Written by Nora Austin
The following post was written by Nora Austin, a former attendee turned volunteer who was invited to blog for TEDxNaperville after seeing her review of our 2015 conference.
Connor Tenny, a then-sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL, saw Roman Mars’ TED talk in early 2016. He invited five other fellow students, Nathan Ashta, Ritvik Manda, Jack Penrose, Haider Sarwar and Andy Wang, to view the video, and on February 19, the students launched their website, Campaign for a Better Naperville Flag. Tenny told the Chicago Tribune: “Only 30 miles away from us, Chicago has a city flag that is essentially omnipresent, whether on apparel, business logos, or flying above the city. Naperville is a great city, and we need a great flag that shows this, one that we can take pride in.”
Arthur Zards, the Curator and Executive Director of TEDxNaperville, heard about the students’ project. He was impressed by their ambition and interest in their local community, as it correlated directly with the 2015 TEDxNaperville Flag Initiative, and modeled the mission of TEDx: to inspire ideas and change on a local level. He asked to partner with them in an advisory role, in order to help them get them get their campaign noticed by the right people. They agreed, and started working together to spread the word. TEDxNaperville printed up 100 posters to spread word about the project in the community.
Overall, the project received nearly 130 online submissions, over half from local residents, and others from designers as far-flung as Norway, England and France. Andy Wang, the project’s director of technology, told The Daily Herald: “We were shocked that we broke 100. We weren’t expecting that many people to be into – of all things – flag design.” A super-committee of thirty people, composed of local business owners, government officials, educators and organizations, were chosen in order to narrow down the entries to five finalists. The Naperville City Council has yet to commit an official stance on the project at this time, but all parties involved believe that the positive community reaction will help propel the project to success.
Once the five finalists were chosen, the designs were presented to a public vote on the website, where a winner has since been chosen. The public voting is now closed, and the winner is set to be announced live at the 2016 TEDxNaperville conference, on Friday, November 4th. All six students will be on stage at the TEDxNaperville conference to present the winner. They will also be doing a meet-and-greet afterward to answer any questions and discuss their passion project..