Mayors From 7 Countries Convene In Bellingham For “Global Dialogue for Community Solutions”

In 1958 the City of Bellingham and the City of Tateyama, Japan established one of the first Sister City relationships after President Eisenhower started what is now known as the Sister Cities International. This year, 2018, marks the 60thanniversary of the relationship between Bellingham and Tateyama.

This week, the Mayors of all 7 sister cities of Bellingham are participating in a special Sister Cities Mayoral Summit: “Global Dialogue for Community Solutions”. The purpose of the summit is to gather our Sister City Mayors around a single table to share success stories, discuss challenges, and through this dialogue, discover beneficial ideas and solutions.  This summit will reach students, business owners and leaders, cultural organizations, elected officials, and citizens of each of our communities as well as draw worldwide attention to the importance of strong and beneficial Sister City relationships.

“This event is a truly unique event not only for Bellingham, but also for our Country as the Mayors of our 7 sister cities, along with Mayor Linville of Bellingham, build on the vision established by President Eisenhower following World War II that world peace can be achieved through one on one relationships” said Bellingham Sister Cities President Ross Grier.  “We are honored to be able to sponsor and host the mayors as a result of the support of Western Washington University, Saturna Capital, and Holiday Inn and Suites”

On Tuesday, September 4 the   Mayoral Summit begins at Western Washington University where the Mayors will work to expand friendships, foster peace and understanding, and look through dialogue at ways to collaborate on common issues.  The Mayors will then be received by the Lummi Nation on Tuesday evening in a formal reception.

Wednesday, September 5, Saturna Capital is sponsoring a School and Business Day with keynote speaches by the Presidents of our higher education colleges, and visits to key local industries.

Thursday, September 6thwill introduce the Mayors to Whatcom County Mayors with a tour and reception at Peace Arch Park in Blaine, followed by the dedication of a Summit Monument at the Bellingham Library and a final Gala Farewell event at the Holiday Inn and Suites at Bellingham International Airport.


Participant Representing Year Started
Honorable Mr. Kenichi Kanamaru Tateyama, Japan 1958
Honorable Mr. Ryan Palmer Port Stephens, Australia 1982
Honorable Mr. Andrey Gorelov Nakhodka, Russia 1989
Honorable Mr. Claudio Radonich Jiménez Punta Arenas, Chile 1996
Honorable Mr. Han Beum Deuk Cheongju, South Korea 2005
Honorable Mr. Tomas Häyry Vaasa, Finland 2009
Honorable Mr. Jamtsiin Gurvantamir Tsetserleg, Mongolia 2011
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Bellingham runners arrive in Port Stephens, Australia and meet up with runners from Tateyama, Japan

Nigel Dique, Chairman of the Port Stephens Sister Cities Committee reports the runners from Bellingham and Tateyama are in Port Stephens safely ensconced with their home hosts, all very excited and in good health, but a wee bit tired.

Nigel met our runners at the airport in Sydney and after accompanying them to Newcastle by train from Sydney he says “We gave them a quick ‘Cook’s tour’ of Newcastle.” and continues, “Today there will be a mayoral reception and other activities including a visit to a koala park”.

BSCA Marathon Exchange Program Director, Holly Graham is with them and reports “Just wanted you to know we are here in Port Stephens and having a great time. Everyone is so nice and accommodating and it is beautiful here.  We are on our way now to meet with the mayor, then off to pet some koalas.”

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Bellinghamsters Running in Kangaroo Country

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association has expanded our Marathon Exchange Program to the shores of Port Stephens, Australia.  5 runners are arriving there in advance of the July 22 running of the Hunter Valley Marathon.

Down Under it’s winter but that won’t stop a runner in the Port Stephens, Australia area)








Program Director Holly Graham, an alum of the Wakashio Marathon in Tateyama, Japan, is excited the program is expanding and more Bellingham area runners are becoming Citizen Diplomats to make friends around the world.  Originally a Tateyama-Bellingham exchange, Port Stephens is now in the mix and runners are cris-crossing our sister cities at a dizzying rate.  Runners from Port Stephens (4) and Tateyama (2) will be arriving in Bellingham for the Bellingham Bay Marathon on the last Sunday of September before Bellinghamsters head to Tateyama again in January 2019.  The Aussies will be in Tateyama as well.

At the recent Australia Sendoff, Holly Graham (Tateyama, Japan flag) and three of the runners sporting other flags are anchored by BSCA board members, all in uniform. Get your uniform by joining the BSCA! photo: tapio holma)


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Ozzie Land Runners // Send OFF

THIS JUST IN! Five members of the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) will be traveling to Port Stephans, Australia to participate in the Winery Running Festival on July 22nd, 2018.

Their send off for the Australia trip will be on Thursday, July 12th at 5:45 PM, at BBay Running – 1431 North State Street in Bellingham.

If you are interested in running but don’t want to fly all the way to Australia, The Bellingham Bay Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, September 30, 2018. This will also be the inaugural invitation exchange of both Tateyama, Japan and Port Stephens, Australia.

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2018 Tateyama Trip Participants Meet

We are celebrating 60 years of friendship with Tateyama this year. To mark this occasion we were invited to visit our friends in Tateyama this August 6th to 11th. We will be there for the big summer fireworks display. Tateyama Mayor, Kenichi Kanamaru, wanted to recognize our youth, so we obliged and will travel with 14 local high school Japanese language students and their Bellingham High School teacher Mark Write. 11 Bellingham residents will travel in the group.  We held our inaugural meeting in the Bellingham City Hall Council Chambers with the company of our students’ parents.

All Smiles in City Hall.

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Ikebana For World Peace Spring Installation

Bellingham City Hall is now adorned with the spring installation of “Ikebana for World Peace”. You can go visit this exhibit at Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie Street, Bellingham WA 98225. While your there enjoy the beauty and the intoxicating scent of the hyacinth this week.


Teacher Noriko Sharik also installed pieces in the Mayor’s Office.

The white vase on the counter is Mayor Kelli Linville’s personal possession.


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You are cordially invited to the 2017 Annual Bellingham Sister Cites Association Dinner

Please join your other members for our 2017 Annual Dinner on July 20th, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM at Hovander Park in Ferndale (in the Main Picnic Shelter).  This years event will be both a report on our accomplishments in 2016, what we have done (and are doing) for 2017, and the exciting events planned for 2018.

We are holding our annual dinner not just to report to the membership, but also in lieu of our 777 Annual Fund Raising dinner – we are really rolling both into the same evening.  We will not have a formal auction, and there is no cost (for members) for the event, so we are asking all members to help your Sister Cities by contributing directly to Bellingham Sister Cities Association through an on-line donation when you register for the annual dinner.

Because this year we are having the event catered, we ask that you register for the annual dinner here.   And don’t forget, when you do register, that it is free for paid members of Bellingham Sister Cities, and $25.00 for non-members.  And, don’t forget that we are asking for a voluntary donation to Sister Cities so we can help continue building world peace!

We truly look forward to seeing everyone on July 20th beginning at 6:00 PM!

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Bellingham Sister Cities Video – It’s All About World Peace

Bellingham Sister Cities Association Board Member Lauren McClanahan recently produced a video about the history and goals of the Association and the City of Bellingham.

Featuring Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville, this video explores the experiences of some of its members and what the Bellingham Sister Cities Association hopes to achieve.


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Цагаан Сар/Tsagaan Sar Mongolian New Year Celebration!

Please join us for an afternoon of music, stories, food, good friends, and shared cultures!

  • Where: Bellingham Yacht Club, 2625 N Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, Washington 98225
  • When: March 4, 2017; 12:00pm—3:00pm
  • Can I contribute? It is a potluck! Please bring a dish to share. (Donations will be accepted in lieu of a dish. All proceeds to support Bellingham Sister Cities Association’s effort to promote world peace.)
  • Sponsored by: The Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) & The Blue Sky Education Project—Mongolia

Цагаан сар/Tsagaan Sar

Tsagaan Sar literally translates to “White Moon” in English, and is celebration of the first day of the Lunar calendar year. It occurs one month after the first new moon of the winter solstice. Tsagaan Sar is marked by visiting family, relatives, and friends (in this order), eating meat dumplings, called “buuz” Бууз (pronounced like the English word “boats”) among other traditional foods, and exchanging gifts/money.

The purpose of Tsagaan Sar is to greet the new year and send away the old year, to solidify the relationships between family and friends in the upcoming year and to start the year with a clean slate all around. In preparation for Tsagaan Sar many people repay debts and resolve disagreements, and essentially clean themselves both figuratively and literally in preparation for the upcoming new year so that the new year will start off ‘pure’ and white.

The celebration starts on the eve of Tsagaan Sar, which is called Bituun. It is the last day of the year and is spent sharing food and eating until everyone is full with family so that during the upcoming year, no one will go hungry. On the first day of Tsagaan Sar you start with greeting your immediate family, starting with the very oldest person first. People are greeted in the traditional manner, especially when greeting the oldest member of the family. We use the words “Amar baina uu?” to greet someone older than us, and the words “Amar sain uu?” to greet someone younger than us. Both phrases mean “Are you living peacefully?” in English. Usually the elder person has a hat on and is sitting, while the younger person does not have anything on their heads and is standing. To greet each other they both extend their hands and the younger persons’ arms hold up the older person’s hands. After this there are several other rituals, people ask each other about their herds, about the winter season, and how everyone’s Tsagaan Sar is going. This is also the time to learn from the experience of the elders and to teach the younger generation Mongolian customs.

Although, many Mongolians have discarded traditional clothing in favor of a more Western style of dress in everyday life in the city and towns, during Tsagaan Sar people wear their most ornate traditional clothing.

In addition to respecting and honoring your elders and solidifying relationships, Tsagaan Sar is the time to be eating. Before going straight to the buuz, people first ‘take a bite’ of tsagaalag, which means white-ing, it roughtly translates to vegetarian. Before eating anything people take a bite or spoonful of rice or some vegetarian option, such as any dairy product (aaruul, byaslag, tos). Then on the table there is usually lamb, a tall build of boov, buuz, salad, various meats, candy, and other foods and of course an always ready hot Mongolian tea.

We are looking forward to celebrating Tsagaan Sar with you!

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Japanese New Years – Shinnenkai – This Weekend January 14th!

shinnenkai (Japanese 新年会, literally “new year gathering”) is the Japanese tradition of welcoming the arrival of the New Year.  A shinnenkai is a shinnenkaiis their way of getting together to celebrate a new year and to make promises to each other to do their best for this year while wishing each other good luck and fortune.

You are invited to attend this event where there will be Mochi-Tsuki (A Japanese new years tradition), enjoy conversation, music and the potluck dishes that everyone should bring.  In addition to the celebration of the New Year, we will have a drawing for several items including a Japanese Silk Wall Hanging and a Blue Fin Sushi gift certificate.

This year we will hold the Shinnenkai at the Bellingham Yacht Club, 2625 South Harbor Loop Way, Bellingham, WA 98225 from 12:00-3:00 in the downstairs Ward Room.

Here is a link to last years pictures!


Co-sponsored by the Bellingham Sister Cities Association (BSCA) and the Whatcom Japanese Community Association


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