Sister City Thursday: Freiburg and Madison

Skulpturenhalle Freiburg / Sculpture Hall

Skulpturenhalle Freiburg / Sculpture Hall, © Karl Heinz Raach

23.08.2018 - Article

Read about the partnership between the German City Freiburg and Madison, Wisconsin in our consular region

  1. General Information and Official Contacts

    Madison, the capital of the state of Wisconsin, has a population of 230,000 and is comparable in size of Freiburg. Founded in 1848, the university with around 40,000 students largely determines the cityscape and life in the city. On the isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota is the city's landmark, the Capitol, whose granite dome is only a few centimeters smaller than that of the Capitol in Washington. For years, Madison has been among the top 10 American cities with the highest quality of life.

    Paul Soglin, who had already been in office from 1973 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1997, has been mayor again since 2011. His last visit to Freiburg was 2 years ago for the “Partnership Market.” The partnership work is carried out by an employee of his office in preparation for special occasions, otherwise by the Sister City Committee, which works on a voluntary basis. There is no budget for partnerships; exchanges and visits must - as is customary in the USA - be financed through donations.

    2. Culture, Youth, Sport

    Due to the school structures in the USA and the high travel costs, there are no regular school exchanges with Madison. Individual student exchanges are organized by the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft (FMG).

    Mayor Soglin's visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the partnership in 2013 has stimulated contacts overall. The highlight of the visit to the Partnership Market wwas several concert performances by the “Rhapsody Quartet” of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. A concert took place in the cathedral, and the same year the girls' choir from a Freiburg School performed in Madison. The visit also inspired the founding of a Freiburg “Madison Band” with members of FMG and students of the Academic Year Freiburg (AYF), which will now perform in a changing line-up at the partnership market.

    The Square Dance Club Breisgau Twirlers and the Westport Squares Madison have a long tradition of sporting exchange. Since 1988, square dancing has been performed at joint events or during reciprocal visits. First contact in soccer was made in 2013 when SV Blau-Weiss Wiehre Freiburg participated in a football tournament at the Madison 49er S.C. sports club.

    3. Technical Contacts

    In 2011, the Solar Info Center in Freiburg initiated the planning of the Madison Sustainability Commerce Center. This was followed by a lively exchange between construction, energy and planning experts from both cities, followed by the construction of the Green Center in 2014. In 2014 the Energy Summit took place in Madison, where the city of Freiburg was represented at the panel “Perspectives on Future Cities”.

    Last summer 14 students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison came to Freiburg for one month for a so-called “Green Summer” course.

    4. Activities of the Partnership Associations

    The Freiburg-Madison Society (FMG), founded in 1989 as a civic involvement to strengthen the partnership, maintains contacts with the twin city primarily through American students who spend one year each at the University of Freiburg during the Academic Year in Freiburg (AYF). In addition to a city tour and an annual reception for new arrivals, FMG invites students to hikes in the Freiburg area and organizes further events throughout the year.

    Participation in the monthly German-American get-together organized by FMG in cooperation with the Carl-Schurz-Haus and the AYF is open to all interested parties in Freiburg. Here, guest speakers or FMG members give a brief introduction to German-American topics, some of which are the subject of lively discussion at the regulars' table.

    The Sister City Committee, the partner committee of FMG in Madison, has close contacts, which are particularly important in the preparations for the two-year international meeting of Freiburg's sister cities on the Rathausplatz. During mutual visits, the respective hosts offer “homestays”, which contribute to the deepening of personal contacts. These personal contacts also prove useful for the exchange of students and the placement of internships between the twin towns.

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