“To China And Back Again” – Generocity.org Covers CPGP

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This week’s featured article on Generocity.org is a wonderful piece on China Partnership by writer Erin Kane. In the article, you can read Erin’s interview with CPGP Director, Terry Cooke, and learn more about the recent impact of Mayor Nutter’s trip to China early last month.

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A local nonprofit is working to narrow the distance between Philadelphia and China.

Founded in 2011, The China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia is leveraging local resources to support cross-border initiatives, with a focus on clean technology. It also seeks to boost regional job growth and investment opportunities.

“We work on an open, transparent, and inclusive basis,” said Merritt T. “Terry” Cooke, a Philadelphia native and the founder and chairman of China Partnership. “We are specifically designed to be a platform that anyone can get on board with.”

In December, that platform included Mayor Nutter. China Partnership helped convene a team of industry leaders, headlined by the Mayor, who traveled on a trade mission to Tianjin, a growing Northeastern metropolis known as Philadelphia’s sister city.

Tianjin and Philadelphia are a good match — both cities have national-level mandates in the areas of sustainability and green technology and are committed to clean energy. And while Tianjin’s growth outpaces Philadelphia’s, the rapidly expanding city wants to learn from the well-established institutions and businesses that make their home in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Representatives from local cultural, medical, and educational institutions, such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Drexel University, signed a handful of agreements with their Chinese counterparts, laying the groundwork for long-term partnerships.

“We convened a forum to allow our institutions to talk and to try to support the development of additional partnerships,” said Cooke. Traveling to China, he said, was an essential step.

“By organizing a group like that, it gave the Chinese exactly the show of interest and focus they’re looking for to say, ‘Ok, we’ll work with these guys. We’ll commit money, We’ll accelerate deals,’” Cooke explained.

For The Philadelphia Orchestra, the trip rekindled old ties — 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Orchestra’s historic trip to China, when it performed at the invitation of President Nixon and Chairman Mao.

“As we celebrate this 40-year relationship, we have established a new residency program in which we have committed to working in the major cities, as well as the provinces, to be ‘in residence’ each year,” said Craig Hamilton, the vice president for global initiatives at The Philadephia Orchestra.

Full concerts and off-stage engagement sessions, including community coaching, visits to schools and hospitals, and free pop-up concerts are planned in five Chinese cities, including Tianjin.

From a national framework, a local approach Three years ago, Cooke, a cultural anthropologist and veteran of cross-border business engagement, saw opportunity through a local lens, stemming from a strategic framework between the United States and China implemented by the Obama Administration.

Philadelphia’s commitment to a greener future, including a national hub for sustainability at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, is widely known, making it an ideal place to look at sustainability issues on a more global scale.

“There was an opportunity for a nonprofit organization to play a catalyst role in clean energy,” said Cooke. “What we are doing as a nonprofit is to rally our 13-county region around the door that Washington, D.C. and Beijing have opened.”

China Partnership’s work is divided into three core areas — technology, cultural sustainability, and education, and will gain momentum in 2013.

A large sustainability event called the Global Green Forum, piloted last year at Penn, will bring together dozens of Chinese and Americans students to simulate and solve global issues. The date for the fall summit will be announced in March. China Partnership also has plans to engage more schools and universities.

“Students are at the cutting edge — sustainability is a generational challenge. It’s natural to involve students and it’s a way of highlighting that the issues are global,” said Cooke.