September 2022


What does it look like for Nebraska to have the most inclusive communities in America? 


Now, I'm not talking about franchising across the state with billboard signs in the shape of an illuminated "IC" to serve as beacons on the side of the road where weary travelers would stop to fuel up or find respite as they pass. Instead, I'm proposing an aspirational manifestation of the assertion that each community in Nebraska will do everything possible to respect all its citizens, give full access to resources and promote equal treatment & opportunity for every person. Communities that actively and transparently work to end all forms of discrimination and to engage all their citizens in decision-making processes that affect their lives.   

Lately, you might have noticed us getting a little out of our comfort zone. We've embarked on a few journeys outside Omaha's usual streets and into greater Nebraska's cornfields. I grew up in rural Illinois and am familiar with the long stretches of road to get from one city to another. As a youth, I used to think I couldn't wait to escape those long drives – to be in a hustling and bustling city, riding public transportation, walking, or hailing taxis. However, the more cities I've lived in/ visited and the more roads I've driven, the more I'm reminded that EVERY journey requires creativity, patience, fortitude, and packing your gluten-free snacks. 

The journey - THAT is where our work resides.   

When we told folks that we were heading on the road, there was a lot of concern about how the individuals beyond Omaha/Lincoln would receive us (or our mission). But, outside of the long drives through pastures and sandhills, what we've found is quite simply put: many people and communities of practice are doing just what we are doing, their best.  

We've had the chance to meet with many community members who are excited about amplifying their work or looking for partners to help them achieve their goals. Through dialogue with multiple mayors and chambers of commerce, city council members, elected officials, police chiefs, business representatives and owners, school district reps, clergy, restorative justice workers, public health workers, nonprofit leaders and all the allies you can imagine- they all openly shared with us what they dream for their communities, what they predict, where they are stuck. We met these engaged citizens on their turf, and we were allowed a short peek to see how they work to create these inclusive communities we philosophize about.    

The Inclusive Communities team and our board are making an intentional and coordinated effort to expand our youth, community, business, strategic consulting, and advocacy programs across Nebraska. We are committed to designing, developing, and delivering programs that educate, raise awareness and develop the skills necessary to create welcoming and inclusive organizations, communities, and schools.


We will show the rest of America what it looks like by leading from the HEARTland. 


We've just begun building relationships and our capacity to meet these communities where they are as we embark on this trek together. 


Join us on our journey and give to our expansion funds. DONATE TODAY.


Yours 'til the Scotts Bluff,



REGISTER for our upcoming Queer Table Talk:

Preserving LGBTQ2IA+ History

Tue, October 4, 2022

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center

6400 University Drive South

Omaha, NE 68182


There is a virtual and in-person option to attend. If attending in-person, lunch will be provided.

Today is National Voter Registration Day!

Not sure if you're registered to vote? You can check your voter registration status HERE.

If you aren't registered, get registered today!


Visit to learn more.

Join UNO and Inclusive Communities for a timely and important conversation on the civic necessity for engaged voters particularly in the upcoming midterm elections in November. There will be an opportunity to register to vote at the event.

The UNO Dialogue Project is a space created in partnership with Inclusive Communities to promote campus wide dialogue on important social issues relevant to the students, faculty, staff and members of the UNO community


Several Inclusive Communities team members traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, on September 6 - 9 for the 2022 National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) Leadership Conference. An integral component of the conference includes being immersed in the rich culture and history of the area to understand better the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion work. This year, conference attendees toured the Magnolia Hotel, a frequent stop for African American travelers during the Jim Crow era of segregation. The hotel was included in The Negro Travelers' Green Book for seven consecutive years. 

In addition, attendees embarked on a tour of the Underground Railroad at Guilford College. 


Reflections of Advocacy and the Thin Silver Line

by Lachelle Rankins

If I had to name the five things, not people, that I love the most – my list would absolutely include travel. I love to travel. Road Trip? Yes, please. An arduous check-in process for the pleasure of sitting cramped on a plane? Sign me up. Greyhound? Amtrak? I've done it all.

Growing up in Omaha, NE, I was fortunate to be surrounded by plenty of extended family and grew up in a neighborhood with plenty of kids. We played outside all day in the summer, and there were only two rules: be on the front porch when the streetlights came on and no running in and out of the house. But what I remember most about summer was the opportunity to travel. Every summer, there would be two and sometimes three road trips: Adventureland in Des Moines, IA; Beckley, West Virginia, to visit my grandfather's family; and the Vaughn family reunion, which rotated between Aurora (Illinois), Indianapolis, and Campbellsville, KY….and thus began my love affair with travel.

Studies show that there are wonderful benefits associated with traveling. Travel is a great way to disconnect and recharge, traveling tends to make people happier and healthier, and it has been known to help with creativity! But to me, the most important benefits of travel have been my exposure to new and different things and my interactions with other people that I would not have otherwise met.

Traveling has dramatically increased my empathy for others, decreased my wariness towards the unfamiliar, made me more of a risk-taker, strengthened and improved my communication skills, helped with my anxiety and depression, and boosted my self-confidence. Some of my best memories involve getting lost in other countries, striking up random conversations with locals and fellow travelers, walking into a random restaurant, and asking the waitress or server to surprise me.

Increasingly it seems we live in a country where we are bombarded with messages about how scary and dangerous not only the rest of the world is BUT how scary and dangerous our own neighbors are. As a result, we are not being encouraged to seek out, interact, and learn from people who are not like us. Instead, we are being encouraged to retreat and to react fearfully and sometimes violently to people who are different. The antidote for that is travel. When you travel, your eyes are opened to the reality that the world is not a dangerous and scary place – it is exciting, engaging, and full of possibilities.

Mark Twain famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.......". So the next time you feel anxious about the state of your community or the world, GO. You don't have to go far, visit the next town or city over; make plans to have a long weekend in a neighboring state (or country); or simply visit a part of town you don't usually go to – and when you a meet a stranger, take a deep breath and say "hi."

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