Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Decatur Needs

Decatur has an official logo.

Image result for decatur georgia logo 

Decatur has an official motto.

A city of homes, schools
and places of worship.

You might think that these are quite bland.
(Compare ours to, say, Claxton, Georgia:
the Fruitcake capital of the world.)

The logo and motto don't distinguish our great city from any other.

Decatur has some unofficial mottos that I would regard as improvements.

It’s greater in Decatur.

Decatur: where Mayberry meets Berkeley.

Image result for decatur there's a festival for that     

If you have ever had a conversation with anyone from the city about the quality of the logo or the motto you quickly realize that there is no desire to change these things given all the logistical issues that would be involved.

So what Decatur needs is a new symbol.
A new means of signifying its identity.
Decatur needs …


Why A Flag?

Why a flag? you ask.

Well ...

Flags can signal an identity.

Image result for lgbt rainbow flag
LBGT Rainbow Flag

Flags can unite people.
Image result for flag of singapore soccer match
Flag of Singapore

Flags can be fun.
Image result for fun with flags
from Big Bang Theory

And flags can be really, really cool.
Image result for flag perm russia
Flag of Perm, Russia

 A poorly designed flag is none of the above.

Do you recognize this flag?

Image result for flag atlanta

Probably not. It's the flag of the city of Atlanta.
I don't know if I've ever seen it flying

What Makes for a Good Flag?

What makes for a good flag?

There is actually an organization that thinks about such things. The North American Vexillological Association is devoted to the scientific and scholarly study of flags. What appears to be their most recent survey of city flags was done in 2004 and can be found here. Their second favorite American city flag is the following:

Image result for flag chicago

Why is this flag considered so effective? Using the five basic principles of flag design as promulgated by NAVA, Chicago's flag works because:

1.  The design is simple. Anyone could draw this on a small sheet of paper within a minute and other people -- at least other Chicagoans -- would be able to recognize it.

2.  It incorporates meaningful symbolism. The three white stripes represent the North, West, and South Sides of the city. The top blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River while the other signifies the South Branch and associated canals. The four distinctive six-sided stars honor four major events in the city’s history: Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34. On occasion someone proposes a fifth star. IT WOULD DEFINITELY HAPPEN if the Cubs ever win another World Series.

3. It uses just three basic colors. The fewer the better. NAVA's favorite city flag uses only two.

Image result for flag washington dc
Flag of Washington, D.C.
 4. There is no lettering. There are no seals. Such things tend to be difficult to read, do not reduce well, and do not translate on the reverse side.

5.  It's distinctive. Chicago's flag has unique six-pointed stars. While the flag is red, white, and blue, the shade of blue is distinct from that used in the American flag.

If you go to Chicago you will see the city's flag.
It's everywhere, such as

Image result for flag chicago flying
flying besides all municipal buildings,

Image result for flag chicago cops
police wear it on their sleeves,

Image result for flag chicago hats
on apparel,

Image result for flag chicago mugs
and all kinds of other stuff.
Further, folks alter the design to create all kinds of cool things.
Image result for flag chicago tattooImage result for flag chicagoImage result for flag chicagoImage result for flag chicago bicycle

Even if some of it might be unwanted.

Image result for flag chicago marijuana

It's Time For A Flag!!!

It's Time For A Flag!!!

There are places which have undergone efforts to change their existing flag, most notably Milwaukee (which may eventually succeed) and New Zealand (which won't). Change can be hard, even if you flag contains an image of County Stadium, home of the Milwaukee Braves!

Image result for flag milwaukee
Yes, there are people who didn't like this.
There aren't many examples out there regarding the process by which a city that never had a flag adopts one, but it did happen recently in Albany, Oregon.

If Decatur were to do this, the following would be important:

1.  Get buy in - from residents, city officials, and the local arts community;

2.  Set up a timeline - relatively short, with a goal of June 14, 2017 (that's Flag Day!) as a final deadline for adoption;

3.  Open up the design process to everyone;

4.  Use experts to narrow the selection; and

5.  Open up the final vote to all residents;

Anyone interested in this?

If so, contact