The Art of Cultural Exchange

Mike Moyle
Portuguese officials from FLAD (Foundation for Luso-American Development) met with Sausalito-Cascais Sister City representatives and civic leaders to learn more about their many efforts to promote Portuguese art and culture which FLAD supports throughout the U.S. Pictured left to right: Jim Meyer & Cheryl Popp (Cascias Sister City co-chairs)|!!| Dr. Vasco Rato|!!| (President of FLAD|!!| Miguel Luz (FLAD Director)|!!| Sausalito Mayor Tom Theodores & Vasco Morais (Cascais Sister City Committee).

Sausalito has three very active Sister City programs – one with Vina del Mar, Chile; one with Sakaide, Japan and one with Cascais, Portugal. The Portuguese sister city organization has been particularly active since its formation two years ago, in promoting cross-cultural and artistic exchanges between the two cities.

In addition to sponsoring Fado Nights (a lyrical and dramatic Portuguese music and singing tradition), and a Portuguese short film festival, the Sausalito-Cascais sister has also helped publish a bi-lingual children’s book, Maria and Her Lost Calf. The story of a Portuguese dairyman’s daughter in the Marin Headlands has won numerous awards. 

The local sister city group, with great support from Portugal’s Consul General Nuno Mathias in San Francisco and organizations such as FLAD (Foundation for Luso-American Development),  has also proposed a classic Calcadas public art installation with traditional tiles for the project and an artisan to install them provided by the city of Cascais. They are also working with Ocean Riders in West Marin to establish a Portuguese Dairy Interpretative Museum at the site of former Golden Gate Dairy by the equestrian stables in Muir Beach.

Of all Sausalito’s sister city relationships this one resonates most with the local community due to Sausalito’s remarkable Portuguese heritage.  In 1900, it is estimated that a quarter of Sausalito’s residents were of Portuguese-American descent  based on the wave of Portuguese immigrants who came to what is now Marin County as whalers, fisherman and farmers in the late 1800’s.  No other ethnic group has had a longer or closer connection with Sausalito. The IDESST Portuguese Cultural Center on Caledonia Street is a tribute to the Azorean heritage in the town; not surprisingly, its members are also active in supporting the sister city program. For more information about Sausalito’s Portuguese history including directions for a Sausalito Portuguese Heritage Walking Tour visit

In addition to the numerous artistic and cultural exchanges they have orchestrated, the Sausalito-Cascais Sister City organization hosted the first international youth sailing exchange in July of this year.  This first-ever educational student exchange program between the Sausalito Yacht Club and Clube Naval in Cascais, was met with great enthusiasm.  Student sailors, coaches and a delegation from Cascais were hosted by Sausalito; in July of next year, Sausalito Yacht Club student sailors and a delegation from Sausalito will travel to Cascais for more competitive racing and on-the-water sail training.

For more information on the Cascais sister city program visit

Categories: Cheryl Popp, Marin Matters