A citizen-led flag committee is in the final stages of adopting a new Norman flag.
After receiving 117 designs from 58 residents, Norman flag committee founder and co-chair Dr. Gabriel Bird said the top five have been selected and are up for a public vote.
Votes will be accepted through April 30 at normanflag.com or an online Google Form. Residents are asked to rank each flag from lowest, 1, to highest, 10. The flag with the highest average score will become the new flag.
“I’m excited about these flag designs. I was a bit worried when I saw that there were some similarities but take that as a validation that something in the symbolism resonates,” Bird said. “We’ve already received a lot of good positive feedback, but as with any change, I realize that not everyone will love the final selection or the new flag, but I hope we can all agree it is improvement and if nothing else separating the flag design from the city logo will give us as a city another instrument in our tool box to carve out our identity.”
Flag committee co-chair and Realtor Grady Carter said the committee has been excited by the number of positive responses and the number of people who have voted already when voting opened in early April.
“We are experiencing a high rate of participation on submissions and votes from the public. The negative responses have been a bit louder, but they are fewer,” Carter said.
He said all of the finalists pretty closely follow the five pillars of criteria provided by the North American Vexillological Association, which include keep it simple, use meaningful symbolism, use two or three basic colors, no lettering or seals and be distinctive or related.
“I've noticed that there are also some people who seem somewhat ambivalent, and it reminds me a lot of when the OKC Thunder selected their new name, and many people were actually largely underwhelmed,” Carter said. “Now, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a group of people who dislike the name. Overall, I am optimistic about the process, and I think this is the right time for citizens of Norman to have something to rally around.”
Bird didn't participate in the blind-judging process because he knew who made submissions. He also said two committee members were unable to finish the judging, so Norman High seniors Santana Jimenez and Elliott Kmetz joined the selection committee.
Each flag submission included an artist statement explaining the reasoning and symbolism for the design.
“Reading through the artist statements, I started to see a trend where eight seems to be a very relevant number to Norman, from representing our eight wards, to the eight points of a compass rose, to the eight-pointed hope symbol. There was also a trend of showing forward movement and optimism, as well as honoring our diversity and history,” he said. “With that in mind it starts to make a lot of sense how these designs stood out.”
Bird thanked the artists and designers that made submissions, the selection committee and everyone who scores the finalists. He also thanked Day Creative, which helped with the website's design, and the Norman Board of Realtors, which is sponsoring a $500 prize for the winning designer.
He said the winning flag will be revealed to the public and the Norman City Council during the June 9 council meeting, with a recommendation to formally adopt the flag on Flag Day, June 14.
Bird encouraged residents to join the flag committee's Facebook group, facebook.com/groups/normanflag for updates. He said the city will not have to pay for flags to be replaced. That funding is coming from a private and donated funds. The current flag will transition to being used only as a logo on streets, vehicles and letterhead.
In an email, the flag committee said it was a hard task narrowing the new flag selection down to five.
“It is a bit strange, eliminating designs that very well could have been a successful flag design on their own merit, but I’m proud of the work of the committee and feel we generated some excellent options for the public to score,” the email reads. “The best part of this has been reading the artists' statements and seeing our beloved Norman through the filter of others' eyes. There were many unique and interesting perspectives.”
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