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‘I Can Do Something’: One Man’s Mission to Support Ukraine by Installing Banners of Blue and Gold Throughout the Town of Mendocino

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Banners of blue and gold in Mendocino’s Rotary Park symbolizing solidarity with Ukraine [Pictures provided by Keri Ann Bourne]

In late March 2022, two incredibly large flags appeared in the coastal town of Mendocino. The banners were at least 20ft high, in rich brilliant blue and gold and danced in the strong wind of the coast. 

Flags in the town of Mendocino are more associated with music festivals and art events or directing guests to one of the many weddings that the rustic and charming backdrop of the coast plays host to.

Today, there are dozens of pairs all around town. Any local or tourist ambling about the town of Mendocino would have a hard time missing them.

Resident David Gross is the Mendocino resident responsible for these flags and we spoke with him about what inspired his efforts.

Sitting at Mendocino’s Rotary Park, on the corner of Main and Lansing Streets on a sunny early morning with birds chirping, Gross told us he has been a resident of Mendocino for about fifty years where he has worked as a principal and teacher at the local Middle School.

Gross said, “Lately when I’ve been watching the news, I’ve just been very depressed and sad to see what is happening in Ukraine” 

A quote by Edward Everett Hale inspired Gross to action: “I am only one, but I am one, I cannot do everything, but I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

This sense of purpose and duty was the impetus Gross required to transition from the malaise brought about by the grim news images of the war in Ukraine to a sense of duty and action. 

Gross decided to decorate Rotary Park with blue and gold, in support of Ukraine. He started by working with a neighbor to sew a fabric flag and putting it up at the park in a tree. Gross explained, “I got some fabric, and had the neighbors sew a flag, which I put on a tree, of blue and gold. And then I thought, gee, everybody liked it so much, they thought it was so neat, maybe I could get some more banners around town.”

Next, Gross worked with Matt Rowland of Matt Rowland Events, a local business that offers tents and event scenery on the Mendocino Coast. Charging a minimum amount, Rowland and Gross begin installing large, twenty-foot banners throughout the town. With funding provided by a group of supportive friends, Gross told us “we put up over 20 sets of flags so far.” 

Feedback about the banners has been overwhelmingly positive, Gross said. The way he sees it, the Ukrainian conflict is not a political issue, it’s a humanitarian issue. “You have people on the left, people on the right, all supporting this. It’s a humanitarian and it’s basically what is right versus what is wrong. And all we are doing is trying to support a right.”

He recalled the first week he was putting up the banners when he noticed an older woman outside of the vehicle taking pictures of the banners seemingly upset. Gross approached making sure she was okay and she told him that she was photographing the banners for her relatives in Ukraine.

Gross began installing the flags at the end of March, first starting at Rotary Park. The local Presbyterian Church put their own blue and gold banners up which Gross says was nice “to think that someone else was thinking the same way.”

The local post office gave Gross permission to install the blue and gold banner outside their location. Before installing them, Gross asked, “What if somebody objects?” The employee responded wryly, “I’ll tell them to go see Putin.”

Gross, compelled to support the Ukrainians in their war-torn moment, spoke with Meredith Smith of the Mendocino Cafe to host a celebration at Rotary Park and they are teaming up to celebrate “May Day”. 

The Rotary Club has offered to support the event, which will occur on May 1st, 2022 at Rotary Park, where food and drink will be served, music will be played, and a silent auction will be held. Gross said that all proceeds will go to Ukraine. 

Some of the offerings of the auction include a 7-night luxury stay in Hawaii, a 2-night bed and breakfast in Mendocino, wine, dinners, art, and more. All of the funds raised will go to support Nova Ukraine, an organization that will distribute them for humanitarian, refugee, and medical relief. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Everytime I see them I praying for the people involved with this war. I even pray that Putin would come to some sort of logical rational thought and realize all he is doing to hurt people including his own Nation.

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Keri Ann Bourne
Keri Ann Bournehttp://bourne707.wordpress.com
Mendocino Coast resident since 1986. Areas which appeal to me: woman owned, green or renewable resource, traditional crafts, small business, social/environmental/animal/community benefits and non profits.

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