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Posted on: May 30, 2019

City Planner to Visit Mestia, Republic of Georgia as First Part of Cultural Exchange

Mestia photo

Final preparations are being made for City of North Bend Long Range Planner, Jesse Reynolds to visit the Townlet of Mestia, Republic of Georgia to kick off an exchange program called Twinning. The program is designed to foster a relationship between peer institutions from developing and developed countries in the form of a professional and cultural exchange to assist the developing country through a mentor-mentee relationship. The exchange was approved during the February 5th Council meeting.

Reynolds leaves for Mestia this Friday, May 31st and will return on Thursday, June 13th. Trip-related expenses will be funded by the Asian Development Bank, an international development finance institution dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through loans, technical assistance, grants and equity investments promoting social and economic development.

“Other cities and countries, such as the City of Edmonton, Alberta and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia have successfully fostered the mentor-mentee relationships such as this through the Asian Development Bank,” Reynolds said. “We see this as a unique opportunity to learn new ways to enhance our outdoor brand and provide a cultural experience for our community.”   

During the two-week trip, referred to as the diagnostic trip of the exchange, Reynolds will work with city officials to learn the needs of Mestia and assess  how employees from North Bend can assist in professional capacity building.  Reynolds will return with a synopsis of his findings to be presented to the City’s executive staff. Through this discussion, it will be determined who from the City will make the follow up trip to assist.  In total, North Bend can send up to five additional people to Mestia, and in turn, Mestia will send up to three people to visit North Bend.  Dates for these exchanges are still to be determined.  All trips will be paid for by the Asian Development Bank.

In return for professional assistance Mestia, will help provide North Bend with insights into such things as retention of cultural heritage, their local economic strengths, and fostering outdoor recreation.  The Mestia area has blossomed as an outdoor recreation center in the recent past.  

Reynolds worked with Mestia during his final project with his former employer in February 2018, when he supported an urban development planning project for three regions in the Country of Georgia. He developed the idea of the professional and cultural exchange between Mestia and North Bend during this work. 

Mestia is just over 6,000 miles from North Bend and has a population of approximately 9,300. It is nestled within the Greater Caucasus Mountain range with mountains reaching above 4,000 meters in some areas, boasting some of the most rugged terrain in Europe. 

“Before I came to work for City of North Bend, I thought about the many parallels between North Bend and Mestia,” Reynolds said. “I believe each community could provide insights to the other’s unique situation of rapid growth and outdoor recreation. I proposed an exchange between Mestia and North Bend to the Asian Development Bank, whose program manager accepted it as beneficial.  I then brought the idea to Council for consideration.”

For more information, general details, or suggestions for the next phases of the exchange, email Reynolds directly at jreynolds@northbendwa.gov.  Please feel free to send activity ideas for Mestia’s representatives when they visit North Bend.

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