The Folsom City Council unanimously approved a new city flag during the Nov. 13 meeting.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, Mayor Steve Miklos and Folsom City Manager Elaine Andersen presented the new flag to the high school class from where the idea originated. Vista del Lago seniors Siena Hansen and Sierra Stewart came up for the idea of a new city flag in their American Government and Economics class.
Each year, teacher Allie Armstrong has her class participate a civic project where they actively engage themselves in the community, whether it be writing a letter to a public official on an important political topic or creating a public service announcement on something they would like to promote; for example, raising awareness on a national topic.
Armstrong said in past years students felt they were limited, so she decided to open it up and let them think outside the box on their projects.
During class, they came across cities that have flags, and Hansen said she had no idea if Folsom had one. She said she thought it would be cool to create one.
When Miklos came to speak to their class she asked him, and he said, “We have one, but it’s really ugly.” The last city flag was created in 1997 and has a train on it.
“As a joke, me and Sierra were like, ‘Let’s make a flag,’ and I completely thought we were kidding, but over the course of the next few days, we talked about it and decided to actually do it,” Hansen said. “I spent probably four hours one afternoon researching flags, different cities’ flags, flag etiquette, why we have flags, what they do, how they serve us, etc. Then I thought it was really cool. Folsom is a great city, and there is a lot we have to be proud of, and I wanted a flag that embodied that.”
Initially, the two new friends thought about putting a bridge on it or something that incorporated the lake, but after much research, they learned the flag should have more symbolism than being literal.
Hansen and Stewart learned a good flag should be simple, have two-to-three basic colors, no lettering or seals, and be distinctive.
“We talked to classmates and friends about things that mean the most to them about Folsom,” Hansen said. “We wrote them down and thought of ways we could incorporate them through symbolism, color and shapes.”
Hansen said after they researched psychology of color and what different shapes mean, Stewart sketched out an idea, and then eight different variations. The class then voted on their favorite.
The flag features different geometric shapes in gold, black and blue that symbolizes important aspects of Folsom.
Later, Hansen and Stewart contacted Miklos to show what they came up with.
“We chatted with the Mayor and Elaine about the background behind it, our research, what we wanted to communicate, and then asked their opinion. Both of them liked one idea,” Hansen said. “After, we polished it out and spent a long time preparing a presentation for the City Council, which was super exciting and super nerve racking.”
During the Oct. 23 meeting, the two students presented their flag to a full room.
“First, we have the gold stripe that runs through the center, and that represents the Gold Rush because it was a huge part of our city’s founding and a huge part of what made it what it is today, not only for our city, but our state,” Stewart said during the presentation. “If you’ll notice, the line doesn’t run in one fluid stripe. It meets in the middle, but it overlaps a little bit. We wanted to have that represent the convergence of the past and the present in our city. We believe the Gold Rush was a huge part of our city’s history, but were still experiencing gold rushes today in our own way with new innovation and technology with Intel and expansion of homes.”
Hansen followed by mentioning that while the two gold stripes don’t come together, they meet at a point.
“We designed the flag so all the aspects come together at a central point. During the Gold Rush and our past history, Folsom was a center place – it was close to San Francisco where there was a port where people and supplies came in, and it was also close to the gold mines,” Hansen said. “People would come here to create a livelihood and a future for themselves. We also believe in our current history, Folsom is a center place. We know we are only a day’s drive from so many places – Sacramento, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.”
Stewart explained the black triangles represent Folsom Prison and its rich history.
“The Folsom Prison was the second prison in California and the first maximum security prison in the state. It was the first in our country to have electricity,” she said. “We felt it was hugely important to be in our flag. Not only does it represent our history, but it still plays a pivotal role in our community today.”
Hansen said the triangles are black to represent Johnny Cash, the Man in Black.
“We feel he is an important part of our city because he put us on the map,” Hansen said. “People know Folsom from Folsom Prison Blues, so we wanted to communicate that also.”
Last, Stewart discussed what the blue represented in the flag.
“We have the blue, which is representative of the waters,” she said. “We have the river and the lake, and with both of those come great recreation centers in our city for people to come together and have community there. With the lake also comes the dam and the hydroelectric energy, which is a huge part of our city.”
After their presentation, they received a standing ovation from the Council and everyone in the room.
Miklos said he loved it and it hit every point of what the Folsom community is all about.
“When we first thought of the idea, we didn’t know we were going to take it this far,” Stewart said. “Once we were invested in the flag, we wanted so badly for it to become Folsom’s flag. It’s so surreal. I can’t even explain the feeling of when it passed, not only by a few of them, but all of them. It was shocking.”
Miklos said he liked everything about the flag, but what he liked most about the flag was the gold connection between the old and the new.
“I like the symbolism that it represents. I like the thoughtfulness of the colors chosen and how they were arranged on the flag,” he said. “I really liked the gold connection with the old gold with the Gold Rush and the new gold with the technology and the thriving city we are and continue to be. It was something Elaine and I were both drawn to at the same time. To me, this flag captured all about Folsom, and I’m ecstatic about it.”