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August Coffee Chat — Outlook Nebraska, Inc.

23 Aug

For our August 19 Coffee Chat at No More Empty Cups, we were joined in conversation by Lisa Kelly, Enrichment Programs Director,  and Doug Wampler, Program Facilitator, from Outlook Nebraska, Inc. ONI is a non-profit with a staff of 74, 46 of whom are legally blind, that pursues a mission “to positively impact everyone who is blind or visually impaired” primarily by providing employment. Other programs include “social activities, education, technology and adaptive aids training, and health and wellness programs” designed to serve and integrate the blind and visually impaired into the larger community.

Doug Wampler and his service dog, and Lisa Kelly from Outlook Nebraska, Inc.

Doug Wampler and his service dog, and Lisa Kelly from Outlook Nebraska, Inc.

To achieve their employment mission, ONI has built a manufacturing business that creates 100% recycled content toilet paper and paper towels that are sold to government and institutions. Thanks to the Wagner-O’Day Act of 1938, the Federal government is required to purchase products manufactured by people who are blind, when possible. This creates a market for nonprofits that employ people who are blind. The organization maximizes employment by minimizing automation. As Kelly pointed out, “Where other manufacturers have a machine, we have a person.” Continue reading

Tips to Enjoy the Walking Commute

20 Aug

This summer marks one year of walking to work. That doesn’t mean occasionally walking to work, or even mostly walking to work. I’m talking about walking to work, every single day, rain or shine. I’m like a postal carrier, only I’m not weighed down with junk mail.

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I did not plan on this, or make any kind of resolution. I had already been walking most days, driving only when I ran late or when it rained, or when apathy seeped in and worked its black magic. Then, last summer, it became my default. I could leave twenty minutes early to avoid a coming storm, or I could drive in it. I left early. In the winter, it was easier to put on boots than clean off my car.

Many people see these choices as daunting. It’s only after really walking regularly that one can truly experience and enjoy the practicality in it.

If you’re familiar with Mode Shift’s work, then you’re already familiar with all the reasons to leave your car at home: it saves money for you, saves money for the city, and leaves both you and your neighborhood healthier by promoting physical activity and reducing pollution. Continue reading

Omaha Needs a Transportation System Fit for a 21st Century Metropolitan City

14 Jun

Omaha Metro has two Bus Rapid Transit meetings Wednesday, June 15, 11am-1pm at the at First National Bank Winter Gardens and 4:30-6:30pm UNO Durham Science Center to give an update and to seek public input on the configuration of the BRT vehicles.BRT meeting

The mode share findings below highlight the need to move quickly with BRT, continue other Metro bus system improvements, and create more inviting walking and biking infrastructure, along with doing more to promote these non-single occupancy vehicle (SOV) modes to move people. Omaha’s increasing SOV trend is not sustainable monetarily, environmentally, and will negatively impact our quality of life with increased traffic and air pollution.

The American Community Survey* is an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. While a recent Citylab article focused on age groups and car usage across the U.S. for one year, here we highlight the trends of five modes of commuting to work in the Omaha area. Please note the boundaries and restrictions of the data include: 1) Data is from commuting to work only. Thus trips to retail, recreation, etc., are not measured in these numbers. 2) The survey only allows a person to specify one mode of commuting. Thus those who use multiple modes, and the share of each mode used, are not delineated. Continue reading