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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 |

Paulo Orlando: Talent Worth Retaining (for as Long as We Can)

Photos by Eric Francis

He’s the very type of talent we want to retain in Omaha: hard-working with a positive attitude, eager to develop. Even so, we find ourselves rooting for Paulo Orlando to get back to Kansas City.

Right now, the Brazilian-born outfielder is suiting up for the Omaha Storm Chasers, a temporary assignment while he fine tunes his swing. If all goes according to plan, it’ll be a speedy return to the Royals’ major league roster. For now, the 31-year-old is focused on Storm Chaser wins and exemplifying the “We Don’t Coast” attitude of his current hometown.

“You just think about being positive every day and doing a good job,” he says.

This isn’t Paulo’s first time in Omaha. He played here during parts of 2011, 2013-14 (when he was part of the Storm Chasers’ back-to-back Triple-A National Championship run) and 2015, the year he was called up to the Royals, became only the third Brazilian-born player in MLB history, and helped his KC team win the World Series.

“It was a big dream come true,” says Paulo who, in addition to Portuguese, has learned to speak both English and Spanish.

Growing up in Brazil, Paulo excelled at all kinds of sports – soccer, basketball, track and field. He was a sprinter for the Brazilian Junior Olympic team. He started playing baseball on the weekends when he was 12 and years later, caught the eye of a Brazilian-based scout for the White Sox.

“I play the sport not just for money but for love,” he says.

Dedicated and determined, Paulo spent more than nine years – and more than 1,000 games – in the minor leagues before he made his MLB debut. The husband and father of two, including a baby boy named Derek (after Derek Jeter), is looking forward to many more years on the diamond and continued impact after that.

“Everything that baseball has given me – I want to give back one day. I want to pass it on to the kids back in Brazil.”

For now, we get to enjoy seeing this top talent right here in Omaha; a player destined to make it back to the majors by suiting up, stepping up and working that much harder – no coasting allowed.

Posted in We Win |

Rain or shine, We Don’t Coast.

By Kaci Long

What was originally scheduled to be a homestand full of 25-cent hot dogs, two Kansas City Royals legends, an already rescheduled bobblehead giveaway and a fantastic fireworks show quickly became overshadowed by everyone’s favorite four letter word in baseball, RAIN. We had two rainouts over seven days which in turn caused us to have three doubleheaders in five days (one doubleheader had already been scheduled).

Over the week, we pulled the tarp on or off a total of 14 times and the field took nearly four inches of rain. Talk about Stirring Up the Storm!

 

When I strolled around the stadium the past few days, I caught some photos of our staff members and concessions. As I had previously mentioned, this homestand featured an already rescheduled Salvy Splash Bobblehead Giveaway that we were able to get in on Saturday. After the rain had passed, we set the bobbleheads up for the first fans through the gates.

Even with the weather being cold and rainy, thousands of fans were lined up early just to ensure they received a Salvy Splash bobble.

Wiener Wednesday (night) games feature 25-cent hot dogs along with Bark in the Park where dogs join their owners at Storm Chasers games. Head Chef Matt Atkinson was in the kitchen cooking burgers as he prepped for one of the picnics we had on Saturday evening. Matt is in his first year at Werner Park and has added exciting new offerings to our catering and suite menus such as chicken and waffles, along with brisket wellington. And, while Matt was in the kitchen, Concessions Manager Ryan Slane was making sure the hot dogs were up to high standards.

 

On Monday, we had to cut batting practice short so we could put the tarp on the field for the game that evening. I made my way to the field early enough to snap a quick picture of pitching coach, Andy Hawkins throwing to outfielder, Terrance Gore before the rain hit. As we began pulling the tarp, the players headed to the clubhouse to hang out and wait for the rain to pass.

In the clubhouse, we caught pitcher Malcom Culver grabbing a pre-game plate of food before he began the evening in the bullpen. Bubba Starling cozied up for a photo with his roommate, Cam Gallagher while they entertained themselves. Most of the players typically show up to the field around 1pm so the majority of their day is spent in the clubhouse. Some of them use the downtime to stay in touch with family or friends as Jake Junis was spotted on his phone. Storm Chasers broadcaster, Mark Nasser used the downtime as an opportunity to interview manager, Brian Poldberg for his radio show as they were all smiles.

 

Everyone knows that Nebraska weather is ever-changing and keeps us all on our toes. No one knows this better than our Head Groundskeeper, Noah Diercks. Noah was busy this past homestand watching the radar and making sure the field stayed in pristine shape. As anyone could guess, this can be a very stressful job. Once the call is made to put the tarp on or take it off, it takes a full staff (as you can see in the photos) to make this happen. After the tarp was off, the grounds crew’s job was not done. There were still foul lines to be chalked, the infield skin to be watered, and the batter’s boxes to be painted.  As the rest of the grounds crew did that, President/GM, Martie Cordaro and Noah had to push water across the grass so it could drain.

 

This homestand will go down in the books as many things.

For our staff and the grounds crew it was long and tiring, but we managed through it as a team. For Cam Gallagher, it featured his first Triple-A home run, which proved to be a game-winner. Bubba Starling also stayed hot and extended his hit streak to 12 games. Terrance Gore flashed the leather by robbing a sure to be Reno home run. And even catcher Luis Villegas pitched in to aid an overwhelmed pitching staff. Thanks to all the fans that supported us! Stir Up the Storm!

We’re ready to #StirUpTheStorm on June 10 at #WeDontCoast night! The first 1500 fans will receive a Paulo “O” Orlando bobble. Want to secure your own? Keep an eye on our social channels for a chance to win a bobblehead and We Don’t Coast swag!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Posted in We Win |

CreativeMornings/Omaha Meet Dylan Baumann!

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.

June’s theme is Survival. Stories of survival resonate because they remind us of our inherent power to adapt and change. A choice is always present, and survival is about choosing to move forward. Registration opens June 5. Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.

After our May event featuring Katie Kemerling, we caught up with attendee Dylan Baumann.

By JoAnna LeFlore

Dylan Baumann
Hometown:
Hickman, Nebraska | Creative Talent: Web Development, Cooking and Problem Solving

Dylan Baumann is great at high-fiving. But he is also pretty good at being an overall good human being as we witnessed at the CreativeMornings session in May. We had so much fun getting to know this guy that we wanted to make sure we shared him with the rest of the world, too.

What are some of your hobbies?
I suffer from ‘brief, but fleeting interests’ and have way too many hobbies which only last for a weekend or two. My long-running interests include cooking, video games, bicycling, and hiking.


We are a community who has committed to ‘Not Coast.’ How do you help to push our community forward/what causes do you advocate for and participate in?
I used to volunteer with local organizations which helped foster a welcoming environment for those in the creative industry such as AAF Omaha and spent time as a board member with AIGA Nebraska. In recent years I have mainly focused on helping students and recent graduates in graphic design, providing professional development and portfolio critiques to upcoming local talent.

I do my best to advocate for better personal and public transportation options and more home cooking.

What is your creative passion?
Oh man, definitely problem solving. I find it absolutely fascinating to learn about why solutions are created, how that conclusion was reached, and which problems the solutions fix.

Have you attended a CreativeMornings session in another city in the past?
I have not! I’ve watched most of the videos from cities around the world, but I’m glad to finally attend them in person.

Describe your favorite moment of today’s CreativeMornings presentation?
Watching ideas ‘click’ within the crowd. There were a few times throughout Katie’s presentation where her insight sets off a few waves of ‘ooo’s and ‘ahhh’s in the crowd and that’s the kind of thing that I love.

How are you motivated to express your creativity?
I make a lot of short-lived, stupid things. Whether it’s spending a week cultivating a sourdough only to have it turn out terribly or hooking up a raspberry pi to give me weather reports every morning, I enjoy running with creativity and making something with it. I used to sit on my ideas, collecting them and not taking action, but through silly projects I’m able to try new things without repercussions or expectations.

How important is being a part of a creative community to you?
Having a supportive creative community is hands-down one of the most important things you can possibly have in your career. They’re an amazing soundboard for your ideas, provide insight into technologies you haven’t been able to try yet, unposted job opportunities, and most of them will become your close friends.

In your opinion, how should we celebrate one another’s uniqueness?
Embrace the crap out of it. There’s no way we’ll be able to solve all of the problems unless we approach them from every angle, something you can only achieve if you allow people from diverse backgrounds and interests to be involved.

What might you look forward to by attending CreativeMornings lectures?
I’m excited to become friends with people who I might not have ever run into, hear more stories, and expand my understanding of how the world works.

Who is your favorite cultural leader and/or artist of all time?
Oof, that’s a tough one. I looove Noelle Stevenson’s work. I learned about her through her webcomic Nimona and later found out she illustrated covers for books such as Fangirl, To Be Or Not To Be, and Romeo and/or Juliet. If you’re looking for a kick-butt, radical human, she’s your person.  

If you want to learn more or connect with Dylan, visit him at: dylanbaumann.com.

Posted in We Entertain, We Inspire, We Live |

KC students experience Durham’s Gritty City tour.

Twenty-two Blue Valley Southwest High School students from Kansas City journeyed to Omaha (with their marketing/broadcast class instructor, of course) to become a video production crew for a day. After three hours of filming at seven different locations, two rounds of edits in four hours and twelve pizzas cashed, the students were ready to showcase their awesome ‘We Don’t Coast’ experiences.

The last video in a series of seven, Durham’s Gritty City tour.

Students creatively tie Omaha’s gritty past to the We Don’t Coast brand story that begins with “here you earn everything you get”.


“Where taverns have an anxious guest for every corner, shelf and crack; with half the people going west, and all the others going back.” – John Godfrey Saxe, Harper’s Magazine

Omaha was known for being one of the wicked cities of the west with brothels, illegal speakeasy’s and gambling being the way of life. You can learn more about Omaha’s seedy past on The Durham Museum’s Gritty City Tour.

Many thanks to The Durham Museum for helping with this experience.

Learn more about how this video and the others came to life here.

Posted in We Explore |

KC students experience Dodge Street

Twenty-two Blue Valley Southwest High School students from Kansas City journeyed to Omaha (with their marketing/broadcast class instructor, of course) to become a video production crew for a day. After three hours of filming at seven different locations, two rounds of edits in four hours and twelve pizzas cashed, the students were ready to showcase their awesome ‘We Don’t Coast’ experiences.

The sixth in a series of seven, Dodge Street corridor.

“We had our tour guide Steve Gordon give us a lift so we could have our own We Don’t Coast experience on Dodge Street.”

Dodge Street’s center lane, often referred to as “Suicide Lane”, is reversible, changing direction twice a day to accommodate commuter traffic. Another quirk of Dodge Street is the restriction of making left-hand turns, which is often ignored, resulting in the traffic backup.

Many thanks to Steve Gordon of RDQLUS Creative for helping with this experience.

Learn more about how this video came to life here.

Posted in We Explore |