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That kind of audacity has the potential for great reward.

It takes guts to put yourself out there – to set that lofty goal and say,

“I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m going to do it anyway because I believe in this.”

That kind of audacity has the potential for great reward.
What it does not have – is an age limit.

John Lang, a senior at Westside High School, is on a two-pronged mission: pay a massive tribute to active military members, veterans and first responders – and earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. His plan? Construct an expansive American flag – 60 ft. x 30 ft. – Old Glory in all its glory – entirely from Lego® bricks.

John, who turns 17 this month, says this is his way of honoring the flag and giving back to those who risk their lives for us every day.

He writes, “My family has a history of service. My grandfathers, my two uncles and many of my ancestors served our country, dating as far back as the revolutionary war. My father was a firefighter / paramedic for over 35 years. This has provided me with a strong sense of patriotism.

“In today’s fast-paced society, I believe many have forgotten what this amazing country has done for the world and how great a foundation our founding fathers provided us with. I want to help remind everyone how truly remarkable this country is as well as honor those who have and continue to serve this nation and keep us safe.”

John is calling this ambitious effort The Great American Flag Project. Here are a few ways we can pitch in:

  • Donate Lego® bricks. He needs about 315,000 of them. He’s received about 15,000 so far.
  • Donate money to buy Lego® bricks
  • Volunteer to help assemble the flag

All donations are tax deductible. You’ll find more information at www.thegreatamericanflagproject.com or www.facebook.com/TheGreatAmericanFlagProject.

Once John has enough bricks, the flag will be built and displayed in the parking lot of Election Systems & Software, which coincidentally raised a 60 ft. x 30 ft. American Flag over its office building in July.

John hopes to serve in the military after college and then follow in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter. More ambitious plans for a teenager with world record aspirations. He says taking the leap is the hardest part.

“You have to start with a plan, but you have to be flexible and open to change. Failure is always a possibility but if it happens, you just have to get up, dust yourself off and keep trying.”

Posted in We Inspire |

Cinemateca 2016

Cinemateca 2016 from Film Streams

Film Streams and the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) are proud to present Cinemateca 2016, the fifth biennial celebration of Latino, Latin-American, and Spanish cinema. Dedicated as always to presenting great art that transcends borders, this year’s program delivers narrative films from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, and (for the first time) Guatemala.

The month-long program will include special screenings with free pre-show cuisine and post-show discussions each Tuesday. It also features two family-friendly selections that cross-over with Film Streams’ Forever Young Family & Children’s Series.

Tuesday night offerings include a camp comedy (MY BIG NIGHT, Spain), a true-crime thriller (EL CLAN, Argentina), coming-of-age dramas (VIVA, Cuba/Ireland; IXCANUL, Guatemala), and a restored 1984 documentary on the Latin roots of one of New York’s most famously gentrified neighborhoods (LOS SURES). The Forever Young family-friendly picks (BOY AND THE WORLD, Brazil; free screenings of HABANASTATION, Cuba) will show on Saturdays, Sundays, and Thursdays throughout the series.

All Tuesday screenings will begin at 7 pm, followed by post-show charlas (“discussions”) led by OLLAS faculty and special guests. Prior to show time, attendees will have the opportunity to sample food from local restaurants with connections to the films’ respective countries of origin.

More information about Cinemateca 2016 can be found at http://bit.ly/2ahUact and http://www.unomaha.edu/ollas/.

All films in the series will be presented at Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater, located at 1340 Mike Fahey Street. Tickets are $9 general, $7 for seniors, students, teachers, military and those arriving by bicycle, and $4.50 for Film Streams Members.

Cinemateca 2016 is generously sponsored by Humanities Nebraska.

CINEMATECA 2016 FOOD PARTNERS
España Tapas Bar & Restaurant
Gusto Cuban Cafe
Latino Legacy
María Bonita

 

Posted in We Entertain |

Cinemateca 2016

Cinemateca 2016 from Film Streams.

Posted in We Entertain |

“I think everyone has their own thing. My thing is I really love learning about things that I love.”

Frank Fu, fashion designer and then some…

“We Don’t Coast” is an attitude. A nod to the fact that we’re all given 24-hours each day – and we choose to make them most of them. Frank Fu embodies We Don’t Coast.

“My philosophy is – if I find that I like it, I will always find time for it.”

Frank is an artist, freelance graphic designer, jewelry-making entrepreneur, and instructor at Do Space, our innovation playground. He is also an architecture aficionado and a budding fashion designer who’ll be making his debut at Omaha Fashion Week (OFW) in August.

“I’ve always been aware of European fashion – and how most of the time, it’s forward thinking,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about trying this new type of expression. Working with the body is completely different. It’s more organic and free-flowing whereas with a building you’re set within a boundary of rules.”

Spoken like a true… 16-year-old.

Amidst everything else, Frank is an architectural design technology student at Metropolitan Community College – and an incoming senior at Brownell Talbot High School. A teenager operating on a whole ‘nother level.

“I’ve always loved making things,” he says.

Every year, since the age of 12, Frank’s put together a project portfolio, each with an individual focus. The first four years, his portfolio was architecture-themed, touching on everything from city planning to how buildings connect with human emotion. This year, his portfolio is fashion-focused with an architectural twist. His theme, which he’ll bring to OFW, is a design interpretation of concrete. He’s created six dresses for the show (August 22-27) under his FU brand.

“They’re all avant garde. They all have metal in them. Metal is pretty prevalent with the grid-lines you need to make when pouring concrete. So, there is the dress form with the fabric on it, but there are also the metal pieces that are like a skeleton. It’s almost like showing the different layers of how the dresses are made – starting from the top when it’s complete, going to the bottom where it’s bare metal.”

Frank’s experience with fashion vaulted forward when he began going to Do Space to complete school projects.

“I met this wonderful hat designer, Margie Trembley, and we helped each other grow in our strengths. I helped her with technology, and she got me connections to be in the fashion community in Omaha.”

Frank’s affiliation with Do Space – and its laser cutter – have also given rise to an acrylic jewelry design and engraving business and a foray into teaching.

“I love helping people make their designs come to life, that is why I also teach classes at Do Space. I have taught laser cutting crash course and Adobe Illustrator.”

With plenty to focus on in the present, Frank is also looking to his future. His true passion, right now, is architecture. After graduating high school and backed by his associate’s degree, he sees himself pursing a four-year degree – maybe at Washington University in St. Louis or Princeton – and starting his own architectural firm someday. (Oh yeah… he also works, right now, at Steven Ginn Architects where he creates models of homes the firm will build.)

No coasting and clearly operating on a whole ‘nother level – 16-year-old Frank is down to earth about it all.

“I think everyone has their own thing,” he says. “My thing is I really love learning about things that I love. I don’t like learning about things that I don’t like.”

https://www.etsy.com/people/junzhefu

Photo credit: Bill Sitzmann 

Posted in We Launch |

The Pixie Ninja’s Dream Come True Day

The world can have Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster; we have the Pixie Ninja – a local legend who a) exists and b) can be spotted dashing around Lake Zorinsky. You just have to look fast or you might miss her.

Kaci Lickteig, the Pixie Ninja, is one of the country’s top female ultra-runners – “a giant, writes The New York Times, who weighs less than 100 pounds. In June, she celebrated a dream come true and made us all proud when the “flatlander from Nebraska” won the nation’s most prestigious mountain ultra-running race, The Western States 100. Her endurance is incredible; her attitude – inspiring.

“This was my third attempt at the race. I had come in sixth my first year and second last year. This year, I had set goals to place in the top 10 for women, lower my finishing time, and enjoy the day by staying happy and smiling.

“Boom! The shotgun-start blasted, and we were off, climbing 4.5 miles to the top of the mountain. People constantly ask me how I train for this race living in Nebraska.

I tell them that I just get as fit as I can,
and I take it on as a challenge.

“At the top of the mountain, I led the women’s field and throughout the race, continued to widen the gap between second and myself. As I passed through aid stations, I heard people yell my name and say that I am a ‘flatlander from Nebraska.’ I am always proud to hear that.

“With only 3.5 miles to go – and with the second place woman almost an hour behind – I knew I was going to make my dream come true; I was going to win the Western States 100! As I crossed that finish line, all the emotions hit, and I was overjoyed. I was the first Midwestern (who actually trained in the Midwest) to win Western States. I had what I call ‘a dream come true day’ that I never thought would be possible.”

Feeling inspired to lace up your shoes, pin on a number and chase a dream on the streets or the trails? We offer a four-season racing and fun run calendar – from the vibrant Color Run in July and the Foam Glow 5K in August to the perennially-packed Fight for Air Corporate Cup 10K in September. For those looking to up the endurance ante, the Omaha Marathon and Heartland Marathon offer 26.2 mile “tours” of the city in the fall. Want to mix it up with some swimming and biking? Get your training plan ready for the Omaha Triathlon in July.
Whether your goals involve a physical challenge or a professional one, the Pixie Ninja says, “Chase your dreams with your whole heart, and you might just surprise yourself.

Photo credit: Melissa Middleton

Posted in We Inspire |

Champion with Big Heart Gets in the Ring with Youngsters Who Need a Little Coaching in that Game Called Life

Hometown hero Terence “Bud” Crawford earned the title of champion with his fists and footwork. He exemplifies it with his heart.

Two years ago, the reigning light welterweight world champion founded B & B Boxing Academy here with his co-manager and head trainer Brian “BoMac” McIntyre. More than a gym, it’s a place where at-risk youth are welcomed and encourage to aspire.

“They get to hang out with the Number One boxer in the world,” says Phillip McClain of Team Crawford.

The boxing notable not only trains at B & B, he and his coaching team serve as positive role models, sharing their time and expertise with the kids, dozens of whom are amateur fighters. Success in the ring is a focus – but so is success in life. Team Crawford stresses goal setting and champion behavior.

As Crawford’s fame has grown, so has interest in B & B. Now expanding, the Academy in Crawford’s boyhood neighborhood will gain space for studying.

“This entire gym and the whole remodeling process are being funded by Terence and Brian,” says McClain. “They are all about giving back to those kids.”

This piece was an excerpt from Omaha: We Don’t Coast magazine, published by the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Omaha World-Herald. For more stories, click here.

Photo by: Joe Diril / Introvisuals

Posted in We Care |

Singing Our Praises: A Q & A with New York Polyphony’s Craig Phillips

“Omaha has a lot of personality; it’s not generic.
There’s a vitality to the city that we don’t encounter elsewhere.”

New York Polyphony, a two-time Grammy-nominated male classical vocal quartet, traveled to Omaha last year to record its new CD, Roma Aeterna. But, instead of booking time in one of our traditional studios, the ensemble went in a wholly – and holy – different direction, setting up in our St. Cecilia Cathedral.

Now, with the album ready for an August release, we caught up with bass Craig Phillips who talked about the allure of the Cathedral – and the group’s great affection for the City of Omaha.

Q: Of all the potential recording spots in the country, why St. Cecilia Cathedral for the new album? Why not some place closer to home?

A: We felt that the music we were recording required a “special” sound – something that was spacious and majestic. Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass, which is really the centerpiece of the new record, is without a doubt the most famous musical work of the Renaissance. So we had to get it right. Geoff, our countertenor, had visited the Cathedral on one of our visits to Omaha and was immediately taken with it, both in terms of acoustics and the sheer beauty of the church. Add to that the fact that we’ve made many wonderful friends in Omaha, and it was a no-brainer.

Q: How long have you all been performing together as New York Polyphony?

A: 2016 marks 10 years together as a group, believe it or not! What started as a fun side project (an excuse to sing obscure early music, really) has taken on a life of its own. At the end of this season, we will have sung in 40 states and 15 countries. Hundreds of performances, two Grammy nominations – we still can’t believe it.

Q: Being New York based, what initially brought you to Omaha? How did you learn of St. Cecilia’s?

A: Our first visit was in September 2009. We sang a concert at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. The church really welcomed us and took a strong interest in the work we were doing. Since then, we’ve returned five times. It’s not a stretch to say that our Omaha friends have been the catalyst to our artistic growth!

Q: During your visits to Omaha over the years, how have you connected with the city? What do you like most about coming here?

A: Omaha has a lot of personality – it’s not generic. There’s a vitality to the city that we don’t encounter elsewhere. Great food scene, interest in culture.  Plus, it’s a perfect size and very easy to navigate. The Old Market and restaurants like Louie M’s, Mark’s Bistro, and Provisions are great. (We like to eat and Omaha doesn’t disappoint.)

Q: Will tour dates bring you back to Omaha anytime soon?

A: We return to Omaha March 2017 for a concert at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

Q: Aside from the local connection, why should we pick up the new CD?

Roma Aeterna, the new CD, is the first all-male, one-voice-to-a-part recording of the Pope Marcellus Mass in 40 years, first of all. But most importantly, it’s a “bucket list” piece of music. Everyone needs to experience it before they die. The sound is glorious (and we sing it really well, too). 

You don’t have to take Craig’s word for it. Listen for yourself.

Posted in We Entertain |

“Tech is fascinating to me, and it empowers people.”

By: Shonna Dorsey
Co-founder & Managing Director –
Interface Web School

Interface has been the ultimate expression of my desire to have a job that I absolutely love and give back to the community. We’ve had people go from being welders and baristas to being web developers, project managers and account executives for tech consulting companies. For someone to tell me, ‘Shonna, due to the training, I’ve quadrupled my income,’ it’s incredible.

We launched in 2014, Interface offers everything from 1-to-2 day workshops to more intensive 11-to-15-week web development courses that meet three nights-a-week. All of the instructors are full-time web developers.

To date, Interface has trained 120 people in web development.

The thing I love most about Interface is we’re helping people go from a blank canvas – a blank screen – to creating functional applications.

Since starting Interface, I’ve been working on creative ways to be involved in and engage the community and develop relationships with professionals at all levels. One of my favorite ways to do this is to offer free introduction to web development workshops to different audiences at places like Do Space, Flywheel, Oxide Design, Omaha Public Library branches, Aromas Coffeehouse and Agape Red. By August 2015, I had personally introduced over 200 people in the community to web development via these free workshops – and I don’t have any plans to stop.

I also serve as part of the organizing team for the Omaha Public Library’s Girls Who Code Club, an Interface partner organization. My advice to other women interested in the male-dominated tech profession? Find and surround yourself with mentors. There are a lot of groups in town, like Omaha Coding Women, Omaha Girls Who Code and Lincoln Coding Women, that are trying to work together to be available as mentors for women who are interested in tech.

 

Posted in We Pioneer |

Orlando hurts. What can we do to help when we don’t know what to do?

By: Shannon McClure
Greater Omaha Chamber

 “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,
my mother would say to me, ‘
Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” – Mr. Rogers

The events of the last week in Orlando have been deeply saddening, tragic, and personal for a lot of people nationwide. Whether you know someone who is affected by the events there or you simply feel compassion for those who do, these tragedies affect us all.

We often want to do something to be like Mr. Rogers’ “helpers” at times like this, but feel powerless. What can we do? What can possibly be enough?

As a Greater Omaha community, over the past two years we have rallied around the concept that “We Don’t Coast”. We roll up our sleeves, every day. We work hard and play hard. When the going gets tough, the Omaha tough get going.

In solidarity with our friends in Orlando, two Greater Omaha Chamber members are coming together on Monday morning, June 27, to give us all a way to help.

Next Monday, WOWT Channel 6 and Nebraska Community Blood Bank (NCBB) will sponsor a blood donation drive from 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Mutual of Omaha parking lot at 3501 Farnam St. Over the last week, Orlando called on NCBB to send blood to help them treat patients injured in the Pulse Nightclub shooting, and just as they have done in times of crisis before, NCBB gave because donors from Nebraska and Iowa gave.

In honor of the people of Greater Orlando, WOWT and NCBB are giving us all an opportunity next Monday to roll up our sleeves again to do good. What better way is there to help than to give of ourselves through a blood donation – to give life to those in need? 

To make an appointment to donate, visit http://www.ncbb.org/SupportingOrlando and use the sponsor code: WOWT. Any blood type is welcome. If you can’t make an appointment ahead of time, walk-ins are also welcome.

Never donated blood before? No problem! Read all about what to expect: http://www.ncbb.org/successful-donation-tips.

Come out on Monday and be “the helpers”, Omaha!

Posted in We Care |

A CWS and Olympic Swim Trials Preview (Plus Shark Week!)

Omaha is buzzing this summer! Each June, we’re home to the NCAA’s Men’s College World Series, and we’ll host the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials for the third time from June 26 to July 3. If you’re visiting Omaha for either, here’s a preview of what to expect, plus a look at our inaugural Omaha Shark Week. (Yes, Shark Week.)

(Looking for other activities while you’re in town? You’ll want to read “Insider’s Guide: 16 Things to do in Omaha.”)

The NCAA Men’s College World Series of Omaha
Called “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” Omaha has been home to the College World Series (CWS) since 1950, and it’s a tradition we love. In 2011, the CWS got a major upgrade when they moved to TD Ameritrade Park in the newly redeveloped North Downtown. Out-of-town fans and Omaha natives alike attend both for the baseball and the energy that always surrounds the event. Last summer the series set a total attendance record of 353,378 in 17 games, and this June 18-28/29, it’s expected to be even bigger and better.

For ticket information and more, visit cwsomaha.com.

U.S. Olympic Swim Trials
Just across the street from the CWS,  CenturyLink Center Omaha has been transformed into an elite swimmer’s dream. Two temporary 50-meter, 10-lane pools hold 800,000 gallons of water each and weigh about 8 million pounds. During the trials, 1,800 athletes compete for a chance to be on the U.S. team headed to Brazil later this year. Omaha’s last U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in 2012 saw over 164,000 fans in attendance at the eight days of competition, and 225,000 swim fans are expected this year.

If you go, be sure to check out the huge Aqua Zone. You’ll find an indoor surfing ride, simulated swim races and other fun things to do.

Duuh-nuh…duuh-nuh
Omaha has gone some 58,000 days without a single shark attack (since the city was founded in 1854). That isn’t stopping us from hosting Shark Week to coincide with the Swim Trials. Start with a shark encounter at the Aqua Zone, then visit businesses throughout the Omaha area for specials and other shark-themed “encounters.” Disappointed it’s not a real shark? Well, we have that in Omaha too. You’ll find them every day at the world-renowned Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. 

If you’re planning a visit, we’re excited to have you! Whether you’re in town for one event or both, we know you’ll have a great time. Be sure to take some time to experience everything Omaha has to offer. From the food to the friendly people, there’s plenty to love.

Posted in We Live |