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Arts & Culture

How A TED Talk And A Public Radio Host Shamed Pocatello Into Changing Its City Flag

Screenshot ted.com
Roman Mars on the TED stage in March 2015.

Pocatello has begun the process of redesigning its city flag. But, the reason for that redesign is a bit unusual. It begins with a TED Talk.

The public speaking events known as TED Talks are so popular they even have their own NPR show. (Saturdays at 3:00 on KBSX 91.5.)  And it was a TED talk by a public radio host/podcaster that shamed Pocatello into changing its flag.

San Francisco-based Roman Mars talks about design on his show “99% Invisible.” Just over a year ago Mars gave a TED Talk about city flags – what makes them good or bad and why it matters. He ended his 18 minute speech with this.

“And finally when we’re all done, we can do something about Pocatello Idaho, considered by the North American Vexillological Association as the worst city flag in North America.”

Mars then showed a picture.


After several seconds of laughter he added, “That thing has a trademark symbol on it people. That hurts me just to look at.”

The audience laughed more. Social media mocked. And the city took note and decided to create a new design. The Idaho State Journal reports that the city’s flag redesign committee had its first meeting Wednesday and Roman Mars was there at the city’s invitation, to help. Mars told his fellow committee members he “had to be there” because usually “you don’t get to see the results of your work.” 

The committee says the process could take a while, and that the city council will need to approve a final design.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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