Columbia, SC’s New Flag.

Two and a half years ago I wrote this post. Fast forward to today. The new design for the new City of Columbia, SC flag is official, barring some technical issues.

The Free Times & Post & Courier introduced this story, respectfully. That said, I’m not sure what to type here. I read Mayor Benjamin’s explanation and/or interpretation of the image, and I’m not bustin’ on Steve here, but I’m not sure I’m getting the connection.

To me, it’s almost like the artists are trying too hard. If we don’t have an identity, I’d rather see Columbia embrace the overused capitol building or dome, or incorporate the Palmetto Tree (overdone…I understand, but brand effective), or even a smiley face, for that matter.

The 19 flags above are some of the other choices that were under consideration.

The river thing we’d all love to identify with and embrace is kind of a stretch, and bringing up that the beautiful rivers were commercially important 200 years ago isn’t helping. Think of it – Yes folks walk on the riverwalk, but other than that and that some folks kayak or sit in an intertube, pretty much all we do with the rivers is drive over them. Adding a star to symbolize that we survived Gen. Sherman’s burning of the city during/after the war between the states is not inspiring to people born after anyone you know.

I live and love Columbia and our city is on a good and solid upward trajectory, but IMHO the image above does not symbolize who we are, what we want to be, or where we want to go.

For those who didn’t click a link above, I copy/pasted the text below –

Thank you!

Franklin Jones

It’s Official: Columbia Adopts New City Flag

Columbia City Council on Feb. 4 concluded a more than three-year, at-times rambling process of selecting a new city flag to replace the antiquated corn-and-cotton festooned banner that had flown over the city for more than a century.

Council chose a flag created by design studio/print shop The Half and Half. It features a deep blue field, with two lighter shades of blue and a streak of white flowing diagonally across the flag, with a six-point star in the left corner.

“It speaks to, I believe, not only who we are, but who we hope to be as a city,” Mayor Steve Benjamin tells Free Times. “It symbolizes the rich land that exists at the corner of the connection of the Saluda and Broad rivers, which form the Congaree and laid the foundation for [the city].

“The star references not only [being] the capital, but I think it also references, in a positive way, the resilience of this place after [the burning of the city] in 1865. In a way that’s positive, it hearkens back to our past.”

Council adopted the flag at the Feb. 4 meeting, and will ratify the decision at its next meeting.

The adoption of a new city flag was not a quick, or easy, process.

In 2017, City Council, with the help of the Columbia Design League, authorized an open competition for the design of the new flag. As a result, more than 540 designs were submitted. Out of those, 18 designs were selected as what officials referred to at the time as “finalists.” A group of vexillologists — experts in flag design — helped in identifying that group of 18. Subsequently, the public was invited to comment on that group of 18 flags, and more than 7,000 people participated.

But City Council didn’t take action after that initial process and, as noted in a September release from the Design League, eventually “determined that additional design criteria should be considered, with the hope of arriving at finalist designs that most accurately reflect Columbia’s history and spirit.”

Five designers — Samuel Choate, John Gehringer, Daniel Jones, Nick Julian, and The Half and Half — were then chosen to enter the final phase of the flag saga.

All five of those designers were among those who submitted designs in the initial process, and they were selected for the extended process based on public comment, input from flag experts and a jury review process. Each of the designers will get a $500 stipend from the city, and Half and Half will get $2,000 from the Columbia Design League and Columbia Flag & Sign Co.

The Design League and city advised the finalists that flag designs “should incorporate colors and/or symbols that represent contemporary Columbia and the diversity of people that live and work in the city.” The finalists also were asked to include “shapes or symbols that signify wings.”

The previous city flag was adopted in 1912. It is sky blue with the city’s seal in the center. On the right side is a spray of cotton, and on the left side is a stalk of corn with full ears and a tasseled top. (Corn and cotton were the leading crops of the area at the time of the banner’s adoption.) The old flag was designed by a local school teacher named Kate Manning Magoffin. She won $100 in a contest sponsored by the city and The State newspaper for her flag design efforts.

At-large Councilman Howard Duvall says, following the ratification of the new flag, he wants to formally retire the old one.

“I’d like to suggest that, when we get the new flag, that we have a flag replacement ceremony,” Duvall told Benjamin at the Feb. 4 Council meeting. “They do this in the military, where a battle flag is taken down and a new battle flag is put in place. So, let’s have some sort of short ceremony, where we remove the corn stalks and put in the newly vetted flag.”

Benjamin lauded the Columbia Design League and One Columbia for Arts and Culture’s Lee Snelgrove for their work on the flag process.

“I think it’s been about as inclusive a process as you could ever have,” the third term mayor said during the Feb. 4 meeting. “It also took into account a good amount of approval and dissent, all in the proper spirit that we’ve been trying to achieve here.”

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