Nantes delegation visit - April 2022
In mid-April, we welcomed 39 people from Nantes to celebrate our delayed 40th anniversary of twinning. Nine people came for discussions about the maritime industry, eight for aerospace, and 22 for institutional and cultural meetings with counterparts here in Seattle. The group included two deputy mayors, many heads of cultural institutions, professors and vice-presidents from universities, the vice-president and others from Pays de la Loire, several CEOs, and representatives from La Maison des Etats-Unis.
It was a whirlwind week! All of it was planned in only two months, due to the uncertainties of the travel situation, which was only complicated by losing a number of delegates at the last minute due to failing the Covid test for entry into the US.
Day 1 - Celebration at Nantes Park
We kicked off the week on Sunday with the long-awaited celebration in Nantes Park and gifting to our guests hand-sewn Seattle-fabric bags stuffed with local chocolate, visitor guides, and a commemorative Nantes Park bookmark. We were able to complete two-thirds of the beautification project in time.
Day 2 - Seattle Center / Pike Place
Monday morning was devoted to meetings with Mayor Bruce Harrell, Tribal Relations Director for Seattle Tim Reynon, and Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck. Then we took the delegates to Pike Place Market for lunch and afterwards the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Dinner was held at Ellen Taft’s house (thank you, Ellen!).
Day 3 & 4 - Delegation-specific activities
On Tuesday, we got down to business with a series of meetings and visits tailored to each group: maritime, aerospace, government, education, arts, and parks. The Pays de la Loire contingent worked with the Port of Seattle on the maritime program. The FACC planned the aerospace visits. SNSCA and Stacey Jehlik planned the other four groups.
The education group met with the Office of Public Instruction and faculty at the University of Washington, including representatives from the Jackson School of International Studies, the French Department, and people involved in innovation, the applied physics lab, environmental sciences, and global affairs.
The government group met with a wide range of officials and organizations, including Chief Seattle Club, Mary’s Place, El Centro de la Raza, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, Seattle Women’s Commission, Seattle’s Chief Equity Officer, and representatives from the Gender Justice Project and the Race and Social Justice Initiative. They also participated in a live housing panel discussion at city hall.
The parks group visited Seattle Parks and Recreation, UW Urban Farm, Beacon Food Forest, Olympic Sculpture Park, Amazon Spheres, the Ballard Locks and Botanical Garden, UW Japanese Garden, and the WSU Puyallup Extension Research Center.
The arts group had tours and meetings at MoPOP, the Burke Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Office of Arts and Culture at King Street Station.
Somewhere in the schedule, we also found time to visit MOHAI, tour the University of Washington, deliver more sel de Guérande to Chris Engdahl at Lantern Brewing so that he can brew more of our beer, and hang out with beer and pizza at Obec Brewing.
Day 4 - Reception at Port of Seattle
All the delegates, everyone they met with, and all SNSCA members were invited to the gala on Wednesday night that was hosted by the Port of Seattle on the waterfront.
We planned for 125 people and I think we got them. While guests enjoyed wines from Washington and Pays de la Loire, our own 8000km Collab beer, and plentiful appetizers, Damascus Papers played French and American songs.
The program started with drumming from the Suquamish Tribe. Mariette Cassourret, President of La Maison des Etats-Unis, and I were the MCs. Speeches were given by Mayor Harrell (Seattle), Deputy Mayor Pierre-Emmanuel Marais (Nantes), Deputy Mayor Mahaut Bertu (Nantes), pictured below, as well as others. The city of Seattle gifted a Cosmic Crisp tree to Nantes, which was procured by SNSCA in a lengthy process over the last year. The tree will be planted in the fledgling Verger de Seattle in the Parc du Grand Blottereau.