A sister for Sisters?
Last updated 10/25/2022 at Noon
An ad hoc citizen task group has submitted two nominations to City Council for sister city relationship. A sister city relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in differing countries. Wikipedia tell us: “The relationship is a form of legal or social agreement between two geographically and politically distinct localities for the purpose of promoting cultural and commercial ties.”
“While there are early examples of international links between municipalities akin to what are known as sister cities or twin towns today dating back to the 9th century, the modern concept was first established and adopted worldwide during World War II.”
The nominations are Wanaka, New Zealand and Göreme, Turkey. Scott Bowler proposed Wanaka based on personal experience. Situated on the shore of Lake Wanaka on the South Island, the town sits among and is surrounded by the Southern Alps, notably nearby Mt. Aspiring National Park.
The town and surrounding area have a population of about 10,000, which is growing rapidly, home both to active retirees and a large population of adventuresome younger people. On the shore of Lake Wanaka with an elevation of about 1000 feet, Wanaka has a semi-continental climate, with about half of the national average precipitation: cold and snowy winter, somewhat wetter spring weather, and warm dry summer and fall.
Wanaka, and the neighboring city of Queenstown, is at the center of a large resort area similar to the Sisters/Bend/Deschutes County dynamic. Both Sisters and Wanaka are primarily four-season resort and tourist towns, with some diversified local businesses and industries. Both sport active, outdoorsy lifestyles with a wide variety of active and adventure sports paramount: skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting, climbing and mountaineering, adventure sports, mountain and road biking, and a wide variety of lake-and river-based water sports.
Native Maori have important cultural connections in the area, and when the area was settled by Europeans it was via a pioneer agricultural land rush and gold rush mining. It was home to the first ever sheepdog trials, a tradition which continues now with teams coming from around the world to compete. Wanaka area has several wineries and a vibrant agricultural farm-to-plate and local food scene, even including a salmon fishing-to-plate experience on the lake.
The community hosts several arts, music, and cultural festivals; farmer’s and craft markets; food and beer festivals; bike, kayak, and ski competitions; and even a rodeo. Several large ski resorts surround the town, and it’s the proud home of both of two Olympic champions: NZ’s first gold medalist, and the country’s youngest gold medalist. Wanaka has a rich film history and has hosted several major films (“The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and several more), and a big economic development project currently in progress is building a major film set and studio complex in the town.
Göreme (pronounced guh-reh-meh, uh, like er in “her”) is a town in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The town is centered in the middle of an internationally popular region that is best known for its natural rock formations, often called “fairy chimneys.”
Göreme was recommended by this correspondent following a visit in 2021, finding a similar size of 3-5,000 (Sisters) in a wider geographic area of 10,000, (Sisters Country) with a comparable climate (three or more seasons) and topography (mountains, high desert, rivers, lakes, streams).
Each city’s economies are fed by tourism, green tech, craft foods or beverages, and farm-to-table gastronomy. There are common bonds with nature, among them conservation and stewardship of land and animals.
Both cities thrive on an active lifestyle of hiking, biking, water sports, fishing, climbing, and snow sports, and each boasts cultural appreciation of music, art, food, languages, and travel.
Additionally the cities pair compatibly with Göreme having an elevation of 3,662 feet, with similar volcanic topography. The principal art is pottery. The predominant religion is Muslim, with well-preserved Christian sites.
Göreme is famous for its hot air balloons and being home to Göreme National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The task force is asking the City to authorize an official outreach to Göreme and Wanaka to gauge interest. No monies are involved at this point in the effort.
Scott Bowler contributed information for this story.