|Omaha skyline while waiting at a red light on the drive home from Big Omaha 2009.|
Dear Silicon Prairie/Big Omaha Community,
I’m not even sure where to begin, and even if I were to try I don’t think I could do justice in explaining how you affect my life, and work, for the better. I can remember showing up to my first tweetup with a bit of trepidation since I didn’t really know anyone outside of Twitter. It didn’t matter. I was welcomed by Shawn Hartley and Steve Gordon, and instantly felt a part of the community.
I wasn’t sure my background necessarily fit the mold of what this burgeoning community was, but that didn’t matter to you either. What mattered was if I was passionate for Omaha, for the Midwest. Sure, it would have helped to be in an industry that related to creativity, entrepreneurship and tech more, but it was more about being a believer in big ideas. Being a believer that good wasn’t good enough for the area. Being a believer in the people that make up this community.
Since then, many of you shared your expertise, life and stories with me. I think of Dave Nelson who was more than willing to answer my questions, and do what he could to help me out with my work, even though he didn’t know me at the time. I think of Rahul Gupta who helped my family out in a time of crisis. I think of Beth Katz who has been a friend, an unlikely friend some may think, and helped me understand the diversity of faith better in this community.
Eric Downs, Wendy Townley, Megan Hunt, Matt Secoske, Gabe Kangas, Corey Spitzer, Dan Holke, Josh Allen…The list goes on and on. (Seriously, I think I could list fifty of you here.) You have been an example to me with your lives and work whether you realize it or not.
On February 5, 2012, I launched an Online Campus for Christ Community Church. This might be one of the last things you would expect from someone who is giving you praise. However, I could not have launched it without you, the Silicon Prairie/Big Omaha community. So much of what went into launching this campus was due to information and experiences I gleaned from you. In pushing this project, I ended up referring to people like Jason Fried, Bo Fishback and Scott Harrison more than you might imagine.
I know some of you don’t necessarily share my religious beliefs, but even then you were for me. I was blessed and encouraged by your words of support. I would share with you what I was working on, and you would get the concept. Then, you would give ideas, and tips, on how to make it better.
The community I have experienced with you spurred me on to pursue the Online Campus. I hope the Online Campus can be a blessing to this community…our community.
Thank you, Dusty Davidson and Danny Schreiber. It’s been fun getting to know you guys better. Part of the reason I love living and working here in Omaha is because of your work and how it has positively impacted the area.
And, special thanks to Jeff Slobotski. Who would have guessed that back in 1996, when we first crossed paths when I was a Student Ministry Intern and you were a student at Westside Church, that all “this” would happen? It’s amazing to witness what you are doing here in Omaha, and around the US. It’s no accident you have experienced success, and people from all walks of life highlight the kind of man you are. I am grateful for your friendship.