Denver, Colorado is a city founded by pioneers, a special breed of people characterized by courage, an open mind and a strong will to succeed. These are the qualities that have been driving the city forward to this very day, when Denver is a sprawling metropolis which looks confidently towards the future. The open attitude of the inhabitants of the Mile High City is what determined them to seek to connect to people from other places, disregarding physical distances and social and political differences.
Denver, Colorado has established sister city relationships with ten cities from around the world, covering five continents. It is collaboration that is prestigious as it is fruitful, aimed at stimulating diverse communities to work together towards a better mutual understanding.
The history of these partnerships begins in 1947, when Amanda Knecht, a high school teacher from Denver visited the war torn city of Brest, in France. The city had suffered extensive damage during the Second World War, and the inhabitants’ horrendous living conditions profoundly impressed the American teacher. Upon returning home, Mrs Knecht decided to do something for the suffering city. She shared her experiences with her students and together they decided to gather funds for the battered French city. In the next year, almost $32,000 was raised by the students, much of this cash consisting of dimes, nickels and pennies. The sum was subsequently used for the re-building of the pediatric wing of the Brest City Hospital. In the years following these events, the concept of sister cities began taking shape across the world, as a mean of promoting peace and collaboration between peoples and countries. Denver and Brest were quick to embrace this concept and the formal relationship was established in 1948. This makes Denver the second city in the U.S.A. to establish such a relationship and one of the most active proponents of such collaborations.
In 1960, Takayama, Japan was the next city to become a Denver’s sister city, and in 1963 a nonprofit corporation, presently called the Denver Sister Cities International was founded, with the aim of encouraging mutual respect and effort towards a better understanding. Over the years, a total of 10 cities from 5 continents have become Denver’s sister cities, the most recent being the capitol of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. Additionally, the Denver Regional Council of Governments, composed of the governments of Denver and other 51 local administrations, formed a sister city type of partnership with the Governorate of Baghdad, Iraq.
These partnerships are officially signed by the mayors of the cities, ratified by the city councils and translate to economic, social and cultural bounds being formed between the sister cities. Mutual visits, student exchanges, cultural and charitable events are some of the most frequent means of collaboration between the Denver sister cities.
The Denver Sister Cities Organization is a valuable contribution made by the Mile High City to the global community and an excellent way to establish relationships based on respect and understanding with people from all over the world.