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The Old Market – the Heartbeat of Our City

This is where we plug in. Our outlet for celebrating life, shopping local and pressing play. This funky destination. The heartbeat of our city. Character and cobblestone streets, pulsing with energy, empowering us to be us. Always has. Always will.

Our Old Market.

Omaha – We Don’t Coast

Posted in We Live |

Omaha Fashion Week

Aubrey Sookram was one of 32 independent designers feeling the love from the fashion community at Omaha Fashion Week in August 2014. The biannual showcase has grown into the Midwest’s largest fashion event, surpassing Minneapolis, Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis in terms of audience size and the number of designers served.

OFW is much more than  a fashion extravaganza and string of glamorous nights out. It’s a “talent incubator” that helps designers produce and market their designs and participate in a professional production at no cost.

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.

Posted in We Launch |

Fashion Ecosystem

“We have a thriving and very diverse fashion scene here.
Everything from high-fashion couture, day wear, evening wear,
kids’ fashions and for the plus-sized market.
The reality of the situation is Omaha should not be ignored!”
-Aubrey Sookram, founder/designer, MarKoos Modern Design

Necessity is the mother of invention. Just ask a mother of three, Aubrey Sookram.

“Working in fashion was always intentional. But as a young mother, when I couldn’t find clothing I wanted for my daughter, I began dabbling in designing for kids,” she said.

That dabbling evolved into MarKoos Modern Design, a children’s clothing brand that is “just a little bit quirky. I love to mix color and pattern, and there is always a touch of ‘hipster chic’ thrown in.”

Sookram whose educational background is in marketing, merchandising and fashion design, said she always intended to move to the West Coast to start her career. But when life happened (she met her husband and had a child), she decided the best place for her is right here: “Near my family, with good neighborhoods, schools and a good moral backbone.”

She added, “Growing a business here is made easier due to the level of community support. This year (2014) in particular, I am feeling the love from local clients. There is nothing quite like Omaha taking care of its own.”

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.

 

 

Posted in We Launch |

Omaha Zine Fest: “Zine Fests happen all over the world, but this year, we get one close to home.”

Written by: Christopher Vaughn Couse

Zine (n.): an abbreviation for ‘magazine’ or ‘fanzine;’ most commonly a small circulation of self-published work, traditionally photocopied, which can cover many subjects, often including politics, social theory, literature, art and design.

Omaha Zine Fest (n.): A first-of-its-kind cultural event in Omaha, bringing together more than 80 local and regional zine makers and distributors to showcase their work. Saturday, March 12, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., 1316 Jones Street in the Old Market. Free, family-friendly and open to the public.

I know quite a few people in Omaha who are into creating and collecting zines, but Omaha Zine Fest is the first chance for everyone to collect under one roof, show their work, and have a collection of conversations about zines and the culture in Omaha.

I am a firm believer that art should be enjoyed by all.

In the past, I’ve made small-run zines that have included poetry and other creative writing, photography, drawings and a mix of all four. (A small collection of those works can be viewed here on my website.)

Being a self-taught artist has helped build my DIY ethics and taught me that you don’t always need a gallery to show your work or a publisher to help produce a collection of comics, poems, recipes, etc.

You just need to be self-motivated and put your
best efforts and work out there.

I’ll be tabling at Omaha Zine Fest with a few of my own zines, prints, buttons and stickers. I am a firm believer that art should be enjoyed by all. I love that Omaha Zine Fest – and producing zines in general – make my art more accessible for anyone who wants to collect it.

A few months back, my fellow tabling zinester friend, Keith, interviewed the women behind Omaha Zine Fest for his blog CRUCIAL CHANGES. (You can read that post here.) They’ve put a lot of work into organizing a phenomenal day, which will include workshops and speakers from the Midwest publishing industry. For a full list and times, check out OZF’s Facebook event page here.

Omaha Zine Fest and The Union for Contemporary Arts have also teamed up to provide two great workshops this week: Zine Binding Techniques on Wednesday, March 9, and Printing Your Own Zines on Thursday, March 10. Both start at 6 p.m. and are free for Co-OP members, $10 (per event) for non-members.

Omaha Zine Fest – a brand new event in the Old Market. What’s not to love about that? Looking forward to connecting with a big crowd – and some of the talented artists and ‘zine-sters’ I know and/or follow on Instagram – on Saturday!

Posted in We Entertain |

Omaha Film Festival is on!

In a world – where creative talent isn’t confined to the coasts – a local crowd showed some local filmmakers some local love…

The previews are over… It’s time for the 11th annual Omaha Film Festival (OFF) to roll – the line-up includes more than 100 domestic and international narrative feature films, documentaries and short films, including animated shorts. 

This year, we’re stoked for the brand new “Nebraska Spotlight” category, which includes six narrative feature films and documentaries made in Nebraska or by Nebraskans:

  • “It Snows all the Time,” a very personal film produced by Omahan Erich Hover
  • “Black Luck,” co-directed by David Weiss and Omaha Film Festival Executive Director Jason Levering
  • “No Resolution,” directorial debut of local music legend Tim Kasher
  • “Once in a Lew Moon,” a documentary about screenwriting guru and Nebraska native Lew Hunter
  • “Take Me to the River,” last year’s Sundance Film Festival darling shot entirely in and around Loop City, NE
  • “I Dream of an Omaha Where…,” a powerful documentary directed by Mele Mason

Voted one of the “Top 25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by Movie Maker magazine, this year’s OFF runs March 8-13. Check out www.OmahaFilmFestival.org for ticket information, the full schedule of films, parties, and the conference schedule.

Posted in We Entertain |

Ever see a stampede on ice?

Our college sports circle is bustling with action – from Creighton University, which joined the Big East Conference in 2013, to the University of Nebraska Omaha and its history-making Maverick hockey team.

The UNO squad, which had more freshmen on the roster than seniors and juniors combined, made its first appearance at the NCAA Frozen Four in April 2015, a run few expected at the start of the season. While the Division I Mavs fell short of the championship, they still brought a whole new level of credibility to our hockey scene.

In October 2015, the Mavs made history again as the first team to play in UNO’s $82 million Baxter Arena. The 7,500-seat facility serves UNO’s basketball and volleyball teams and the community at large and plays an important role in helping to recruit top athletes.

Iowa Western Community College has established itself as a local sports powerhouse. The Reivers won the NJCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 2014. They returned to the NJCAA World Series in 2015 but fell short of earning a back-to-back title. the Reivers football team generated plenty of excitement last season as well, playing in the NJCAA National Championship Game.

A former Reivers standout continued his upward arc from small-school prep star to NFL prospect in 2015. Quarterback Jake Waters agreed to a free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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

 

 

Posted in We Win |

Make it a point to do the little things that make the big difference

Poverty is no longer the bitter after-taste of the Great Depression as it was in the 1960’s. There has been a history of poverty through America that in past times has been the person or family living without homes in urban areas. Maybe you think they are panhandling, junkies and such. At least that has been the image that has been seared into brains through popular films and news. Today’s poor are people working multiple jobs, veterans and others who deserve to have their stories told with dignity, depth and dimension. The fact is – we can all be susceptible to life’s many downfalls and complex issues.

The fact is – we can all be susceptible to life’s
many downfalls and complex issues.

During the yearlong “Out of Frame” production, a documentary I produced about the working poor, we followed four Omaha residents from varied different backgrounds. All faced certain circumstances or hurdles that led to a lifetime of ripples and instability. Are they sitting around collecting checks, waiting for someone else to fix their issues? Not at all. They all love to work and strive to be self-sufficient, but due to life issues – health, family deaths, injuries, past criminal records – they continue to struggle. I became friends with these people and could relate. I, too, lived in poverty most of my childhood, raised by a single mother who came from a poverty-stricken home herself.

These people are not just another statistic…
simply giving money to someone isn’t the fix.

As I worked on this project, it was moving to see the resilience of those we followed. I realized two things: these people are not just another statistic and they forced me to be more awake, more compassionate, more empathetic. I learned that simply giving money to someone isn’t the fix. The government, your place of religious practice or local nonprofit is part of the solution – but not the solution. Go figure, right? I believe, from all I have personally been through and through this film process, that it will take us all to be true community.

We can’t rest when it comes to
finding solutions to this continued problem.

We are a community that has committed itself to not coasting. We can’t rest when it comes to finding solutions to this continued problem. How can you help? What is your special gift? Is it cooking, helping build a house, giving a ride, or teaching someone a trade or craft? Maybe you’re in a position to hire a neighbor to do some work. Let’s try, each and every one of us, to make it a point to do the little things that make the big difference – to not only ‘see’ the invisible poor but to take action to raise them up and help them improve their situations.

For details about the film and to get involved visit.
OutOfFramDocumentary.com or TogetherOmaha.org

–  Jason Fischer, Director/Producer of “Out of Frame,” produced in partnership with the nonprofit Together Inc.

Posted in We Care |

Respect the Local

…we often look to other cities with respect
to their scenes, all the while not realizing that
their eyes are often focused on us.

My city has long had a great relationship with music — indie, mainstream or otherwise. We create it, support it, enjoy it to the fullest and still we often look to other cities with respect to their scenes, all the while not realizing that their eyes are often focused on us. Perhaps that’s simply the nature of being in, or from, any one place for any substantial span of time. I’ve heard it said that “everyone is local, somewhere.” Yes. And that is where a bit of magic often happens; when someone who has made a name for themselves can still understand to respect the “local” — everywhere they go.

A perfect example is veteran hip-hop artist, Murs. Hailing from the entertainment capital of Los Angeles, Murs is an artist like many you’ve heard of – he creates and performs rap music. But he is one of the few left who understands that hip-hop is more than music and popular radio plays, it is a culture. Therein lies the difference when an artist plays music like any other, but shares culture. Murs has made a name for himself over a long career of doing it his way; often times fully independent, while other times making alliances with major labels, tours and festivals to bring more of the subculture to larger audiences. But in all, he’s never lost credibility with his core audience. How? Respect for the local, everywhere.

Respect the local, everywhere.

His shows are most often set at venues that supported him before being widely known. His opening acts are many times local, up-and-coming artists hailing from the cities he plays, his own hometown, or—in many cases—an artist he picked up like a stray along the way because believes in their talent. There is no gaudy display of self-importance and no useless mass of bodies that most rappers would call an “entourage,” though serving little more purpose than re-enactment of high school lunch room shenanigans, on and off stage. Murs shows the locals a bit more respect. I’ve seen him ride in on a tricked-out tour bus, and roll thru ‘The ONE’ in a minivan, all the same. And each time, the show is lit, the talent is legit and personal connection seems more heightened each time.

At a recent show, on a cold and icy Sunday night, he comes out on stage to a smaller crowd than usual and tells his DJ “Forget the playlist, I’m glad to see those who made it out, so let’s just take requests.” This man just gave us a private show, and trust — those of us who did attend came unglued with excitement… and appreciation.

This man just gave us a private show, and trust — those of us who did attend came unglued with excitement…and appreciation.

I once gifted Murs with one of my popular “OMAGOODNESS” tees to show my own personal appreciation for the love he shows Omaha with each visit. A year later, he returned for another performance, and after the first song is done, he’s a bit hot under the lights so he tears off his hoodie revealing the same t-shirt I gave him. Yeah… that’s respecting the local.

-Steve Gordon, RDQLUS Creative 

Posted in We Entertain |

Super Venues, Superstar Lineups

Country legend Garth Brooks got a record-setting reception in May when nearly 100,000 enthusiastic fans turned out for six concerts over four days at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

“Unbelievable,” Brooks silently mouthed as he stepped to the lip of the stage and took in the cheers and screams that crashed over him on opening night.

Whether it’s Brooks or Taylor Swift, or Barry Manilow, Lady Gaga, George Strait or Motley Crue, we have a reputation for live music, going on after the mega-popular artists showing up for the party.

  • Ten of 2014’s top 200 national tours stopped at CenturyLink Center Omaha, which ranks among the top 100 area venues worldwide.
  • Among worldwide venues, Omaha’s Orpheum Theater ranked No. 52 and our Holland Performing Arts Center, home to the Omaha Symphony, ranked No. 143.  “We continually strive to be a destination for the very best performers and productions, whether they’re national Broadway tours, popular comedies, world-renowned dance troupes or well-known musicians,” says Joan Squires, president of Omaha Performing Arts Center. OPA celebrates its 10th season in 2015-2016.

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

Posted in We Entertain |

Turn it up.

If it’s too loud, then you’re too old. Turn it up.

Posted in We Entertain |