engagement & community involvement


We envision a diverse community of individuals actively engaged and involved in advancing common goals by:

  • Proposing creative new strategies and solutions
  • Working with key decision makers on programs and policies
  • Holding decision makers accountable
  • Voting
  • Activating their personal and professional networks
  • Collaborating with groups and individuals throughout the city and across disciplines

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equal opportunity & social mobility


We envision an Omaha where ALL people have equal access and opportunity. Omaha must break down its segregation, strive towards equality in education for all ages, and develop efficient public transportation that directly addresses existing and future needs. VOICE will promote efforts resulting in equal pay, employment and legal treatment for those facing discrimination.

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We envision Omaha as a city that upholds sustainable practices and behaviors as a minimum standard. VOICE believes environmental impact must be minimized in all public initiatives, and supports innovations that protect and enhance our natural environment. We will pursue socially just environmental policy where decision makers are held accountable and all citizens have the opportunity to support environmental progress.

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We envision a transparent and accessible decision-making process in all public matters to ensure a healthy democracy and vibrant community. VOICE will initiate and promote efforts that grant community members open access to information, and facilitate openness, engagement, accountability, and access.

This includes:

  • Free and easy access to information, meetings and discussions by public officials and community leaders.
  • Full disclosure of budgets, financial statements, and conflicts of interest
  • A clear and active process for gathering and incorporating public input on major community decisions.
  • In doing so, we will reduce the likelihood of corruption, conflicts of interest, and poor governance and increase public ownership and involvement in our community.

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advocacy for arts and culture


We envision a city that acknowledges the transformative role artists and art play in defining and redefining American cities. Artists and art should occupy a central place in the future of Omaha. VOICE advocates leveraging Omaha citizens’ investments in creativity and artists to bring about unforeseen models and ecstatic possibilities for this city.

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smart urban development


We envision an Omaha that respects existing neighborhoods by focusing growth towards its established core, values walkable mixed-used development, and rewards environmentally responsible building practices. Omaha benefits most from organic and authentic local development that promotes socio-economic and cultural diversity and places a high value on design quality.

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The steering committee of VOICE Omaha released the following statement in response to Attorney General Jon Bruning’s May 3rd Opinion related to Omaha’s amendment to its non-discrimination ordinance. John Bruning’s non-binding legal opinion regarding Omaha’s amendment to its nondiscrimination ordinance is pure political pretext.

Mr. Bruning is using his political position and legally unsound non-binding opinion to gain favor with the extreme right-wing of voters during primary season. Mr. Bruning’s opinion lacks the kind of critical thought and advanced jurisprudence that we would expect from our State’s attorney general.

Furthermore, Senator Beau McCoy, whose recently-failed bill to forbid Omaha to pass its own nondiscrimination ordinances without statewide approval, seems to be searching for any opportunity to prevent the protection of Nebraska’s LGBT community.

We believe that there have been differences between state and municipality non-discrimination ordinances for decades, which beg the question: why are Mr. McCoy and Mr. Bruning only interested as of late?

As the political campaign proceeds, we encourage Mr. Bruning to focus on his record and his vision for Nebraska.

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Thursday, April 19th, 2012

This engaging discussion will be led by UNO’s Dr. John Bartle with a response by State Senator Abbie Cornett, Chairperson of the Unicameral’s Revenue Committee. The event is only $5 and covers the cost of appetizers and beverages.

An inside look at how our tax dollars are divided among the rich, middle class, and poor; and learn how the Omaha tax burden compares to others in the region and nation.

Wednesday April 25
4:00 – 6:00pm
Hot Shops Art Center
1301 Nicholas Street

How Our Tax Dollars Are Divided

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Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Download this 8×11 poster

Put it somewhere, anywhere to encourage those near you to vote. 

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Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Our friends over at Modeshift Omaha have stepped up the discussions about transportation options in Omaha.  We strongly encourage everyone who has interest in transportation should sign up and join the conversation.  Here is their email from today to get you familiar.

Notes from our last meeting are here. Our next meeting is Tuesday, April 10 at UNO CPACS room 208. Directions are here. We’ll start a bit later at 6:45pm(so some folks can go to the Omaha Bikes meeting starting at 5:30pm at the Aksarben Godfathers).  We’d love for you to join us in helping to finalize plans for our strategic planning session on April 15 and Heyday on May Day on May 1.

If you can’t make it to the strategic planning session on April 15 (10am-4pm at UNO CPACS 109a), please let us know your vision for transportation in Omaha and what you’d like to see Mode Shift Omaha do to help bring about this vision. You can either comment on this blog post or respond to this email.

Join us for these upcoming events:

·         April 10–Mode Shift Omaha Meeting6:45pm, UNO CPACS room 208

·         April 15–Mode Shift Omaha Strategic Planning, 10am-4pm, UNO CPACS room 109a

·         April 24–Mode Shift Omaha Meeting, 6:30pm, UNO CPACS room 208

·         April 27– Transportation Coffee Chat: Regional Perspectives, 8am, Scoooter’s Coffee on 16th & Dodge (north side of Dodge inside First National building)

·         May 1Heyday on May Day Transportation Alternatives Celebration/Street Party, 5-9pm, 25 & Harney (see more info below)!!

·         All of Maywatch for events associated with National Bike Month in May.

Finally, some policy and legislative updates and action items:

  • Check out our blog post regarding assumptions about automobile accessibilty related to polling site closures.
  • The new pedicab ordinance we’ve been working on with the Omaha YPs, Omaha Bikes, the Omaha Police Department and others had its first reading at the City Council meeting on Apr. 3. The public hearing for the ordinance will take place at the City Council meeting on Apr 17. Please attend the meeting to express your support and/or email your City Council representative.
  • A proposal will go before the Omaha City Council to make sections of 19th and 20th Streets north of downtown into two-way roads that could lead to slower driving and economic development. Contract your City Council Representative to express your support.
  • The Transportation Master Plan is scheduled to go to the City Planning Board sometime in mid-April and then to the City Council in May. Stay tuned for ways you can add your support to the plan, which includes policies for complete streets and multi-modes of transportation.
  • LB1030, which would require drivers to leave a minimum distance of 3 feet when passing a pedestrian, bicycle or electric assistive mobility device traveling in the same direction on a roadway passed today in the state legislature! The law now goes to the Governor.
  • The Nebraska Department of Roads is seeking comments on its long-range transportation plan update until May 11. Please read it and add your comments.
  • And don’t forget about the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Trail planning study open house—comments are being accepted until April 16.


Join Us for Heyday on May Day!

It’s a transportation celebration on May 1, 5-9pm, 25 & Harney!

Omaha is about to (we hope and expect) adopt an updated Transportation Master Plan for our fine city, and we’re throwing a party to celebrate our past accomplishments and look to the future with hope for many more.

So here’s the deal: we’re working with the City to shut down the north two lanes of Harney Street between 26th and 24th Ave. to showcase how wonderful an active, walkable, bikeable, liveable street could be! Priority 1 on the master plan is to convert Harney Street, from Midtwown to the Old Market, into a multi-modal corridor friendly for biking and walking. The ‘Market to Midtown Connector’ is sure to be a wonderful addition to Omaha. At the Heyday, we’ll help you visualize what that could mean to you.

Please join us, ideally by bicycle, bus, shuttle (from Midtown Crossing), foot, or carpool for too much fun to list on one page.  There will be group bike rides organizing from around the city.

We’re still in the planning stages but some of the fun, once you get there, will be in the form of the following:

*6pm: Transportation Master Plan discussion/community feedback

*5-9pm: *music *food trucks *Trugs *bicycle racing/riding *sidewalk chalking *all sorts of art *tree-lined street-scaping/beautification project *bike shops and clubs with information *filming and photographing the fun *open house of the area *yoga *hoola hooping *roller skating *skate boarding *Omaha by Design place games  *anything that you can think of that involves fun outside.

Follow updates about the event on Facebook.

As you can see, there’s an action-packed, fun evening in Omaha’s future. You should be there; after all, it is your city.

Questions: email us at Let us know too if you can help with planning or helping out at the event. If your organization would like to participate, you’re welcome!

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

LB 239 – legislation that would have required the presentation of government-issed photographic identification to vote in elections – was officially killed last week. Thanks to all of you who contacted your state representative and stood up for the democratic rights of all Nebraskans, particularly our most vulnerable populations. Nebraska is only one of a handful of states that have successfully defeated voter ID!
The next battle for voting rights is ensuring all citizens have reasonable access to polling places. Please continue to stay tuned as together we work to ensure everyone has the opportunity to vote in the upcoming primary and general elections…

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Your Voice Was Heard: A People’s Victory At City Hall

Roughly 90 minutes into deliberation over Ben Gray’s Equal Employment Ordinance, it felt as though the collective hearts of many Omahans were paralyzed. It still wasn’t’ clear how the vote would turn out. And then roll call. The key vote, much like in 2010, was hanging on Garry Gernandt. Back then, he said no. He didn’t have enough information. This year…he voted yes.

In doing so, he joined Ben Gray, Chris Jerram and Pete Festersen in being on the right side of history. He joined them in standing up for what is right. He joined them in taking Omaha one step closer to being the world-class city that it deserves to be, that it aspires to be, that it can be. Our community has taken a meaningful step to stand up against intolerance.

Yesterday was a huge day for Omaha and a big day for you: the over 1,600 people that make up VOICE Omaha. Yet it wasn’t our victory alone; we couldn’t be more pleased to have been involved in the Equal Omaha Coalition. Several months ago, a discussion about LGBT workplace equality started amongst a small group of people and eventually grew into the Equal Omaha Coalition. Individuals, organizations, and businesses pooled our collective resources to make this happen.

Our collective formula for success, which was touched on in Equal Omaha’s statement following the 4–3 vote yesterday, is very simple: illuminate the need, identify and back-up the solution with facts, and coalesce support. (Rinse and Repeat.)

One thing that became very clear through much of the Equal Employment Ordinance debate was that the opposition did not have the people of Omaha on their side nor the facts to support their case. We did. And despite some late-in-the-game politics, the people won out. That’s how it’s supposed to work. A movement of the people, coupled with some good, hard facts, won out. Not politics. Democracy at its best.

There are many challenging issues in front of us, but today is a day to celebrate the important milestone that Omaha achieved yesterday thanks to the collective and tireless work of so many political and civic leaders, dedicated organizations, and everyday people. We’ll let you know* when it’s time to get started on the next community-altering project. Bask in the success, Omaha. You deserve it.

Viva VOICE! Viva a more realized Equal Omaha!

*Please become a “member” of VOICE. It doesn’t cost a dime. The larger the numbers, the stronger we are. Sign up. Stay in touch. Stay involved.



Monday, March 12th, 2012

Through our partnership with the Equal Omaha Coalition, we recently solicited the assistance of Greensberg Quinlan Rosner Research to gain a more precise picture of what Omahans are thinking with regard to the Equal Employment Ordinance.

The survey of 1,003 registered voters in Omaha shows overwhelming support for a local ordinance protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment.  This support remains strong in both the Fourth (Gernandt) and Sixth (Thompson) Council districts.  Moreover, by an even more convincing margin, voters argue that this protection should be extended to ALL employees, rather than to only public employees who work for the city.


The main findings are as follows:

- By better than a 2:1 margin (60 percent favor, 25 percent oppose), Omaha voters support the ordinance.
- Moreover, 43 percent strongly support this measure, just 19 percent strongly oppose.
- Support is even broader in the Fourth Council District (68 percent favor; 47 percent strongly favor).
- The Sixth District reflects the city as a whole (61 percent favor, 29 percent oppose).

Pretty compelling, don’t you think? Let’s hope Mr. Gernandt, Mr. Thompson and the rest of the City Council are paying attention to what all Omahans are saying. On that note, if you haven’t dropped a quick email to the three swing voters to show your support, please do so. Every little bit makes a difference. Click below for direct links to email forms via

Garry Gernandt

Franklin Thompson

Thomas Mulligan

See you at the City Council meeting for the vote on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 2pm in City Hall.

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Saturday, February 25th, 2012

It’s crunch time for equality in Omaha.

Through our collaboration with the Equal Omaha Coalition, much progress has been made, but we’re not done yet and need your help to make sure the City Council votes to pass the Equal Employment Ordinance on March 13, 2012. You all have two immediate action items before we go any further: 1) “like” Equal Omaha on Facebook (it’s the best way to stay in the loop as the next few weeks unfold), and 2) contact the City Council.

Here’s the skinny on what’s happened, what’s next and where you’re needed:


The timetable for the EEO has been set (all 2pm City Council meetings):
- 2/28: introduction
- 3/6: public hearing (be there!)
- 3/13: final vote

On Tuesday, 2/14, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to oppose workplace discrimination. It’s a great first step but doesn’t go far enough.

On Sunday, 2/19, the Omaha World Herald expressed its support for the EEO. Seriously. Kudos to the OWH!

Over 100 businesses and organizations support the EEO. If your business supports equality in the workplace, send us a note via the Equal Omaha Coalition and we’ll get you added to the list.

UNMC’s College of Public Health released an addendum to their 2011 Midlands LGBT Needs Assessment. If you read the addendum and still think LGBT discrimination is not a problem, your head is in the sand. Period.

A group of pretty cool musicians issued a statement supporting the EEO on 1/23.

Contact the City Council. This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure the EEO passes. No joking. Get it done. The sooner the better. Do it. Now. And remember, be respectful; you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Attend the City Council Meetings. Yes, we know there are three so if you can only get to one, make it the public hearing on 3/6. Let’s pack City Hall!

If you have been or know someone who has been discriminated against, please share your story (anonymity is allowed). These personal accounts, which will be shared with the City Council, are a powerful way to show the EEO is absolutely needed.

Sign the petition supporting the Ordinance.

And finally, consider attending one of the rallies supporting the EEO. They are all detailed below.


March 3 from 11am – 2pm: Rally for Workplace Equality
Come to the Memorial Park Bridge to show your support for the EEO. Time to be respectful and visible.

March 5 @ 7pm: Rally for Equality
On the eve of the public hearing, come to First United Methodist Church for a pep rally, of sorts.
And finally, check out this great video of Councilmember Ben Gray talking about why the Equal Employment Ordinance is so important.

It’s time to get this done, folks. It’s time.

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The Equal Employment Ordinance hasn’t formally been introduced yet and crazy stories are already circulating. Will your business need to install a transgender bathroom? Will frivolous lawsuits go through the roof?  Is such an ordinance unheard of and untested in other communities? The answers: No. No. No. The Equal Omaha Coalition created this great, one-page list of FAQs for you to share far and wide to debunk all these crazy myths.

Please feel free to share it far and wide. Let’s shut down the rumor mill right away.

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Equal Opportunity & Social Mobility, News

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Equal Employment Preview

You can watch the full video here.

Please learn the facts about the upcoming introduction of the Equal Employment Ordinance.

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