Groupworks on sister city relationship

Published on Thu, Mar 23, 2006 by ack Kintner

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Group works on sister city relationship

By Jack Kintner

A group of 20 people met with Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic last week to begin working toward making Blaine and the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, official sister cities. Pugwash is renowned internationally for its conferences to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world.

In his opening remarks Tomsic said, “It’s really all up to you, the committee, if anything is to happen with this.” He advised the group to formally organize and to raise funds to support activities. “Be prepared to spend time and money getting this to happen,” Tomsic said.

The effort is being spearheaded by Blaine resident and Peace Arch historian Richard Clark. He said he has long felt that Blaine could do more as a “city of peace, the home of the Peace Arch, the only monument of its kind in the world,” and he sees a permanent relationship with Pugwash as one way to make that happen.

Pugwash, Clark explained, is the boyhood home of Cyrus Eaton, a protégé of John D. Rockefeller and, like Peace Arch builder Sam Hill, a wealthy industrialist.

In 1957, when many Americans were busy building bomb shelters in their backyards, Eaton brought together noted scientists to discuss world peace at his summer home in Pugwash. The gathering was prompted by the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, a short essay written two years earlier by the British mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell and the American physicist Albert Einstein about the dangers presented to the world by thermonuclear weapons. Einstein died that same year.

The manifesto says in part, “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”

The Pugwash meeting was designed to address that question, and the movement which sprang out of that initial meeting was named after the town. Now almost 50 years old, the organization and its long-time president Joseph Rotblat were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. The group has expanded dramatically from its humble origins and is now active in over 50 countries and sponsors annual conferences as well as smaller workshops in its centers in Rome, London and Washington, D.C.

The group that met last week to consider pursuing a sister city relationship with Pugwash included two local clergy, one state Democratic committeeman, one city council member and at least one Canadian from White Rock. Four in the group have been to Pugwash when travels took them to Nova Scotia. Like Blaine, Pugwash is a fishing village, and is located on the south shore of the Northumberland Strait which separates Prince Edward Island from the mainland.

The group will next meet on Wednesday evening March 29 at 7 p.m. in the Blaine Library presentation room. “Everyone’s welcome,” said Clark.