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Monday, January 31, 2011

Omaha Table Talk to Host February Ethnic Potluck Dinner and Music Discussion

With each generation, a genre of music has helped define who they are and given them a voice. For our parent’s generation it was Rock 'N' Roll. For my husband and I that would be Rap music.

Some of you may not have a fondness for Rap music like my husband and I. We both can recollect countless rap stories from our teenage years. The most noteworthy, I remember were the nights after basketball games in high school, when our entire team would rap DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince lyrics on the bus ride back to school. I also can vividly remember the stories my husband’s mom would tell when we started dating about his 2 Live Crew tape (yes, I said tape) meeting a vacuum cleaner. Of course, being a feminist my choice in Rap music varies from my husbands. No matter -- Rap music was our voice -- like the current generation’s voice is Hip-Hop music.

In celebration of Black History Month, Omaha Table Talk will host its 2nd Annual Ethnic Potluck Dinner and Discussion on Thursday, Feb. 10. This year’s event will provide information on the origins of Rap and its evolution to today's Hip-Hop music, as well as a panel discussion. Guest speakers will speak throughout the night on: “Hip Hop Music Friend of Foe? Issues of Race and Gender.” It will be held at West Hills Church, 3015 S. 82nd Ave., Omaha, Neb., from 6 to 9 p.m.

"We will view a clip of the popular video on Hip-Hop music and talk about the implications and suitability of the music on groups and culture,” said A'Jamal Byndon, Omaha Table Talk event organizer. “The event will include a feminist perspective questioning the music degradation of women and offer a critique of its mentality toward the popular culture.”

Omaha Table Talk is a program housed in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). It's designed to build social capital and improve race relations in the community with the help of UNO students, faculty and staff.

“Last year we had over 75 participants engaged in spirited discussion and building social capital on the topics and questions,” Byndon said. “We hope that this session will give the audience the opportunity to talk with others about the popular genre of Hip-Hop and Rap music in its various forms.”

There is no cost to attend, but attendees are asked to bring an ethnic dish to share. “Participants are asked to bring a dish representing a culture that helps make up the rich diversity found in Omaha,” Byndon said.

population-we supports this upcoming event sponsored by Omaha Table Talk -- where everyone has a seat at the table. See this link for a full schedule and R.S.V.P. form.

Registrations are being taken no later than Tuesday, Feb. 8. For more information or to register, contact A’Jamal Byndon at, (402) 561.7594 or visit

Organizer’s note: Dealing with these music genres -- this session will investigate mature subject matter -- it is only recommended for high school age and older individuals.

So, this is a call-to-action for population-we readers to get out and learn about others. Join in a discussion at a local coffee shop or at an event like Omaha Table Talk’s ethnic potluck supper. In short, Rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) once said it best: “We can't change the world, unless we change ourselves.”
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown

Monday, January 24, 2011

Showing Solace & Compassion for Those in Need

We do not get handed a script that covers every situation in life, which is a good thing. This allows people to speak from the heart when another is in need of solace and compassion. This also allows well-meaning people to sometimes use words that fall flat or at times use words or actions that unwittingly hurt the other person.

As you read this, I do not want you to feel bad if you have ever said something that some may take to be inappropriate. The person may have felt your sincerity or it may have been meaningful to that person in that context.

Telling someone that you know how they feel is a common statement that shows empathy for suffering. When people are wrought with pain or sorrow, they may think that the other person could not possibly know how they are feeling. It is better to say that you are sorry for their loss or tragedy rather than to say that you know just how they feel.

My heart goes out to a man who shared on-line that only one person expressed sympathy in his congregation when his son died. Why the silence from the others? I do not know. “You cannot not communicate is an axiom,” that I remember from a speech class in college. You may not be sending the message that you intend but silence sends a message. I understand not feeling that you could possibly say the right thing when someone has lost a child or any loved one that has left them bereft. Yet, it is so important to say something and to reach out. I do not fault people who do not feel they can say the right words but it is so vital to let a person know they are remembered.

We can help bridge the chasm between the pain they feel now and the healing that they may experience in days and years to come. Sending a sympathy card, giving flowers, donating to the charity of choice, and taking food to the family may seem like small things but they are ways in our culture that we show that we remember the deceased and pay tribute to their life.

Knowing that I have limitations in helping those in need, I have been touched by acts of service that I have heard about including removing ice to make it safer for a family to attend their loved one's funeral, doing yard work for the family, and doing maintenance free of charge. There are ways to show support by keeping eyes open and looking for opportunities.

At work, I received a call from someone who I think was with a military family who was calling for another woman who had lost her husband. I believe that the caller's organization offers support to military spouses by taking care of details such as hotel reservations for people who need to travel for the funeral.

Parents of special needs children may have feelings about people talking about how noble they are to care for such a child and what special parents they are. They may think that they are doing what any decent parent would do to try to meet the demands of a special need’s child. When someone is overwhelmed and feeling inadequate, they may not find these words to be encouraging. I do think it is appropriate to express belief that all life has value and purpose. If you are able to offer any respite or be on call for a listening ear that can let the person know that they can be honest with you and do not have to be a "super hero."

When someone has a terminal diagnosis or any health condition, one needs to choose their words wisely. I overheard a woman who had battled cancer confide to another who had served over the woman's organization for my church how someone said her thoughts caused her cancer. She promptly responded saying that was wrong and that she would not wish that about herself let alone her worst enemy.

Many who suffer have times of our greatest need when people say words that can make us bitter. When someone has a great understanding or real empathy, it is all the sweeter when contrasted with these non-bitter statements.

I hope that we can all learn to be more sensitive and more caring as we surround those in need with love. We want to let them know that they are not alone!
– population-we blog post by Barb Bohan

Monday, January 17, 2011

Living the Dream of Inclusiveness Thanks to Dr. MLK Jr.'s Teachings

Today, Jan. 17, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose message of equality resonates with many Americans more today than ever.

As I’ve hinted to population-we readers -- I’m a former jock. In fourth grade I scored 35 points at the Millard YMCA (that was before the three-point line), enough said. Through school and extracurricular sports, I’ve made many life-long friends (which holds true to today). My freshman year in high school I made the leap from catholic school education to public, which is the best decision my family and I ever made. I went from Marian High to Monroe Middle School. Coming in late in the semester at Monroe there was no hope for me to play basketball for the school. So, I tried out for a team at the North YMCA called the Hawkettes, an all African-American girls' basketball team. I made the team and was the first-ever Caucasian to play for the Hawkettes. Remembering back, I had some of the best times. My favorite was playing 1-on-1 with Nessie or Tish before practice.

I would find out years later that some of the players and parents were irate that I was chosen to play on the team. Unbeknownst to me they had threatened to beat me up. My parents and the coach agreed to keep it a secret because they were afraid I would quit or it would affect my game. Now it was clear to me why my dad was present at every practice and basketball game. Regardless of this strife, our team was a team to be reckoned with -- we would win the league easily. In the end, all our differences were put aside once we stepped onto the hardwoods.

A year later, Coach Roper decided to form an elite basketball team, the core of the team consisted of Hawkettes. He also added a couple other Caucasian players to the team who I played with at Marian High. Together we would win the Nebraska tournament and represent the State at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) - USA National Championships in Miami, Florida. We didn't win on the court in Florida like in Nebraska; however, our lives were forever enriched from the friendships we made. Trips together through Everglades Park and a day at the beach are forever imprinted as one of my all-time favorite memories with good friends.

After our Florida tournament we were all flooded with scholarship offers -- I was only a sophomore. My most noteworthy offers included Cornell University and Kansas University. As a Junior, I would play on the first-ever Benson High School girls basketball team that would win Districts and make it to State. It was an exciting time.

I did not take those basketball scholarship offers and chose to focus on my love for journalism during my college career. During college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, I still managed to play on numerous college intramural and local club teams; coached a couple West YMCA teams; officiated games at the YMCA's as well as volunteered at Girls Inc. basketball camps.

Many of the greats have taken the leap to go against the norm. By no way am I a Jackie Robinson. Robinson did courageously break through baseball's color barrier in 1947 at the height of segregation. I just played on a North Omaha YMCA basketball team because I loved the game. Unlike Robinson, the threats and ridicule towards me were behind my back. I strongly believe sports cross all barriers and today because of my past experiences -- I don’t see in color -- everyone is equal to me. I truly believe generations behind us won't see in color as well. Thank you Dr. King!
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown

Monday, January 10, 2011

pop-we Dinner Club: You Too Can Create Your Own Dinner Club

Food brings people together. Those of you who know my husband and I well, know we like to eat out. Our tastes encompass fine dining, chain restaurants as well as mom-and-pop cafes and dives. To us mom-and-pops as well as dives are our favorite places. To date, my favorite turkey burger in town is served at Benson’s very own -- Danny’s Bar & Grill.

Danny’s is tucked away behind a strip mall off of 2007 North 72nd Street in Omaha, Neb. When you walk in you’re greeted with a feeling that you’re in a relative’s basement with the eclectic sports memorabilia scattered throughout. The room in the back, which went through a remodel a couple years back, is decked out with paneling. The backroom is not for the faint of heart; since, it is lined with a couple stuffed animals. Televisions are also mounted in every corner for sports enthusiasts. Most importantly, beware they embrace Packer fans. 

I’ve yet to come across a turkey burger quite like the one Danny has created. It is Danny’s own special recipe. It is off the chart with taste and unlike some of the hoity-toity burger joints in town it doesn’t need caramelized onions or guacamole to make it melt in your mouth. Talking to the owner, we think the breadcrumbs he uses for his homemade recipe might be the burger’s secret weapon. Before we moved to Elkhorn, we would meet my in-laws at Danny’s almost every Sunday for lunch. I miss those days and have longed to find another burger place closer to home. But I digress about my food affair with Danny’s turkey burger.

While commiserating with a group of friends after a night of sand volleyball we decided to start a dinner club. At our first gathering (which I’ll share in the weeks ahead) it was unveiled to us the inspiration behind our club. One of our buddies told us that he could remember his mom belonging to a supper club while growing up. For years they’d meet at area restaurants; however, now with most of the members in their 80s they take turns hosting it at each other’s houses. He recollects they’ve been dining together for more than 25 years.

Other dinner type clubs are available. My husband has a friend at work whose friends host a shrimp boil quarterly. They have a set of rules, which is enforced by ridiculing those that forget. First rule is the shrimp must be in the shell; second rule -- no plates -- just throw down some newspaper and dig in. Their clubs’ concept is to eat with your hands (no utensils) and easy clean up -- it all goes in the trash.

Anyone can start a dinner club themselves. The goal of our club is simple camaraderie, food and libation. So, look in the coming months for reviews on metro area restaurants from pop-we dinner club members. In the meantime, here are some tips on how you can start your very own dinner club with friends or family courtesy of our pop-we dinner club co-founder Rick.

Time will only tell if we will find a turkey burger that will surpass Danny’s closer to home. Until then, join us for our reviews from pop-we dinner club: good food…good friends…good times.

Guidelines for Starting Your Own Dinner Club:

1.      Try to attend the dinners.  If you miss three in a row you may be replaced.  If you really can't make it, that's okay (weddings, funerals, sickness, work, etc.) but we want people that look forward to going.  If only one of you can attend that's fine.

2.      If you want to drop out -- that's fine but please try not to quit when it's you or your spouses/significant others month to decide on the restaurant.  Give as much notice as you can so if someone else would like to go. 

3.      If someone cannot attend on a particular month, let the person responsible for the dinner plans know ASAP and they will have first chance to invite someone else to fill the spot.                                           
4.      Figure the dinners at $20-$25 per person -- tops.  Can be less but if it will be more, you may want to send out an e-mail and ask everyone first.  (Please make sure everyone has your e-mail address)  
5.      Six couples at least for starters. 

6.      Each person will be drawn to select a place. 12 people - 12 months - 12 different places.    
7.      Any restaurant is fine.  The goal is for this to be an opportunity to experience a restaurant that you may normally not have gone to or that you think others may not know about.  But if you want to pick Sizzler or Famous Dave's, that fine too.  It's your month. 
8.      There is no maximum distance other than keep it reasonable.  If you think it might be too far, it might be a good idea to send an e-mail and check with the rest of the dinner club participants first.     

9.      I would like to encourage everyone to write a brief review of the experience and share it with the others.  Be honest.

 If it's your month...
1.      As soon as you have a place in mind, call and ask them a few questions.  Do they accept reservations?  Will they do separate checks?  Will the tip be included on the check?  Can they sit 12 together?   (This should be done at least two weeks ahead of time)     
2.      E-mail everyone and let them know the date, time and place and ask if there are any concerns.  If you can, include a link of the menu.  (This should be done one to two weeks ahead)  RSVP's should be sent back ASAP.                                                                                                                                               
3.      The night of the dinner, please try and arrive about 15 minutes early to get everything in order with the restaurant before everyone else arrives.
Danny's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown

Saturday, January 1, 2011

'population-we' Launches with First Kudos Recipients

Happy New Year and welcome to the first-ever population-we blog post! 

We're glad you have started 2011 off with us; whether, you have just stumbled across our blog or if you are family and friends offering support. Again, welcome to our virtual door step.

Reflecting back on 2010, we know there are other people out there like us. You know who you are -- those who put others before themselves. I'm married to one. I'll talk about that in a later post.

We see you:
  • letting others in front of you in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to work;
  • grabbing grocery carts and doors for elderly people at the store; 
  • chipping in change near the cash register at the gas station; and 
  • kids who donate their gifts to underprivileged children during the holidays.
Selfless everyday acts that may not make the headlines but is what this blog [movement] is all about. We want to bring the old ideals back. So, join us in launching “population-we: It's not about me but about us and we.” We know others like my husband and I exist.

This blogger believes that we witnessed the truest testament of the human spirit last year. The most watched online event that ripped through the 2010 headlines is that of the Chilean Miners. 
Observing each person being rescued made everyone feel something again. Nations from across the world offered assistance to the Chilean government for the miner's rescue.

Those 33 men (shown above) who pitched in as a collective and survived those two months underground are a true example of “population-we” mentality. Turning a tragedy into a triumph as well as bringing the world together for those days was remarkable. Even after the men surfaced they all chose to stay together like the “Friends” cast from the 90s and only take deals as a group.

Bravo to our first population-we kudos recipients -- the Chilean Miners! The population-we blog salutes you for your “pop-we” attitude.
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown