SONA: Winter 2018 | Volume 1 | Issue 1

The South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance is dedicated to enhancing South Omaha neighborhoods through communication, collaboration, empowerment and promoting positive perceptions.

Join us for our monthly meeting the first Thursday of every month, except January and July. For more information, contact

welcome to sona news & views!

In partnership with the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance and City of Omaha Departments, ONE has developed a newsletter with information relevant to South Omaha neighborhoods. We hope neighborhood leaders will find the SONA newsletter to be a useful tool for your community. In hopes it can help create connections between you and your neighbors, we request that you forward the newsletter to your contact lists.

Our goal is to increase the flow of communication between South Omaha residents and we want to publish stories that are important and relevant to you, so please feel encouraged to submit stories, ideas, and events for future SONA newsletters. For more information, to submit content, or to update your contact information, please feel free to contact Michael Van Sant at or at 402.378.4032.

from vision to reality

Jeff Spiehs | President, South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance | January 31, 2018

I’ve heard many times from a wide spectrum of leaders in Omaha say something to the effect of “our most precious asset in Omaha is our neighborhoods.” I’d say I agree in the abstract, but neighborhoods are strong because they are made up of people who are working to ensure that their communities stay strong and vibrant. Neighborhood leaders are busy folks who are often balancing their professional and personal life with their community interests.

When I look around the room at a SONA meeting I see a dynamic mix of leaders in the South Omaha community.  Long before I came to a SONA meeting, a culture was formed to continually develop new leaders and empower them to move the alliance ahead, facilitate the building of coalitions to speak as a unified voice to advocate for the interests of the people.

Perhaps SONA is an outlier in that it has been able to (at times) achieve a balance of emerging leaders with leaders who have a long history of community activism that younger leaders can learn beside. But most of what I see throughout Omaha is that we are heading to a burnout of the neighborhood leaders who have been standing strong for Omaha neighborhoods. The need is  urgent to develop new leaders and the next wave of neighborhood advocates.

At the 2016 IN the neighborhood conference a district visioning workshop occurred. I was able to participate in the workshop for South Omaha. Many themes came up around public safety, public transportation, infrastructure improvement and so on. Throughout 2017 our SONA meetings were centered around those themes that were shared at the neighborhood conference. Being able to provide context for our alliance meetings around those themes helped orientate our vision, frame up funding opportunities for SONA,  encourage the neighborhood leaders and be a conduit for conversations between community leaders and projects occurring in our city.

As I reflect on 2017 I can see the value of going through the visioning workshop. It led to better decision making on funding neighborhood projects, outcomes to be held accountable to, and a commitment to identifying new leaders that can add to the vibrancy of our neighborhoods. The vision from the workshop is never fully achieved to reality, but it sets the direction for the alliance. I am looking forward to what 2018 will bring to SONA that provides even greater clarity of the vision. I guess we’ll know it when we see it in the increase in the number of people who continue to be motivated to make their place better for all.

council corner

Vinny Palermo | Omaha City Councilmen, District 4 | February 22, 2018

I wore through several pairs of shoes when I was out knocking on doors during my campaign to represent South Omaha on the City Council. Walking the neighborhoods was the most effective way of hearing from residents. Some areas were certainly more easy to walk than others. The conditions of our sidewalks vary from street to street.

As an able bodied adult, I was able to traverse without much effort. It made me think about those who may be elderly or have a disability. How can we make our streets and sidewalks safer for everyone. In my district, somewhere between 10 and 15% of households do not have a vehicle. So they are either walking everywhere, carpooling or taking the bus.

In the SONA boundaries there are two projects underway that have an objective to make sure that our streets and neighborhoods are safe for everyone. South 24th Street and South 13th Street are both under study to look at improvements to make the streets accessible for all and promote local economic activity. We need your voice and ideas for these projects so they can be replicated throughout South Omaha.

South Omaha has several vibrant neighborhoods. I look forward to working proactively with neighbors and organizations like SONA to make stronger connections between the neighborhoods so that we can maintain a high quality of life for everyone!

community crowdfunding in Omaha

People from across the city, young and old, learned how to raise money for their next neighborhood initiative with ioby, Omaha’s newest crowdfunding platform.

ioby believes it should be easy to make meaningful change “in our backyard”, the positive opposite of NIMBY. Through providing an affordable online fundraising platform paired with customized one-on-one fundraising coaching, ioby helps resident leaders fund projects that make their neighborhoods safer, greener, more livable and more fun.

And now, when you crowdfund a project that improves your Omaha neighborhood, donations to your campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $2000, through a ONE Omaha’s partnership with ioby. To be eligible for match funding, three representatives of your group must have attended a ONE Omaha Neighborhood Leadership Academy and/or LEAD meeting. To get started, visit

hi, neighbor!

Jim Thompson | The Leavenworth Exchange | January 2018

It sounds a little awkward to say this out loud. I could easily raise my left hand, with a slightly bent elbow, a simple flick of the wrist, utter these two simple words. Can you picture it?

“Hi neighbor”.
It’s a little bit awkward.
“Hi, how are ya?”
“How y’all doin’?”
“What’s new?”

These flow somewhat easier off my tongue. There are a lot of other face-to-face utterances I hear from day-to-day. When one takes a brief moment to think about it, these add up to be a time tested definition of the word NEIGHBORHOOD.

Sometimes we take a lot for granted. We can take ourselves for granted a lot too. A neighborhood is the one place in our lives that will always be with us. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know such a lifelong partner just a little bit better? This neighborhood, my next neighborhood? They are all places that become a solid part of our very existence. I really cannot live without my neighborhood.

John Prine, musician and songwriter, has told me a number of times:

“Ya know, that old tress they just grower stronger
And old rivers grow wilder everyday
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say
Hello in there

He has told me that I have to appreciate you a little bit more. I’ve been slipping a little bit. If I start out with a “howarya”, I may even jump quickly to the “whatsnew”. I may finally discover that recognizing you will bind my neighborhood. Bind it. What a simple thing to accomplish with one simple word. Two simple words. We can get to three and easily (without blinking an eye) feel the thread of our existence grow stronger.

I think it is very important to put such a small amount of energy into such a large benefit.

southeast precinct advisory council | February 22, 2018

The Omaha Police Department established the Precinct Advisory Councils (PAC) to solve problems in neighborhoods that relate to public safety and/or quality of life issues. Members of PAC work closely with the command of the Omaha Police Department to foster positive relations, addressing matters of public safety and communication. Members from OPD uniform command are in attendance to discuss the latest crime trends affecting their neighborhoods and members of the PAC also share matters of concern in their respective neighborhoods.

Meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 6:30pm at the Southeast Precinct, 2475 Deer Park Boulevard.

2018 spring cleanup | April 14, April 21, April 28, May 5, May 12, and May 19

The Omaha Spring (OSC) is a joint effort between the City of Omaha, Keep Omaha Beautiful and participating neighborhood associations. This free event provides Omaha residents with the opportunity to recycle or dispose of large/bulky items that are not accepted through curbside trash and recycling services (such as old furniture, appliances, tires, and mattresses.

how can I slow down traffic on my street? | January 25, 2018

save the dates

June 7, 2018 | South Omaha Banquet |

May 12, 2018 | Spring Clean Up |

May 19, 2018 | Spring Clean Up |

neighborhood associations meeting schedules

If you would like your South Omaha neighborhood associations meeting listed, please contact Michael Van Sant at

Aksarben/Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association

3rd Thursday of January, March, May, July, September and November | 6:30-8:30pm | St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church (1725 South 60th Street)

Beals Neighborhood Association

Held quarterly | Hanscom Park United Methodist Church (4444 Francis Street)

Columbus Park Neighborhood Association

3rd Thursday of the month | 7-8pm | Columbus Park Community Center (1515 South 24th Street)

Dahlman Neighborhood Association

1st Wednesday of the month | 7-8pm | St. Francis Cabrini Parish Center (1248 South 10th Street)

The South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance is dedicated to enhancing South Omaha neighborhoods through communication, collaboration, empowerment and promoting positive perceptions.

Join us for our monthly meeting the first Thursday of every month, except January and July. For more information, contact


monz (moment of neighborhood zen)

This moment of neighborhood zen is brought to you by Tim Potter from the Aksarben/Elmwood neighborhood. Got a moment of neighborhood zen you’d like to share? Email it to

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Neighborhood News

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