On the surface it might seem Bend, Oregon is worlds away from Belluno, Italy. The two cities are thousands of miles apart, and residents don’t even speak the same language.
But Bend and Belluno have a lot in common, including a breathtaking mountain setting, unique economic challenges and a prominent tourism industry based in outdoor recreation. And as of September, the two cities have something else in common – they’re sisters.
The sister city relationship was driven by a group of Bend leaders including former Bend Mayor Oran Teater, Janie Teater, Pam Duncan, Roger Kryzanek, and Kit Carmienke. In September, Roger and Pam traveled to Belluno to present the signed sister city agreement and to accept the agreement from the mayor of Belluno.
“This relationship opens the door to many meaningful exchange opportunities for both cities,” explained Oran Teater. “We have a lot in common in terms of culture and economy, and this relationship will allow us to share knowledge about how each city addresses our shared issues like growth, economic vitality and common community issues.”
The sister city program will include a variety of cultural exchanges led by established community organizations. Visit Bend, the City’s tourism bureau, will take the lead on a tourism marketing exchange in which the two cities will promote each other to visitors and share marketing ideas and strategies. Oran Teater and Kit Carmiencke will take charge of a Rotary exchange between the sister cities, while Central Oregon Community College will work to develop a culinary exchange program.
According to Bend resident Ron Garzini – who traveled to Belluno with wife, Pam, the two cities have a great deal in common.
“Two years ago when we had the opportunity to visit Belluno, we were overwhelmed both by the picturesque city with the Dolomites in the background but also the similarities between Bend and Belluno,” he noted. “Skiing, white water rafting, rock climbing and hiking plus a strong outdoor spirit we noted of the citizens of both cities. As we visited with members of the city government we were again taken with the similarities in municipal issues, downtown parking issues to common social issues.”