from Palo Alto’s switch to natural gas, according to Wenzlau.
For the festival, Neighbors Abroad will work in conjunction with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, which will host the Palo Alto Arts Festival at the same time just a few blocks away on University Avenue.
The International Festival will feature activities and exhibits for all ages, including an installation by Neighbors Abroad’s Art and Sustainability Initiative, which uses visual art to inspire sustainability projects, according to the webpage of initiative.
“We believe art is a gateway to creating inspiration to make our planet more sustainable,” Wenzlau said.
For more information about the event and Neighbors Abroad initiatives, visit their website at neighborsabroad.org.