January 7 - NOISE Report

Amplify Arts, a non-profit arts development organization, held an exhibition to showcase their 2018 grant recipients. Creative collective, The Study, was recognized for their use of a public impact grant to produce events like the North Omaha Block Party, NeighborFest, and First Saturday on the North 24th street corridor.

Alajia McKizia, an artist from the collective explained:

“The Amplified Arts grant helps artist by giving them a platform to either showcase their work, perform whatever type of work they do, or maybe sell it. With First Saturday, we’ve done like concert events and also we’ve had food pop-ups or market where people could sell their items and then, as well, we’ve had art shows.”

Every month, First Saturday is held at 2205 N. 24th Street and typically includes music, food, and of course, art.

Blueprint Nebraska is a new initiative developed by industry executives from various corporations across the state aiming to boost economic growth and business development.

Blueprint held one of three town halls at University of Nebraska-Omaha to gather input from other industry professionals and citizens. Housing was one major issue that surfaced:

“Earl Redrick, director of the local office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One thing that resonates across the entire state is housing. I’d like for you all to address how can state, local business leaders help address this issue of housing short shortage and housing affordability”

Co-chair of Blueprint Nebraska, Owen Palm, President and CEO of 21st Century Holdings in Scottsbluff, responded:

“No question it’s a statewide issue. We do have an industry council that is focused totally on housing, because you can’t talk about workforce if don’t talk about housing.”

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert was in attendance and had this to say:

“People ask me a lot with the city of Omaha, you know, what we could do to have more affordable housing options, and I always have to ask ‘what do you mean by affordable housing?’ because it could be subsidized housing, it could be just low cost housing. I could probably name three or four developers in Omaha. Only three or four that do affordable housing. “I think we have to explore what other options or what other incentives that we can give developers that will make them want to build more affordable housing units.”

In spring 2019, The Blueprint Nebraska steering committee plans to release a report featuring focus areas they believe will encourage economic growth. You can give suggestions by survey and learn about the 16 industry councils online at blueprint-nebraska.org. I’m Dawaune Hayes, reporting.

Urban Mental Health Coalition and Black Men United kicked off the season of Kwanzaa by recognizing Umoja, Swahili for Unity. Poet Yusuf Jahi Kefele presented an African Mission Statement encouraging unity among people of the African Diaspora:

“I will strive to maintain harmony with all African peoples with the belief that my actions reach into eternity and affect sacred times not yet in existence. For African people everywhere, I will put my best foot forward.”

The other 6 principles of Kwanzaa represent Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Moving into 2019 may we work to practice these principles. I’m Riah Person.

You've got the power! Join the NOISE team for POWER Hour Saturdays from 2 to 4 PM at The Study, 2205 North 24th Street. A community newsroom, help us bring you news you can use. Come on out and let’s make some NOISE.

Dawaune Hayes