Historians debate whether people or events drive history. There is a third option: bicycles.
The Great Bicycle Revolution of 1899, in which thousands of black-clad, mask-wearing riders synchronized their pedaling around one lone cyclist in red and streamed through the odd-numbered streets of New York to protest air pollution, paved the way for the modern environmental movement and inspired avant-garde theatre.
The 1905 Tour de France saw the late entry of postal carrier Thierry Lachance, who was bent over on his bicycle by the box on his back filled with Parisian chocolates desperately needed by Albert Einstein on a solitary retreat in the Pyrenees as he struggled to articulate his Theory of Relativity while Lachance defied gravity, flying up and down the peaks, twisting time and space in his purposeful haste and thereby prompting the classic low rider profile other cyclists emulate to this day.
These examples suffice to show the history-making force of bicycles, which was on my mind when I launched Signal Hill. But more about bicycles in a moment. First, a word about Signal Hill’s origin.
When I started the firm in 1999, “Daniel Pryfogle & Associates” was a flat tire. It didn’t inspire. We focused on marketing and public relations, so we needed a name that conveyed communications.
I spent the first seven years of my life in a little town in Southern California, on a hill facing the Pacific Ocean — the city of Signal Hill. Eureka! The name possessed all the associations I was after: a beacon, a transmitter of messages, clarity above the noise.
My maternal grandfather, William Parson, was the pastor of Signal Hill Baptist Church, just up East 20th Street from our home. This was the church where I was baptized, and this was the street where I learned to ride a bicycle. So Signal Hill had other powerful associations: faith and family, freedom and movement.
Our first logo, designed by Kathleen Heafey, featured a 1937 De Luxe Velocipede, a beautiful red bike. The nostalgic image fit. Much of our work is with aging services organizations and retirement communities.
At the turn of the millennium, my dad, Marion Pryfogle, gave me a wonderful Christmas present: a painting of a red tricycle at the corner of East 20th and Cherry atop Signal Hill. In addition to being a Baptist pastor, my dad was an artist.
When it came time to create our second logo, I knew we had to play off his painting. I wanted to pay tribute to my dad and other leaders whose lives are marked by faith and creativity.
Our new logo, designed by my daughter Savannah Pryfogle — an artist like her grandfather — and executed by Kathleen Heafey, carries all this heritage. It conveys our desire to look for signs of the Spirit’s movement, up and down hills, highways and byways, and to signal the good news we find with those who make history every day. This is how we lead through story.