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Finding Unity in the Milwaukee Flag Redesign

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The People's Flag of Milwaukee
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Judges of the People's Flag narrowing down designs from 1,000 submissions.

Some time ago, Lake Effect brought you the story of Steve Kodis, the Wisconsin man who believed Milwaukee deserved a better official flag. Since his initial call for change, Kodis has spearheaded an effort to gather prospective flag designs

It is an effort the City of Milwaukee is also open to. In fact, on Saturday the best designs for a new flag will be on display at City Hall for people to vote on.

Entries were rated on their effectiveness from a distance, color use, symbolism, uniqueness and simplicity - which the current flag seemed to lack. But most importantly, the finalists were critiqued on how well they represented the city now and if it could stick.

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Credit YUL, FOTOLIA
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Milwaukee's official flag was adopted in 1955.

From over 1,000 entires, 50 of the top flag designs were selected for the rating process; 45 semifinalists and 5 finalists. The 5 finalists will go up for an online rating process the same day.

Xavier Ruffin, of the organization Greater Together Milwaukee and a MIAD graduate, is one of the judges that winnowed down the list.

"What we wanted to do was make sure it felt inclusive to the city and to the people." Ruffin continues, "And to make sure it felt representative of who we are currently...and who we would like to be in the future."

Kodis has been unwavering in his reason for a flag redesign. "We deserve to have a symbol of pride and unity that brings us together," he says. "A symbol that we actually use, not a symbol that sits behind our common council people's desks and doesn't exist anywhere else in the city. There's no sense in keeping this piece of design that we don't even use."

Submission from students, artists and average Milwaukee residents had been pouring in since fall of 2015. The next step after rating each flag will be the big reveal of the people's choice June 14, which just so happens to be Flag Day.

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