News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Does Sisters need a sister?

It’s always been curious to me why it’s the City of Sisters and not the Town of Sisters. The same thoughts would apply to most of the incorporated communities in Oregon under 5,000 population. When you ask a friend from say Camp Sherman or Eagle Crest what their plans are with respect to a trip into Sisters you don’t say: “Are you coming to city today?” You say: “Are you coming to town?” You don’t ask the same friend if they’ve tried the new (shop, eatery) in city. You say town.

In the same manner were you to live in Portland and your friend were say in Beaverton, you’re apt to say: “Are you coming into Portland today?”

Notwithstanding that we are celebrating the 75th anniversary this year of Sisters’ incorporation as a City, it will always be town to me, and I suspect you as well. There is one thing, and one thing only, where I wish Oregon could be more like California and that is letting the community, regardless of size, choose their own designation: city or town. The Oregon Blue Book, the Secretary of State’s guide for government, requires any incorporated community of any size to be formed as a City.

Too bad. I mean, come on. In California, doesn’t the Town of Los Gatos sound nicer than the City of Los Gatos? Or the Town of Apple Valley feel like a better place than the City of Apple Valley? And doesn’t the Town of Los Altos Hills have more caché?

But I digress. Are we sufficiently grown up now at age 75 to have a sister city? The global organization Sisters Cities International give this definition: “A sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement to become sister cities.”

Back to Portland for a second. The Rose City has no less than 10 sister city relationships in 10 countries including Israel, Russia, Italy, Mexico, China and Zimbabwe. Bend has two international sisters: Belluno, Italy and Condega, Nicaragua. Hood River has one. As does Roseburg. Astoria too. And in the ‘you can’t make it up department’ Boring is sister to Dull, Scotland. So why not Sisters?

I even have one to propose: Arrowtown, South Island, New Zealand, population 3,030. It is located 12 miles from Queenstown, population 41,000. It’s similar in relationship as Sisters to Bend. OK, so it’s my favorite place in Kiwiland but it meets the criteria – or my criteria for the ideal sister city. Population 3-5,000. A natural paradise. Culturally thriving. A thrill for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. Historically rich. A Western feel. Surrounded by remarkable mountains, literally.

The Remarkables are a mountain range and ski resort within sight of Arrowtown reaching 7,610 feet. Arrowtown is within shot of the amazing Shotover Gorge. The Arrow River holds brown and rainbow trout and nearby lakes are abundant with fish. Big game hunting, not my thing, is plentiful.

If you want to join an ad hoc team to explore developing an international sister city relationship, email me at [email protected] and we’ll see where the spirit takes us.

By the way. If somebody from Portland is a Portlander and somebody from Medford is a Medfordian and somebody from Salem is a Salemite, what is somebody from Sisters? A Sistertian? When I asked friend, Jim Goodwin, long of Sisters, that question he answered in under a second: “Brilliant.”


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