It could be Santa, Yahweh or the Universe that makes wishes come true, but I like to think it’s simply the power of the wisher. Ultimately the awesome strength of a positive self-fulfilling prophecy can make dreams, wishes and visions into reality. Oprah says “pray on it,” we say wish on it — and it’s really the same thing. We asked an exceptional bunch of Omahans to relate their own holiday wishes, whether personal or for the community. Our request yielded inspiring, thought-provoking and admirable answers. So read on, get inspired, make your own wish. In the meantime, we at The Reader wish you happy holidays, and hope all of your wishes come true. — Sarah Wengert, Managing Editor MEDIA “My wish for Omaha is that we start taking serious steps to collaboratively address the violence and disparity in North Omaha. The issues affecting North Omaha need to stop being looked at as a North Omaha thing. The crime, violence and hopelessness is not a ‘North Omaha’ issue, it is an ‘Omaha’ issue. Turning a blind eye to what takes place in North Omaha does nothing for the outward perception and forward progress of our entire city. We can start today with conversations between those who want to work together as one community towards a city united.” — Jeff Slobotski, Founder & Chief Community Builder, Silicon Prairie News “We wish Omaha Bars were open until 2 a.m. … oh, they already did that? Then we wish the Qwest would bring Men at Work to Omaha.” — Brothers Matt and Ben Tompkins, Twister 93.3 LITERARY/EDUCATION “I wish for previously un-thought ideas every day and enough time and tenacity to write them. I wish for tulips on my 32nd birthday. I wish for my family: sleepful nights decorated with Technicolor dreams. I wish for my sister: 5000 more bike rides so the wind in her face can remind her how to fly. I wish the queer citizenry of Omaha will finally secure legal protection of our right to employment; we are not a city of bigots, and it behooves no one to continue to behave as if we were. I wish [that] the clouds continue to catch in the treetops and rain their fullness upon us. I wish you peace, peace, peace and only peace.” — Katie F-S, wordsmith/slam poet “My wish for Omaha is that we continue to offer a supportive, nurturing environment for local artists, writers, musicians, comedians, designers and more. To be a well-rounded city, we must embrace the creativity within our own city limits, and celebrate the variety of culture these individuals and their works continually yield. Their progress makes Omaha a richer, more vibrant place to call home.” — Wendy Townley, author, Nerdy Thirty “[I wish] that the city’s spirit of progressiveness, embracement of diversity and its strong culture of civic engagement become a beacon for other Nebraska communities to appreciate and celebrate our common humanity.” — Lourdes Gouveia, Ph.D., Director Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) ART/DESIGN/FILM “My wish for Omaha in 2011 is that we make good decisions — valuing inclusivity, cultural vibrancy and social justice through collaboration and cooperation. We must in order to continue the wonderful progress we’ve made in the last decade.” — Rachel Jacobson, Founder/Director Film Streams “Regardless of whether any of my wishes come true, I predict 2011 will be a great year. But, a little icing on the cake would be: a closer IKEA so that I don’t have to fight blizzards to get there in the winter, that ‘Gossip Girl’ would stop sucking, a subscription to the resurrected Domino magazine, happy hour sushi most days of the week, people to write ‘sneak peek’ correctly (I cannot secretly view the top of a mountain) and that we would continue to have the opportunity to work with amazing artists and wonderful clients.” — Jessica McKay, owner Birdhouse Interior Design Consulting “I have many wishes for the physical spaces and places of Omaha in 2011; the city as we all experience it each day and interact within. I wish for even more vibrancy than all that happened in 2010. I wish for the edges of the city to be ringed with so many small farms that North, South, East and West Omaha won’t know what to do with all the food. I wish that every boarded up storefront would be lit and inhabited with innovation. I wish for an irresistible transportation option to go both north/south AND east/west to the edges of the city without a car. I wish for a complete citywide trail system. I wish for parks and streets that celebrate storm water rather than quickly whisk it away. I wish for a flood of bikes on the streets. I wish for a profound increase of trees on the streets. I wish for more performances in public spaces. I wish that by the end of 2011 every other city in the nation would look upon Omaha with awe.” — Anne Trumble, Director, Emerging Terrain “I wish that every person in Omaha visits the Joslyn Art Museum at least once next year.” — Jack Becker, Ph.D., Executive Director/CEO, Joslyn Art Museum “[I wish that] Dodge Street dedicates a lane to bicycle riders, Hummers are illegal to drive in city limits and the city recycles glass curbside.” — Jean Imray, owner Dundee Gallery “My Christmas wish for Omaha is for everyone to support their friends and neighbors by patronizing local businesses, and that we all remember the less fortunate by supporting our awesome community charities. The holidays always remind me have gratitude and spread good will and no matter what you believe or celebrate, I hope you take time to consider and appreciate your blessings.” — Megan Hunt, designer, Princess Lasertron “My wish for Omaha this year is that the collective efforts of the creative community takes it largest step yet forward in a cohesive effort to take this city to the next level both locally and nationally. I would love to see the amazing efforts of Big Omaha, Fashion Week, Omaha Film Festival, MAHA Music Festival and all the other creative wave-makers find a way to work together in a manner that helps solidify us as an epicenter of culture.” — Shane Bainbridge, Creative/Principal, The New BLK “I have two wishes for Omaha: the continued and inspired development of our arts and culture community, and concerted effort to be open and accepting to all residents no matter their background, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, or gender. Each plays a role within the other, driving an open environment where everyone is considered, celebrated and encouraged to contribute. “ — Anne Meysenburg, Executive Director, Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts DINING “Wish for Omaha: peace and love (oops … got stuck in the ’60s for a moment there). Actually, that’s a pretty good goal. Hurt no one, and help as many as you can.” — Greg Lindberg, owner Absolutely Fresh/Shucks MUSIC “My wish is for the Replacements to reunite at MAHA 2011, but I’d settle for sunny skies and no east coast hurricanes day of show. And a puppy.” — Tre Brashear, co-organizer, MAHA Music Festival “That we will continue to flourish as a community that cares for the helpless, the hopeless and the hungry.” — Thomas Wilkins, Music Director, Omaha Symphony “Less Tea Party and more Holiday parties!” — Jim Goeken, Knight of the Groundhog POLITICS/CIVICS/SPORTS/BUSINESS “I wish Omaha unity, collaboration, peace and humility.” — Trev Alberts, Director of Athletics, UNO “My 2011 wish for Omaha is that it continues to grow its vibrant arts and music scenes and its burgeoning fashion scene. It would be great if Omaha became a place where talented young people could stay and realize their dreams without feeling compelled to search for opportunity elsewhere. I also wish that the city council would pass employment and housing discrimination protections for our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender neighbors. This fight is not over.” — Timothy Butz, Asst. Director Fair Housing Center of Nebraska-Iowa “I wish that we [were] able to discuss all issues facing our city’s government in a civil, professional and polite manner, keeping in mind that we are a large, diverse community with a wide variety of issues and concerns.” — Thomas Mulligan, City Councilmember, District 7 “That individuals and groups and organizations will give thanks for all the blessings that they have, and put more energy and money into helping people, animals and the whole environment instead of indulging themselves in lots of stuff they don’t need.” — Elaine Wells, Founder, Black White Dialogues “Economic recovery.” — Franklin Thompson, City Councilmember, District 6 “My wish for Omaha this year is that we join as a community and work together. I believe that most problems can be solved if people are willing to communicate and accept a general understanding of others’ positions. I also wish for Omaha citizens to support our leaders and work to provide them with the resources and cooperation to do an effective job, rather than spending our time criticizing.” — Sarah Johnson, Manager, Greater Omaha Young Professionals “My wish for Nebraska is that we elect and encourage leaders who value our state’s resources — more than their party affiliation — so we can grow our state and keep young people living and working in Nebraska. We have the third highest potential to produce wind energy, yet for years clock in at 36th in the United States for actual wind energy production. We have the ability to serve our kids’ healthy school lunches from our local farms and yet are still serving our kids mass-produced corn dogs and chicken nuggets. We have the ability to fuel our cars and houses with “Nebraska made” energy, yet do not invest in the infrastructure needed to make biofuels and energy efficiency viable. So my wish is that we elect and support leaders who invest in our state and not their political careers.” — Jane Kleeb, Editor, BOLD Nebraska “A mild winter season.” — Garry Gernandt, City Council President “My wish for Omaha is that we recapture our sense of public and private sector optimism that’s made our city great and that we continue to work together to create jobs and prevent violence in our community.” — Pete Festersen, City Councilmember, District 1 “Across the state, Nebraskans are overwhelmingly concerned about two things: reducing our nation’s debt and growing our economy. When a more balanced Congress returns to Washington in 2011, it is my hope that there will be greater cooperation to get our fiscal house in order and support our job creators so they can put Americans and Nebraskans back to work.” — Sen. Mike Johanns “Ever since humans evolved enough to figure it out, they’ve celebrated the return of the sun around the winter solstice. December 25th was the birthday of Mithra, son of the sun, until Christians took it over. Now there is an alternative. Secular humanists observe the solstice with the Human Light festival, devoid of superstition but embracing the holiday spirit. We wish good cheer to rationalists, Jews, Buddhists, atheists and all non-Christians. You are not alone.” — Jim Bechtel, founder of REASON

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