Near South Neighborhood

"Sorry, We're Open."

From the street, patrons are greeted by a “Sorry We’re Open” sign, giving the initial down with the man, support local, live outdoors vibe. Upon entering, a neon pterodactyl is mounted behind the register while a vinyl Elvis hangs crying on the left. A lot of their decorations have been found at yard sales or picked up at thrift shops. Family members add their own vibe to the place with the one of a kind pieces they add to the walls and ceiling.

If you have spent any time around the Near South Neighborhood area, you probably have heard of Grateful Bread/Freakbeat Vegetarian. Grateful Bread is a cash/check only family run restaurant located in the Near South Neighborhood at 1625 South 17th Street.

This week, between bites of Cheese Scones and Moroccan Tomato Soup, I picked the brain of Cheyenne Flotree, front of house of this hip local joint.

What’s in a name?

Grateful Bread was the initial bakery started in 1992. Cheyenne’s explanation began with, “ Well, my mom was kind of a punk, and my dad was a hippie.” Cate Flotree sold baked goods with the help of her husband for several years. With the quippy name play reference, the Flotree parents sound like they were “Dead Heads” in their day. In 1998, the bakery moved into a brick and mortar storefront, adding macaroni and soup to the menu. It was during this time they also added Freakbeat Vegetarian to the name helping possible patrons understand the establishment offerings.

How is Grateful Bread/Freakbeat Vegetarian different than other local shops?

Cheyenne believes the café stands alone. While being completely vegetarian definitely sets the shop apart from others, Grateful Bread also has a different vibe than many local hot spots. The menu is inspired by southern soul food with influences from India and Morocco. Cate Flotree scours various recipes looking for inspiration for new menu items.

From the quirky décor to the daily menu change, Grateful Bread is definitely in it’s own league.  The menu and potential shop closing dates can be found on the shop’s facebook page:

Not sure what to try? The Lunch Room macaroni reminds me of homemade, but better. Moroccan Tomato Soup has the perfect amount of kick with a peanut undertone. Do not skip out on the baked goods! I always get a Classic Cheese Scone or cookie offered for the day.

Honestly, it’s all good. ☮ ✌

Near South's Goodhue Monument

This spring, Lincoln’s Near South Neighborhood Association will honor Bertram Goodhue, the architect of Nebraska’s State Capitol, with the construction of a monument at the intersection of Goodhue Boulevard and A Street. Funded by a $2,500 grant from NeighborWorks Lincoln, the monument, according to Association member Brayden McLaughlin, is intended to inform the public about the history of the area. “We’ve always kind of wanted sort of a marker at the end of Goodhue. It’s been kind of an entrance to the neighborhood that’s been overlooked,” McLaughlin told the Lincoln Journal Star last September. The monument will be constructed of a concrete base and will be topped with an engraved plaque containing information about Goodhue, the Capitol, and the surrounding Near South neighborhood. The Near South Neighborhood Association hopes to have the marker installed prior to the Near South Neighborhood Association's Parade of Homes on May 10th.

Despite the considerable honors of a monument and having a broad, grass-medianed boulevard named after him for his contribution to the city, Goodhue never actually saw his finished masterpiece. The notoriously prolific architect, who was known to keep lit cigarettes at several different work stations as he rapidly moved between them, died of a sudden heart attack in 1924 while half a continent away in his home city of New York. Despite having only broken ground on the Capitol in Lincoln just two years earlier, Goodhue’s plans were sufficient in detail for the project to push ahead unabated. In fact, Goodhue had been so prolific that his associates were able to continue working on the deceased architect’s projects for over a decade and a half until his firm finally closed in 1940.

The significance of the Nebraska Capitol and Goodhue’s role in creating it in many ways lies in the sharp contrasts offered by the building and its history. What would have been particularly apparent to observers at the time was the contrast between the opulent Capitol that was under construction and the persistent economic hardship that characterized life in the 1920s and 30s in Nebraska. Completed in 1932 during the height of the Great Depression, the structure, with its expensive limestone, gilded dome, and ornate mosaics and friezes, cost the much smaller state government of that time $9.8 million (roughly the same as Pinnacle Bank Arena when adjusted for inflation). Many in the American ag sector had at that point already endured an economic recession and sluggish recovery that had lasted over a decade following the end of World War I, and the catastrophic Dust Bowl was already starting to lap at the borders of the state at that time. But the building nonetheless seemed to find a kindred spirit in the Depression-fighting architect of the New Deal, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when he stopped in Lincoln in the fall of 1936. Said Roosevelt, “I have seen – in fact all of the people of America have seen – photographs and illustrations of this wonderful Capitol building. . . . Every one of them ought to come here to see it in the light – a great and worthy structure, worthy of a great state.”

For Goodhue personally, the Capitol that Roosevelt had praised represented a significant contrast to his previous works as he shifted his architectural aesthetic toward the increasingly popular art deco looks that characterized the period. A quick glance at images of Goodhue’s previous projects like the West Point Cadet Chapel, the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, and the grounds for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915, quickly reveals how dramatic of a break Goodhue’s design in Lincoln was from the more traditional appearances of his previous projects. The pioneering style of the Capitol represents Goodhue’s “seminal work,” said Bob Ripley, the building’s administrator.  “It will be the thing that will be his legacy in architecture for a very long time.”

Perhaps the most important contrast created by Goodhue’s new Capitol was the permanent change that he brought to the prairie skyline of eastern Nebraska. The Capitol in Lincoln would undoubtedly seem much more at home nestled among the skyscrapers of Goodhue’s native Manhattan than perched solitary and conspicuous above the flat, treeless plain that surrounds Lincoln. With the coming of the Capitol, Goodhue seemed to bring to Nebraska an implicit sense of vision and an apparent optimism that the state his project represented might one day grow to fit the monument he was building to it. Coming on the heels of recent national praise for the city’s growth and development, the City of Lincoln and the Near South Neighborhood Association hope to honor the man who helped give shape to that vision.

Photos provided by Tim Burge & Nebraska History Museum

Recap: Peach Park Carnival

In case you were not able to join us last Sunday, here's a quick recap of the fun that was missed. The Near South Neighborhood all joined up together in Peach Park for some family-friendly afternoon entertainment. It came complete with a bounce house, face painting, and not one, but two dunk tanks! Check out the photos and be sure to join us next year!

Also, be sure to be looking for some flyers about more neighborhood events for the first part of August. I hear there will be a splattering of block parties rippling through the Near South.

Photo Credit: Valerie Jensen

A People That Celebrates


Who, of the people you know, throws the best parties? Are those people Christians?  They should be.

The Most to Celebrate

Christians, out of all the people in the world, have the absolute most to celebrate. We have been redeemed by God, reconciled to the Father, made new, our sins have been forgiven, and we've been put in right standing with God.  We've been adopted by the heavenly Father who has promised to never leave or forsake us, the power of God lives in us, we've been promised eternal life, and we're heirs of the King!

What could possibly be more worthy of celebration than all of that?!

The Least Celebrative

And yet often times when I hear Chrisitians interact (and I'm guilty of this myself too), it seems as if none of the above is true.  We're so prone to focus on our struggles over and above our blessings - over and above all that Christ has done for us.

Who, of the people you know, throws the best parties? Are those people Christians? They should be.

It's not that discussing our sin struggles and experiencing suffering should be hidden away (they most certainly should not be); however, celebrating who God is and what He's done and who He's made us to be should have at least equal (I'd argue for more) airtime than our struggles.

When we get this flipped, we inherently communicate false truths about our God to the world around us as we slip into a quasi-redeemed fatalism that says: life is hard, I suck, sin is strong, things probably won't change, it is what it is but "thanks be to Jesus."

That doesn't sounds like "good news"... because it's not.

What Are We Celebrating?

When I first was planting 2 Pillars Church, I had a church planting coach who would call me once a month to equip, encourage, and help me in the planting process.  His name was Bob.  Each month as I prepared for that call, I had a list of struggles, questions, junk I needed to vent, lists of things that weren't going well, not to mention my own sins that I needed to confess and repent from.

Christians, out of all the people in the world, have the absolute most to celebrate.

Bob, knowing this was the case, would always start every single one of those coaching calls with the question: "What are we celebrating?"  

That sounds simple, I know.  It sounds cheesy, I know.  But, it was one of the most powerful things that God used to continue to point me back to His goodness, His blessings, and what He was doing, despite all the junk that I saw down in the muck and mire.

What Are You Celebrating?

You might not feel super celebratory today, but if you believe and belong to Jesus you have so much to celebrate.  What are you celebrating today?

How often do you focus on the things worth celebrating in your life?  

Photo Credit: Jessica Brinkmeyer

Meet the Near South Neighborhood

We may not be a large, well-known community, but we know how to play some serious softball. This past Saturday, eight different teams came together from throughout the neighborhood to compete at the 2nd Annual Chicago Style Softball Tournament at Prescott Park.

Last year Near South Neighborhood resident, Todd Bumgarner, organized the first tournament in an effort to build community with fellow residents and to bridge the surrounding churches, businesses and schools together to cultivate a wider sense of community in the Near South Neighborhood as a whole. As the pastor at 2 Pillars Church (also located in the Near South), Todd's vision is to see the Near South community be just that, a community that knows one another. So he decided to make it happen...and I think it has been a huge success.

Despite the heat, the turnout for 2014 was twice as big as last year and twice as much fun. Adults battled it out on the field while the kids took refuge in the mud puddles left over in the playground from the rain storm the night before. In the end, the Near South Naturals won the tournament, earning bragging rights for next year and the honor of bringing the best beer to the BBQ later that evening. 

Photo credit: Kelsey Sittler & Valerie Jensen

The Church Isn't a Building

"Do you go to church?"  "Where do you go to church?"  "Where is your church?"  

These questions are as common as college football in our city and culture and yet they portray a fundamentally flawed understanding of what exactly the church is.

Not a Building

Biblically, the church isn't a building it's a people.

As you read the Bible, you find several metaphors that are used for the church: 

  • A body (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
  • The "bride" of Christ (Ephesians 5; Revelation 19:6-8) 
  • A flock of sheep (to be shepherded - c.f. Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:2-3)
  • A family (into which we have been adopted (Galatians 4:5) and now are to relate to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ (Matthew 12:48-50; 1 John 4:20; 1 Timothy 5:1-2)

What all of the biblical metaphors have in common is that they are not a place you go to, but rather a people whom we are.  You do not go to the body.  You either are a part of the body or you are not.  Likewise, family is not something you go to, it's something who you are.

In the Bible there are no pleas for people to "go to church."  The plea is for non-believers to become the church.  In the first century, if you were a believer you were, inherently, a part of the church.  If you weren't a part of the church, no one called you a believer.  Additionally, being a part of the church meant you were deeply involved in and committed to the life and well-being of the church (i.e. other believers).

In the first century, if you were a believer you were, inherently, a part of the church. If you weren’t a part of the church, no one called you a believer.

Why It Matters

When Christians substitute seeing themselves as the church and instead see the church as a building we go to, we lose a fundamental piece of what it means to actually be Christian.  

When I separate "church" out to something that I go to, I no longer see myself as a part of the church, but rather the church is peripheral to me.  There is me... and then there is the church... but the two are not one-in-the same.  

This is not biblical and it leads down a path to Christian consumerism where the church (which exists apart from me) is supposed to serve me and meet my needs and preferences.  Viewing the church in this way converts it from a people (which I am a part of) to a vending machine of religious goods and services for my personal benefit.

Recommitting to Being the Church

The church isn't a building, it's a people.  It's a people that love God and love others.  It's a people that celebrate.  It's a people that bless and serve those around them.  It's a people that listen well to those around them that do not yet know Jesus as Lord.  It's also a people who know how to rest and work to the glory of God.

It's a people that are much more than this, but certainly not a people that are less than this.

In the coming weeks we will be exploring more of this theme here on the blog. 

As a church, we will also be working through this idea during our Sunday gatherings over the next six weeks.  To hammer this idea home that the church isn't a building but a people, we will be gathering as the church not at our building, but in local parks several Sundays this summer.  For more information, visit