In Search of A Better Edmonton Flag
In 2010 99% invisible put out a podcast episode about city flag design – mostly about how bad city flags tend to be. That got me thinking about Edmonton’s city-flag. For starters, – do we have one? As it turns out, we do, and it’s pretty terrible.
Rules For Flag Design
In the podcast, host Roman discusses the characteristics of beautiful city flags and the role they can play in placemaking. With the help of a flag expert (Vexillologist), Roman describes the following flag design principals:
- Keep it simple, so simple a child can draw it from memory.
- Use meaningful symbolism.
- Use two to three basic colours.
- No lettering or seals of any kind.
- Be distinctive or be related.
Ouch! Stacked against Roman’s five rules, the Edmonton flag leaves something lacking. As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one to notice.
Colour Your Flag
In early 2014, a citywide design challenge asked Edmontonians to redesign or reinvent the Edmonton flag. Naturally, I took a stab at it – here are the three designs I came up with:
Edmonton Flag Attempts One and Two
I see Edmonton is a social, economic, and ecological meeting place. Sandwiched between the Great Plains to the South and the Boreal Forest to the North, Edmonton is an environmental ecotone. Contrary to popular belief, Edmonton is not a prairie city but a city, on a river, in a forest. For economic and social reasons, First Nations have been a meeting on the banks of the North Saskatchewan for thousands of years. Eventually, other cultures joined and the city as we know it emerged from unique ecological, economic, and social niches.
Edmonton Flag Attempt Number Two (and my favourite)
The Magpie, like Edmonton, is an underrated and under-appreciated animal – resourceful, hardy, and social. Though we complain about them often, many of us secretly think they’re kind of beautiful.
Not convinced? Here are more 11 reasons why the Magpie defines Edmonton.
Blue bands represent the North Saskatchewan river and sky while a central green band represents Edmonton’s Aspen Parkland forest. That’s right people – aspen parklands – contrary to popular sentiment, Edmonton is not a prairie city.
The Future of Edmonton’s Flag
Since posting this article, there has been some press and serious discussion around changing the Edmonton Flag. In any case, I believe that a future flag should embrace our past and present a point of pride for the future. And or course should meet the five rules for good flag design.