Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

Nishinomiya, Japan

The City of Burlington’s relationship with Nishinomiya, Japan began in 1998 when a Vermont delegation that included representatives from Shelburne Farms, the Vermont Department of Education, and Burlington educators visited the LEAF:  Learning and Ecological Activities Foundation for Children in Nishinomiya.  The Vermont delegation was inspired by both school and community-based sustainability initiatives.  The relationship as “Friendship Cities” was formalized in 2003, when then-mayors Peter Clavelle and Satoru Yamada signed the original joint communiqué in Nishinomiya. 

Burlington and Nishinomiya together have participated - along with various nonprofit or nongovernmental organizations - in a project known as Renkei, which aims to elevate the concept of sustainability by developing innovative curricula promoting it in school classrooms. Renkei was timed to coincide with the launching of the Period of Integrated Learning in Japan, and the introduction of "sustainability" and "sense of place" in the Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities (the statewide education framework). Over the course of the project, delegates from Japan and Vermont participated in innovative project applications of education for sustainability, presented education-for-sustainability activities to peers, and shared strategies for broadening the constituency that supports education in the schools.

Since then, achievements of the relationship have included the development of the very successful Sustainability Academy magnet school in Burlington’s Old North End, teacher and superintendent exchange trips, and collaborative sustainability education projects between schools and businesses in both cities.  The relationship between Burlington and Nishinomiya also has inspired work around Vermont in sustainable education.  Masahiro Kouno now serves Nishinomiya as Mayor.