Read news about Palo Alto community members hosting a group from Bloomington, Indiana, the city's sibling city, and a Stanford student elected to the Sequoia Union High School District board.
FAMILY TIES … "We sometimes call ourselves a blueberry in a bowl of tomato soup," John Hamilton, mayor of Bloomington, Indiana, told about 200 people during a climate summit at Gunn High School on Nov. 12.
He was part of a sizeable Hoosier contingent that came to town earlier this month for a series of events that included, among other events, tours of the Palo Alto Art Center and the Stanford's d.school; a dinner organized by the Rotary Club; an economics roundtable with the Chamber of Commerce; a discussion on civil discourse coordinated by Vicki Veenker, founder of Sibling Cities USA; and a concert featuring Indiana University's Onia Quartet and Stanford's Emerging String Quartet.
During the climate summit, Hamilton highlighted some of the differences and similarities between the two cities, which last year formalized their "sibling city" relationship. "We have lots of water, we don't have forest fires, but we have lots of challenges," he said, citing Indiana's recent cuts to the credit people get for generating electricity and selling it to their local grid.
For Bloomington leaders and their Palo Alto counterparts, this was the biggest face-to-face gathering after a year of Zoom meetings. Veenker, who was elected to the Palo Alto City Council earlier this month, said the tour came together organically, with various Bloomington residents planning to take separate trips and ultimately consolidating their ventures into one big tour. In the coming year, the two cities plan to build on their partnership by holding virtual and in-person conversations with members of the broader communities in the two cities, which includes faith-based institutions and libraries. The goal is to improve civility through conversation.
Andie Reed, a member of Neighbors Abroad, which runs Palo Alto's sister cities partnership, helped organize the visit and hosted one of the Bloomington musicians in her home. She called the event "uplifting" and enjoyed seeing city officials, theater directors and art center leaders from the two cities exchanging ideas, with conversations touching on everything from sustainability and parks to art and housing. "It's really a great example of various sectors taking ownership of pieces of it," Reed said.
A STUDENT FOR THE STUDENTS ... A 19-year-old Stanford University sophomore, Sathvik Nori, is set to become the youngest member of the Sequoia Union High School District board of trustees.
Nori was elected over Jo-Ann Byrne Sockolov, a consultant at Transform Collaborative, to represent the district's area D, which includes Atherton, much of Menlo Park and parts of Redwood City and North Fair Oaks. During an October debate, Nori said the district would benefit from his "fresh and diverse perspective" if he was elected.
The 19-year-old was previously a student trustee for the board while enrolled at Menlo-Atherton High School, where he graduated in 2021. His resume includes serving as chair of the San Mateo County Youth Commission and editor-in-chief of his high school's newspaper, the M-A Chronicle. He was also one of two teens to represent California in the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program last year.
As of the Nov. 18 update from San Mateo County, Nori has expanded a significant advantage over his opponent, leading 57% to 43%, a gap of nearly 1,750 votes.
"Now the real work starts in ensuring that every student, no matter what their background is or what middle school they went to, has a rigorous, challenging, and fun high school experience," Nori wrote in a text to this news organization.