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Bringing back the flag of Des Moines

Did you know Des Moines has its own flag?

The origin of the flag goes back to 1974 when Callanan Junior High School teacher Gerald LaBlanc and his seventh-grade class convinced the city to host a citywide flag design contest.

Walter Proctor, the editor, publisher and founder of American Host, submitted the winning design of the three arched bridges — Grand Avenue, Locust Street and Walnut Street — crossing the Des Moines River.

The flag was slowly phased out in recent years and eventually stopped flying in 2008 when a new city logo was unveiled featuring the Des Moines cityscape.

Now, a husband and wife duo — Mason and Emily Kessinger — are looking to bring it back.

The two have created a site,, where you can learn about the flag’s history and purchase various Des Moines flag apparel.

“I grew up know knowing the flag of Des Moines,” said Emily. “Mason learned about the flag when he started working at Gravitate and they had made stickers and shirts with the flag on them. Mason put a sticker on his phone and when my mom noticed it we started talking about how she was in the seventh-grade class that had the idea for the competition. The whole thing just kind of took off from there.”

“I’m a designer by trade so naturally the way things are visually represented and branded is important to me. I see things through that lens,” added Mason. “So when I came to Des Moines and found out that we had this great symbol but were no longer leveraging it, it felt like a loss. It felt like it was a missed opportunity.”

Flag of Des Moines apparel is now also available in several retail stores throughout Des Moines including Mars Cafe, Art Terrarium, Zanzibar’s Coffee and Back Country Outfitters.

“The whole thing cooks up to me to be a really great symbol that Des Moines can rally around,” said Mason. “It’s already been established historically. It has great significance symbolically. There’s a great story to it. So all we’re really trying to do in essence is put that image back out there.” 

Flag Day Celebration at Confluence

On June 14, Flag of Des Moines will be hosting a Flag Day Celebration and Beer Release at Confluence Brewing from 4 – 8 pm.

During the event, Confluence will release a special edition can of their Des Moines IPA to celebrate the flag of Des Moines. There will be live screen-printing by The Side Garage and live music by Federal Cheese from 5 – 8 pm.

Bringing back the flag of Des Moines | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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