Back in the day, for a town of just over 30,000 people, it should not surprise anyone that the Carmelites were thinking big. Although they had been discouraged by even the likes of the Federal Government, this group of people was sure the trip would be worth it. After all, it had been just a few months earlier that officials from Carmel, Indiana and Kawachi-Nagano, Japan had signed a formal agreement to become Sister Cities and expand student cultural exchanges to include an economic development focus as well. So in 1995, with the new Carmel Mayor bearing products unique to Carmel, Indiana, the first Carmel Trade Fair was held in Kawachi-Nagano.
David Russell was one of those early big thinkers and almost 20 years later reminisced about the success of the program and the dedication of many individuals who worked so hard to make the program come to life. People like Barb Moshier, Charlie Scott, Kumiko Brunson, Daniel Swart, Larry Ingraham, Jim Burrell, Martin Hynes, Joyce Wozniak, Euna Pittman, Fran Shoup, Kaz Sakiyama, TJ Walter and Michael Godfrey.
Carmel Sister Cities, Inc. as it is known today grew out of relationship started and managed by Charlie Scott and Barb Moshier from Carmel Middle School dating back to 1988. Every other year, students from Carmel would travel to Kawachi-Nagano and then in the off year, Japanese students would come to Carmel. In 1993, there was a push to expand the program to include an economic development component, which resulted in the 1996 Trade Fair.
The regular trips between communities continued through the years, nurturing lasting friendships and strengthening the long distance connection. As it became more difficult to make the trip after 9/11, Joyce and Al Wozniak started working on an idea to bring a piece of Japan to Carmel.
Joyce is an expert gardener and she started a planned gardening exchange. That idea took hold and grew into a full-fledged Japanese garden located on the Southside of City Hall. With the help of Kumiko Brunson, the two ensure visitors to the garden can stroll along the ½ acre pond to watch the Koi Fish or sit quietly on a bench. The entrance to the garden is adorned with a wooden gate handcrafted by artisans from Japan who actually travelled to Carmel to install it.
The program continues today and is ready for the next generation of big thinkers.
Good day, Carmel.