The city’s official flag design committee met for the first time Wednesday afternoon and were joined by Roman Mars — whose 2015 TED Talk made Pocatello famous for having the worst city flag in North America.
The committee is made up of community members of various backgrounds – from computer programmers to graphic designers and flag enthusiasts – and chaired by city public information officer Logan McDougall.
Mars also attended the meeting after McDougall reached out to him on Twitter.
During the first meeting, committee members went over open meeting laws and city government requirements they would now have to adhere to. They also discussed their role as a committee.
“We will not be designing the flag,” said McDougall. “We’re just shepherding this process.”
The committee hasn’t decided how it will select a flag design, but for it to be the official city flag, it must also be approved by the City Council.
The current flag, designed as a logo in 1999, was never fully authorized as a flag but just ended up as one. However, the flag – which used to fly only outside the wastewater treatment facility – doesn’t fly anywhere in Pocatello, though the logo “Proud to be Pocatello” can be found around the city.
Mars said he feels hopeful that Pocatello can have a new and beautiful flag.
“You have to decide there’s a problem before you fix it, but at this point everyone seems on board,” said Mars.
But Mars did warn the committee that finding and committing to a new flag design would be a long process. He told them to be prepared for avid supporters of the current design and for people to brush the project off as frivolous.
“You’ll get asked, ‘Why does this matter? Aren’t there better things we could be doing?’ ” said Mars. “Get an answer for that in your head early.”
He also discussed design with the committee, suggesting that the more abstract the design, the more you can fill it with meaning for the city — which he argues is the most important aspect of the flag.
“That’s largely the problem with a committee,” said Mars. “It just gets watered down to something everyone can live with and not something everyone can get behind.”
Mars said he has high hopes for Pocatello and the new flag because the story of coming from the worst flag to the country’s first flag would be a story he would love to tell.
“You’ll know you’ve made it when in two years you see the flag tattooed on a teenager’s arm,” said Mars. “That’s the hallmark.”