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Arlington County is changing its logo, which is a needed change as long as it isn’t the only change. Arlington has grown and changed tremendously over the past few decades, and General Lee’s Arlington House no longer symbolizes that. It is a beautiful piece of architecture, and deserves to be preserved, promoted, and made available to the public to learn about its (and our) history. However because of it being built by slaves, funded by wealth created from slave labor, and owned by someone who fought to defend slavery, it doesn’t need to be in a place of honor and symbolism for our community.

Our new logo should reflect what our county means to our residents, our local organizations, and the friendliness of Arlington’s people, not just our federal monuments or proximity to the nation’s capital. I’m a veteran of the Air Force Reserves for 9 years, deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, and feel no need for our community to be defined by the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, or Arlington Cemetery. We are more than any federal monument.

None of the proposed options are great. I would actually prefer no new logo, merely replacing the stylized representation of Arlington House with a simple workmark like Fairfax County’s. However, our county leadership is determined to have a big flashy rebranding to add to their political resumes. Cynical, but true.

Thankfully there are some logo options that are less bad than others. If we are to include a piece of architecture in our logo, highlighting the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Option X is a good choice. Better yet is emphasizing the friendliness of our community as a place where people live and grow up with Option Y, although I would desperately prefer adding a tree to the graphic alongside the house and highrise to symbolize our commitment to nature. However sticking to my preference of a simple wordmark leads me to Option Z as the best option for our future logo – it is simple, element, and easily “future proof” for decades to come.

However this process would have been a great opportunity to educate on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) by allowing the public to vote for their top 3 while ranking preferences. My own preferences above clearly prefer one over others,and I suspect the vast majority of residents would feel the same way. This missed opportunity is yet another point which makes we question our county leadership’s dedication to implimenting RCV any time soon.

One final consideration in a big flashy branding change is it can be used as a distraction for real actions such as criminal justice reform, election reform, protecting voting rights. Although Arlington has grown and changed, in many ways its diversity has decreased. Historically African American neighborhoods such as Halls Hill and Green Valley have become more white, and our local politics have become homogenized. We need actual changes that protect and revitalize African Americans, immigrants, and other minorities – not just a new logo. Thankfully it is possible to do both with the right leadership.