FFP Omaha: We’re… No. 1?, Documenters reborn, bell tower concerto

FFP Omaha newsletter

Howdy, Omaha – it’s Jeremy. 

Welcome to the second weekly FFP Omaha newsletter. We worked out some kinks, and for some of you, hopefully that means we’ve made the leap from your spam folder to your inbox. 

It seems we’re enjoying that magical spring interlude between torrential rain and sweltering heat — Canadian wildfire smoke be damned. With the good weather, I couldn’t help but shine a light on some positive news for Omaha. 

In 2022, Douglas County improbably topped the nation’s most populous counties in a key indicator of economic growth. Omaha-Council Bluffs’ GDP growth placed second among major metro areas, behind only Austin (probably boosted by Willie Nelson’s extraordinary marijuana spending).

So, how did we keep pace economically with cities in Texas, Tennessee and Florida that have seen explosive population growth? 

The answer: One of Omaha’s bread-and-butter industries had a tremendous year. 

Read the story here (or click the photo above). 

Jeremy Turley - Flatwater Free Press

Jeremy Turley, Flatwater Free Press

Hey y’all! I’m Xavier Jackson, a South Omaha native and lifelong Nebraskan. In my monthly section of the newsletter we’ll focus on creative and community-led events. Let’s explore Omaha together!

Millwork Commons Shredfest
This inaugural event is going to be epic! Skatefest Omaha and Rabble Mill are throwing an all-ages extravaganza. Besides skating contests, there’ll be a free outdoor concert featuring rock bands Uh Oh and Bug Heaven.
– When: May 18, 3-6 p.m.
Where: 1229 Millwork Ave.

Art Battle City Championship
If you haven’t been to one yet, this is your chance to experience the best of what Art Battle has to offer! In the championship series of this three-round artist tournament, a Nebraska representative will be selected to participate in the National Art Battle.
– When: May 18, 6-10 p.m.
Where: Culxr House – 3014 N. 24th St.

Black Men’s Mental Wellness
Mental health is overlooked by a majority of men. This safe space offers an outlet for BIPOC men to share their experiences, challenges and triumphs.
– When: May 25, 3-5 p.m.
Where: Malcolm X Memorial Center – 3448 Evans St. 

Good Vibez at Scatter Joy Acres
Looking to get out of town for a day? Head to Murray, a half-hour drive from Omaha, for family-friendly fun on a farm with animals, live music and good food. Plus, it’s for a good cause: proceeds will go to the Autism Action Partnership.
– When: May 25, 5-9 p.m.
Where: Scatter Joy Acres – 4107 Waverly Rd., Murray, Nebraska, 68409

Far Out Bluegrass Showcase
This will be a fun genre-bending bluegrass showcase featuring one of the best regional bluegrass bands and two touring acts. They’ll mix classics with new-age psychedelic, and punk-infused bluegrass. A night to remember for sure.
– When: June 3, 6-10 p.m.
Where: Dry Spokes, 1901 Leavenworth St.

17th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference
Embark on a journey of empowerment and inspiration! You’re in for a day filled with dynamic speakers, thought-provoking discussions and networking opportunities galore.
– When: June 7, 7:30 a.m – 4:30 p.m.
– Where: CHI Health Center – 455 N. 10th St.

Xavier Jackson is an Omaha-based entrepreneur who connects creatives and forges more opportunities for them through his organization Local Art Plug.

Hey, Omaha, I’m Leah Wambui Keinama, the director of civic journalism at the Nebraska Journalism Trust.

Earlier this year you might have heard we’re relaunching Omaha Documenters. The program that pays folks to document local meetings has brought citizens closer to their government in 18 cities across the nation, including right here in Omaha where it launched in 2022.

There are several reasons I’m excited to jumpstart Omaha Documenters.

This initiative puts us at the forefront of a movement dedicated to ensuring crucial civic information is accessible to all.

Media outlets can use that information for free to tell stories they otherwise couldn’t. Readers like yourself can check out our website to find notes, recordings and a calendar of meetings. Ultimately, we hope this opportunity will amplify every voice in the policymaking process.

We believe Documenters to be a catalyst for positive change in Omaha — one that can build a more engaged, inclusive and equitable community for all through open information. 

I’m looking forward to getting participants on board in the coming weeks. If you just can’t wait, sign up online now to become a Documenter and you’ll be the first to know when we have news to share.

Leah Wambui Keinama, Flatwater Free Press

What I'm Into

The iconic bell tower on UNO’s campus does more than warn you you’re late to class. The 16-story Henningson Memorial Campanile contains a musical instrument — a carillon with 47 bronze bells — and this Sunday is a chance to hear it play. I plan to be there at 1:20 p.m. for a carillon performance, ahead of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra’s 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon concert at the Strauss Performing Arts Center. This video inspired me — but it’s not an instrument for anyone afraid of heights.

Barbara Soderlin
Read This Next

Results from Tuesday’s primary results are in. The Nebraska Examiner has deeper looks at Omaha-area races for U.S. Congress, as well as North Omaha, northwest Omaha and north-central Sarpy county state Legislature positions.

A North Omaha party house that saw a shooting less than two years ago is now a therapeutic home for 13 to 19-year-old girls, the World-Herald’s Molly Ashford reported. The mother of a young woman shot and killed there is helping honor her daughter’s memory. (Note: Some readers may need a subscription to read this story.)

Community members have been protesting unsafe living conditions in the Omaha Housing Authority’s Underwood Tower, but the public housing group’s CEO said the concerns are overblown, WOWT reported.

A new artificial intelligence program at Westside Community Schools will soon scan video surveillance footage in the district to detect guns, wrote KMTV’s Molly Hudson.

Chris Routhe, the chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party, announced he is stepping down from the post a day after the primary election, KETV reported.