Sarasota Sister Cities - Sixty Years of Citizen Diplomacy


We published this book in December 2023. The Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) is celebrating sixty years since the founding in 1963. We have served on the board of directors of SCAS for many years and felt it was time to record the great achievements realized by the organization during the past sixty years. In this treatise we recognize significant exchanges, events and activities that have been carried out over the years and also recognize the many volunteers that have dedicated their valuable time in service to SCAS.

The book will also serve those interested in how a mid-size city manages sister city relationships around the world. Our organizational structure is described as well as the functions of all the board members, including the vice presidents and the directors for each of the sister cities. SCAS also serves the general Sarasota community with the public invited to all our luncheons, wide ranging presentations and celebratory events. The premier “One World Award”, conceived by board member, Bill Wallace, annually honors one remarkable individual and one outstanding organization in our community that has enhanced “Understanding and Respect” among citizens of the world through their extraordinary work or volunteer service.

The information provided in the book provides a template for cities contemplating the development of their own sister city program and contains useful ideas for possible new programs, events and exchanges in other sister city organizations.

You can purchase the paperback for $10 from Amazon.com. Search for Sarasota Sister Cities. All profits go to Sarasota Sister Cities.

                 Craig Hullinger                        Ray Young

You can read a free earlier and much smaller draft of the book by clicking the title below.


Sixty Years of Citizen Diplomacy

Book Publication Release and Signing Celebration Happy Hour 

SCAS Book Publication Release and Signing Celebration Happy Hour went very well and all the books were signed and sold. All profits from Book Sales go to Sarasota Sister Cities. 
Our celebration of all the volunteers that have contributed to Sarasota Sister Cities. Enjoy getting to see old friends again from SCAS. Come see your name and perhaps your picture in the book.

2nd floor of the Azul Restaurant for our "SCAS Book Publication Release and Signing Celebration Happy Hour" on January 25 from 5:00-7:00. The restaurant is located at 1296 First Street next to the Sarasota Opera House and across from the Selby Library, a very convenient location.

Photos of the celebration

Send changes or corrections to Craig Hullinger at sarasotasistercities@gmail.com


Book - Sarasota Sister Cities


Jan 22, 2024


Celebrating International Bonds: SCAS Unveils 60-Year

History Publication at Book Launch Event


SARASOTA, FL – The Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) is excited to invite the community and media to the launch of its much-anticipated publication, a rich narrative covering 60 years of the organization’s commitment to international friendships and cultural exchange. The event promises an insightful exploration into SCAS’s enduring legacy.

The book launch will occur on January 25th at the Azul Steak and Sushi Lounge, located at 1296 1st St, Sarasota, FL, 34236. Guests are welcome to join us on the second floor from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM for an evening of cultural engagement and historical reflection.

Authors Craig Hullinger and Ray Young, who have served on the SCAS Board of Directors for a combined total of 30 years, will be present to share insights from the book, which features many photographs of volunteers and individuals participating in Sarasota Sister Cities’ events and activities over the decades.

Several City Commissioners have indicated they will attend and will be acknowledged during the event, celebrating their support of SCAS’s initiatives. The book, available for purchase at only $10 with authors’ signatures, not only serves as a significant collector’s item but also supports SCAS, as all profits from book sales at the event will be donated to the organization.

Journalists are encouraged to attend this visually and historically rich event. There will be opportunities to conduct interviews with the authors, City Commissioners, and SCAS officials, providing a wealth of engaging content for publication.

The book launch event is free and open to the public, providing a chance to engage with the history and global connections cultivated by SCAS. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy light refreshments while immersing themselves in the rich narratives and photographs that have captured the essence of Sarasota’s sister city relationships through the decades. This gathering facilitates a deeper appreciation of international cultures, as celebrated and promoted by SCAS’s programs. To learn more, visit sarasotasistercities.org/event/scas-book-launch-celebration.


About Sister Cities Association of Sarasota

The Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) is a dynamic non-profit organization committed to promoting peace, mutual respect, and global cooperation through city-to-city partnerships and international cultural exchanges. SCAS serves as a hub for citizen diplomacy, connecting the Sarasota community with its eight sister cities around the world. Its mission is to strengthen relationships through educational, cultural, and business initiatives that provide enriching experiences and opportunities for collaboration. Learn more at sarasotasistercities.org.

About Sister Cities International

Founded in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sister Cities International is a non-profit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between cities worldwide. With a mission to build global cooperation, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development, Sister Cities International represents more than 500 member communities with relationships in over 2,000 communities across 140 countries.


You can buy the book on Amazon.com by  clicking this link.

You can read a free earlier draft of the book by clicking the title below.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Craig Hullinger

Book - Sarasota Sister Cities


Does anyone know if there is any truth to this????

A friend of mine sent me this;

Does anyone know if there is any truth to this????

----------Forwarded Message----------

Subject: Biden Drops EO #14067 - US Dollar REPLACED!


I told my friend there is no truth to this. That this is a typical effort to sell Gold. It is very effective. It invokes a lot of political paranoia, quotes a well known commentator, tells you it is a government plot to take over, and tries to scare the reader into buying gold from them. These kind of advertisements are aimed at both the left and right and they must be effective - they keep running the advertisements.

Here is what the order actually does. Nothing about seizing bank accounts or doing away with the dollar.


There is a time when an older person knows he is losing it - I am there now.  Eventually the person does not know he is losing it, and ends up losing his life savings to a terrible investment or a scam. Hope none of us get there.

What to do about it? If you are starting to believe these fantasies, DON'T. The USA is a great place and we are doing quite well. Our government is for the most part honest and honorable and not trying to screw you. We are not perfect, but we are pretty good.

If you do start to believe these type of things you should probably work with a trusted child or friend and your financial advisor to make sure your investments are in conservative safe investments, and make sure you don't take all your money and invest in something that you heard about on the internet because they said the sky was falling. 

And make sure your investments are with a large and well respected financial institution - not some guy who sent you a frightening email. And not Joe you met in the bar. 


Prairie Fire


                                                       Illustration by Ida Liffengren Jansen



Folks around Draper, South Dakota, still refer to the summer of l930 as a Scorcher.  (Folklore has it that you could fry eggs on the rooftops during August of that year!)

The searing sun turned the treeless plains into a tinderbox; the grasses, curled and brown, lay wilting alongside the road; the drouth-stunted weeds crunched underfoot.  An idle flick from a cigarette, a careless spark from a running motor, even the hot sun beating down on a chip of broken glass could ignite the vast prairie turning it into a blazing holocaust.

Morning dawned bright and clear. There was an air of tranquility on the day the prairie fire struck.  It was barely past noon when the farmer noted the first faint smell of smoke and, could see, in the distance, along the horizon, the shadowy tracings of a fire.

In the moments it took to reach his tractor he exulted in how much easier it was to plow safety furrows with his new tractor than it had been in the past with a team of horses.  With a tractor he could maneuver the dried coulees, could easily cross the rough, untamed prairie.

Round and round the scattered farm buildings the farmer plowed, leaving protective furrows of freshly turned earth.  Satisfied that his buildings were safe from fire he thought next to protect his winter's supply of cattle food. The furrows were purple-black and deep, so wide an errant fire could not cross. 

As he finished fireproofing his own place, he noticed the wind had switched slightly. Shouting to his wife that he was going to plow around the neighbor's buildings, too, he hurried off, in high gear, cutting through the pasture, heading towards the little cottage where an old couple lived. 

They were a little old couple, in their late 70's, stone deaf.  They wouldn't have heard about the fire, but by this time they would have smelled it, and seen it, and would have had no way to get out of its path.

The wind, which had increased sharply, began whipping the fire along.  Scientists can explain how hot air rises and causes movement which is wind; in the course of a prairie fire, fire begets wind, and when the fire gets a good strong toehold, there's very little that can hold it back. 

The farmer could see it coming closer, could see the red tongues of fire consuming the brittle, toast-colored grass. 

It was about that time that a neighbor lady from the west came to help. She and her young children, ages four through eight, brought two large cream cans full of water. They were prepared to help beat back the fire. 

At almost the same time two rigs of men arrived with  barrels of water, and heaps of gunnysacks. Leaping out of the trucks they grabbed the sacks, soaked them in water, and frantically began beating at the fire as it raged in front of them. 

The neighbor lady, who hadn't  waited to search for gunny sacks, grabbed what she could that wouldn't burn readily.  She snatched the heavy denim jeans her eight year old was wearing, doused them in water, and began lashing furiously at the fire which by now was frighteningly near. 

Moments later several more rigs of men arrived, all with barrels of water.  One of the men, an old timer, looked at the highway, a natural barrier to the fire, and reckoned, gravely, that they would have to start a backfire if they were to break this one's force.  He'd experienced many fires, and this one was one of the fiercest.  

The wind was flogging the fire into a frenzy.  The crackling heat provided a backdrop of sound effects for the treacherous wind.  Without a backfire, there could be no stopping this fire.  

A backfire was built to consume the combustible materials in the path of a fire, so that it would have no place to go, and would be forced to die.  There is a trick to it, a technique, and the old man knew it.  He and several others huddled together to protect the flame from the onslaught of the wind, nursing their flame along until it was ready. 

  With the highway as a safety zone behind them, the men worked, coaxing, channeling, directing their fire towards the big one, until there was nothing left between the two fires to devour.

Taming the rampant fire required all the strength the men had, and even after the wind had died down, and dusk had come, they did not dare to leave. 

Wiping sweaty arms across their foreheads, sipping what water was left, they sprawled on the charred earth, wishing it might rain.  They were exhausted, but so was the fire.

It wasn't until then that they heard the news about the farmer who had gone to plow the furrows around the neighbor's home.  When the capricious fire had turned, it had trapped the farmer.  He had jumped from his tractor, and ran back through the fire, protected by leather leggings, remnants of World War I, and his arms, which he used to shield his face.

When he was found he was dazed and incoherent. The neighbors who found him took him immediately to the nearest doctor, thirty miles away.  The tractor, in the perverse way of things, was turning circles, as though performing a slow ballet movement.  Treatment for burns in those days was vaseline to be slathered on, and gauze bandages.  The neighbors transported him, covered him with an apron, and gave him sips of water from a thermos made from a mason jar wrapped in burlap.  When they brought him home he was beginning to be lucid.

All that fall neighbors came to help him with the chores, and to haul him to the doctor.  The gauze stuck to his burned flesh and tore at the wounds when it was peeled; the odor of rotting flesh left a stench that had to be borne; the days were filled with unceasing pain.  

Without the neighbors the work could not have been done.  One of them came nightly to do the chores, and to tell tall tales and jokes to make him laugh.  He couldn't smile because that caused the blisters on his face to crack and ache, but his big shoulders shook with laughter, and his eyes gleamed.

Winter came, and with the spring, the earth had healed and so had the farmer.  The winter snows had blanketed the earth and the melting rains had carried away all traces of the fire that had ravaged it.  When the grasses poked through they formed a soft carpet of green. The plowed furrows looked oddly out of place, a vestige, a reminder of things past.

When the gauze and bandages were removed, the fingers were no longer thick from swelling; no longer was there a fear of infection. 

When the first green shoots of grain peeked through the ground, the farmer headed into the fields again.  His arms were scarred and brown, in stark contrast to the pink-white of his arms above the elbow, where he had always rolled his blue denim shirt sleeves, but his steps were youthful, and plans for the new season began to take form.

It must have been a year later when a magazine salesman found his way to the farmer's home.  "Wasn't it somewhere around here," the salesman asked, "where a man got burned trying to plow around an old couple's place?"  But the salesman was anxious to sell magazines and didn't wait for a reply.  "They say the old couple never realized he was plowing to try to save their place, and I've heard he never told them."

The farmer traded two old batteries for a subscription to a magazine, and shook the salesman's hand when he left. 

"Good luck," the farmer said, and added, "Don't bother to stop at the little farm to the east; the old couple who lived there passed on last winter."


      The farmer in the story was my father, Helmer Liffengren, of Draper, South Dakota.  We had only recently moved to that farm when the prairie fire broke out, and we did not know any of our neighbors well. But, in Dakota, neighbors were a precious commodity, something that one cherished and greatly appreciated. 

I have written this story not only to pay homage to my father, but to cite the Rankins, The Dowlings, and the others who helped in our time of great need. I would like to go even farther than that: I should like this story to honor good neighbors wherever they may be. @

This true story was first published in the May/June, 1993 issue of South Dakota magazine under "Remembering.

Louise Liffengren Hullnger