Monday, July 21, 2014

Greater Omaha SCUBA Club's Project AWARE Efforts

Editor's note:  For this week’s post we’re revisiting an article I wrote about Greater Omaha SCUBA Club’s (GOSCUBA) community efforts to cleanup the waterways in Nebraska. We tend not to re-post old articles but because of the recent press attention and requests--I’ve made an exception. Here’s The Brown’s (your food blogger and population-we™ founder) recent 15-minutes of fame based-off our favorite water sport, Scuba diving. See if you can recognize Brian and I in the video clip and newspaper article. We’re not the only GOSCUBA members highlighted in the video or pictured in the newspaper article. Our lake cleanup at Regency Lake in Omaha was a total team effort! Also, many thanks to Tabitha at Morgan Properties, Action6News and the Omaha World-Herald.

In short, we wanted to share the following with you and yours; in hopes it makes our population-we™ readers to take pause and recycle: Scouts, divers pitch in to rid Regency Lake of trash Scuba Team and Girl Scouts Partner on Lake Cleanup

[Earth Day Edition] pop-we Highlights Greater Omaha SCUBA Club's Project AWARE Efforts
Today, April 22, is officially Earth Day 2013! On this day people from all around the world are celebrating on land and under the sea. Since waters in Nebraska are a chilly 42 degrees members of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club will be there only in spirit. This post is dedicated to those SCUBA divers who are donating their time today and throughout the year to clean up our waterways from debris.

Below is a Q&A with SCUBA Instructor Mark "Skippy" Sidwell who is vice president of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club.

Q. What got you into SCUBA diving?
A. A 21 day trip to Australia. I figured, if I'm going half way around the world, I'm going to learn to dive.

Q. What is the coldest conditions you've dove in?
A. 58 degrees in Atlantic, Iowa. Did a check out dive with a student late in the season. They were going on vacation in early November and wanted to get it done before hand.

Q. Tell us about the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club?
A. The club was officially started in 2007; so its been around for approximately six years. We are not technically a non-profit organization but we are a not-for-profit organization. We are not tax deductible, if you donate to us. The whole goal of the club is to get people active in diving; whether, you're a diver or non diver, we want you active in diving. Even if you're a non diver we want you active in the aquatic world. Be it just enjoying the aquatic world; conservation efforts and understanding how the ocean plays a role in our world, that is the basic gist the club is for.

Q. What reaction do you get when you tell someone you belong to a dive club in Omaha, Nebraska?
A. What? That is the reaction. Most people are basically confused because they ask where is there to dive in Omaha, Nebraska? Technically speaking there are not a lot of places to dive in Omaha, Nebraska. But there are a lot of places to dive in the local area within one- to three- hours drive.

Q. What is Project AWARE?
A. Project AWARE is an organization started by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). Aquatic water awareness responsibility and education is key. The basic goal is to teach people the role of what water is; not just about water itself but the ecosystem within the water. Because without the oceans we can't feed half of the world. We abuse water resources beyond their capacity to handle it. That is one of the main reasons why Project AWARE came about because the water resources we have on this planet are dwindling. The vast majority of the world does not have access to clean fresh water for drinking, which is terrible. Project AWARE also talks about natural water resources: lakes, rivers and oceans. How to keep them clean and how to maintain them, as well as how to use them responsibly.

Q. Why did you get involved with Project AWARE?
A.  Because without conservation and education of water resources, I won't have anywhere to dive.

Q. Doing lake cleanups what is the strangest item you've found?
A. A Mountain Dew banner. It was a huge promotional banner. I thought it was a tent at first!

Q. What is the strangest thing another club member has found?
A. A safe.

Q. What is the worst visibility conditions you've dove in for a lake cleanup?
A. Zero.

Q. What do you think is the biggest culprit of trash in our waterways?
A. Plastic. The problem is most governments don't require manufacturers to put a recycle label (i.e. the type of plastic) on all plastic items. Most plastic items you have no idea that type of plastic it is. Most people don't recycle anyway.

Q. What's the message the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club wants to relay to kids?
A. Whatever you throw out winds up in the water. So, be very, very cognizant of what you throw away. Even if you throw it away responsibly; doesn't mean that whoever picks that trash up is going to be responsible with it. So, you have to be careful with that, and that is why recycling is such a big thing.

To find out more about the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club or any upcoming lake cleanups, visit the club's website, official Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

"I think diving has made me much more aware why we need to recycle," he said. Since 2009, Sidwell has participated in 12 lake cleanups in Nebraska. He ended the Q&A interview by saying: "I love the opportunity to talk about my passion [SCUBA diving]! I love the planet -- we only got one -- so we got to take care of it."

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Short Story: Florence and Estelle's First Encounter

This post marks our blog's 190th post since we've started back in 2011. Why the significance? If you believe in numerology, this weekend we also celebrated a dear friend, mentor and adopted Grandma's 90th birthday. I met Florence some 20 plus years ago when I started dating our food blogger, Brian Brown. I would come to be very close with her over the years. She is not just a friend, but family to The Brown, Bohan and Mayer families. At every wedding, graduation and holiday gathering--Florence is there along side her best friend of 80 plus years, Brian's Grandma Estelle. To commemorate Florence's 90th birthday--I've penned a short narrative called: "Florence and Estelle's First Encounter." What follows is a fictional account of the duo meeting for the very first time in Nebraska.

From left to right: Brian, Grandma Estelle, Becky & Florence
at The Brown's recent 20th Anniversary party.
It’s 1924, and like any Nebraska summer-time, makes for longer day light hours to converse with friends and family. This July the sun still lay across the horizon with rays sparkling off of silos filled with what is gold in these parts, wheat. On this late afternoon a Studebaker barrels down the dirt road—kicking up pebbles and other debris all the way. The car is going fast, but not too fast; since, precious cargo rides inside. The final destination The Mitchells, who happened to be best friends of The Fransems. It was a special occasion, The Mitchell kids will be meeting new baby, Florence, for the very first time.

The Studebaker pulls up and as the dust clears all the doors open, but one. The children all pile out and roar to The Mitchells with excitement. The matriarch of The Fransem family gets out, brushes the dust from her skirt, as she makes her way around the car. She grabs the warm door handle and opens the car door discovering where newborn Florence lay in a basket.

With eyes glistening, she softly says, “Well there my precious is.”

Baby Florence responds with a flash of a smile and huge happy shriek.

Florence’s mom whisks her out of the basket and with the basket now in the other hand makes her way over to the picnic goers. Along the way kids in various ages race over to her and begin jumping up at her like wild dogs clambering to get a look at the newest addition of The Fransem household.

“She sternly barks back to the kids—calm down—you’ll all get your turn to say 'Hi' to Florence!”

One child in the party is not in the group; one-year-old Estelle. She lays on a quilt steps away from the picnic table with her feet and arms flaying in the air. Her eyes glued on the white puffy cloud floating by up, up, high in the Nebraska sky!

Florence’s mom makes it safely to the others with little baby Florence in hand. Of course upon her arrival, “Aww’s and oooh’s!” are uttered off the lips of adults and kids in attendance. “Let me see the darling!” says a rather robust woman with wire framed glasses. In a swoop Florence is passed around from person-to-person for 20 minuets until someone yells, “It’s super time!” Those three words being said for a second drowns out the cicadas signing from the trees nearby.

A phantom breeze carries the smells of sweet corn, steak, pork, macaroni and cheese from the picnic to where Estelle lays.

Florence’s mom takes Florence from a stocky man in a crisp short-sleeved plaid shirt and blue coveralls and walks over to where one-year-old Estelle lays. She gently lays Florence on the quilt as she says, “Estelle meet your new best friend, Florence.”

No words could be more true. This first encounter indeed would not be the duos final. Both intertwined in each others lives like the fabric of time itself. Their friendship would span decades. Both would remain best friends, their husbands in count would also be best buddies, too. Their kids would grow up knowing each other. They would live through splendor the birth of their children, grandchildren and heartache the loss of their husbands together. Indeed, this would be the start to a beautiful friendship.

(Editor's note: Happy 90th Birthday Flocey! I presented a very special version to Flocey on her special day. Hope you liked the story too? It will be included in a short story book that I'm putting the finishing touches on now. If you're intrigued with Estelle's and Florence's 80 plus year friendship? A bibligropthy of sorts--to chronicle their many adventures together--is in the works too. So, stay tuned.)
-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2014 population-we, LLC 
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