Rays of Excellence

The six green and blue alternating stripes represent the six main geographic regions of the county. The five gold stripes represent the five suburban regions of the county. In terms of colors, the green represents the county’s strong commitment to the preservation of the environment and forest preserves. The blue represents the rivers that run throughout the County as well as Lake Michigan. The Gold represents the pursuit of excellence and the drive for improvement and innovation throughout the County. Finally, the half of the six-pointed, red star represents the City of Chicago, the County seat. This is an easily recognizable symbol of the City. The star is casting out the gold, excellence rays (described above) onto the rest of the county.

Standing Together on the Shore of Excellence and Equity Flag

About the Standing Together on the Shore of Excellence and Equity Flag

Green and blue stripes: The green and blue background stripes represent the land and water areas of Cook County, which together make up the total area of the County. Cook County has a total area of 1,635 square miles of which 945 square miles or about 58% percent is land and 690 square miles or about 42% is water. The three green stripes out of the five total stripes (60%) and two blue stripes (40%) out of the five total stripes represent the approximate amount of land and water areas of the County.

The green color signifies the County’s strong commitment to the preservation of the environment, its increasing sustainability efforts, and its 70,000 acres of forest preserve lands. The blue color represents the County’s Lake Michigan shoreline and the many rivers and canals that run throughout the County. Additionally, the blue color signifies the importance of these bodies of water to the County’s recreation and economic history as well as Lake Michigan’s contribution to Cook County’s high-quality drinking water.

Red circle: The circle shape signifies the unity of the diverse 5.2 million residents of Cook County coming together as a whole. The red color represents the County’s strong legacy and commitment to providing world-class health care to anyone in need regardless of their ability to pay. Given Cook County Government’s celebration of 190 years during a global pandemic, the red color recognizes Cook County Health’s rapid and equitable response to the COVID-19 crisis. The red color is also the same red color as on the flag of Chicago.

Gold star: The six-pointed star is an easily recognizable symbol of the City of Chicago. The six-pointed star is in the center of the flag because the City of Chicago is the County seat. The six points on the star represent the six main geographic regions of Cook County — the City of Chicago and the five suburban regions (North, Northwest, West, Southwest, and South). The five green and blue stripes that surround the Chicago star represent the five suburban regions that surround the City of Chicago. The six-pointed star further signifies that Cook County is the sixth-largest county in Illinois by land area. The gold color represents the County’s overall pursuit of excellence and the constant drive for engagement, improvement, and innovation throughout the County. The gold color also signifies that fairness and equity are a mission of the County, including the County’s justice system.

Jim Kelly

Executive Creative Director
closerlook, inc.

Josh Lipman

Josh Lipman

Evanston Township High School
he/him/his

Student Design: Standing Together on the Shore of Excellence and Equity

1.  How does the flag you designed represent who you are and what you care about? 
I am a sophomore studying mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and I am passionate about the environment and climate issues. I plan to pursue a career where I can develop technologies that solve problems and make the world a healthier and more sustainable place to live. The flag I designed represents my commitment to the environment and a healthier planet by using bold green and blue background stripes to highlight the County’s important land and water areas, including its vast forest preserves and rivers, canals, and Lake Michigan shoreline, which we all need to conserve and protect.

2.  Why did you decide to join the Flag 2021 competition?
My high school graphic design teacher Mr. William Simos recommended that I join the Flag 2021 competition. I decided to join the competition because I thought it would be a fun opportunity for me to strengthen my creative design and communication skills and be a part of Cook County history.

 3.  What did you learn about Cook County that surprised you?
When researching Cook County, I was surprised to learn that it has one of the oldest and largest forest preserves in the United States which protects 77,000 acres of public land and provides a huge variety of recreational opportunities for the public, including hiking and biking trails, sledding hills, cross-country skiing, golf courses, boat launches, aquatic centers, fishing, campgrounds, and even a zipline and adventure park.

 4. Tell us a short story about your collaboration with your flag mentor/partner(s).
I first met with my flag mentor/partner, Jim Kelly, the Executive Creative Director of closerlook, inc., on Sunday, December 6, 2020 after the Chicago Bears game and over Zoom. Jim encouraged me to think outside of the box and not limit my design possibilities by initially trying many different design ideas. We talked about some basic design principles and how each individual part and color on the flag I designed should have a purpose in order to communicate a message about Cook County. Jim also recommended websites with color selection tools used by designers, which was very helpful as I am color blind. After narrowing my design options and agreeing on two final design ideas with Jim, I selected and finalized my best flag design idea along with the description of the design.

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