Monday, August 15, 2011

Deer Park's Graffiti Competition August 27, 2011

Hey Everyone,
The local efforts to address illegal Graffiti have taken huge strides for the last few years. 

I am so excited that, as part of these efforts, positive strategies are also being explored and incorporated. I have been to many informal and formal meetings/discussions about Graffiti. Discussions led by groups of civic advocates, local artists, neighbors, and even governmental figures. It is no surprise that at most these meetings, someone says, "we need to do more than just erase graffiti!" 

Discussions move into topics ranging from having public spaces for people to display their art, to creating more new urban art programs. I enjoy strategies like these because they require a need to learn more about other groups of people, in this case those that openly display their public works. Some call such people vandals, others call them artists. Most new age strategies do not get hung up on discussions like this, but rather build around how to utilize local opportunities and or maximize community assets.

The principal idea behind many of the positive strateiges to address illegal graffiti is, "by offering people more opportunities to display their urban art either by projects, events, or spaces, we could minimize the amount of illegal tagging in our city". 

Google "Omaha Graffiti Art" and several recent local projects will come up that sought such strategies. The portfolio of these projects includes sponsors like local schools, the South Omaha police department, several non profit groups, and many businesses. 

Now, it is our neighborhood association's turn to try a project. With the help of several community partners, we will be hosting a city wide Graffiti Competition, information below. These event is intended for many audiences. It is truly amazing to see these people in action. See You there!                                                                 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 article about Deer Park program What the Future Community Leaders of Omaha Are Doing This Summer

Last month ran a great article about our CCL pilot program. I recall answering questions about the pilot but didn't know when the article was going to run.  Sorry for the delayed notification, I just read this for the first time today. Below are a few highlights of the article.

Photo by Jessica Clem

"What the Future Community Leaders of Omaha Are Doing This Summer"
By Jessica Clem
Published on July 3, 2011

"When high school students picture summer, they typically imagine late mornings, late nights, and hours of carefree freedom.

But for 15-year-old Lucy Chung and and a dozen other students, summer instead begins with a 9 a.m. wakeup call, a 10 o’clock class, and community project work by 10:30. While many of her peers are still sleeping away a cheeseburger-and-soda hangover, Chung is out making her community better.

Her reason? “It’s good for the neighborhood!”

Chung is a participant in the 2011 pilot program Cultivating Community Leaders (CCL), a project focused on teaching young people the importance of community service and to help improve South Omaha’s housing stock. Created by Deer Park Neighborhood Association President Oscar Duran, this program encourages young people to recognize their potential as community leaders."
"CCL is a 10-week program that began in June and will wrap up in mid-August. Duran leads the classroom sessions, held at Metro Community College. Elizabeth Moldenhauer and I from the Neighborhood Center work in the field with the kids, with Duran’s home as base. It’s a versatile program that will not only enhance resumes but also create a sense of pride in their communities.

Duran has expanded the program by partnering with his employer Habitat for Humanity and the Neighborhood Center. Both organizations have helped in program development and have been assets to building upon the program mission. “I noticed that there was a gap in community service,” said Duran. “There was a significant difference in who had the energy and the resources to volunteer. I felt inspired by the active members of other organizations and started thinking about how we can improve the numbers of volunteers. Then I realized the number one asset was young people. That’s how this program came about.”

Omaha Neighborhood Scan volunteers in Deer Park
"This program requires commitment from the kids. A typical day would be me giving wake-up calls at 9 a.m., and to make sure everyone has a ride to Metro,” said Duran. “We get everyone together by 10 a.m., by 10:30 we are dispersing maps and are doing foot patrols through the neighborhood. We usually wrap up around 2:30 p.m. and then have lunch.”

"They are truly dedicated and work quickly and efficiently during scans. They have no problems talking with residents who are curious as to why they are looking at their homes, and can respond in English and Spanish, breaking language barriers. Maria Gomez, 14, has no issue talking to residents. In fact, she enjoys it. “I explain what we are doing so they know that we are not just scanning, but also helping them,” she said.

For these students, their summer is more ideal than the stereotypical dream. They are making their neighborhoods better and helping keep their communities alive and healthy. Through the CCL program, these kids will inspire people to take pride in their communities and their city for years to come."

A special thanks to Ms. Clem for such a great article promising the amazing work these kids are doing. Please visit this link to read Ms. Clem's full article.

Deer Park August Meeting Tonight- Honoring CCL Participants

Tonight, Wednesday, August 10, 2011, we will hold the monthly Deer Park Neighborhood Association meeting. Deer Park is dedicating the August meeting to the youth participants of the South Omaha Cultivating Community Leaders Pilot. These young community leaders have and are continuing to help with a variety of South Omaha projects including…

·        Deer Park Scan – Neighborhood Center & Habitat for Humanity Omaha
·        Storm Drain Project – Keep Omaha Beautiful
·        Spring Lake Park Beautification – Spring Lake Neighborhood Association
·        Program Outreach - Keep Kids Alive Drive 25
·        National Night Out – Deer Park Neighborhood Association

Cultivating Community Leaders evolved from the mission of Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

Please come and show your support of our young community leaders. They have the internal drive to continue to do great things and we need to show them that we are behind them 100%.

Deer Park Neighborhood Meeting
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM, Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Sheet Metal Workers
 International Association
3333 South 24th Street
Omaha, NE 68108-1852

View Deer Park Meeting Location in a larger map