Mayor says trip to England Sister City was ‘very productive’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

SALISBURY — Mayor Al Heggins recapped her recent trip to Salisbury’s Sister City — Salisbury, England — at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“I felt like we really did have a good cultural exchange of ideas,” Heggins said.

The mayor was invited by the Sister City for its annual “mayor making” ceremony in late May. Her husband, Isaac, traveled with her.

Heggins said her “platform” when in Salisbury, England, was to promote Salisbury’s four institutes of higher learning — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Livingstone College, Catawba College and Hood Theological Seminary.

“Salisbury, North Carolina, is unique in the fact that we do have four higher institutions of education here,” she said. “The four colleges provided me with official paraphernalia … so I was sort of like an ad hoc recruiter when I was there.”

She said she learned that a seminary in Salisbury, England — New Sarum Theological Seminary — has been closed for many years.

“And they are in the process of getting ready to get that started again,” Heggins said. “So we’re hoping that their New Sarum Theological Seminary and our Hood Theological Seminary might be able to establish a partnership.”

In addition to supporting and advertising for those institutions, Heggins said she learned about a number of “easily duplicable” ideas she hopes the City Council could consider.

“And I hope that I was able to represent our city well during the formal mayor making activities,” she said.

One of those ideas was “guerrilla gardening,” which Heggins said Salisbury, England, helped facilitate in the community.

“Their city actually supports anyone to come to their Guild Hall,” Heggins said. “They have plants for individuals who want to go out and plant flowers and plant vegetables in little patches of land that no one seems to own or claim.”

Heggins said having a number of community gardens can help people grow their own food and bring communities together.

“They’re healthy activities we can all engage in,” she said.

Heggins said she also watched the English city hosting a “Car-Booth at the Guild Hall.”

Guild Hall is the equivalent of Salisbury’s City Hall, she said.

Heggins described it as a “high-end flea market.”

“It’s a win-win shopping experience for vendor and shopper,” she said.

Heggins said that, to her knowledge, this strategy of having shop owners open their trunks to sell products in a market style hasn’t been done yet.

“And I know one of the things we’re focusing on is really building our downtown and bringing as many people downtown as we can,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem David Post said he likes the idea of having more community gardens.

“We’ve actually been approached … about doing that in various locations,” Post said. “And I think our city manager, when he was in Lenoir, they had several community gardens. So we have models for that.”

In all, Heggins said it was a “very productive visit.”

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.