WADSWORTH — The city of Wadsworth is more than 3,600 miles away from Hucknall, but their leaders think their transatlantic similarities are worth exploring with an international partnership.
Mayor Robin Laubaugh said the idea for Wadsworth to strike up a partnership with the English town originates with former Wadsworth resident Jonathan Bhushan, who is now a Hucknall resident.
“Of course, he really loves his community now, but he also really loves his roots,” Laubaugh said last week. “We have several organizations that kind of mirror theirs, so he has taken it upon himself that he wanted our community to have kind of a formal relationship with their community.”
Laubaugh said Hucknall — which is in the county of Nottinghamshire — recently passed a resolution of friendship, and Wadsworth is in the process of doing the same.
Both Franklin Elementary School Principal Roger Havens and Main Street Wadsworth Executive Director Adrianne Krauss have both visited Hucknall.
Kruass said that in addition to a shared history of coal mining, both cities also feature parks, downtown districts and just a general similar heritage.
“I think international city partnerships have always existed in one form or another, and I think it is an exciting way to kind of put those cities on the map, in a diplomatic sense,” Krauss said Monday.
“I think it is very cool to have a relationship form with European cities in our globalized world, our globalized economy,” Krauss added. “It is so important to form these relationships.”
Krauss said she visited Hucknall last May while she was in England for the royal wedding of the duke and duchess of Sussex.
“Hucknall has a charming downtown district, just like Wadsworth does, and of course because it is in the United Kingdom everything is much older than it is here,” Krauss said. “There is a lot of charm, there is a lot of old architecture and, of course, a lot of history.”
Krauss said a significant benefit of an international partnership is that both communities have an opportunity to learn from each other.
“We can learn how the other city does events, you can learn about how they take care of their historic buildings, because they have historic buildings in their downtown, too, so what are they doing for preservation,” she said. “What kind of business mix are they bringing downtown?”
At some point, businesses might even be able to sell each other’s goods, Krauss said.
Laubaugh said that they are not traditional “sister cities” because that typically requires a financial investment in areas of economic development and travel.
“This one is more, I think, a situation where we are learning from each other, there is an exchange of cultures, organizations are learning from other organizations,” Laubaugh said.
Havens said he visited Hucknall last summer, and ended up staying a week with Bhushan and his family.
During his stay, Havens visited Broomhill Junior School and gave a presentation on maple syrup, something that is not made in England.
“I talked to the head teacher, which is their principal, and we talked about doing some kind of setup where we exchange and we are just at the tip of doing that right now,” Havens said.
While initially Franklin Elementary students will be writing letters as a class to send to their counterparts in Hucknall, Havens is optimistic the relationship could grow.
“I just hope that connections are made with the younger kids, that they would continue, because I hear these stories and I talk to people saying, ‘I was a pen pal with somebody over in England or over in France,’ and they didn’t meet each other for 10 or 15 years and finally one of them went to the other place,” Havens said.
Havens said he is even exploring the possibility of the schools connecting through Skype.
“We are hoping to Skype. Obviously, we have to take into consideration the five-hour difference in time,” he said.
Havens said he has also connected with the local historical society and parks volunteers in Hucknall, as he also serves as president of the Wadsworth Historical Society and volunteers with Friends of Wadsworth Trails.
Krauss said she appreciates Laubaugh’s efforts regarding a resolution between the two cities.
“I have been very grateful to Mayor Laubaugh. She is a progressive mayor in a progressive city and she values the importance of initiatives like this,” Krauss said.
Krauss said a friendship resolution between the two cities should be completed sometime this year.