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Letter to the Editor: City flag change should have more design options, public input

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Last edited 1:11 p.m., Dec. 16, 2021

I want to thank the core members of the Springfield Identity Project for all they have done and continue to do for the Springfield community. Their love for the city of Springfield and desire to make it a place where we are all proud to reside and prosper is to be commended. I have also watched the TED Talk regarding poorly designed city flags and agree that the Springfield community would benefit by a flag redesign. However, I disagree strongly with the process to get Springfield a new city flag taken by the SIP.

From the beginning, the SIP process has been a small group push of one concept, hoping to garner community support rather than a community-led project. It was started in secret by four community members, who then contacted a group of creatives for concepts.

After signing nondisclosure agreements, a small number submitted concepts.

The four SIP founding members narrowed the choices down to three and then ultimately chose the design of one of their own committee members. Regarding their secretiveness, John McQueary says, “We heard stories where processes like this never get off the ground if it’s public from the start.” [Editor’s note: Quoted from a Springfield Business Journal interview for a March 2017 opinion piece titled, “The day the flag walked in.”]

This statement is incorrect; cities that didn’t engage the public from the start have been the least successful, according to the North American Vexillological Association.

The only design the public has ever seen is this one design. [Editor’s note: The city received 24 alternate flag submissions, some of which were reviewed at a September council committee meeting before moving forward with the SIP flag.] Tom Kaye, expert vexillologist, features eight case studies on his website and all had community submissions and then public voting on options.

Kaye says, “The Springfield proposal has four different things going on. If they would crank back two of those – say take the little stars off and give up on the crown theme and simply have that big [compass] on the blue and white strips, that would be a compelling, simple design that would be immediately recognizable.” [Editor’s note: Quoted from an SBJ interview for an August 2017 opinion piece titled, “How to get city’s blessing on a new flag.”]

A city of Springfield poll [surveyed Aug. 4-18, 2021] indicated the city should adopt the flag, but SBJ.net’s (Aug. 5-11, 2021) poll showed the opposite. Neither of these surveys is truly representative of the public’s opinion.

With well-known downtown personalities pushing the design, it has taken hold with the younger population and downtown establishments; however, you rarely see it beyond downtown Springfield.

If you feel this process has not included the public’s opinion, let City Council know that Springfield should change the process, have a forum for public submissions narrowed down by experts, and then a public vote on the options.

—Neil Frost, Springfield

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jstockam

There was a very public input process and ability to submit your own design back in August. In addition, look back at the way the SBJ question was asked. The answer did not line up with pictures and I'm sure people voted without reading.

The new flag looks very good, and you said it yourself the group loves Springfield. Unless you have a better solution, just support this obvious win for the city.

Thursday, December 16, 2021
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