It was considered a pilot program at first but I think it is safe to say we’re official now. Sip n’ Stroll is ready for prime time as new signs have been installed around downtown Raleigh. The social district, which allows people to drink beer and wine throughout certain areas of downtown, has been around for a year now but this August, enhancements to the district have been put in place.Continue reading →
Have you seen, or even used, the new skate park along Capital Boulevard? The new Conlon Family Skate Park has been set up near Capital Boulevard and Dortch Streets. You can spot riders and skaters at all times of the day from what I have seen.Continue reading →
Freedom Park, located at the corner of Lane and Wilmington Streets, looks to be in the final stages. I’m impressed so far with what you can see and have to admit that the renderings didn’t do it justice. This space not only looks good but should be moving to visitors who want to honor the struggle for freedom experienced by African Americans in North Carolina.
I think this post seems appropriate as the 2023 Juneteeth holiday approaches. The park plans to finish this year and I imagine there will be a ceremony to officially open it to the public.
OK. It doesn’t say that exactly but after seeing the tweet below, I couldn’t help but take a second look at the Downtown Raleigh Alliance 2023 Q1 report and count up those residential numbers.Continue reading →
Hello, Raleigh! Since launching the New Raleigh Flag website a couple months ago we’ve received lots of questions online and in person about the new flag campaign and the flag’s design. DTRaleigh has graciously offered us this opportunity to respond to some of those questions publicly on this forum. Thanks to everyone for your support and interest. Here we go:
Q: Where is this project coming from? What’s the motivation behind it?
A: Raleigh is a vibrant, thriving city with a rich history and a promising future. Raleighites love living here. We’re proud to claim Raleigh as our home town. What if we had a unifying symbol that served as a visual expression of this civic pride? We have an opportunity to establish such a symbol by adopting a new flag. A flag with a simple but memorable image can provide a sense of identity – something that, when you see it, makes you say “yep, that’s Raleigh.” That’s what we’re after.
Raleigh residents have long felt that the city could have a better flag. Our historic flag has been around for 120 years but has never been widely used. The prospect of designing a new flag came up in the Raleigh community six or seven years ago. There was a lot of chatter about it online. People posted new design ideas on Twitter and Reddit. The matter was discussed by the city council. But the conversation fizzled, and in the end nothing came of it. With time on our hands during the pandemic lockdown, a group of residents resolved to revive the initiative to take up a new flag. This campaign is the result of that effort.
Q: What’s wrong with our current flag?
A: The first step is admitting that we have…well, let’s call it…an opportunity. Our historic flag has a charming story behind it, but it doesn’t function well as a flag. It doesn’t follow the principles of good flag design – it’s too complex, it’s difficult to produce, and its details get lost when the flag is glimpsed from a distance. For these reasons the city hasn’t seen widespread adoption of the historic flag.
To see a counter example, check out the flag of Durham. If you visit Durham you’ll find this flag and its image all over the place. Attend a Durham Bulls game and you’ll see tons of people wearing representations of the flag. Durham has really made their flag work for them. They’ve embraced it as their symbol. By contrast, how frequently do you see the historic Raleigh flag flying around town? How often do you see anyone wearing images of the Raleigh flag, or using it as an icon? The complexity of the historic Raleigh flag makes this sort of adoption impractical.
Q: But the old flag is endearing. And it’s part of our history. Can’t we just keep it?
A: If you have an affinity for the historic flag, by all means, fly it! But we can complement the historic flag with a more recognizable standard for the city. A good outcome would be for Raleigh to do what Charlotte did and adopt a new, simpler flag as an alternate flag to live alongside the historic flag. That way the historic flag can remain an official flag of the city and can continue to be used ceremonially. And the new flag can be flown wherever a simple, instantly recognizable banner is preferred. The new flag’s emblem can also be adapted and used in other contexts, such as on clothing and other personal items.
Q: Isn’t it weird for a city to adopt a new flag when it already has one?
A: Not at all. In fact many cities have adopted new flags over recent years. As awareness of good flag design principles has spread, cities across the country have undertaken revamps of their flags, resulting in some striking new designs. You can find examples on our website.
Q: Why wasn’t there any public input into this?
A: This is public input. This is a grassroots movement expressing the opinion that we can have a better flag and this is how that flag should look.
Q: Shouldn’t we have started with a design competition, like the ones Milwaukee and Lincoln held?
A: We’re already happy with the new design and would like to have it adopted. And in any case, the initiators of this project wouldn’t have had the time, money, or visibility to facilitate a large-scale design contest. But if someone out there would like to organize a competition, please do! We’ll be happy to enter our design.
Q: How did you choose the colors and design elements on the flag?
A: We wanted to stick with the themes expressed on the historic flag: that Raleigh is known as the City of Oaks and is named for Sir Walter Raleigh. The acorn embodies the City of Oaks theme. The diamonds are taken from Sir Walter’s coat of arms, which is a red shield with five silver diamonds in diagonal. In the new design we reuse the colors from the coat of arms and the historic flag. We wanted to retain the essence of the historic flag, while boiling its devices down to a simple, eye-catching emblem.
Q: Why doesn’t the new design include other elements from the historic flag, such as the deer?
A: A deer serves as the “crest” in Sir Walter Raleigh’s heraldic achievement, which is depicted on the reverse side of the historic flag. We omitted the crest and other elements of the achievement in an effort to keep the new design uncluttered, heeding a basic principle of good flag design. Detailed images are out of place on flags. For instance, city seals like the one shown on the front of the historic flag don’t work well on flags because they have too much detail to be made out at a distance. They’re better used on paper documents, for which they were designed in the first place. So instead of reproducing the seal with the oak tree in our design, we captured the City of Oaks theme with the acorn.
Similarly, while heraldic achievements can contain fascinating and fanciful symbols like Sir Walter’s deer crest, achievements are intended for display in a stationary context, not on a moving flag. Historically, heraldic achievements were commonly exhibited outside the tents of knights or other combatants, where passers-by could pause to regard them and learn about their owners. In more recent times, achievements typically appear as plaques on walls or carvings above doorway lintels. In these fixed settings, a viewer can study an achievement at leisure, taking time to appreciate its details and their symbolism. We’d love to see Sir Walter’s heraldic achievement displayed around the city on plaques and statuary. But the achievement has too much detail for a flag. A flag needs to be simple so it can be immediately recognized at a glance. For this reason we omitted the crest, torse, and motto from the new flag design. We reused only the coat of arms itself – the shield – because the coat of arms is the key component of a heraldic achievement and is always guaranteed to be unique to its bearer – in this case, Walter Raleigh. In this way we captured the two main themes of the historic flag while keeping the design free of other trappings.
Q: Why does the acorn’s cap look so smooth? A real acorn cap is bumpy.
A: Of all the questions we’ve gotten, this one is probably our favorite. It’s true; the acorn isn’t anatomically correct. We stylized its body, giving it a shield-like shape to better integrate it with the coat of arms. And we rounded the cap to make it flow with the curved shape of the body. As for the lack of bumpiness: any detail added to the acorn would increase the cost of construction of the flag, because more detail means more cuts must be made in the flag material. And it’s hard to make out this sort of detail when a flag is moving in a breeze at a distance, so it’s not worth the cost. We therefore went with smooth lines all around. We feel we’ve struck a good balance between style and simplicity, omitting unnecessary details while still coming up with a cool emblem.
Q: Wouldn’t it have been better to move on from the City of Oaks and Walter Raleigh themes and come up with something completely new and different?
A: Throughout Raleigh’s history its identity has been associated with oak trees and Sir Walter Raleigh. The city retained this identity even as it underwent great change through the past centuries. While we look forward to the amazing things we’ll accomplish in the future, and to seeing what Raleigh will become as it continues to evolve, we cherish the symbolism that the city has carried through history to our present day. We’ve sought to preserve that symbolism while adapting it into a modern, iconic emblem on the new flag. We love the result. And we must ask: If not this symbolism, then what?
Q: Are you just trying to make money from this?
A: No. The flags and other gear for sale on our website are being sold at cost. The flag design isn’t copyrighted. It’s in the public domain and is free for use by anyone, even for commercial purposes. Our mission is simply to bring the city a great flag – not to make money. If anything, we’d love to see local merchandisers earn revenue from flag-themed gear.
Q: So what’s the plan? How will you drive this to adoption? Will flag-waving crowds be marching to city hall soon?
A: At the moment this is a social issue rather than a political issue. We need to continue to build awareness of the movement and promote social adoption. As more people begin to fly the flag and display its image publicly, political adoption will flow naturally from there.
Q: Okay, I’m on board. How can I help?
A: Tell your friends! Follow our social media accounts and spread the word online – every post, share, and re-tweet builds awareness. Buy some swag and sport it around town. And, of course, buy and fly a flag!
Q: I have some ideas. How can I reach you to share them?
E-mail us! We’re always looking for ideas and would love to welcome new team members. You can reach us at email@example.com.
In late 2021, the North Carolina Legislature passed a new bill (HB890) to allow social districts in counties and towns. Loosely defined, social districts allow people to buy an alcoholic beverage in one business and take it with them. You may have seen these in other cities where people can get a drink in a plastic cup and walk around an entertainment area or downtown.
I’ve done the same behavior in the past in places like Savannah and Key West and had my own first impressions about bringing that to Raleigh. I decided to look more into it and I’ll have to admit, my first impressions were a bit off.
Today, plans for social districts in Raleigh are being discussed in committee. The committee members and city staff want to get the rules in place in a thoughtful manner in order to minimize any unintended gotchas that may happen. Downtown Raleigh is a great place for the concept but places like Hillsborough Street or North Hills may have them in the future.
The topic right now is in Raleigh’s Economic Development and Innovation committee. The May 24, 2022 meeting, video above or here on YouTube, is a great one to watch and get a feel for the conversation around social districts for Raleigh.
Let me share some quick points that I took watching this video as well as an intro to the topic that took place back in February.
- Allowing social districts was seen as a response from COVID’s hit on small businesses.
- Social districts are seen as an economic development tool.
- The feedback is positive that it does in fact bring more business to areas that implement them.
- Kannapolis was the first to implement one, put in place one week after allowed.
- Greensboro is the largest NC city with a social district today.
- The Downtown Raleigh Alliance held a community survey that showed a majority (over 70%) in support of social districts in downtown Raleigh.
- Major concerns are enforcement, bad behavior, and cleanliness.
- An additional concern is the waste around single-use cups.
What I wanted to know is how this works and how I might use it during a weekend out. The topic is still being worked in the committee meetings but generally speaking, if you were inside some area that was a social district and went to a bar, you could have your drink put in a specially branded cup. That cup would also have a sticker with the bar’s name on it. You then have the freedom to take the drink with you.
But then what? The details are of course important:
- You can walk around the social district with your beverage without issue but you cannot take it outside the boundaries.
- Businesses inside the social district can either opt-in or opt-out of the social district. Therefore, if you’d like to do some shopping with a drink, that shop needs to say whether they allow the drink or not.
- You cannot bring your drink to another bar.
- You most likely can’t bring that drink to a special event that is also selling alcohol.
Some of these details are being finalized but any impression that this is a party-centric move is completely false.
I like to loosely compare it to buying a soda at a convenience store or food shop. You certainly can take it with you, drink it on the sidewalks, even bring it inside some shops. But it’s generally frowned upon to bring it into other food places. (at least I think it is)
Another use case I thought of is when there is a big event on Fayetteville Street that doesn’t sell drinks I like. If I want a tasty beer, I can now bring it with me, rather than having to sit at the bar to enjoy that tasty beer.
The general thinking is to allow social districts on Thursdays to Sundays from about 11am to 10pm. Sunday will probably end earlier. Times are still open and being worked in committee.
The next steps are to finalize the rules and how to roll out a pilot around Fayetteville Street and City Market. Then, the general council can vote on implementing it for the Fall. Keep an eye on the next meeting scheduled for June 28, 2022.
It doesn’t look like much now but dirt is moving at the corner of Lane and Wilmington Street. When finished, North Carolina Freedom Park will be a public space to honor the African American experience and struggle for freedom. You can read more about it on their website.
Announced almost three years ago, the park has been in planning for awhile now. The design comes from award-winning architect Phil Freelon and the location is fitting for the relevancy of this story. Being directly across the street from the North Carolina Legislature and one block from the North Carolina History Museum, the story that the park tells serves as a reminder of how we got here today. We shouldn’t ever forget and for me, I’m hoping we only improve going forward.
A building that probably wants the least amount of news now has a reason for you to look up at it. The AT&T building on McDowell Street will be getting a mural. The infrastructure building, from what I’ve been told, has very few employees in it but lots of telecommunication equipment inside. As for the aesthetically dull outside, you can see it doesn’t contribute much to the landscape.
Make sure to keep checking over the coming weeks as the new mural is painted. Kudos to those behind the project!