The Boulder-Dushanbe Sister City effort began more than 20 years ago, when the mayors of Dushanbe and Boulder agreed to exchange gifts between their two cities. Dushanbe provided the first gift, sending Boulder thousands of intricately carved pieces that would later become the Dushanbe Teahouse. The teahouse opened in 1998 in Boulder. Now, a decade later, a $1 million in donations from Boulder residents have helped build the Dushanbe Cyber Cafe, which backers hope will help residents of the former Soviet republic to continue to open up to the rest of the world.
Created by dailycamera on Sep 15, 2008
Last updated: 03/12/10 at 05:04 AM
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A Boulder delegation officially presents the city’s return gift to Dushanbe.
Construction on the cybercafe begins
Don Mock, president of the sister cities group, travels to Dushanbe for a ground-breaking ceremony at the cyber cafe site. Upon his return to Boulder, the group resumes fundraising efforts to pay for the $1 million cafe. The city of Boulder agrees to secure loans totaling $350,000 with future revenue from the teahouse operations.
Boulder Mayor Mark Ruzzin travels to Dushanbe to negotiate a new decree promising the sister-cities organization a site in a major city park.
Boulder architect David Barrett completes a concept design for a cybercafe to be located in downtown Dushanbe. When a Boulder delegation arrives in the city, however, they’re told that the building would need to be at least five stories tall in that location.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse starts serving customers, and Boulder’s sister-cities members start making plans for the cyber cafe.
Tajik artisans arrive in Boulder to begin their work putting the finishing touches on the teahouse, which has finally been assembled by engineers. The construction follows a strenuous debate among city leaders over a vote to approve a loan of $800,000 in public money to erect the teahouse. That money is being repaid through the operations of the teahouse.
A peace agreement is signed between the Tajik government and the United Tajik opposition.
The Boulder City Council votes to place the teahouse at its current location, at 1770 13th St.
The new nation is embroiled in a civil war, as government forces from Dushanbe and opposition forces in the countryside grapple for control.
Tajikistan gains independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In signing the Boulder-Dushanbe Protocol Agreement, leaders from both cities pledge to take part in cultural exchanges and also commit to exchanging the teahouse and a “Boulder restaurant.”
The Dushanbe Teahouse arrives in Boulder — in the form of 30 tons of crated parts. Those go in storage while Boulder mulls possible sites for the building. Those include: an island in the pond outside East Boulder Community Center; west of the Criminal Justice Center at Arapahoe Avenue and Sixth Street; and its future home at 1770 13th St.
Boulder Mayor Linda Jourgensen leads a delegation to Dushanbe, opening an exhibit of 27 works by Boulder-area artists. The delegation also discusses with their Dushanbe counterparts the possibility of Boulder receiving a teahouse and, in return, building a restaurant — possibly a pizzeria — in Dushanbe.
Dushanbe Mayor Maksud Ikramov visits Boulder for the first time. He and Boulder officials sign an Agreement of Establishing Sister City Relations.
Mary Axe, Sophia Stoller, Mary Hey and other Boulder residents reach out to Dushanbe to form a sister-city relationship. They picked Dushanbe out of a desire “to become a sister city with some city in the Soviet Union,” Axe said. The Soviet Union initially declines — citing Boulder’s relatively small population — but Hey makes routine visits to the Soviet embassy, showing that Boulder residents are already holding to discuss Tajik literature, food and music.
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower launches the “People-to-People” program, the precursor to the Sister Cities International organization, which launched a decade later. The program aims to help “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time,” according to its mission statement.
Following the rise to power of the Bolsheviks in Russia, the Soviet Union creates the Republic of Tajikistan, and its current borders are put into place. Over the coming decades, the communist government will pour financial resources into the country and build up its capital, Dushanbe.
The territory that’s now Tajikistan starts to become a pawn in “Great Game” power politics, as European countries and Russia struggle to control it.