Council suggests grassroots outcome for city flag

September 26, 2018

“Past, Present and Future” by Matt Levar, of Rochester, N.Y.

Unable to find united support on the future of the city’s flag, a couple Rochester City Council members suggested a continued grassroots effort.

“I don’t think we have to formally do anything for the people to adopt it,” Council Member Nick Campion said of the proposed flag.

Members of the Rochester Flag Project presented two potential designs to replace Rochester’s existing flag Monday afternoon — one selected through an online vote that drew the interest of approximately 2,000 voters and one selected by a committee of eight judges who were trained to consider the best elements of flag design.

The group of volunteers behind the flag design contest favored the committee-selected design, which was created by Matt Levar of Rochester, N.Y.

Lee Herold, owner of Herold’s Flags and one of the project’s organizers, said the design was selected for having a timeless element that could take it into the future to become an icon for the city.

To demonstrate the opportunities, Shawn Fagan produced a series of images that depicted how the proposed design, or the alternative selected in the public vote, could be used on a variety of merchandise from clothing to beer labels.

“Our community has not embraced our flag from the ’80s,” he said of the current design, which was adopted following a design contest in 1980.

Project members noted the current flag is rarely used outside City Hall and isn’t ideal for other potential purposes, such as creating souvenirs and other merchandise for people wanting a stronger connection to the city.

While the council split on whether to consider replacing the existing flag, Campion was first to raise the idea of turning it over for community action, rather than putting it up to a vote, either by the council or through a public forum.

“If I tell the community what the flag needs to be, then we’ve lost,” he said, noting encouraging others to use the alternate flag would be a way to make it an icon.

Council Member Michael Wojcik echoed the idea, urging the council to consider working with the group.

“I’d be happy to put one of these guys on the porch in front of my house,” he said of the proposed new flags.

However, not all council members saw a future for the proposed flag.

“I still like the old flag,” Council Member Ed Hruska said, noting the new designs failed to impress him.

Anastasia Hopkins Folpe, one of the flag project’s organizers, acknowledged the group had come across similar opinions in the monthslong process that brought 159 potential designs, but said the group saw a need to work to change minds.

“We think the time for a new flag is now, and we’ve been working in the community to establish that,” she said, noting the effort will continue.

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