What this divided Kansas City area needs: one flag, two entrepreneurs say

One city, one flag

Kansas City entrepreneurs launch a website dedicated to selecting a single banner representing the 14-county metroplex. But will it fly?
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Kansas City entrepreneurs launch a website dedicated to selecting a single banner representing the 14-county metroplex. But will it fly?

Graham Ripple asks: Does togetherness matter?

At the World Series celebration in downtown Kansas City on Nov. 3, Ripple looked out upon hundreds of thousands of fellow residents and concluded that unity is good.

Which led him to chase a concept: “One city. One flag.”

One flag — snapping in the breeze over citizens from Lansing to Lenexa to Lee’s Summit. From Paola to Parkville and points in between.

On Tuesday Ripple and a business partner, Jason Domingues, are launching a website to raise funds and stir interest, they hope, in a regional flag. The public would submit designs and vote for a winner at OneFlag.co.

Ripple hopes the flag will be unveiled in a few months, around the one-year anniversary of that World Series bash.

“Being at that Royals parade, I think it was one of those times in which we truly saw Kansas City at its best. You truly saw us come together,” said Ripple, 33. “All different generations. All races and socio-economic groups ... and everyone relatively happy.”

For a time, yes. But today, especially with the Royals struggling a bit, are the 14 counties within the federal designation of Kansas City’s metropolitan statistical area, truly united?

“We don’t consider ourselves part of the metro at all,” said Stephanie Henry, co-editor of the Caldwell County News in Hamilton, Mo., an hour’s drive from Kansas City. “We’re a rural farming community.”

Not that Caldwell Countians would necessarily resent waving a metro flag. It would just be weird, she said.

To Ripple, however, flags are a vital expression of belonging.

“I think our country is a little bit asking the question right now,” the Brookside area resident said. “Do we believe that we all actually can live in peace? Do we believe in equal rights for everyone?”

He has been mulling over such questions in earnest since June 2014, when Ripple and a few of his buddies — all entrepreneurial-minded — vacationed in Colorado. Everywhere they saw the Colorado state flag — “that red C with yellow in the middle,” Ripple said. “It kind of stuck with me.”

It just so happened this was about the time the Royals started their march toward American League supremacy.

And as metro spirit swelled, culminating in the big blue parade that Tuesday last November, Ripple sensed the time was right to try bringing the 14 counties together under one banner.

OneFlag.co seeks to raise $35,000 in donations to promote the project and stage a celebration revealing the winning design by year’s end. Any adult can submit a proposal and vote for free, Ripple said. He added that organizers will reserve the right to throw out submissions that offend or mock.

Ripple and Domingues, who lives in Prairie Village, established a Missouri limited-liability company to manage the project. Ripple said a portion of any profit would be directed toward awarding grants to local charities and foundations.

Ripple’s previous endeavors include businesses distributing vitamins and something called PaleoFit, selling meals to followers of diets that reject processed foods.

When the One Flag design is determined, the company will offer it to every city within the metro area boasting 10,000 residents or more — that’s about two dozen municipalities. “If a city wants to opt out, that’s OK,” Ripple said, though his dream is for all communities to observe an annual “One Flag Day.”

Every year. One day. One city. One flag.

“The core desire,” he said, in case you missed it, “is oneness.”

Rick Montgomery: 816-234-4410, @rmontgomery_r

The counties

The 14 counties in the Kansas City metropolitan statistical area:

In Missouri: Jackson, Clay, Platte, Ray, Cass, Clinton, Lafayette, Bates, Caldwell

In Kansas: Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Miami, Linn

Source: Mid-America Regional Council