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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.

SERVED HERE

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.”  – DraftMagazine.com, America’s 100 Best Beer Bars (2013)

MADE HERE

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.

CELEBRATED HERE

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: omaha.com/chamber

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.

BENSON
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.

BLACKSTONE NEIGHBORHOOD
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.

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

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

DUNDEE
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.

MIDTOWN OMAHA
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.

NORTH OMAHA
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.

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

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

WEST OMAHA
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: omaha.com/chamber

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: omaha.com/chamber


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 OmahaZoo.com.

 

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. [https://creativemornings.com/talks/grace-rodriguez/1]

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. [https://www.ted.com/talks/neri_oxman_design_at_the_intersection_of_technology_and_biology]

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 |

CreativeMornings/Omaha Meet Natalie Wallace

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 Natalie Wallace, director of marketing for both Omaha Fashion Week and Omaha Design Center.

Describe the work that you do.

I am blessed with two fantastic jobs. At the Omaha Design Center I get to come alongside folks who find event planning daunting and help them make the most of their event. Rather than stressing about it, they can enjoy the process! I love seeing the end result. With Omaha Fashion Week I get the opportunity to showcase the creative spirit of Omaha to folks who may not even realize it exists. I am honored to witness the creatives of Omaha come together to produce the collaboration that is Omaha Fashion Week. From designers to photographers to stylists and make up artists, lighting designers and musicians, to painters and jewelry-makers. It is a home for all creatives! 

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

One of my favorite quotes is “Earth without art is just eh.”-Anonymous

I love this idea. In our modern day it’s easy to think the world revolves around money and power. But working along side such talented creatives, I’ve realized the earth goes round thanks to beauty and creation. If my work helps one designer keep creating, one event planner pull off their dream event, I feel pretty good about it. 

What is your creative passion? 

Theatre. I got my creative start as an adult as a Stage Manager after I realized I can’t act. Like at all….I love witnessing or working on theatre of any kind. Or belting the lyrics to “Hamilton” with my three-year-old in the car. 

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

Joey gave his talk on Survival three days after I had received the news that I had miscarried a baby. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had agreed to greet people and help them find their way so I wanted to follow up on my commitment. Listening to Joey speak on his lengthy recovery woke something up inside of me and I knew I was going to be okay. I just needed the encouragement to move forward. It was a truly life-altering experience for me and I am so grateful I went. 

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

Creativity is infectious. I may not be the best painter or musician or fashion designer, but I thrive on being around these people. A creative community pushes one to think differently and view the world from different shoes. I need to be around other creatives. Always. 

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

The best way to celebrate one another’s uniqueness for me is just to tell them how much I love it! Sometimes we forget that people just need to hear that someone likes what they’re doing. Or even if you don’t like what they’re doing, telling them why you respect it. 

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

Julie Taymor is an artistic idol of mine. She is the creative mind that brought Lion King (and so many others) to life on Broadway in the form of larger than life puppets. I love her ability to completely recreate something that the world loves just the way it is. And somehow, she makes them love her version even more. 

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

For 11 years I played the cello. Although I haven’t touched it in years, I can’t let go of the darn thing. It hangs on the wall in our home so I can remember the beautiful music I was once able to pull from its strings. 

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

The little brick house at the end of Cedar Creek Lane in Lexington, Kentucky. This 40-acre farm was my childhood home. I was delighted to do my homework in the trees above the goats, earn the nickname “quickhands” because I could catch any frog and learn to ride horses. My childhood was full of adventure right in my backyard and I return every chance I can. 

Posted in We Launch, We Live |

See it. Hear it. Feel it.

Photos by Kent Sievers, Megan Farmer, Mark Davis and Omaha World-Herald
Excerpt from the “Omaha: We Don’t Coast” magazine: omaha.com/chamber

 

We are a cultural hub, feeding all avenues of expression. Creativity is not confined here – and the sheer quality of our artistic continuum enhances the quality of our lives.

Opera Omaha (top left) – The only professional opera company in Nebraska, celebrating 60 years in 2018 with the addition of an annual spring festival.

Ballet Nebraska (top right) – At the heart of the region’s only professional dance company, a dedicated group of performers lives out a classic childhood dream with grace and athleticism.

Omaha Symphony (bottom left) – Our connection to the power and beauty of live orchestral music through performance and education for more than 90 years now, currently under the direction of Thomas Wilkins.

River City Mixed Chorus (bottom right) – More than three decades after its founding, the LGBT River City Mixed Chorus continues to entertain, engage and enrich with dynamic, innovative performances.

Posted in We Entertain, We Live |

Field Trip Fridays: Joslyn Castle

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.

Built over 114 years ago, the Joslyn Castle was home to Omaha’s first millionaires, George and Sarah Joslyn. This Scottish-style home was constructed at a price tag of $250,000 ($6 million in modern-day dollars) and from start to finish only took 11 months to complete – an impressive rate given the grandiose details and design.

The Rooms: A total of 35 – each featuring a different type of wood, some of which are now extinct. The wall sconces and chandelier are dipped in 24K gold and the original dining room table is still on display.

The Music Room: A later addition to the home, The Joslyn’s hosted concerts and plays as a way to entertain the people of their community and to foster their love for arts & culture. The beautiful stained glass window was designed to mimic the landscape of West Omaha – a view Sarah much enjoyed.

The Basement: Also known as, George’s “man cave”. It is joked that this is where Omaha really began – inviting all the who’s who in the town to rub elbows with.

The Garden: Complete with a large greenhouse, lily pond, flower beds and birdhouses, plans for the garden were outlined and built before the Castle. The lavish grounds featured 20+ types of trees and a prized orchid collection with over 1600 varietals. It is also home to the state’s oldest Oak tree.

Today, The Joslyn Castle honors George and Sarah’s legacy by serving as a cultural events center, keeping its history alive in a modern day society. The castle is attracting the next generation by opening its doors to a plethora of events that go beyond historical tours, such as:

  • Joslyn Castle Car Cruise – an antique car show featuring original and concourse classic cars, roadsters, resto-mods and supercars.
  • Murder Mystery Dinners – a mystery ‘Who Dun’ It” dinner
  • Masquerade at the Castle – an enchanted evening of music, dancing, treats and potions.
  • Unlocked all-access tours – an all-access, behind the scenes look of the Castle
  • 120th Anniversary of the Summer Fete – a summer evening celebration under the stars on the castle grounds complete with dining, lawn games, live music and dancing.

George and Sarah loved having live performances and meetings at this home, so it’s exciting to see the tradition carried on to the next generation of Omahans. Check out The Castle’s full list of events and help continue to honor The Joslyn’s legacy.

 

 

Posted in We Entertain, We Explore, We Live |