Bellingham doesn’t have an official flag, but the Downtown Bellingham Partnership recently tried to change that with a contest to create a flag design in the fall of 2015.
Local graphic designer and Western graduate Brad Lockhart won the competition.
Lockhart said his design stemmed from Bellingham’s local history and culture. On his website, lariatcreative.com, he provides an image of the flag and breaks down what each section represents.
He said the name Bellingham came from the four original towns touching Bellingham Bay. The four stripes are the four original cities, which later became Bellingham, and a half circle connecting them all to represent Bellingham Bay.
“As I was researching history, the design solutions just started coming, like ‘oh a half circle or stripes all touching it,’ and that just kind of tells the story of where the name [Bellingham] came from,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart said he wanted to convey a message of solidarity and harmony. He said he wanted it to look like it could have been an original flag made many years ago or something that could be made 120 years from now.
Sophomore Cynthia Morales said the first thing that came to her mind when looking at the flag design is that it reminded her of the American flag design.
“Personally, I don’t think we need a flag because we have the United States one, and then each state has one, but if we were to get one the question would be if every town got one,” Morales said.
Freshman Kaylee Spivey said she liked the symbolism behind the flag. Spivey also said she thinks people are quirky enough here to have their own flag.
However, the plans for the flag to become official fell through because the city wasn’t sure what the public’s reaction to the flag would be and its potential cost, Lockhart said.
Alice Clark is the interim executive director of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership and was a part of the team that orchestrated the flag contest.
Clark wrote in an email the contest was mainly for fun. She said there was a desire to create one for the city since Bellingham does not currently have one. She said the city felt that since they hadn’t been involved with the entire flag contest process, they couldn’t fully back the decision.
Clark also said in the email that even though the Partnership is not allowed to promote the flag design, they are still happy that they created a fun competition that engaged a lot of people. Lockhart said though he owns the rights to the flag, he has already been contacted by organizations in Bellingham asking if they could use the flag design on magazines or to fly at sports games.
Haley Newhouse, a student on campus, said she feels like Bellingham doesn’t need a flag. She said she thinks the design is cool because it does represent a lot of things, but she said she never noticed that Bellingham didn’t have one in the first place.
Freshman Aiessa Moffett said she had different thoughts about the flag design.
“I really love the idea of it including the Native American tribes,” Moffett said about Lockhart’s design that features two stars to represent the two tribes of the area. She said she has visited the Lummi Nation school and she really loved their appreciation for where they live and what they are about.
Moffett said she’s not sure how she feels about Bellingham having their own individual flag, but she thought it was an interesting idea and the design done by Lockhart would be a really good idea to include everybody.