FFP Omaha: Queer History, Monk Meetup, Podcast Pick

FFP Omaha newsletter

After 40 years, Omaha’s queer choir has a story to tell about the city’s history

Hey Omaha, Chris here.

Question for you: What makes a place feel like home?

Is it the photos of mom and dad hanging in the living room? The pizza place your family’s ordered from for decades? The regional slang? (Last year I learned Omahans, for some reason, refer to the ice cream truck as “the ding ding man.” Apparently it’s just an Omaha thing.)

Anyway, since 1984, the River City Mixed Chorus has made Omaha feel like home for a lot of people. Their practices and performances have been an escape when the world felt hostile. The members have become a family that laughs and cries together.

For 40 years it’s sang through pivotal moments in this country’s LGBTQ+ history. So, what does the chorus show us about that history in Omaha? That’s the question I had for this pride month story as I interviewed members and combed through the group’s documents in the basement of the UNO library where the Queer Omaha Archives are kept.

What I found is a history filled with interesting people. People who believed in groups like the River City Mixed Chorus and watched it go from nine members singing in a bar to having more people than the Nebraska football roster performing at the Holland and Orpheum.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the community it’s created. A place to be yourself, make friends and find hope for a better future. Without that, this city would feel less like home to a lot of people.

Read the story here (or click the link above)

June Art Walk!
A Castle in Omaha? Count me in! Bring the family to this fun-filled evening in the Joslyn Castle & Cathedral Creative District. Be sure to visit the Cathedral Arts Project, Cali Commons and the Joslyn Castle & Garden for art, food and fun.
When: June 20, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Joslyn Castle – 3902 Davenport St.

Live @ LOW END
Prepare to be engulfed by the surrealistic blues-inspired poetry performed by Aja Monet as seen on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts series. This is a Grammy-nominated artist you won’t want to miss!
When: June 20, 8-9 p.m.
Where: Bemis Center – 724 S. 12th St.

Create a Cake
You’ve heard of Paint and Sip, but have you heard of Cake and Create? This event allows you to unleash your inner artist while decorating scrumptious cakes with light snacks. All experience levels and all ages are welcome.
When: June 22, 6-8:30 p.m.
Where: Flatiron Building – 1722 Saint Marys Ave. 

Gaden Shartse Phukhang Monks
This is a very cool and unique chance to experience sacred sand mandala-making live by master monks. The Gaden Shartse Phukhang Monks travel annually to host live demonstrations and public workshops in Omaha. A great event to chill out with between CWS games.
When: June 20-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day; lecture on the four noble truths, 6-8 p.m. June 20; Mandala dissolution ceremony at 5 p.m. on June 22
Where: Drips Botanical Elements – 1822 Vinton St.

Pitch Black Conference and Tech Showcase
Do you like Shark Tank? Do you like learning about business? Do you like networking? Then the Pitch Black Conference is for you. After learning from top business owners in their field, you’ll also be able to witness five local entrepreneurs compete for a $15,000 cash prize complemented by $40,000 in-kind support.
When: June 29, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Mike & Josie Harper Center – 602 N. 20th St.

What I'm Into

I’m a big podcast guy. They’re especially helpful for staying on top of news when you commute from Lincoln to Omaha. But even journalists need a break. After burning through my usual escape podcasts, I found “Broken Record.” It’s a couple of music industry insiders interviewing artists like Iggy Pop, Kesha, The Doors (the surviving ones), Jack White and one of my favorite new bands, Idles.

If you’re a music fan, I strongly recommend “Broken Record.” More generally though, just take a break from the news every once in a while. If you have suggestions for solid music-related podcasts, send them to rhoffman@flatwaterfreepress.org. And if by chance anyone with “Broken Record” is reading this, can we get episodes with the Last Dinner Party and Amyl and the Sniffers, please?

Read This Next

An Omaha deputy police chief is suing Douglas County, saying he wasn’t hired to run its 911 system because of his connections to the county sheriff. This is the latest development in a long (interesting to the right person) ordeal. Earlier this year, the county hired Greg Gonzalez to run its 911 services. Two years ago, Aaron Hanson beat Gonzalez (both of whom are former high-ranking Omaha police officials) in the race for Douglas County Sheriff. Gonzalez’s hiring sparked talks to “re-evaluate” Omaha’s relationship with the county emergency response line. Gonzalez’s wife also won $1 million in a discrimination lawsuit against the Omaha Police Department and filed another for retaliation. Around the same time Gonzalez’s brother and several others were arrested on federal fraud charges related to a youth sports nonprofit. Confused yet?

Downtown Omaha is getting closer to (finally) landing a grocery store, says Mayor Jean Stothert. Actually, multiple developers are in conversations with several different grocers, reports KETV’s Sean MacKinnon.

The Henry Doorly Zoo unveiled an “immersive” $21 million habitat for orangutans, The World-Herald reported. The zoo also announced that Denda, a 22-year-old male, has joined four other resident orangutans in Omaha. (You may need a subscription to read this story.)

The price tag for Omaha’s planned streetcar has shot up from $306 million to $389 million. But Stothert said the escalating cost will not require a tax increase, according to the Nebraska Examiner’s Cindy Gonzalez.

The Community Alliance cut the ribbon on a new 128,000-square-foot facility in south-central Omaha meant to bolster the area’s access to mental health care. The $67 million project was funded by a combination of private donations and federal coronavirus aid, The World-Herald’s Julie Anderson reported. (You may need a subscription to read this story.)

This year’s College World Series has seen storms, temperatures in the 90s and drama in the bleachers. Two Texas A&M fans were recently banned from the stadium. Apparently they were trying to rile up Florida’s coach with jokes about the team’s deceased batboy. A&M’s coach was a class act, apologizing for their behavior and asking that they not return to the stadium.