There has been a lot of controversy regarding the decision of the People’s Flag of Milwaukee contest and its final flag selection; now that a candidate has been selected, the real work must follow. Here is a Facebook post I wrote to my alderman, Nik Kovac, 3rd Aldermanic District, Milwaukee:
As you know, I’ve been passionately observing the People’s Flag of Milwaukee contest for some time, and today, only after the announcement of the final decision, I see all kinds of haters and belittlers crawling out of the woodwork, and even more saying how little they care. Changing the flag is SECONDARY to solving this bigger problem. We NEED to be proud of our city.
I see the work you do for the 3rd Aldermanic district, which includes parts of the East Side and Riverwest (areas much aligned with the types of designers who contributed to the contest in the first place, and areas dominated by relatively privileged young white people). I’m fairly certain I know you’re going to vote for the new flag in the Common Council decision, because I know you align with the rhetoric of the contest and its contributors. I want to tell you that this is, again, SECONDARY to the actual work that needs to be done.
Whatever the Council decides, we need to work harder together to eliminate the apathy and indifference that our citizens portray. We live in the greatest city in the Midwest, home to a diverse collection of artists, musicians, engineers, manufacturers, educators, and other hard-working people, and so many people just don’t seem to care. We have our problems, for sure; being declared the single most segregated city in the United States, having wildly varying socioeconomic situations throughout the city, from immense affluence to abject poverty, being home to one of the worst places for African-American youth in the entire U.S., and having accusations abound that the politicians only care about the Downtown area are all things we need to solve or overcome. We can’t do that without the support of the people, and we can’t do that unless people care about what the city could become.
So, I’m not writing this to try to influence your vote in either direction. You already know my stance from the fact that I attended the announcement ceremony in person. I’m writing this to convince you that even if the new flag is shot down, to work harder to get people knowledgeable and involved with our flag. THIS is what’s important here. I can only think of two places where the flag is flown, off the top of my head: MATC Downtown Campus, and the new Marriott hotel on the East Side. Whether it’s the 1955 Milwaukee flag or Sunrise Over The Lake, this needs to change. Go to Chicago, and look for blue bars and red stars. Go to St. Louis, and look for the red fleur-de-lis. Go to Minneapolis, and look for the blue triangle. I guarantee you’ll find more of them in an hour than you find the Milwaukee flag in a day.
I’m asking you to push for more availability and visibility of the flag in stores and public offices, incentives to companies and organizations who use the flag design in their packaging and branding, and more integration of the Milwaukee flag into wearable merchandise. Give Brew City Clothing or Too Much Rock for One Hand or Milwaukeehome the ability, and incentive, to use whatever flag design is chosen, even at the cost of manufacturing the more complicated 1955 design if it is chosen. This may come at a cost to the city, but the benefits that it will provide are a thousandfold more important.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, we NEED to push for public awareness of the flag and what it means for the city. Integrating the story of how both flags came together and came to represent the city into the marketing boards of VISIT Milwaukee, OnMilwaukee, Milwaukee County Historical Society, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Pride, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum, and so on, will be another important step.
I urge you to push to introduce measures which will bring the Milwaukee Flag into the public’s eye, whichever flag that may be, and to strive to make Milwaukee into the great city which I know it holds in its bones. Thank you, and thank you for being my alderman.
– Nick Iannone
The list of Alderpersons and their districts can be found here: http://www.milwaukeeflag.com/commoncouncil/