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From the Founders: The Big Omaha energy carries on

Speaking in the opening time slot, David Hauser of Grasshopper brought the energy necessary – he had the audience welcome each speaker with a standing ovation. Photo by Malone & Company Photography.

As we sit here just over a week since we kicked off Big Omaha 2010, we’re still unbelievably amazed by what took place in our community over the course of two and a half days.

A new level of excitement and passion was born at this year’s event. People left changed, and for that we’re extremely grateful.

This year saw over 500 people come to KANEKO to experience the event we created just two short years ago. Last year, 16 states were represented. This year, people came in from 22 states.

Attendees gather in KANEKO. The artwork in the background, titled Amazing Grace, is that of Sam Gilliam. It’s currently part of the KANEKO collection. Photo by Malone & Company Photography.

We would like to thank each of the speakers who took time out of their schedules to make the event one to remember. Outside of Jason Fried and Gary Vaynerchuk, the rest of the speakers were new, and it was exciting to see so many people open to the idea of coming into town for a few days to take in the energy and passion for what’s being built here in the Midwest.

Depending on who you ask, everyone had a favorite presentation, but one presentation that was repeatedly talked about was Scott Harrison‘s of charity: water. Scott (left) moved many of us to tears, questioning how we can do more and utilize our strengths and skills to make a lasting impact on not only our community, but the world.

Scott, along with the entire slate of speakers, brought something amazing to everyone who attended: ideas to ponder, comments to discuss and challenges to do more.

Attendees were also inspired by the incredible art installations by Scott Blake, Willy Chyr and the charity: water team. Blake worked over 40 hours to create a barcode Gary Vaynerchuk, Chyr pulled an all-nighter at the completion of his residency at Omaha’s Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts to assemble his balloon art, and the charity: water team designed a emotionally moving installation without ever stepping into KANEKO.

We’re also grateful for the work of Tim Siedell for writing a special set of @badbanana tweets that attendees saw throughout the space.

Additionally, we want to thank the amazing list of sponsors for this year’s event, from the Kauffman Foundation to our in-kind sponsors and friends who added so much character to the event.

To our volunteers, thank you for believing in the event and for providing many hours of your time to make the experience memorable for everyone you interacted with.

Some of the volunteers gathered in the Big Omaha photo booth to capture a group photo. Photo booth set up by Malone & Company Photography.

A huge thanks to Danny Schreiber, Silicon Prairie News’ managing editor who not only worked tirelessly on Big Omaha, virtually around the clock in the weeks leading up to the event, but also helped to maintain a presence on Silicon Prairie News and keeping content moving.

Lastly, but certainly not least, a big thanks to Ree & Jun Kaneko for allowing us to use their amazingly beautiful and inspiring space, KANEKO, along with Hal France and the entire KANEKO team for helping to assure the event went off without a hitch.

As one can see, this event doesn’t happen solely as a result of two or three people’s interest, but truly takes an entire tribe of individuals to make it possible.

This year’s event may be behind us now, but that doesn’t mean the work is over. Keep up the amazing energy and spirit. Continue pressing forward and pushing the envelope. Your work and determination will help transform our communities to better places to not only call home but to launch businesses.

Thank you for giving us the drive to carry on and do great things for our community.

Dusty Davidson & Jeff Slobotski. Photo by Malone & Company Photography.

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