Democracy is not a
spectator sport


Ask Mayor and Council to support revised Vacant Prop. Ord on Tues. Nov 17

September 25th, 2015

Gloria AusterberryContact your City Council member to let them know you support the  revised proposed Vacant Property Registration Ordinance at the November 17 City Council Meeting. The ordinance requires certain property owners to register their vacant and abandoned properties.

Join OTOC leaders that day to show support.  To see the contact info for your City Council member and Mayor and OTOC issue briefings,  click on links below:

City Council and Mayor Contact Info

OTOC Briefing on Vacant Property Ordinance

OTOC Testimony for Oct 6 City Council hearing

OTOC Housing Paper for Aug 13 2013

The revised ordinance does NOT require financial institutions holding mortgages to register unless the institution has re-gained full title to the property through foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This means that some financial institutions will continue to hold “Zombie Mortgages” where they refuse to foreclose because they don’t want the property back.

On Tuesday, OTOC leaders will call on the Nebraska Bankers Association to assure our community that none of their members engage in Zombie Mortgages, as they asserted at the Oct 6 City Council meeting. OTOC leaders are investigating other means to assure that national and international banks are not allowed to delay on foreclosure indefinitely, while the abandoned property deteriorates and is a blight to all neighbors.Read More . . .

40 OTOC and community leaders meet to improve behavioral health care

September 21st, 2015
Meeting wth Christine Johnson

OTOC Chair Sarita Penka asks a question of Christine Johnson.

Over 40 OTOC and Community leaders met with Christine Johnson of the Behavioral Health Foundation on October 29. The lively meeting gave Christine the opportunity to report on the work of 9 Committees of behavioral health professionals who are examining how to “fill the gaps” in 9 different areas that were identified in a comprehensive report. OTOC and community leaders asked Ms. Johnson many questions and shared their stories about their experience of these gaps.

Leaders of organizations serving refugees shared stories of the many challenges that refugees face when they move to Omaha and develop mental health issues. These leaders indicated they would like to work with existing providers to develop more alternatives for people who don’t speak English to receive quality behavioral health care.Read More . . .

OTOC with First UMC and others gathered for inspiring Prayer for the Planet Sat Sept 19

September 20th, 2015
large group with church in background

150 People from many faith traditions participated in “Prayers for the Planet” to pray and organize for more sustainable climate

Muslims, and Catholics and Unitarians, Oh, my. Those faiths, and United Methodists, UCCs, Buddhists, Lutherans, Jewish, some with no faith tradition, and more came together on a beautiful fall Saturday morning to “Pray for the Planet,” an interfaith service.

Clergy, women religious and lay people read prayers and positions that their denominations and religions have taken to express the need for action to care for the world’s environment. Many leaders mentioned Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on climate change and poverty, Laudato Si’.


Fr. Vitalis

Rev. Frank Rivas, Sr. Celeste Wobeter, ND, and Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ listen while Fr. Vitalis Anyanike, of Holy Name Catholic quoted Pope Francis and told of the growing deserts he has seen when he flies into East Africa


The front lawn of First United Methodist Church served as a grounding place for people of all faith traditions, to gather, connect, and pray for the upcoming Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December. (COP21/CMP11). You can read more at

Read More . . .

OTOC leaders discuss mental health issues with Sen Bob Krist

September 10th, 2015
Sen Krist close up

Sen Bob Krist of Dt. 10 met with with OTOC leaders to discuss how to improve mental health care in Nebraska, especially for those in the criminal justice system

A dozen leaders of the OTOC Mental Health Action Team met on Tuesday, September 8 with Senator Bob Krist (Dt. 10—North Central Omaha) to discuss their concerns about the mental health systems in Nebraska and especially about the behavioral health care available to persons who are incarcerated in our jails or prisons.

Sen. Krist has been a key voice in the Unicameral for prison reform and has sponsored or supported several bills in the last Session which mandated improved treatment of prisoners in jails. OTOC leaders traveled to Lincoln on several occasions to testify in support of several of those bills including LB 10 (suspended rather than terminated the Medicaid eligibility of person in prison), LB 598 (mandates better assessment and support for incarcerated persons while in prison and support upon release) and for restoration of funds to Region 6 Behavior Health Center that were cut in anticipation of Nebraska expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.Read More . . .

OTOC leaders learn how to hold a “listening campaign” at their organization

September 1st, 2015
Kevin Graham and documents

Kevin Graham shared agendas, leaders guides and other documents to help leaders prepare for their listening session

House Meeting

Leaders participated in a small group meeting role play to see how to conduct the meeting









Nearly 40 OTOC leaders participated in a training session on Monday, September 14 to learn how to organize an  OTOC “Listening Campaign” at their institution. OTOC leaders Carol Beaty and Kevin Graham organized and led the session that was attended by leaders from 16 congregations and community organizations that have committed to move to hold a “listening session” sometime before November 6

large group foto

Carol Beaty helped leaders think about how they will organize to have a good turnout from their congregation or community organization

OTOC member organizations are being asked to hold at least one large group meeting anytime from September 15 to November 6 with members of their congregation or organization to listen to stories and experiences of their members.

This process of listening to the ‘pressures on our families’ is the fundamental way that OTOC leaders identify issues of common concern which become the basis for organizing Action Teams. OTOC is asking each member institution to have at least two representatives at this training session to help you organize the listening campaign.


OTOC to Co-host Prayerful Gathering for the Planet on Sat Sept 19

August 26th, 2015

Gathering for the planetOmaha Together One Community (OTOC) along with First United Methodist Church and other partners will hold a “Gathering for the Planet” on Saturday, September 19 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on the front lawn of First United Methodist Church (7020 Cass St.) You may wish to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.

The morning is organized in response to and in celebration of Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Laudato Sí and in support of a world-wide response to the UN Climate Conference in December. The morning will feature education about climate change, the moving music of McCarthy Trenching and “Prayers for the Planet”, where local clergy and faith leaders will share the key teachings of their faith regarding Care for the Earth. This gathering will happen, rain or shine so come join us.

To download a flyer, click on the link below:

Gathering for the Planet

Sustainable Energy Team active on many fronts: OPPD, Unicameral and Climate Change

August 26th, 2015
With Director McGuire on Left and cropped

OPPD Board President Anne McGuire (far left) along with three OPPD senior staff met with seven members of the OTOC Sustainable Energy Action team on August 19

Leaders of the OTOC Sustainable Energy Action Team recently met with OPPD Board President Anne McGuire and three members of the OPPD senior staff to discuss  several topics of interest to OTOC. The group discussed OPPD’s progress toward implementing their 2014 plan which will result in OPPD generating 33% of their electricity from sustainable sources such as wind or solar by 2017.

The OTOC leaders also discussed OPPD’s rate structure, the Green Fund, increased use of electric vehicles and the impact of recent EPA regulations about green house gases on OPPD and the State of Nebraska. The frank and lively discussion was informative and OTOC leaders indicated their willingness to help OPPD inform households in our member institutions about how they  can help reduce the electric peak load on hot summer days by signing up for OPPD’s   “Cool Smart” program which allows OPPD to regulate your central AC system in 15 minute intervals during a maximum of 12 days each year.

Alan Vovolka of First Unitarian organized the meeting that was attended by seven OTOC leaders. Contact Alan  at if you want to know more about OTOC’s work to assure that our publicly owned electric  utility embraces practices that produce energy which is affordable, reliable and from sources that are environmentally sustainable.

Read More . . .

Omaha area leaders attend regional leadership training

August 26th, 2015

Cycle of organizing with OTOC leaders

OTOC and our Institute for Public Leadership (IPL) worked with our Iowa-based sister organization, AMOS IPL, to organize and conduct a three-day leadership training program in Des Moines on August 2-4. Thirteen people from Omaha

Sr Rosalie and Vicki Pratt

and 30 from Iowa attended the training to help them better understand the conceptual framework and fundamental practices of community organizing during three days of engaging training sessions, meeting new people and sharing stories about their work for the common good in their own communities.

OTOC is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation.  Leaders who are part of OTOC member institutions are welcome to go to regional and national training programs like the training in Des Moines.Read More . . .

Forty people attended final OTOC leader training and over 90 attended sometime during Summer Training series

August 7th, 2015

OTOC leaders evaluate the summer training series and plan next steps for immigration action team

Forty people attended OTOC’s final summer leadership training session on  Monday, August 10 at Augustana Lutheran.  The training session was led by IPL and OTOC organizer Joe Higgs and several OTOC leaders including Carol Beaty, Kevin Graham, Gloria Austerberry and Karen McElroy. The session focused on:

Developing a Core Team of Leaders: How you identify and develop a team of leaders in your own church or organization so you can work with them for the common good. Read More . . .

OTOC Housing leaders testify for nearly $1 Million in demolition funds and a new housing inspector

July 28th, 2015

Susan Kuhlman at podiumOTOC leaders attended the City Council’s annual budget hearing at on August 11 at  the City Council chambers.

Four OTOC speakers supported:

  • $957,000 in city and federal funding for demolition of dangerous buildings—the 3rd year in a row since OTOC first won this increase for 2014.
  • add a housing code inspector position and assure that all housing code inspectors have the training they need to be certified inspectors under the Uniform Housing Maintenance Code;
  • City Council create a Vacant Property Registry to require to register vacant houses as a means to encourage owners to do something with their vacant property before it slowly deteriorates and has to be demolished.

From KVNO News

…The Council recessed for several hours, meeting again at 7pm to hear from the public concerning the Mayor’s proposed 2016 budget.Read More . . .

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