Companies Increasingly Look Beyond Profit Margins To Marginalized Populations

More and more young people in Nebraska are concerned about what they’re buying - but not necessarily just about the price or quality. They’re also concerned about how products they consume affect those who make them, as well as the world around them. It’s part of a growing trend, and some companies are changing to meet consumers in the middle. Learn more in today’s Signature Story from NET News reporter Hilary Stohs-Krause.

NET News reporter Hilary Stohs-Krause is reporting in Hastings and Kearney, Neb. today for a story airing Thursday on the rise of corporate social responsibility (specifically “buy one, give one” models). She took these photos at Pacha Soap, a young business in Hastings that donates a bar of soap for every bar sold.

Located in the basement of a former bank, they store their soap in the old vault.

From NPR:

Native Americans at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota have voted to overturn a more than century-old ban on alcohol in a decision that critics say will spur an increase in already high rates of domestic abuse, suicide and infant mortality.

Tribe members finalized the vote count Wednesday: 1,871 for legalization and 1,679 against.

Federal law has long prohibited the sale of alcohol on Native American reservations unless the tribe specifically allows it. Pine Ridge — home to Oglala Lakota, or Oglala Sioux, one of seven Lakota subtribes — was established in 1889, and has prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol for all but a brief few months in the early 1970s, when it experimented with lifting the ban but quickly reinstated it.

"Life will change now as we know it," Larry Eagle Bull, one of nine tribal council members who put the issue to a public vote, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

Opponents found the vote difficult to accept. “How far are we going to let it go?” asked tribal President Bryan Brewer, who staunchly opposed ending prohibition, according to The New York Times. “How many more children are going to be murdered because of this?”

More on the troubled relationship between Whiteclay, Pine Ridge and alcohol:

Whiteclay, Neb. sits on the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The town is located a few miles from a sign that welcomes visitors to “The Good Life.” But some describe it as “hell.”

Whiteclay, population around 11, is a visible outpost of the alcoholism that runs rampant on the reservation. But how did this small Nebraska town become such a scene of devastation? Why does it fester, and whose responsibility is it to clean it up?

Nebraska Lawsuit Latest In Fight Over Whiteclay

Part 2:

"Me, I’m on a liquor diet," Babe said. "I only have a couple months to live."

Babe said he has cirrhosis of the liver, which he believed will soon take his life. And in Whiteclay, he’s likely not alone. That night, several men and women were passed out on the sidewalks and in the grass. Many would stay outdoors overnight.

Fighting Alcoholism On Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Is About More Than Money

And this reporting on allegations of violence between anti-alcohol and pro-alcohol contingents:

Tensions in the northwest Nebraska town of Whiteclay have been escalating for the past month following allegations of violence against beer distributors. Shortly before a scheduled press conference Friday morning in Lincoln, activist Timothy McKenzie was arrested. He was intending to file a complaint against a Whiteclay liquor store owner for alleged violence against protestors. 

Activist Arrested As Tension And Violence Escalate In Whiteclay, Nebraska

Healing Machine: Preserving The Legacy Of An Eccentric Nebraska Artist
When visitors to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin walk up to the rustic wood shed built in the main gallery they aren’t quite sure what to make of the cluttered, twinkling objects on display.  They might be mistaken for homemade wind chimes or mobiles. Intricate, even delicate webs of wire, foil, and beads are clustered together.  One man, an eccentric Nebraskan, made nearly 400 of these constructions. 
Leslie Umberger, once a curator at the Kohler, calls it a healing machine.  The creator, Emery Blagdon, called them his “pretties.” 
“They are made of all kinds of things predominantly wire, both standard hay baling wire and copper wire,” Umberger said, describing the work.  “They have magnets and other little treasures rescued from inside of cast-off radios and televisions and things like that.”
Blagdon, who passed away in 1986, never referred to himself as an artist.  In his view, he was a man building a machine. 
Everyone in Stapleton, Neb., the nearest town to his remote farm, was familiar with the wild-eyed, shaggy-haired man always quick to share his often baffling outlook on the powers of the universe with people who wanted to know more …
Continue reading

Healing Machine: Preserving The Legacy Of An Eccentric Nebraska Artist

When visitors to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin walk up to the rustic wood shed built in the main gallery they aren’t quite sure what to make of the cluttered, twinkling objects on display.  They might be mistaken for homemade wind chimes or mobiles. Intricate, even delicate webs of wire, foil, and beads are clustered together.  One man, an eccentric Nebraskan, made nearly 400 of these constructions. 

Leslie Umberger, once a curator at the Kohler, calls it a healing machine.  The creator, Emery Blagdon, called them his “pretties.” 

“They are made of all kinds of things predominantly wire, both standard hay baling wire and copper wire,” Umberger said, describing the work.  “They have magnets and other little treasures rescued from inside of cast-off radios and televisions and things like that.”

Blagdon, who passed away in 1986, never referred to himself as an artist.  In his view, he was a man building a machine. 

Everyone in Stapleton, Neb., the nearest town to his remote farm, was familiar with the wild-eyed, shaggy-haired man always quick to share his often baffling outlook on the powers of the universe with people who wanted to know more …

Continue reading

Last week, NET News reporter Fred Knapp received some timely advice on the dangers of walking through ditches … find out more in the short audio clip above.  

Fred and Dan Smith, who’s with Nebraska’s Middle Republican Natural Resources District, were walking near where the state’s planning to pump more water into the Republican River. On Tuesday, July 16, catch Fred’s story on NET Radio about the state’s plans, and the possible perils involved.