New signboard highlights Brattleboro’s Sister Communities

BRATTLEBORO — A new signboard celebrating Brattleboro's seven sister communities can now be seen on the second floor of the Municipal Building. It will remain there until completion of the new railroad station, which will be its permanent home.

The sign is a project of Compassionate Brattleboro, a group formed after Brattleboro voted to sign on to the international Charter for Compassion in 2017.

According to a news release, “one side of the colorful signboard offers the names and locations of the communities, while the other provides a Tree of Life mandala featuring the community symbols and symbolizing the reciprocity involved in compassionate partnering with other communities near and far. Special thanks go to artist Sarah Bowen for the design of the sign, Charles Laurel and Tim Thrasher for preparing it for manufacture, and the Vermont Community Foundation for generously providing the funding.”

Sister communities seek to engage in long-term relationships with each other, often pursuing trade, cultural, and educational exchanges. While many New England towns have sister communities, most are located in Europe.

“By contrast, and in keeping with Brattleboro's compassionate nature and inquiring mind, our sister communities are located in Haiti, El Salvador, Kenya, and India, plus two Native American communities and a town in western New York State which, like Brattleboro, has signed on to the Charter,” according to the group.

Efforts are underway here to organize classroom and student exchanges along with other creative initiatives, such as a joint “green safari” in East Africa - seeing animals and planting trees - to be undertaken by teens from the Brattleboro area and those from its Kenyan sister community that was the home of the late Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning ecologist, tree planter, and friend of Brattleboro.

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