SPRINGVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a little odd to hang a city seal from your front porch.
And yes, the city could just slap its seal onto a solid background if it needed a flag in a pinch. But Chris Dunston said flags that feature city seals are a no-no anyway.
“It’s the equivalent of microwaving a hot pocket for a romantic dinner,” Dunston explained.
Dunston, 22, has lived in Springville his whole life, and he’s ready for the city to have an official flag.
Dunston, who is autistic, said he’s interested in flags because they tell stories.
“They’re just fascinating to me,” he said. “They express culture, history, art — all in one piece of cloth.”
He loves the U.S. flag, the modern German flag, the Union Jack and Japan’s. His speech sped up as he named the state flags he likes best.
“The Alabama state flag,” he said quickly. He sounds excited but exhausted by the thought of getting through the long list in his mind. “New Mexico. California.”
There are Alabama cities with flags, too, and a few counties. Springville, though, is a town without a flag.
So Dunston and a few others have taken it upon themselves to post flag proposals in a local Facebook group, “What’s Happening in Springville.”
Carson DuBose, 17, has posted several versions of his proposed flag for Springville, a suburb of just under 5,000 people. He said he’s been interested in vexillology, the study of flags, since he was a young child.
“Flags are perhaps one of the most important symbols,” DuBose said. “Anytime you can get a community represented by a single thing, it’s significant.”
DuBose is also a fan of Old Glory, and he’s partial to the flags of Colorado and Arizona, as well.
Last week, DuBose brought the push for a Springville flag to city hall.
On Dec. 19, DuBose addressed a work session of the Springville City Council, telling its members he believes the town deserves to be represented through an official flag.
The mayor and members of the council seemed open to the idea.
“I know I always feel left out when we have our league meetings and we do not have a city flag there,” City Councilor Katrina Hennings said. “I think it’s something we could look at because we do need that.”
“Everybody else had one there,” Councilor Herbert Toles added.
Both DuBose and Dunston’s proposed flag designs have received feedback in the online group, which DuBose called Springville’s town square. Some commenters have provided reasonable feedback while others questioned the need to adopt a flag altogether. Then there are those with their own proposals — some of which Dunston and DuBose say violate tenets of competent flag design — tenets like not just enlarging the city seal, for example.
“The seal looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint,” DuBose said.
While they may have competing designs for Springville’s flag, both DuBose and Dunston agree that any official flag should ultimately be chosen based on merit and principles of good design.
There are objective, generally accepted guidelines for good flag design, the pair explained.
Ted Kaye knows a good flag when he sees one. He’s the secretary of the North American Vexillological Association and compiler of “Good Flag, Bad Flag,” a pamphlet aimed at helping improve flag design.
Kaye outlined five principles of a good flag, guidelines both Dunston and DuBose tried to follow when making their designs: simplicity, meaningful symbolism, few colors, no lettering or seals, and distinctiveness.
Kaye reviewed the designs by both DuBose and Dunston and gave them both high marks.
“I think these are really nice designs,” Kaye said. “Both would rate a B or an A grade if compared with existing city flags. The first one could be improved slightly by the removal of one color. The design with what appears to be a native symbol should be vetted with local indigenous people.”
Flags, Kaye said, can help promote civic cohesion in towns of all sizes and can help represent the city to the outside world. Both DuBose and Dunston’s designs would do just that, he said:
“I commend these two designs and hope the city council will give them strong consideration.”