Tag Archives: San Francisco

Scott Blake

October 10, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Scott Blake looks giddy as he weaves between traffic on 72nd and Pacific streets. He holds a tattered and discolored “now hiring” sign covered by a piece of cardboard—which he calls his “security blanket”—and his dark, disheveled beard frames a mischievous grin. In place of the ragged employment sign stands a provocative work of street art reminiscent of old-fashioned directional street signs. But instead of pointing viewers to local streets or nearby towns, his sign details distances to Benghazi (5,951 miles), Gaza (6,512 miles), and Guantanamo (1,920 miles) in crisp black letters. A three-dimensional star-spangled bomb tops his message like a star on a Christmas tree.

Blake is no stranger to unique and controversial art. Born in Florida in 1976, he first received widespread recognition for his Y2K-inspired barcode art, a project that has become increasingly interactive thanks to the emergence of smartphones and barcode-reading apps. His barcode portraits range from Jesus to Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and others.

His 9/11 Flipbook project also garnered national attention, which allowed him to donate proceeds to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund, the Red Cross, and other charities. His work has been featured in publications like Adbusters, FHM, and The New York Times, and has been exhibited as far away as London, Paris, and Vienna. His accolades include several Adobe Design Achievement Awards, and a 2009 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for Best New Media Artist. But his controversial and covert signpost project is less likely to earn him any official recognition.

The current iteration of the street sign project has been ongoing for about a year. Blake cites two primary sources of inspiration. First, a San Franciscan friend who painted directions to Guantanamo Bay on driftwood. “I get a lot of my ideas from talking with people,” he explains, “but I also go the extra mile—I take it and do this, that, and the other, and make it specifically about Omaha.” Blake initially utilized wood for his own signposts but soon realized that the ubiquitous “we buy houses for cash” signs lining streets and cluttering medians were “like Omaha driftwood” begging to be repurposed.

His second—and more personal—source of inspiration is the iconic signpost from M*A*S*H, the show from the 1970s that features a fictional team of doctors stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. The sign in M*A*S*H points to locations like Boston, San Francisco, and Coney Island, places that represent home for the characters, but Blake’s signposts flip this idea on its head. “I’m already home,” Blake says, “so I want to know where the wars are at—I want to remind people where the boogeyman is.” He also notes that many of the locations have American bases and personnel: “In a way, I actually am pointing to a little piece of America.”

Blake’s process has become part of his daily routine. He takes his signposts with him when he runs errands, and he makes mental notes when he sees “Omaha driftwood” ripe for pilfering. He prefers outdated or illegally placed signs and avoids those that are political, charitable, or artistic in nature. The collected signs are taken to his home studio where they are painted white, cut into arrows, and labeled before being placed into the back of his car to await installment on one of Omaha’s major thoroughfares.

Blake argues that this kind of thought-provoking public art is particularly important when both major presidential candidates treat military intervention as a matter of course. “I consider (our ongoing) wars to be illegal and unjustified and I’m obviously anti-war,” he explains. “There’s no way I’m going to stop the wars; but at the same time, I’m not going to roll over. You can’t be against something—you can’t subvert something—without talking about it.”

Responses to the signposts have been mixed. “Is it weird to think that the bombs are cute?” asks Sarah Johnson, owner of Omaha Bicycle Co. Many locals have expressed confusion over the signposts’ ambiguous nature. An employee of SignIT (a local company that provides the materials for the star-spangled bombs) asked, “Is this a Fourth of July sign?” The conversation about Blake’s public art has even extended to the digital world. Reddit user ZOUG posted that the works are “Not much of a statement if no one understands what they are saying.”

But Blake isn’t too worried about these reactions: “A lot of people have asked me, ‘Are you for the war or are you against it?’ My number one thing is to get people thinking. I’m just reminding people that, whether they’re for or against the wars, these things are happening.” Blake has considered crafting signposts with directions to Boston, Orlando, San Bernardino, and other American cities affected by domestic terrorism and civil unrest, but for now he’s content with his current project.

“I’ll stop when the wars stop.”

Visit barcodeart.com for more information.

Encounter

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Radio Talking Book Service

October 9, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Paul Stebbins has a smooth, pleasant voice with articulate delivery. As the station manager for the nonprofit Radio Talking Book Service, his knowledge of the technical side of radio production and programming
is impressive.

His extensive background in broadcasting and engineering is obvious by his professional demeanor. Not so apparent is what he shares with listeners: “I’ve been a user of services like ours for over 40 years. I’ve been blind since birth.”

Stebbins, now in his mid-60s, was born 14 weeks premature at a time when hospitals used excessively high levels of oxygen in incubators. The practice saved lives but was a risk factor for retinal damage in babies and contributed to Stebbins’ permanent vision loss.

Stebbins, a Chicago native, credits his parents with fostering his independence. His mother introduced him to a career in radio in 1961 when she founded a station “from the ground up,” an endeavor which lasted for a decade.

“For a blind person, radio was such a natural medium because it’s all sound-oriented; it’s all audio,” Stebbins says. Although he was a natural on the air, he was more interested in the technical side of things. So, after attending technical college, he worked for stations in various markets including Denver and San Francisco. He even did a brief stint in television.

“I worked for a year in game shows…I wanted to do news and sports,” he says, wryly. “I even did Wheel of Fortune for a while, and that was fun. In fact, the director said he didn’t know for three days that I was blind.”

In 2007, a contact in Albuquerque told him about a position open at the well-regarded RTBS, one of the oldest services of its kind in the country. It only took one visit and a near-immediate offer to convince Stebbins to relocate to Nebraska, and now he is on hand to celebrate the station’s 42nd year.

RTBS uses radio as the main platform for its two primary services, The Radio Talking Book Network and Listening Link. Visually impaired listeners in Nebraska and southwest Iowa are entitled to a special receiver that allows them to access programming, which is also available online. It’s difficult to estimate listenership, Stebbins says, because RTBS has placed receivers in facilities like retirement centers where multiple users have access. The organization’s leaders know they are not reaching everyone who could benefit from the service and continually look for ways to increase awareness.

“We try to bring a variety of things, and our programming runs the gamut. It’s not like a usual radio station,” Stebbins explains. “We really try to enhance the lives of our listeners. We like to inform and entertain.”

Traditional radio stations generally focus on news-talk or music programming, so RTBN provides other material that wouldn’t typically be accessible to visually impaired individuals. Its human-voiced programming includes daily current events content from larger Nebraska community newspapers and magazines (including this one), grocery and retail ads, special interest shows from health and sports to cooking and gardening, and entertainment including nostalgic dramas from the golden age of radio, and audio from movies with special narration describing visual elements. RTBN also carries some National Public Radio programs like Morning Edition and Weekend Edition and exchanges programs with other reading services throughout the country.

RTBS’s Listening Link program provides educational content for post-secondary students.

Many volunteer opportunities are available at RTBS, volunteer coordinator Sybil Mahan says, and close to 100 volunteers provide reading services. Potential readers have to go through an audition process because “It is a talent to read out loud,” she explains. Some RTBS readers do professional voice talent gigs and have in-home studio space, but to maintain high audio quality, most readers report to the RTBS studios in the organization’s offices at 7101 Newport Ave. near CHI Health Immanuel Medical Center.

Volunteers tend to stick around, Mahan adds. “We have had people here for 26 to 30 years and that’s pretty wonderful to have.”

“It’s a good service and people here are just so good to work with,” Stebbins says.

RTBN strives to meet the needs of listeners who not only share the common trait of visual impairment but represent all ages and countless interests, Stebbins says. So, they broadcast a wide variety of programs with very little replay 24 hours a day. Because RTBN doesn’t use ratings research services like Nielsen Audio (formerly Arbitron), direct listener feedback helps shape content decisions.

Naomi Marion, a listener and RTBS board member, began listening to RTBN after losing her vision eight years ago.

“It’s valuable to me because I can’t read the newspaper, and it’s nice to know what’s going on in the world,” she says. “I think my radio stays on 24/7.”

Visit rtbs.org or call 402-572-3003 or 800-729-7826 for more information. Sixty-Plus in Omaha.

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The Last Nuns of Duchesne

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The nuns have left the building. For the first time in the 135-year history of Duchesne Academy, students have no interaction with members of the Religieuses du Sacre Coeur de Jesus (also known as the Society of the Sacred Heart).

That means no nun to greet students at the front door of the all-girls Catholic high school at 36th and Burt streets; no nuns to work the main office, teach in the classroom, or raise an eyebrow at tardy students scampering into the historic red-bricked school. None of it. 

Nuns2Sister Lucy Hayes and Sister JoEllen Sumpter performed those duties (and many more) during their various tenures at Duchesne dating back to the 1950s. But time inevitably forces even the most earnest and dedicated to answer another call, and both sisters heard the call of retirement.

“It’s time,” says Sumpter, 76. “I fell in a freak accident a couple of years ago and hit my head. I lost sight in my right eye.” In addition, mobility problems force her to use a walker.

Hayes, still spry and active at 87, fought the idea of leaving Duchesne. She wanted to continue her daily duties as sacristan, even if it meant living in Omaha alone. But the Society of the Sacred Heart mandates its members live in a religious community. Hayes now looks ahead to mentoring opportunities for both of them at the RSCJ retirement complex in Atherton, California. 

Losing nuns at the Catholic school signals a seismic shift of symbolic importance. The sisters’ departure plans became official in late August, when the provincial leaders of the RSCJs handed over the responsibility of their spiritual vision to the lay administrators and faculty. Students, families, alumnae, and members of the Omaha Archdiocese gathered for the formal ceremony at St. Cecilia Cathedral.

“They’re putting their charisms—or values—into our hands,” says head of school Meg Brudney. “Symbolically, (the Society of the Sacred Heart) no longer has a resource here. But we know their goals and their values. We live them every day.”  Duchesne will remain part of the Sacred Heart network of 22 schools in the U.S., Brudney adds.

Sumpter began living those values—educating the mind and the soul—at a young age. “I started at Duchesne in seventh grade in 1952, went through high school and then college,” she says, referring to the days when the campus included a primary school as well as Duchesne College. “We had some really powerful (nuns) there at the time, with very few lay people teaching.” She majored in biology and eventually earned two advanced degrees.

Hayes, who grew up in Denison, Iowa, also attended Duchesne College, which closed in 1968, and fell in love with learning. “Our teachers tied all the subjects together, and somehow we came into this huge worldview, which just blew my mind,” she says. “It woke me up to, ‘Wow, this is what life is.’”

Both knew at an early age what they wanted to do with their lives, a decision formed by the loving nurture of the nuns at Duchesne. Sitting in their cozy apartment on a tree-lined street in the shadow of St. Cecilia’s, the two weave a fascinating life story that straddles two eras of the Catholic Church. 

“My family had a difficult time, especially my father, who wasn’t Catholic,” explains Sumpter about her decision to enter the Sacred Heart community. “You see, I was an only child.”

Which meant no grandchildren?

“You got that right,” she deadpans.

Nuns1Armed with a drama degree in 1951, Hayes immediately left for the convent. “My father wasn’t Catholic, either,” she says.  “When I got on the train, he remarked, ‘You can always come home, you know.’”

But it was a long time before either woman would see their families again. They lived a cloistered life, having very little contact with the outside world except in the Sacred Heart schools where they taught—Sumpter in Lake Forest, Illinois, and Hayes in San Francisco, during which time she earned a master’s degree in history. Prayer, reflection, and Mass filled their highly structured routine.

The winds of change that blew through the Roman Catholic Church in 1965 as a result of the Second Vatican Council also changed the lifestyle of the religious women. Exhorted to “go out into the world,” they left the cloisters and lived among the people they served. Their long, flowing black robes gave way to modern dress.

“A lot of nuns left because they couldn’t adjust,” says Hayes quietly.

The sisters’ paths finally crossed in the early 1990s when both returned to Omaha to be near ailing relatives. They rejoined the severely depleted religious community at Duchesne, filling in as needed in various capacities until they became the only two nuns left.

“We just adore both of them,” says Brudney, a 1983 graduate of Duchesne and one of many alums among the administration and faculty. “The culture of the school is filled with love. It’s a very respectful environment.”

With Duchesne’s enrollment at an all-time high and applicants on a waiting list, the legacies of these gentle, beloved women and all the Sacred Heart nuns who preceded them will no doubt endure.

Visit duchesneacademy.org  for more information. Omaha Magazine

Homer’s Manager Mike Fratt

August 2, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I walked into the oldest business in the Old Market looking for Mike Fratt. My search for the general manager of Homer’s Music was blocked by towering racks of vinyl records and CDs.

Then I heard his voice. The voice that hosted a three-hour radio show called “Sunday Morning” for 10 years on 89.7 The River—until he got tired of getting up at 5 a.m. every Sunday. The radio show on the campus of Iowa Western was 16th in the ratings when he began. Several years later, ratings had zoomed to third place.

A bassist, Fratt has played in local bands for 30-plus years, touring to concerts in cities such as San Francisco and New York. (He harbors a special love for western swing and bluegrass.) He also has written about music for various publications.

Fratt has worked in the retail side of the music biz since his high school days in 1975, when he worked at Musicland at Crossroads Mall and the Record Shop at Westroads Mall.

The Omaha native has worked at Homer’s for 38 years. One of the few independent music stores still standing in the nation, Homers once had as many as 11 locations in Omaha and Lincoln. Now all that remains is the glass-front store in the Old Market boasting album covers and local shows.

“The ‘Walmarting’ of music, followed by the digital revolution, pushed independent music stores out of business,” says Fratt.

The recent resurgence of the popularity of vinyl records and their warmer sound have brought buyers back into the store. Record Store Day, a worldwide event held the third Saturday in April that was co-founded by the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS), also has created enthusiasm.

As a CIMS board member, Fratt helped organize Record Store Day. He is currently CIMS chairman.

It’s an exciting day for vinyl record fans. A line forms down Howard Street and around the corner, with people hoping to get a limited edition item. Some fans arrive at 3 a.m. The store doesn’t open until 10 a.m. This year, an estimated 500 people stood in line.

The scene is duplicated around the world. “In some cities, people start lining up the night before,”
Fratt says.

In 1985, a fire in an adjacent building destroyed the space Homer’s occupied at 1210 Howard Street. Homer’s moved to 1114 Howard after the fire, where the store did business for 25 years.

Homer’s returned to 1210 Howard in 2010, one of five locations the Old Market store has occupied in its 45-year history.

From a small shop in the middle of the country, Mike Fratt has made a nationwide impact. The Wall Street Journal featured him on its cover in November 2014 when he led a battle against moving Record Release Day from Tuesday to Friday.

“People already shop weekends,” says Fratt, who at the time served on the Music Business Association board of directors.

He lost that battle, but won another after organizing retailers to file an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the right to sell used goods.

“Justice Breyer noted part of our brief in his decision,” he says. “That was a career highlight for me.”

Fratt also served on the board of directors of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. He organized the first multi-venue showcase in the Benson area, where he and his wife, Sarah, live.

About three to five percent of Homer’s sales happens online. Tourism is a healthy contributor to the bottom line, he adds.

“From April through October, one-third of our business is from tourists. They don’t have a store like this in their city, whether New York, Kansas City, or Chicago.”  Encounter

Visit homersmusic.com for more information.

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Poetic Healing

June 1, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The poet Longfellow famously wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” By that logic, Omaha poet Traci Schacht has survived a series of torrential downpours.

At age 12, Schacht’s mentally ill mother left her negligent father, forcing Schacht to care for herself. That same year, she would turn her first trick and enter her first foster home.

“It was an easy way to make money, but I was too young to know what it all meant,” she says. “To me, it just meant food—chicken versus corn flakes. The cops picked me up and that’s when ‘home’ changed from home to group homes to foster homes.”

Though they’ve since reconciled, Schacht vividly recalls being rejected by her mother, who swiftly remarried and took in her siblings but told a troubled 13-year-old Schacht that she wasn’t welcome.

“My family didn’t want me. That’s when I changed, stopped caring, became violent,” says Schacht, who also escalated her experimentation with drugs. “I so badly wanted my mom to rescue me, to come hug me, tell me everything would be okay. I was so scared and alone.”

TraciSchacht1She was headed to lockup when Boys Town accepted her, moving Schacht in a better direction. After graduating she attended Nebraska Wesleyan, earning a theater degree.   

Next, Schacht moved around a lot—Chicago, Houston, San Francisco—but the places she’s been emotionally and intellectually are the most compelling parts of her story. For example, she traveled vast distances politically, from serving as V.P. of the college Young Republicans in Nebraska to fighting against the death penalty with “a bunch of Marxists” in San Francisco.

In 2007, back in Omaha, the storm continued. Schacht survived a horrible car wreck that crushed her legs, arm, and part of her neck. Her legs were saved but she had trouble walking. In 2010, Schacht requested and received a right leg below-knee amputation, hoping to resume some favorite activities like kayaking as a result. After a subsequent total knee replacement went wrong and infection set in, the leg was amputated above-knee.

“I just bawled. I didn’t want to be an above-knee amputee because it’s harder to walk and you can’t do everything. But eventually I got this cool, computerized leg,” Schacht says, hiking up a pant leg to proudly display the high-tech limb she got in 2013. “Now I’m walking, after years in a wheelchair. I’m
so thankful.”

Schacht’s also grateful for a fateful meeting with a medical van driver who, in the course of transporting her home from the hospital, changed her life.

“He offered to read me a poem he’d written,” says Schacht. “I thought, ‘Oh no, this is gonna be some cheesy poetry.’ But it was this awesome, political slam poetry I hadn’t heard before, and I loved it.”

Schacht befriended the driver, who convinced her to try writing poetry. He saw skill in her work and encouraged her to perform the piece at Verbal Gumbo, a monthly open mic welcoming “various artistic expressions.”

“[My poem] was met with such wonderful warmth, and they said I should do another,” says Schacht. “So I did another, and then another, and another, and have continued since.”

Schacht’s discovery of her talent at performing rhythmic, defiant, evocative slam poetry added great joy to her life, but she still wrestled with personal demons. Schacht, a Gemini, says she has two sides, one wanting to perform and another bent on withdrawal. She plotted suicide and eventually had a PTSD break—a bottom from which to rise.

“It all hit me at once and I just broke, and actually, that was a wonderful thing. I took the chance to finally stop and assess everything I’d experienced,” says Schacht, who credits good friends for crucial support.     

“Omaha saved my life. Literally. The community here saved my life,” she says.

That life-saving support inspired Schacht to help others. She coaches Bryan and Northwest High Schools’ teams for the youth poetry festival “Louder Than a Bomb” and has worked with Poetry Out Loud Nebraska and Project Everlast, a group for former foster youth. She’s training to be an amputee peer support counselor and mental health first responder. Schacht is also finishing a book of poetry, tentatively titled Tequila, Twerking, and Other Things a One-legged Poet Should Never Do, and establishing a healing through poetry group.

“I’m blessed to use poetry for healing and to share that with others,” says Schacht. “I needed to heal myself from everything I’ve experienced in my life.”

Routinely taunted in childhood as “ugly girl,” Schacht performs lots of body-positive poetry.

“I worked really hard for this body and so did a lot of other people, so I want to be really proud of it,” she says.

Through her poetry and service to others, Schacht has found confidence and value in her accomplishments. She’s finally discovered that, as Longfellow also wrote, “Behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”

“It’s meaningful when people come up in tears telling me my words helped them. It’s a gift. When that healing happens and you can share that with others it’s amazing, and that’s what I’m about now,” she says. “I’m learning to let that help center myself and to realize that is success.”

Laura Burhenn

November 18, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There’s a lyrical tradition that seems to stem from popular songs titled “Omaha.” It’s a tradition that often involves the personification of the flyover city as a dependable friend or even a former lover waiting to be rediscovered for its less-exciting comforts. Waylon Jennings defects to San Francisco in his narrative but admits he “never really left it all” when crooning about Omaha. The Everly Brothers find D.C. and L.A. uninspiring compared to an Omaha that comprises “everything that [they] wanted.” And the Counting Crows are “coming home” to “roll a new love over.”

While Laura Burhenn’s “Omaha” perhaps involuntarily participates in this same ceremony on her latest Saddle Creek release Lovers Know, the Mynabirds singer-songwriter breaks one major trope: Her melancholy rendition makes no assumptions that the community she left two years ago would welcome her back if she wanted to return.

“That song was the hardest song for me to write and I almost didn’t even want to put it on the record because it’s so personal,” Burhenn, 35, says on the phone from her L.A. home. “Here I am, my heart is totally broken open and it’s like, ‘Here you go, guys!’”

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The D.C. native who moved to Nebraska in the late naughts says she wrote most of “Omaha” upon returning to the city after a grueling world tour with The Postal Service in 2013. At the time, Burhenn says she was having difficulty reconciling her life’s purpose of traveling as a touring musician with sustaining a relationship with her community.

“I feel like this is what the universe always does to you,” she explains, describing the budding disconnect she began to experience with Omaha. “You’re riding this wave of optimism and power and everything is amazing and perfect…and all of a sudden you just get crushed.”

Windows down, music loud, Burhenn says she took off in her car as a sort of therapeutic response to her existential pains, prompting a two-year odyssey that she would eventually package as Lovers Know.

“This record is probably my midlife crisis,” she says with a laugh. “Instead of buying a sports car, I took my dog and went camping all over the U.S.”

Burhenn’s journey, she says, reacquainted her with ’90s shoegaze and R&B, both of which stylistically pervade what she describes as her most emotionally unguarded material to date. And then there’s “Omaha,” which sonically sticks out like a logo-clad Woodmen Tower.

The minimalistic ballad, relying heavily on a tear-inducing piano lick and a sentimental ambiance, confronts the city, asking, “Will you still call me darling?” and “Will I still be your girl?” But “Omaha” is more than just an introspective look into Burhenn’s fear of letting down her former community: It’s also a love letter, a runaway note, a spiritual confession, a eulogy, an ode, and even a brochure. And ultimately, the song is a clue to unlocking its hosting album’s mysterious title:

“Lovers know that sometimes real intimacy can be beautiful and wonderful, but it can also be heartbreaking and treacherous,” says the artist who appeared at Slowdown in September.

”But even as dark as it gets,” Burhenn adds, “you still have this seed of hope.”

Visit themynabirds.com to learn more.

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Beansmith

October 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beansmith Coffee Roasters’ immaculate bar still feels brand-new—it just opened this past spring—but its original wood floors, exposed brick, and some of the design details resonate of a much earlier era. The Old Market building Beansmith occupies at 1213 Harney Street dates to 1880,  says owner Chris Smith. He’s the Smith in the cafe’s name, but another Smith was the building’s namesake.

“Its first owner was George Warren Smith, and it was known as the Smith Building. So we thought it was pretty appropriate that Beansmith should be one of its tenants,” Smith says. “We feel really honored to be part of the heritage of the building.”

The history of Beansmith itself starts 30 years ago, when Smith’s degree in electrical engineering helped pique his curiosity about coffee.

“Engineers in general are curious as to why things work the way they do,” he says. “That ultimately brought me to the point where I wanted to own and operate my own coffee roaster. I had more ability to source exactly what I thought would be great, and those elements—why coffee could taste much better and what’s making that happen—brought me to where I am now.”

Smith’s original foray into entrepreneurship was a drinking water company, which led to providing water for coffee machines, which brought forth the idea of a coffee wholesale business. Smith still operates the La Vista roasting facility he launched in 2006.

“That was a good place to start because it allowed me to see how a variety of different shops and stores operated. It also allowed me to see what worked and what maybe could be better and it allowed me to see how people were reacting to the coffee,” he says. “I had been to Kansas City, Minneapolis, and of course larger cities like San Francisco and Chicago; the coffee scenes in those cities were vibrant…I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Omaha doesn’t have anything like this—why not?’ So as I became more proficient in roasting and experiencing all these locations and takes on coffee, I really started to develop my vision for what we could do here in this area.”

A coffee bar was the natural evolution of that vision, Smith says. “I realized that for us to really have better controllability of our own brand and who we are, ultimately we needed to be serving people our own coffee. We have some great relationships with a variety of shops that serve our coffee and we want to continue that, but we also felt like the best voice for our own coffee was us actually serving it and presenting it to those people interested in specialty coffee.”

Eventually, Smith hopes Beansmith leads Omaha in becoming known to specialty coffee enthusiasts everywhere.

“We can not only just educate, but share what we know about our coffees…I do see more community coffee shops beginning to spark up that are on that same trek in terms of trying to up their game in terms of quality and knowledgeability,” he says. “I think that’s really good for Omaha because that means Omaha is in for the treat of a thriving specialty coffee community.”

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