Minneapolis-Najaf wins Sister Cities International award

City of Minneapolis News Release

Contact: Matt Lindstrom, (612) 673-2148

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Minneapolis-Najaf, Iraq sister city program wins award for arts, culture innovation efforts


July 1, 2013 (MINNEAPOLIS): The Minneapolis-Najaf, Iraq Sister City Program has won Sister Cities International’s 2012 “Innovation: Arts & Culture Award” for cities with populations between 100,001 and 500,000. The award recognizes how partners in both Minneapolis and Najaf have used visual arts to share the cultures and ideas of the peoples of Iraq and America to create better understanding and friendships across cultures.

Sister Cities International’s Innovation Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding community and individual sister city programs that promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.

In 2009, Minneapolis residents worked with the City Council to pass a formal resolution approving a Sister City relationship with Najaf, Iraq.  Since then, the relationship has been managed by government offices of both cities and by local non-profit organizations: the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) and Meet Minneapolis in Minneapolis and the Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT) in Najaf.

In 2012 IARP and Meet Minneapolis used many art exhibits, book and video-workshops, cultural delegations, and other programs to create better understanding and support of both cultures. Highlights of arts activities and programs include: 

  • Hosting book- and video-making workshops for 11 local Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans, in conjunction with the Veterans Book Project, The Advocates for Human Rights, and Columbia Heights High School (all based in Minneapolis). The books and videos are available online at www.iraqiartproject.org/bookmaking-and-videomaking.
  • IARP hosted a celebratory reception for the local Iraqi authors and producers, their families, and the public at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
  • Presenting an art exhibition, “Not About Bombs,” at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. The exhibit featured five prominent Iraqi and Iraqi-American women artists addressing issues of identity and misrepresentation from a female perspective.
  • Partnering with Songs of Hope in the Twin Cities to bring the first-ever Iraqi participants (some from Najaf, some from Baghdad) to the six-week performing arts summer camp. All concerts brought Iraqi children face-to-face with Minnesotans, again allowing for expanded understanding.
  • Presenting artworks from Najaf and nearby Karbala at coffee shops, churches, and other community spaces in Minneapolis.

IARP, Meet Minneapolis, and the partners involved in the Minneapolis – Najaf Sister City relationship plan to continue and expand this program. In 2013, several cultural delegations will visit Minneapolis from Najaf, including an artist, a group of women’s rights activists, and an environmental group. IARP and partners in Najaf are working on sending a second delegation from Minneapolis to Najaf.


Minneapolis Sister Cities Day Celebration

The sixth annual Minneapolis Sister Cities Day Celebration will be on Sunday, July 14 from 1 – 5 p.m. at Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power Street. This free event and ice cream social will include entertainment, activities, and information about each sister city.

Each of the Minneapolis Sister Cities are invited to perform a native song or dance representing their city or country and share insight into their culture. The event is a fantastic community building event, inviting people from all over the world to meet, mingle, share stories and learn about new countries, language, art, and so much more. Minneapolis’ Sister Cities are Santiago (Chile), Kuopio (Finland), Ibaraki City (Japan), Novosibirsk (Russia), Tours (France), Harbin (China), Uppsala (Sweden), Eldoret (Kenya), Cuernavaca (Mexico), and Najaf (Iraq).

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