I Block Party
Arcata-Camoapa Sister City Project
The Arcata-Camoapa Sister City Project has existed since 1986, and operates as a small not-for-profit NGO that promotes cultural, educational, and humanitarian exchanges between the towns of Arcata and Camoapa, Nicaragua. This Sister City project started when one Arcata resident, Stan Henerson, wanted to find a way to have a relationship with the citizens of Nicaragua that was unrelated to the political situation in the mid-1980s. Camoapa was chosen for its similarity in size to Arcata. Arcata’s mayor Thea Gast was a participant on one of the earliest teams that traveled to Camoapa to assist with an expansion of the town’s health clinic. Many brigades have gone to Camoapa over the years, including a school bus stuffed with dental clinic supplies, sports equipment, clothes and more. A team of high-school youth who built a basketball court, engineers and engineering students who designed and built the infrastructure to provide fresh water to the hospital, many projects involving cleaner water for drinking and washing, and other projects involving education, healthcare and language.
The Sister City Project is not just a one-way relationship. Arcata has had many visitors from Camoapa over the years. We have had the mayor of Camoapa, high school students, nurses, and Sister City council members as well as welcoming many guests to our annual fundraiser, the I Block Party. The cultural exchange has benefited both the citizens of Arcata and those of Camoapa.
Annual I Block Party
The I Block Party is hosted annually in early September to celebrate the connection between Arcata and Camoapa, exchange culture, and fundraise for projects. The party features dozens of vendors, live music, dancing, and cultural performances.
The Sister City Project, utilizing funds from the I Block Party, currently sustains a number of projects in Camoapa. All of these projects are supported by funds raised at the annual fundraiser, the I Block Party. In collaboration with the local chapter of Engineers without Borders, we recently drilled a well that has brought running water to the local hospital in Camoapa. We previously supplied scholarships for secondary students for 15 years. Other projects include an annual contribution to the public library in Camoapa as well as an annual donation to Hogar Luceros del Amanecer, an organization that provides meals, tutoring, and healthcare for Camoapan children and their families who need this type of assistance. In addition to these donations, we recently made a donation to El Porvenir, an organization that provides clean drinking water and latrines to communities in Nicaragua. Our donation in 2022 allowed El Porvenir to get a matching grant to complete a latrine project in a barrio of Camoapa.
The 2023 party date is not yet announced, but you can stay up to date by following the Arcata-Camoapa Sister City Project on Facebook and by looking for their posters around town.
In 1987, a team from Arcata traveled in a repurposed school bus to Camoapa to deliver dental clinic supplies, sports equipment, clothes and more. The bus, with many hiccups along the way, made the 5,280 mile journey late in the year. Learn more about the trip in the Big Yellow documentary and check the comments for journal entries by one of the team members taken along the way.