CreativeMornings/Omaha Meet Tierra O’Neal

Omaha is part of the global CreativeMornings community. This monthly breakfast lecture series is designed to highlight our creative community and adds to Omaha’s strong arts and culture scene and growing reputation.

After our August event, we caught up with attendee Tierra O’Neal.

By JoAnna LeFlore

Meet Tierra O’Neal, a spirited local creative who charms you with her wit, artistic appreciation and passion for youth outreach. As the Branching Out Independent Living Program manager at Omaha Home for Boys, Tierra literally lights up when she talks about the work that holds her heart and feeds her soul.

She begins with the motivation for youth advocacy: “My impact would be to encourage and help our youth flourish into the leaders they are meant to be, by helping them remove barriers and connecting them to community resources.”

What an inspiring vision she has. She remains even more inspired ever since attending her first CreativeMornings session.

“Mike Smith was my first event, I was inspired due to the homeless youth population that he serves. A lot of homeless youth are former foster care youth and have experienced homelessness at one time or another. I am also very passionate about this,” Tierra explained.

“I work with current and former wards of the state between the ages of 14-24 that have experienced foster care. The focus is on their self-sufficiency and permanency in the areas of housing, employment, education and transportation,”

With a creative passion to encourage others, Tierra aims to help by connecting people while role modeling life in an optimistic manner. Tierra lives out this motto graciously. She brings a smile to the room whenever she enters and is often caught at community events networking and giving hugs. Essentially no one is a stranger to her because she can recognize the talents in others so easily.

“We should celebrate one another’s uniqueness with verbal praise on a regular basis! I make it my business to daily give compliments to people I don’t know, especially when working and or in the community.”

As you begin to understand Tierra’s personality, you might glean from her own inspiration, which comes from Ella Baker. For Tierra, Ella Baker is a cultural leader who was an advocate for freedom and justice. If you don’t know about Ms. Ella, you should Google her after you read this. Trust us, it is worth the 10 minutes of your life and we promise you’ll be inspired!

While Tierra is definitely growing her circle for youth advocacy, being connected to a creative community is still a priority for her.

“Being part of a creative community is very important to me because I feel that we are at a crucial time within our state where we are expanding, and in order to evolve efficiently we need to be able to collaborate effectively.”

Tierra definitely gets it. We’ve just got to find more ways to work together and be creative about doing it! If you’d like to collaborate with Tierra, you can catch her out in the community at local concerts or reach out to her via the CreativeMornings platform. We hope to see you at the next event!

Posted in We Launch, We Live |

We Are O.NE. – Jamaal Chinn

We Are O.NE. Series. Let’s make this a place where I get to be me and you get to be you. Let’s make this a place where together, we are O.NE. Put your hands in the middle and share your story.

Being creative means you’re thinking.
And I want people to know that I am always thinking…

Being creative means changing your perspective and solving a problem in a new way – taking risks, ignoring doubt and facing fears. It means breaking the routine and doing something different for the sake of doing something different. It means mapping out a thousand routes to reach one destination. Being creative means searching for inspiration in even the most mundane places. It means you’re asking stupid questions – creating without critiquing. Being creative means you know how to find the similarities and differences between two completely random ideas.

It means challenging yourself every day.

I approach every day to be the best version of myself – for me and those I encounter daily.

With excitement and energy, I share my vision with others – helping them also find what motivates, inspires and drives them each day. Because when it is all said and done, doing what makes you happy is what matters – the things you would be doing even if you had all the money in the world.

I’ve been in the metro for almost two years now and this place has had an immense impact on me personally. I have gotten a lot of support from the community to chase my dreams, share my ideas and step out of my comfort zone and become part of this growing community. This is what has kept me here.

Posted in We Inspire, We Live |

A Great Place to be Alive

Photos by Onelapse Photography, Eric Francis, Brendan Sullivan and Bill Sitzmann.
Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine:

Our mix of communities, each with its own personality, comprise one vibrant metropolitan area. Tour our diverse blend of neighborhoods and you’ll find an expansive list of reasons why we love where we live.

“People have always flocked to the Old Market because of its energy.”
– Seth McMillan, owner McLovin – A Store for Men, Old Market resident

“I love the small town feel of Blair. It provides comfort and safety for my family. There are diverse businesses, and it is rich in history and wonderful people.”
– Jordan A. Rishel, Washington County resident

“It was supposed to be a ‘one-time gig.’ More than four years and a lot of ‘First Fridays’ later, Benson First Friday continues to be a beautiful addition to our event calendar, a chance for emerging artists, art enthusiasts and the general public to come together in the Benson Neighborhood to celebrate the power of creativity and pull of community. Held the first Friday of every month, year-round.”

“I really love where we live because of the true feeling of community. Our neighbors all share house keys, and we look out for each other – the way it should be. Being able to walk to restaurants, taverns, grocery stores, art galleries and retail stores – it’s really the best!”
– Heather Kita, midtown Omaha

“I love the great neighbors, and the beautiful homes, mature trees, lake and walking paths. It is also a great location, very close to shopping, medical services, recreation, work and church – and yet it feels like it is secluded from all of that, particularly with our direct path connection to Lake Zorinsky for walking, running and biking.”
– Greg Scaglione, West Omaha

“It’s like a mini oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and during the summer, it feels like a mini-vacation every weekend.”
– Jenni Serkiz, lake dweller

Here in the heartland, we are more than a cozy place to live; we are a great place to be alive.

Posted in We Live |

We Are O.NE. – Frank O’Neal

We Are O.NE. Series. Let’s make this a place where I get to be me and you get to be you. Let’s make this a place where together, we are O.NE. Put your hands in the middle and share your story.

I was born and raised in Omaha. After attending college in both Lincoln and Omaha, enlisting in the U.S. Coast Guard, living in Baltimore, Dallas and Kansas City, I found my way back home in 2006.

I am a product of the love of my father and mother who in a nutshell taught me…as one door closes another door opens…

I am a poet and publisher.

Underlying virtually all of my reflections is my effort to make sense out of the black experience in America – an often painful and only partially successful effort. I bare my soul and in doing so I try to help my readers to better understand the soul of America.

With the love of my parents and the environment they created for me, I was at a very young age gifted to challenge. Through my travels, life experiences and relationships successes and failures, I hope those who read my work receive a view of the world that will lend knowledge, love and understanding.

Photos by Eric Francis

Posted in We Care, We Live |

On Tap: Original Pours

Excerpt from “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” 2014 magazine
Photo courtesy of Omaha World Herald and video by Dialogue Farm

It’s been “brewing” in our region for years. We’re talking about carefully fermented batches of barley and hops. Not only do we raise our glasses, but we make their contents – and we do them both in style.


Like the rest of the nation, we’re crazy for craft and imported beer. You’ll find a multitude of taps at establishments that specialize in the perfect pour. Head for 36th and Farnam Streets – “Beer Corner USA” – and quench your thirst at the Crescent Moon, “Omaha’s original alehouse” and a Draft Magazine Top 100 Beer Bar in America four years in a row; Huber-Haus, a German bier hall; Max & Joe’s, a Belgian beer tavern; and Beertopia, a craft beer store with a wide selection.

The Benson neighborhood wins the draw for “craft beer capital” with popular establishments such as Beercade – a fusion of classic arcade games, pinball and craft beer – and Krug Park.

“Bare-bulbed and old-timey, Krug Park’s wood-and-brick décor gets a shot of life from a cool crowd and a chalkboard tap menu announcing rarer pours from well-known craft breweries.”  –, America’s 100 Best Beer Bars (2013)


Benson Brewery takes pride in serving up its own homemade brews – but it’s not our only homegrown operation. The list includes Nebraska Brewing Company, Upstream Brewing Company and Lucky Bucket Brewing Co., which has a whiskey-making sister company, Cut Spike Distillery.


Beer festivals and tours? We have those, too.

  • Omaha Craft Beer Tour
  • Omaha Beer Week
  • Benson Beer Festival
  • Omaha Beer Fest
  • Great Nebraska Beer Fest

Posted in We Entertain |

We’re a Foodies Delight

Photos: Eric Francis, Kent Sievers, Sarah Hoffman, Rebecca S. Gratz, Megan Farmer and Chris Machian
Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine:

The same old night out? That’s just not our taste. From international fare to down-home cooking, we are a foodie’s delight. Without reservation, our dynamic restaurant scene covers the gastronomic gamut.

The Food Network released its own “eating tour of Omaha” – eight essential spots (beyond steakhouses):

  • Kitchen Table (left)
  • The Grey Plume
  • Block 16
  • Twisted Cork Bistro
  • Modern Love (right)
  • Pitch
  • Dario’s Brasserie

Chart your own course of courses.

Burrito Envy and Tequila Bar (top left) – Go global, burrito-style, with selections ranging from Mediterranean to Caribbean. Their take on PB&J? A pork, bacon and jalapeno burrito, of course.

Noli’s (bottom left) – Operated by Omaha locals so dedicated to serving an authentic New York slice that they bring in New York water to use in their crust.

Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen – Diverse menu features a mix of familiar and unfamiliar Chinese dishes.

Donut Shop – Renowned among late-night concertgoers, cramming college students and early-morning risers as a place for cheap hot coffee and fresh doughnuts.

Avoli Osteria – Sourcing the finest ingredients to create authentic, northern Italian cuisine; the second Dundee concept launched by Chef Dario Schicke of Dario’s Brasserie.

LeadBelly (top right) – Casual-comfortable and contemporary, specializing in made-from-scratch, high-quality pub food with a large selection of handcrafted beer, whiskey and wine.

Fat BBQ Shack – A food truck that has been turned into a brick-and-mortar BBQ joint. Home of the Shack Attack, a foundation of hand-cut fries supporting meat, barbecue sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, ranch, jalapenos and chives.

Nicola’s Italian Wine & Fare (bottom right) – Irresistible lasagna for dinner, Italian lemon cream cake for dessert.

El Dorado – Known for its seafood, including some truly impressive platters, served with margaritas and live mariachi music.

Twisted Cork Bistro – Founded by Seattle transplants Darrell and Laura Auld, this bistro blends the best of the Pacific Northwest with local meats, cheeses, produce and breads.

#Omaha #WeDontCoast #WeToast

Posted in Uncategorized |

Day Escapes

Photos by Ryan Soderlin, Rebecca S. Gratz, Kent Sievers, Eric Francis, Lauritzen Gardens, Kiley Cruse, Matt Miller and Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum
Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine:

Daycation stagnation? That’s just not a problem here. Our many world-class attractions, including the Omaha Children’s Museum and Lauritzen Gardens, are ever-changing, continually upping the experience to keep the masses engaged, entertained and coming back for more. Our landscape inspires and broadens horizons, too – from lofty Hummel Park to sprawling Lake Zorinsky, and countless points in between.


Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – Ranked one of the best zoos in the world by TripAdvisor, it thrives in unleashing the new. This exciting evolution includes the opening of their spectacular Children’s Adventure Trails exhibit.

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari – Henry Doorly Zoo’s park showcases North American species, including bison, black bears, eagles, wolves, elk, deer and sandhill cranes.

Fontenelle Forest – One of the largest natural deciduous forests in Nebraska, constantly growing and changing – in nature’s way.

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum – Home to a powerful collection of military aircraft and artifacts and one of our tried-and-true attractions. The museum now salutes its ties to the former Strategic Air Command with a recent name change.


More Options For Day Escapes

  • The Durham Museum
  • The Loess Hills Scenic Byway
  • El Museo Latino
  • Historic Florence
  • Fort Atkinson
  • Union Pacific Museum


Posted in We Explore, We Live |

Water Adventures

Photos by Megan Farmer, Kent Seivers and Ryan Soderlin
Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine:

Beat the heat with these fun spots on (and in) the water.

Botna Bend Park – A favorite of campers and anglers along southwest Iowa’s peaceful Nishnabotna River; a popular spot for tanking, tubing and kayaking.

The Platte and Elkhorn rivers – For scenic floats. If you don’t have your own equipment, aquatic entrepreneurs, including Platte River Rentals and Tubing & Adventures, can set you up.

Natural Resource District lakes and recreation areas – For sailing, swimming, boating and even your own spirited version of water polo.

Lake Manawa State Park – Especially popular for jet and water skiing. The 660-acre park also is popular for camping, hiking, cycling and picnicking.

Levi Carter Lake – The Omaha Riverfront Trail runs along this horseshoe-shaped lake near Omaha’s Eppley Airfield. Fishing, jet skiing and water skiing are popular here.


Posted in We Explore, We Live |

Field Trip Fridays: Children’s Adventure Trails & Education Center

The Greater Omaha Chamber marketing team is on the move – experiencing the sights, sounds, creativity and tastes that typify our region. We’re exploring our community and encourage you to check out these Greater Omaha gems – because best-kept secrets are best uncovered.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium gave the Chamber marketing team a preview of their new Children’s Adventure Trails & Education Center. Here’s what we learned:

Children (and adults) have the chance to feed and brush the baby goats. ‘Choose Your Adventure’ signs throughout the area help facilitate physical, cognitive or social play.


Crawl through tunnels and look out the acrylic bubbles to take in an up-close view of the Prairie Dog Town habitat.


Children are encouraged to play and explore like it’s their own backyard. The exhibit features a waterfall and stream that runs down to the pond, complete with bridges, sandy banks and climbing logs.


The main feature is a three-story Treehouse with slides, climbing nets and bridges. Children can climb alongside small primates in nearby elevated tubes.


The Education Building has year-round programming for high school, kindergarten and after school programs. The building also includes seven classrooms, an administrative area and a small auditorium.


The windows feature 52 different animals and insects native to Nebraska. In addition to beautifying the space, the pattern helps prevent birds from flying into the windows and increases energy efficiency.

We think it’s safe to say, the World’s Best Zoo just got even better. Learn more at


Posted in We Entertain, We Launch |

CreativeMornings/Omaha Meet Brian Smith

Omaha is part of the global CreativeMornings community. This monthly breakfast lecture series is designed to highlight our creative community and adds to Omaha’s strong arts and culture scene and growing reputation.

After our June event featuring Joey Bierman, we caught up with attendee Brian Smith, writer.

Describe the work that you do.

I’m a writer who explores people in relation to created systems. We build systems like companies, cities, and contracts that all have different social expectations and responsibilities. I examine how they operate, shift, and deteriorate.

As part of our We Don’t Coast spirit, describe the impacts you are trying to make.

I’ve produced TEDxOmaha since 2010, connecting people to TED’s global movement of Ideas Worth Spreading. Our 40 volunteers develop leadership skills by presenting 16 annual programs, and our attendees find like-minded people in the community. We focus on universal topics with speakers who live in or have a strong connection to Omaha. Brag moment: we have featured 83 remarkable speakers and performers, one of whom had her talk promoted to the official TED website. It has over 2.5 million views.

On a civic level, I am encouraging Omaha residents to take an active role in public life. Living in a city is a political act, and we are responsible to and for each other.

What is your creative passion?

I’m a conceptual artist who utilizes a blend of ideas, photography of found objects and temporal status. One collection, #plushiebomb, can be found on Instagram.

What is your first and/or most meaningful CreativeMornings experience?

I’m a fan of CM founder Tina Roth Eisenberg and considered starting the CM Omaha chapter in 2013. I believe the first talk I watched online was that of my friend, Grace Rodriguez, speaking at CM Houston. []

How important is being a part of a creative community to you?

Artists always work in context of relationships to other people and social concepts. As creators, we need co-conspirators.

In your opinion, how should we celebrate one another’s uniqueness?

People are multidimensional, inconsistent and ever-shifting. Scrape away the superficial layer of social chatter when you meet someone. It’s up to you to find the good stuff. Ask better questions. Find a reason to get excited about their potential. Look for ways to share stories.

Who is your favorite cultural leader and/or artist of all time?

I am reticent to name only one person, but I’ll nominate Neri Oxman. She leads the Mediated Matter research group at MIT Media Lab and produces the most amazing interdisciplinary work. I consider her to have genius on top of genius. []

Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

I believe 9am is the optimal time to get out of bed.

If you could open a door and go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I’d go to Birmingham UK and talk with Immy Kaur and Indy Johar. Immy is a friend from TEDActive and co-founder of Impact Hub Birmingham. Indy is a leading thinker on urbanism and humanity.

Posted in We Launch, We Live |