Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Abomination that is Santa Clarita's Flag

 
No.

I watched a compelling TED talk by Roman Mars, a call to action at once humorous and heartfelt. It's about city flags, why they matter, and designing a good one. You may be rolling your eyes, as I did at first, but give the guy a chance to prove why "100% of people care about flags":


Mars thinks all cities should have flags they can be proud of and incorporate into civic life. He puts forward five simple design rules credited to vexillologist Ted Kaye, author of Good Flag, Bag Flag: How to Design a Great Flag. They are: (1)Keep it simple, (2)Use meaningful symbolism, (3)Use 2-3 basic colors, (4)No lettering or seals, (5)Be distinctive or be related. Easy enough, right? By these criteria, good city flags include those of Chicago, Portland, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong.



Conversely, bad city flags include those of San Francisco, Pocatello, and Fort Providence.



Now, what about the flag of Santa Clarita? There's good news and bad news. The good news is that we care enough to have one. The bad news is that it's an abomination. It's not simple. It uses a seal and lettering. It has too many colors. Some of the symbols are too crudely rendered to even be interpreted. And what is meaningful about the red border and white field? The mistakes are too many and too profound to salvage the flag. We have to start from scratch.



Think of all the symbols we have to draw from. There's gold, which put Santa Clarita on the map, is the color of her hillsides, and resonates with California history. We are a community of junctions--black bars for canyons, blue for the Santa Clara River, or perhaps a dramatic gap to symbolize Beale's Cut. Claritans cherish their oaks, the leaves of which can be strikingly abstracted. Good design isn't easy, but at least there's plenty of inspiration.

Perhaps more importantly, though, we need a groundswell of support for a new flag. I think the easiest way to accomplish this is to (1)Obtain a copy of Santa Clarita's flag, and (2)Show it to people. The outrage will be immediate, visceral, and invigorating. I'm in the process of drafting a more formal plan of action, but right now, we just need to start opening residents' eyes to the horrors of the banner that is supposed to represent them and their fair city. To all those who heart Santa Clarita, let us find a flag worthy of her name.





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