Has Alba Outgrown Medford?

When Medford and Alba became sister cities in 1960, Medford’s population was 24,425 and Alba’s was very similar.  Medford’s population has tripled to almost 75,000 while Alba’s current population is only 30,000. In 1960, Alba was not well known even in Europe. It has since become an international destination, drawing visitors from all over the world to enjoy its food, wine and culture. Walking Alba’s ancient streets, you have good chance of encountering A-List celebrities who have discovered what we have enjoyed for over fifty years. In spite of efforts to improve its image, Medford continues to be a “drive over” city, a place on the way to a real destination.

Alba has five other sister cities besides Medford. They take their sister cities very seriously and spend considerable resources nurturing these special relationships. Earlier this year, Alba mayor Maurizio Marello and assessor Olindo Cervella traveled to their Spanish sister city San Cugat to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their becoming sister cities. Recently Alba hosted an official delegation from Penza, a Russian city of 500,000. Alba is a hot commodity and is unfortunately taken for granted by the citizens and leaders of Medford.  A Medford mayor has not visited Alba since Lindsay Berryman in 2002. Most Medford residents don’t even know we have a sister city.

Our ties with Alba have changed many lives and even the way we live. It has been a benefit to our community but, for most, a hidden one. Unless people realize that having a sister city is more than a travel opportunity or a reason to socialize, the whole point of pairing with a city on another continent is lost. When Medford selected Alba as its sister city in 1960, we didn’t know a lot about the city we had chosen. Fifty-two years has shown us that we could not have made a better choice.

The real basis of our connection with Alba is the many personal and family friendships that span several generations. Those friendships will continue to thrive. The continued viability of our connection as sister cities will require the citizens and leaders of Medford recognize the value of having Alba as its sister city. The board of the Medford-Alba Sister City Association needs to hold outreach to the citizens of Medford and its government as its highest priorities. We have something very precious and five decades of shared history to build upon. Without a greater commitment to engaging our only sister city on many levels, we run the risk of letting a beautiful thing languish.