Mayor wants to create new Dayton flag; You can help create the new one

The city of Dayton flag
The city of Dayton flag

Chicago’s flag is so beloved that countless people have it tattooed on their bodies and it also has its own Etsy page, where people can buy socks, shirts, jewelry, decorations and lots of other stuff emblazoned with the design.

Now try to picture Dayton’s flag.

If you are like most people, you are drawing a blank.

Dayton’s flag only hangs in a few places around the city, and most people have no idea what it looks like.

The city wants to change that.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has formed a 20-person steering committee that met for the first time on Wednesday to begin the process of helping create a new city flag.

The community will be asked to submit and help select design ideas for a new banner.

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South Bend, Ind., redid its flag in 2016 after gathering community input. The goal was to capture the spirit of South Bend “past, present, future,” according to the South Bend Tribune.

The endeavor was a huge success, and Dayton’s process is based on South Bend’s work, Whaley said.

Dayton’s flag is “terrible” and getting people to work together on design could be transformative, Whaley said.

“A good flag can bring the community together,” Whaley said.

Whaley said Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, Ariz., all have great flags.

She said a new, compelling flag could inspire the community and improve feelings of connectivity, civic engagement and ownership of the city.

“It’s a way for the community to come together and be a part of their city in a way that’s artistic and has meaning,” Whaley said.

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Dayton’s flag hangs outside of City Hall, in commission chambers and at at least one local business.

Dayton’s first flag was created in 1917 and was designed by an assistant art teacher from a local school, said Maggie Schaller, a legislative aide with the city commission office.

In 1956, there was an open contest to replace it. A new flag was selected by a six-person group and implemented in 1958 and hasn’t changed since, Schaller said.

The city’s flag is white and blue and has “Dayton” written down the left side. On the right side is a gear, with a globe inside and a silhouette of the Wright Flyer.

The North American Vexillological Association (NAVA), which studies flags and their significance, has five principals for good flags:

  • Keep it simple
  • Use meaningful symbolism
  • Use two or three basic colors
  • No lettering or seals
  • Be distinctive or be related

Dayton’s flag, unfortunately, breaks multiple rules.

A good flag should be simple enough that a child can draw it from memory, and Dayton’s current design has an intricate plane and globe, which is a little too complex, Schaller said.

The flag has symbolism but Dayton isn’t the same community as it was in 1956, she said.

Using public feedback, the committee will try to figure about three to six themes that resonate with the community and two to four colors that are based on logos and colors frequently seen in the city, she said.

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There will be an open submission process in the fall, and designs will be asked to follow the five NAVA guidelines and include explanations of the choices, Schaller said.

“We are looking to engage the community throughout this,” she said. “We are hoping to really make this a people’s process.”

Community engagement will take place at universities and colleges. Dayton Public School students are expected to participate with the redesign through their arts programs.

The steering committee’s members include representatives from the arts community, business owners and groups, design experts, history organizations and government.