Columbia, SC Soliciting Feedback On 18 Finalists

As Ted Kaye noted last November, South Carolina’s capital Columbia is looking to replace its SOB flag with something that better reflects the contemporary city and that will be embraced instead of ignored by the public. After receiving 547 proposed designs, the Columbia Design League had a panel of NAVA members select 18 finalists to present to the public for feedback. The whole process is outlined on the Columbia Museum of Art’s website, on a page entitled Design a Better Columbia Flag!

The feedback period ends on July 10th, and allows for greater weight to be given to opinions expressed by those with some connection to the city (people who live there, are from there, or work there) via self-identification questions on the survey website colaflag.org. Unfortunately the survey presents the 18 finalists in a fixed order, which can introduce artifacts into the results; on the other hand, it anonymizes the designs, presents a statement of intended symbolism for each, and allows respondents to not only assign a 1-10 rating for each flag but to leave comments.

Continue reading “Columbia, SC Soliciting Feedback On 18 Finalists”

Municipal Flag Improvement Update

We’re up to a total of 80 efforts to create or redesign US and Canadian flags of cities, towns, or other municipalities, as tracked on our Municipal Flag Improvement page. Many of these have been inspired by the TED Talk Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed by Roman Mars of the design podcast 99% Invisible (and Ted Kaye of NAVA and the PFA). That exploration of Good Flag, Bad Flag principles has been viewed over 2.8 million times since its release in May 2015.

Of these 80 efforts, 18 have resulted in new flags being officially adopted: Continue reading “Municipal Flag Improvement Update”

Face Flags of Washington, Part 3: Seattle

Seattle, like its encompassing county and state, is represented by a flag with its namesake’s face — in this case, that of the Suquamish Chief Si’ahl (anglicized as Seattle). Si’ahl lived from c. 1786 to 1866. One photograph of him survives (detail above), taken by  L.B. Franklin in 1864.

flag_of_seattle-svg
Flag of Seattle, adopted 1990

The flag was ostensibly designed by Boeing engineer and Seattle councilman Paul Kraabel (1933-2016), and adopted by City Ordinance 28207 on 16 July 1990:

A RESOLUTION expressing the intent of the Mayor and City Council of Seattle, to celebrate the best of athletic achievement and artistic expression through the City’s sponsorship of the Goodwill Games and Goodwill Arts Festival, and declaring Seattle to be The City of Goodwill, and adopting a city flag.

The Goodwill Games were an international sports festival created by Ted Turner to promote cultural exchange between the Soviet Union and the US in reaction to the Olympic boycotts of the 1980s. 2,312 athletes from 34 countries competed in Seattle and other Washington cities in 1990, the first time the games were held in the US. Continue reading “Face Flags of Washington, Part 3: Seattle”

Face Flags of Washington, Part 2: King County

Washington state’s most populous county, King, also uses a flag with a face on it: a stylized portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

680px-Flag_of_King_County,_Washington.svg

The flag was adopted in 2009 after over 20 years of efforts, lead by African American politicians and civil rights activists Ron Sims and Larry Gossett, to re-affiliate King County with Rev. King rather than its original namesake, US Vice President William Rufus Devane King.

It’s a fascinating story: Continue reading “Face Flags of Washington, Part 2: King County”

Face Flags of Washington, Part 1: State of Washington

The state flag of Washington stands out among its brethren:  not only is it uniquely green, it uniquely bears the likeness of an actual person.  People appear on many US state flags, but other than on Washington’s they stand for generic farmers, pioneers, etc. (Many believe the figures on Kentucky’s flag are Daniel Boone and Henry Clay, but this is unsanctioned by any official document.)

The flag of Washington state. Designed by a committee of the Daughters of the American Revolution, officially adopted 1923.

Just in case the viewer is unfamiliar with George Washington, the Daughters of the American Revolution in designing the flag have helpfully included the entire state seal, which identifies itself with a circular inscription: THE SEAL OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON 1889.  Alas, for the extremely literally minded, we are left with a flag that could be read as saying that it is a seal.

A Washington state seal.

Confused yet?  As a public service, we offer the following improvement:

Just to clear up any confusion.
Just to clear up any confusion.

Continue reading “Face Flags of Washington, Part 1: State of Washington”

Voting Ends 8/8 for Albany Flag Contest

In June we announced the launch of a process to find a flag for Albany, Oregon initiated by our fellow Oregonians at GUAVA (Greater Unified Albany Vexillological Association). Five finalists have been chosen and the public has been rating each on a scale of 0 (low) to 10 (high) at cityofalbany.net/flag.  This phase ends this Monday (8 August), so if you want to weigh in on the five contenders and haven’t yet, please do so soon!

Here renditions by graphic designer Steve Kodis (of People’s Flag of Milwaukee fame)  of what the flag designs would look like in flight, along with the “artist’s statement” for each.


Albany_Oregon_Finalist_Flag_1_Mockup
The two green triangles represent Agriculture and Timber, their combined shape is a tree which represents Albany’s status as a tree city. The two blue stripes represent the Calapooia and Willamette rivers. The gray background represents rare metals and roads.


Albany_Oregon_Finalist_Flag_2_Mockup
The triangle wedge on the hoist symbolizes the three names Albany has been called: Takena, New Albany and Albany, with the color green representing the nature and agriculture of Albany.

The 12 pointed star within a circle represents both how the 12 neighborhoods of Albany come together as one community, but it creates 12 white arrows that look inwards towards Albany for guidance as county seat and the Hub City.

The purple stripe is a symbol of Albany’s uniqueness as no current country or American state flag uses purple.

The blue stripe is a symbol of the Willamette River, upon which Albany was founded, and provided the bulk of Albany’s economy during the early years.

The grey stripe is the symbol of Albany being the rare metals capital of the world, upon which much of the current economy is based. The gray stripe also enforces Albany’s uniqueness, as it is a color used rarely in country and American state flags.


Albany_Oregon_Finalist_Flag_3_Mockup
Title, ‘Confluence and Crossroads.’ The blue portions represent the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette rivers. The gray portion represents Interstate 5 and Hwy 20 intersecting, a nod to our Hub City nickname; the gray is also representative of our metal industry. The green portion represents our agriculture, timber, and Tree City designation. The overall design forms an A representing Albany as well.


Albany_Oregon_Finalist_Flag_4_Mockup
This flag has a Northwest color scheme of green, blue and black.

Green symbolized Albany’s place as the grass seed capital and its emerging filbert tree market.

Blue symbolizes the importance of the Willamette River and Calapoolia River in their role in establishing Albany and Kalapuya Tribe.

Black represents metal because Albany is the “rare metals capital of the world.”

The white bridge give this flag a landmark and ties in with other symbols currently in use throughout Albany.

The angle at the front of the flag symbolizes Albany’s location within the valley and looks like the slope of a roof of one of Albany’s many historic homes.


Albany_Oregon_Finalist_Flag_5_Mockup
Drawing inspiration from the flag of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, in which the Kalapuya tribe was associated, this design silhouettes our city’s background. Using the colors yellow, reflecting wheat or grain, and blue, resembling our Willamette River, the logo is placed on a green background that represents the forests our state is known for.

Bree Henderson Spurs Laconia, NH To Redesign Its Flag

Situated between lakes Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam, the small New Hampshire city of Laconia has technically had a flag since 1965.  Technically, but not really in practice, as the Laconia Daily Sun notes, “a facsimile flag is encased and hangs on the wall in the Laconia City Council chambers, but that really is the extent of the functionality of the city’s current flag”.

According to city code this is Laconia’s current flag:

1353flag.tif
1965 design by high school student Frank Decoster. The top triangle is “International green”, the bottom “International blue”, and the side triangles are white. The city seal in black on gold is centered over a map of Lake Winnipesaukee in dark blue. Lettering is in gold with a black outline.

The “facsimile flag” on display in council chambers is a bit different:

LaconiaFlag
The flag as rendered for display differs from how it is specified in code: the seal is in brown and gold, the shape of the lake is different, and the lettering is missing its black outline. “Winnipesaukee” starts on the lake but extends far off to the right in difficult-to-read gold-on-white. (Photo by Ed Pierce,  The Citizen.)

In fact, the facsimile flag does not appear to be a flag at all, but more of a poster.  With a bit more digging, we found evidence that at least one actual flag had been made:

flag-on-display-at-public-library
A flag displayed as part of a history exhibit at the public library more closely matches the specifications, though purple has replaced “international blue”. (From a photo by Ed Pierce, The Citizen.)

The obscurity of the Laconian flag is coming to an end, however. Local vexillonaire and entrepreneur Bree Henderson (of the Polished & Proper Barbershop & Shave Parlor), inspired by Roman Mars’ TED Talk, asked the city to sponsor a redesign contest late last year:

Bree Hendersen [sic], a resident in Ward 4, addressed the Council regarding the lack of exposure of the City flag within the City. The City flag is 50 years old, adopted by the City Council in 1965, and has not been raised on flag poles throughout the City as it should be. B. Hendersen reviewed some historical information about the flag and questioned if the City flag is useful to the meaning of the City and suggested that a well-designed and used City flag could assist with the identification of the City. The elements of a flag, such as that of the City of Chicago, is a great example of what a well-designed flag can do. B. Hendersen proposed the idea to have a contest to redesign the City flag to be a better tool for the community. Councilor Lipman noted that this is a great idea and thanked B Hendersen for coming forward. (From the city council meeting minutes of 9 November 2015)

bree-henderson-enlarged
Bree Henderson, from a photo on Facebook.

Less than a year later, the contest to redesign the flag was launched today.  Prizes of $500, $300, and $200 will be awarded the top three designs. You have until Labor Day (5 September) to submit your proposed design at the Laconia Public Libary or by emailing laconiacityflag2016@gmail.com. For more information, visit the City Flag of Laconia Facebook page.

If all goes well, Laconia should have a fine laconic flag by the end of the year — particularly if designers make use of the guidelines in the itself laconic Good Flag, Bad Flag.

In Limbo, Waiting For Approval

Several city flag redesign proposals have won public competitions, but have not been approved by their city governments as official city flags. Almost all contest winners find themselves in this state immediately after a contest ends, but sometimes the wait for an official decision can extend apparently indefinitely.  What can be done to move these winning designs out of limbo?

Portland, Maine

Newspaper group BDN Maine announced just yesterday that Matthew Morey’s design “Portland Beacon” had won their redesign contest.

06 Portland Beacon by Matthew Moray of South Portland

But the announcement ends with a question, rather than a plan for moving forward:

Congrats to Matthew. Next question: Who wants to take the next step and make this Portland’s next flag?

Bellingham, Washington

Brad Lockhart’s design won a contest organized by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership in March 2016.

bradley-lockhart-winning-design

There is an ongoing effort to support this flag, with a the BellinghamFlag Facebook page having over 1,200 supporters. 175 people purchased 194 flags for $7672 through Kickstarter, which attracted enthusiastic participation (and publicity) from Roman Mars.

Though the Kickstarter campaign ended this month, its highly entertaining video is still worth watching.

Fargo, North Dakota

In December 2015 Taylor Homoky’s unconventional design won a contest hosted by a Fargo non-profit, The Arts Partnership working with the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.

WEB_FargoFlag_Crtsy-The-Arts-Partnership

The partnership submitted the winning design, along with 15 other runners-up, to the commission and “asked for direction from the arts commission and city staff on where the flag search should go next” (see Search for Fargo flag now in hands of city staff). That news item concluded:

Dan Mahli, Fargo’s community development administrator, said he will share the flag designs with the public relations office, which is now working on a city slogan.

Mahli said he may also try to get the submitted flag designs examined by design professionals. Hopefully, they can determine which design best matches the new city slogan, Mahli said.

Fargo’s government may be making the mistake of seeing the city flag only as their flag, rather than the people of Fargo’s flag — and thus requiring coordination with the city’s professional branding efforts, and likely greatly limiting its popular adoption (see also: the case of Provo).

This month Fargo’s mayor announced that the new slogan is “Far more”.  No word on the flag, though — far more deliberation is apparently needed.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

As we reported earlier this month “Sunrise Over the Lake” by Robert Lenz won a flag redesign contest organized by vexillonaire Steve Kodis’s group People’s Flag of Milwaukee Design Initiative and a local non-profit.

b99744199z.1_20160614212539_000_g7kg19jc.1-0

Part of the strategy for drumming up support for the flag is the merchandising of Sunrise Over the Lake products, including the People’s Sock of Milwaukee.

peoplessocks3

We salute Matt Wild of the Milwaukee Record for possibly the funniest vexillological lede seen so far:

On June 14, following a highly publicized contest that drew more than 1,000 entries, a group called “The People’s Flag of Milwaukee” unveiled, well, the“People’s Flag of Milwaukee.” The new flag was meant to replace the current Milwaukee flag, which, as we all know, violates the five rules of good flag design that Christ preached to his disciples, and was deemed highly odious by podcast host Roman Mars. And when Roman Fucking Mars says change your flag, you change your flag.

But are Milwaukee aldermen listening?

New Flags for Australia’s States?

by Max Liberman, Vexilloid Tabloid #58

In 2001, Australian vexillographer Brendan Jones produced a series of intriguing proposals for new Australian state flags. The designs follow the pattern established by the flags of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory: the southern cross from the national flag in a panel at the hoist, and an emblem representative of the state in the fly.

For New South Wales, the hoist is dark blue and the fly sky blue (the state color), bearing a red waratah (the state flower).  Jones notes that the waratah “is also of significance to many local Aboriginal peoples and hence serves as an important symbol of Aboriginal recognition and reconciliation”.

The proposal for Victoria is in dark blue and white. In the fly, an eight-pointed star, taken from the historic Eureka flag of 1854, is counterchanged and combined with an inverted triangle to form the shape of the state’s initial “V”.

For Queensland, the hoist again is dark blue; the gold fly (which represents the state’s sunshine and golden beaches) is charged with a stylized Cooktown orchid (the state’s floral emblem) in maroon, the state color. The orchid’s six petals represent Queensland as the sixth and last of Australia’s states to have been established as a British colony.

South Australia’s heraldic colors of blue, gold, and red all appear in its proposed flag. The blue hoist represents the Southern Ocean and the red fly the desert of the Outback; a narrow gold fimbriation separates the two and the fly is charged with the piping shrike from the existing state flag and coat of arms.

The design for Western Australia uses the state’s heraldic and sporting colors of black (hoist) and gold (fly); the gold also represents the state’s mineral wealth and expansive desert. The fly bears the state emblem, the black swan, which appears in the current flag and badge and evokes the state’s former name, the Swan River Colony.

For Tasmania, both the state’s unofficial sporting color (green) and its heraldic colors (red and white) are used.  The hoist is red and the fly white, charged with a map of the state in green; the green also symbolizes Tasmania’s natural heritage.

On the whole, the proposed designs are clear and distinctive, and the unifying pattern of the hoist panel with the southern cross makes them unmistakably Australian. All of them would be a considerable improvement over the British colonial ensigns currently serving as state flags. But it might also be felt that the use of the NT/ACT model inappropriately blurs the constitutional distinction between Australia’s states and territories, and that for the states’ flags to adhere to a uniform template does not serve to represent their individual identities and their status as sovereign entities within the Australian federation.

Jones’s website featuring the designs can be found at http://bc.id.au/flags/.