Kent is closer than ever to settling on a new city flag.
Earlier this year, city leaders put out a call for submissions to replace its little-known 1975 official flag and ended up receiving 68 designs from 33 contributors. You can view all the submissions here.
The then-newly formed flag committee decided not to use color references to Kent State University or Kent Roosevelt High School, instead settling on green, blue, white and sometimes black or red, the most common colors in the submissions.
The committee is preparing to roll out the designs in January with a display at the Kent Free Library and a multi-faceted media release.
The flag committee has been meeting since July. Taking its cue from the North American Vexillological Association’s “Good Flag, Bad Flag” publication, Kent’s committee wanted a city flag with meaningful symbols, limited colors and no lettering. A design that could stand on its own without becoming dated was also important, the committee decided.
(Founded in 1967 by American vexillologist Whitney Smith and others, NAVA is an organization dedicated to vexillology, the scientific and scholarly study of flags.)
To anyone hoping to see designs featuring Kent’s silos or bridge silhouettes, Flag Committee Chair Jon Ridinger told city council that pictures on flags don’t typically look good at a distance.
Ridinger said the flags will be displayed with a QR code so viewers can offer input and see the process.
City Manager Dave Ruller congratulated the committee for only requesting about $1,000 to fund the rollout, noting that it could have easily cost $25,000 to hire the project done.
A burgee-shaped flag that pays homage to the State of Ohio flag and reflects Kent’s original flag.
Blue signifies determination, liberation, alertness and good fortune. It symbolizes the Cuyahoga River and canals, which were a central piece of Kent’s past and a point of charm and appeal in modern times.
Green is often seen as a symbol of agricultural influence, prosperity, fertility, youthfulness and hope. Here, it also serves to symbolize Kent’s Tree City nickname.
White, the symbol of peace, purity and harmony, here reflects Kent’s history of seeking peace and harmony locally and globally.
The simple modern design is meant to suggest Kent’s goal of civic progress and the city’s forward-looking spirit. The green vertical center stripe and intersecting blue diagonal stripes form the letter “K.” All the stripes point to the central star, forming arrows that are meant to point to the future.
The four stripes, both green and blue, are meant to recall Kent’s history, from pre-settlement, settlement and canal era, railroad era, and university founding. They are also meant to celebrate Kent’s intersection of cultures that come together to form a cohesive yet diverse community.
Yet another interpretation of the stripes is the convergence of Kent’s railroads, canal and river.
The converging stripes form an eight-pointed star that symbolizes the North Star, which was used on quilts that guided slaves escaping captivity. It also symbolizes Kent’s history of inclusion, diversity and forward thinking.
Also a burgee-shaped flag that pays homage to the State of Ohio flag as well as recalling Kent’s original flag.
The black triangle points forward to progress and hope. All three elements unite to form the letter “K” for Kent.
As with Option A, the green stripe represents Kent’s agricultural history, prosperity, fertility, youthfulness and hope. It also symbolizes Kent’s status as Tree City. The blue stripe, a symbol of revitalization and resilience, also represents the Cuyahoga River.
The black triangle is meant to represent a bird silhouette. It celebrates Kent’s chimney swifts and black squirrels as well as the city’s railroads.
Like the other two, a burgee-shaped flag pays homage to the State of Ohio flag as well as Kent’s original flag.
The blue chevron represents the “crooked” Cuyahoga River. The two green chevrons recall the initial settlements of Carthage and Franklin Mills, two small villages that united to form Kent. The way the green comes to a point is meant to reference the shape of a mound and symbolizes the prehistoric mound builders that lived in this area.
Taken as a whole, the chevrons and the negative white space to their left form the letter “K.”
The four red stars are presented as they appear on the State of Ohio flag. Here, they represent four segments of Kent history: pre-settlement, settlement and canal era, railroad era, and university founding.
The blue is meant to signify determination, liberation, alertness and good fortune. Green represents Kent’s agricultural history, prosperity, fertility, youthfulness, hope and the Tree City.
White, the symbol of peace, purity and harmony, reflects Kent’s history of seeking peace and harmony locally and globally. Red is meant to pay homage to the state flower (carnation) and the state bird (cardinal).
Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.
Do we really need a flag? They should at least have the name of the town on it or some other way of identifying Kent, Ohio.
Good grief NO! Should we write ” United States of America” on our flag? Look at flags in countries that have long traditions of design. NO WRITING. Symbols only. Use the “KISS” principle: Keep It Simple, Sam. Check nava.org for “Good Flag, Bad Flag” and see how pros look at it.
Do we *need* a flag? Do we need a logo? Do we need a city seal? We could argue no, but could also argue “why not?” Those things help give places identities and are symbols in themselves, just like flags for countries and states. In this case, the city is spending a menial amount of money to have a new symbol that can be visible on city buildings and hopefully many residents homes.
As for text, no, putting texts on flags is not good design. Think of the US, Canadian, UK, even the state of Ohio flag…none have text but we all know what they represent. Instead you use bold and meaningful symbolism.
I agree with Jon Ridinger.
This flag, and it’s design could be incorporated into local sports, amenities, if you look at Chicago, their local police officers even have their flag on their uniforms. It should be a symbol that the community as a whole should feel proud of and be a collective group.
Flags don’t need words, if design correctly like these three, people will soon know where it’s from.
There are five principals to good flag design according to the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA):
1.Keep It Simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
2. Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
3. Use 2 or 3 Basic Colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to three which contrast well and come from the standard color set.
4. No Lettering or Seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.
5. Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.