Reader Radio
The Cities We Build and What it Takes to Get There

The Cities We Build and What it Takes to Get There

June 6, 2022

Sometimes it's hard to forget that cities don't just appear. Omaha's office buildings and suburbs, highways and cobblestone sidewalks, are pinpoints in a constellation of decisions made year after year, decade after decade, that define a place, and more importantly the lives of the people who live there.

"You know, these houses don't really belong to us," said Ryan Reed, who runs East of 72nd, an Instagram account that tells the stories of Omaha's buildings. "You go down to the courthouse and go to the assessor's office and your name is on the deed, but they belong to the people before us and they belong to the people after us. So it's kind of like, part of our community and telling the story of our community."

But when development hits the crossroads of new vs. old, how do we decide what's worth keeping and what's worth taking away? Omaha has had to grapple with that question recently with the decision to raze its central public library to make way for a new Mutual of Omaha skyscraper which many in the public fought, unsuccessfully, to stop. It's a similar fight that's taken place in other areas of the city like Jobbers Canyon on the city's riverfront, the largest destruction of historic architecture in the country.

The advantages seem obvious, but what stories, history and opportunities do you lose?

Reporter Chris Bowling drove around with Reed to hear about what he's learned about that by researching the past of Omaha's buildings — from historic homes to downtown success stories to a former church with a disturbing past.

 

Produced by Chris Bowling

Music by Jon Rix (p0h_k https://p0hk.bandcamp.com/)

A Conversation with Marisa Hattab, Douglas County’s First Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

A Conversation with Marisa Hattab, Douglas County’s First Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

May 30, 2022

When Marisa Hattab moved to Omaha, her husband's employer at Offutt Air Force Base gave her a clear piece of advice. Don't live in North Omaha.

 

"They didn’t tell us that’s where the Black people live, but they were like 'That’s where crime is' and 'You can’t walk by yourself there,'" Hattab, who is Black, remembered being told in 2016. "And if we wanted to live there we’d need get permission."

 

Hattab, who became Douglas County's first diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the start of 2022, wasn't surprised that Omaha was segregated. But she was surprised just how fractured the city felt and dedicated her professional career here to addressing inequity.

Now Hattab has a chance to make serious change. But what is her position with the county's supposed to look like? Is she evaluating the current system or trying to build a new one from the ground up. That's for Hattab to find out.

In this conversation with news editor Chris Bowling, Hattab talked about true community engagement, leading with a collective vision and how her history in promoting diversity can inform her new county-wide purview.

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Produced and Edited by Chris Bowling

Music by Jon Rix (https://p0hk.bandcamp.com/)

Building ”The Good Life” For All Nebraskans, Not Just Some

Building ”The Good Life” For All Nebraskans, Not Just Some

April 12, 2022

Cammy Watkins and Maggie Wood believe honest conversations about equity and inclusion in Nebraska's schools and businesses — and in everyday life — can help create The Good Life for all Nebraskans, not just some. They are the co-executive directors of Inclusive Communities, a nonprofit organization providing advocacy and education around diversity and equity in Nebraska. Maggie and Cammy joined reporter Bridget Fogarty at The Reader's newsroom on a cold February night to talk about Inclusive Communities and its latest role leading national conversations on equity with the National Federation for Just Communities.

 

 

This podcast was produced by Bridget Fogarty.

Music by Jon Rix (https://p0hk.bandcamp.com)

Learn more about Inclusive Communities by visiting the nonprofit's website or follow them on Facebook.

Bike Lane Blues, and the Governments We Choose

Bike Lane Blues, and the Governments We Choose

February 21, 2022

Sarah Johnson had been part of the 10-year fight to bring a protected bike to Omaha when one finally came to Harney Street. Then she found out the two-mile stretch of road, which are common in most U.S. cities, wasn't permanent and it's future wasn't in the city's budget. To her, the whole fight—which includes firings, vetoes and city council members calling the police on their own public works department—says less about biking, and more about how decisions are made in Omaha.

 

This podcast was produced by Chris Bowling.

Music by Jon Rix (https://p0hk.bandcamp.com/)

Read Mode Shift Omaha's history of the fight to get a bike lane in Omaha.

Read Sarah Johnson's op-ed in NOISE.

Homeless in Omaha and the Search for Stability

Homeless in Omaha and the Search for Stability

January 26, 2022

Dana Swope is one of many residents forced to leave an apartment complex in midtown deemed unlivable by the City of Omaha in late January 2022. Chris Bowling sat down with her in her former home on the third floor of the Flora apartments at 2557 Jones Street on January 25 to learn about how she ended up paying $700 a month in a cramped studio apartment with mold, no heat and mice. Unfortunately her story may not be that uncommon as many in Omaha pay too much for poor, substandard living arrangements as the city is short 80,000 affordable housing units.

 

See pictures of Dana and her apartment.

 

If you want to donate to organization serving those facing housing stability, we recommend:

Heartland Family Services

https://www.heartlandfamilyservice.org/donate-now/

Together

https://togetheromaha.org/get-involved/donate.html

Metro Area Continuum Care for the Homeless

https://shareomaha.org/donate/metro-area-continuum-care-homeless

 

This podcast was produced by Chris Bowling. Music by Jon Rix (https://p0hk.bandcamp.com).

 

OUR FIRST MEMBERSHIP DRIVE!! Heaston‘s History of The Reader

OUR FIRST MEMBERSHIP DRIVE!! Heaston‘s History of The Reader

November 22, 2021

Nearly 30 years ago a motley crew of alt-y Omahans put together the first Reader. All these decades later our paper still follows the same mission: find the unheard stories and uplift communities boxed out by other media.

But to get to all that we need to talk about classic 80s movies and music, saving one of Omaha's most historic venues, jam bands, early internet and the man at the center of it all — John Heaston. Our publisher and editor co-founded The Reader and has been a part of it ever since its inception and sat down with news editor Chris Bowling to talk about it. The story that follows is as much a story about journalism as it is Omaha history.

If you enjoy our work, please consider becoming a member during our first-ever membership drive. 

https://thereader.com/membership-plans

 

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Production by Chris Bowling

Music by Jon Rix aka p0h_k (https://p0hk.bandcamp.com/)

 

1st Sky x The Reader — Omaha‘s tiff with TIF

1st Sky x The Reader — Omaha‘s tiff with TIF

November 9, 2021

Omaha Reader reporter Chris Bowling joins Paul Allen IV and Buddi3 Da Gawd on 1st Sky in the morning on Nov. 8 to talk about his cover story in this month's issue of The Reader, "The Tiff with TIF." Tax increment financing is the city's greatest tool to incentivize private development, but some wonder how fair the system is.

This show was produced by Paul Allen IV, Buddi3 Da Gawd and Richard Lewis III at Webberized studios north of downtown Omaha.

Taking Omaha for a ride: is our transit system working for everyone?

Taking Omaha for a ride: is our transit system working for everyone?

October 25, 2021

If you don't own a car in Omaha, getting to work, buying groceries and navigating the city becomes a lot harder. Over the summer of 2021, The Reader tasked reporter Addie Costello to ride every route in the city. From Florence to Bellevue, Westroads to Downtown, she talked with riders to hear their stories and ask a central question: is Omaha's transit system working for the people who need it most?

The results are mixed. The buses are clean, but they're also usually empty. They get most people where they need to go, but people still need to use rideshare apps to fill in the gaps. And while Omaha's transit system is underfunded compared to nearby cities, it's attracting new "choice" riders which can help strengthen the service.

But everyone, from riders to administrators, agrees on this: there's work that needs to be done.

Read the rest of this entry »

How we talk about inclusivity. Part two.

How we talk about inclusivity. Part two.

October 11, 2021

This week, we pick up on our conversation with Ryan Sallans and Megan Smith-Sallans to talk about why more information doesn't always mean more understanding when it comes to our gender and sexuality.

Should I say my pronouns when I'm meeting new people? How do I define myself to others? To myself? Does gender and sexuality ever get easier to understand? The answers are complicated, but Ryan and Megan offer perspective informed by a deep background of lived experience in Nebraska LGBTQ+ community.

 

Learn more about Ryan on his website:

https://ryansallans.com/

Learn more about Megan on her website:

https://megansmiththerapy.com/

 

Host: Emma Schartz

Producer: Chris Bowling

Music: Jon Rix

https://p0hk.bandcamp.com/ 

Theme music: Chris Bowling and Jon Rix

How we talk about inclusivity. Part one.

How we talk about inclusivity. Part one.

September 20, 2021

In the first of our two-part talk with Ryan Sallans and Megan Smith-Sallans we dive deep into their experiences as members of Nebraska's LGBTQ+ community. The conversation spans growing up in small-town Nebraska and the journey toward coming out as a trans man, to working with families with queer children.

 

Learn more about Ryan Sallans and Megan Smith Sallans.

 

 

Hosted by Emma Schartz

Produced by Chris Bowling

Music by Jon Rix and Chris Bowling.

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