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Oklahoma City’s Curbside Chronicle has won two international awards and was a finalist in three other categories for 2017.

International Network of Street Papers, or INSP, announced the awards Thursday at the organization’s yearly summit held this year in Manchester, UK.

Out of 11 categories, Curbside Chronicle took the top awards for Best Cultural Feature and Best Vendor Contribution.

And Oklahoma City vendor Chazzi Davis, whose story won the Best Vendor Contribution, said his involvement with Curbside Chronicle has given him a “sense of pride and hope for the future.”

The magazine was also a finalist in three other categories: Best Project Award, Best Breakthrough and, Best Design.

Local effort

Marquise Beddingfield, Curbside Chronicle vendor
Marquise Beddingfield has been a Curbside Chronicle vendor for 2 years.

Curbside Chronicle vendors in their green smocks have become a familiar sight since July 2013 in the metro as they sell the monthly magazine on street corners.

The vendors make a profit, which helps them move beyond homelessness and poverty by earning a living and by Curbside Chronicle staff connecting them to agencies that can help them transition off the street and into housing.

The effort is a project of the Homeless Alliance – OKC and funded by local sponsors. Advertising and the 75 cents per copy vendors pay for the magazines also contribute to the funding formula.

Curbside Chronicle is designed and produced locally using a mix of content by OKC staff, vendors and the news service of the INSP.

The international network offers organization, training, weekly articles and images for 110 street papers in 35 countries published in 24 languages around the world.

Best Vendor Contribution

The magazine won Best Vendor Contribution for “The art of healing” by vendor Chazzi Davis and compiled by staff member Marty Peercy.

From the INSP website:

Curbside Chronicle vendor and photographer Chazzi Davis talked about his mental health, therapeutic photography, and the importance of making something beautiful out of his experiences. Judges described Chazzi’s photography as captivating and praised his talent in the face of adversity.

Kinsey Crocker, director of communications for the Homeless Alliance, provided Free Press with some comments from Davis after the win.

“The award means a lot to me,” said Davis. “I win because of the support and encouragement from the director of the curbside and the homeless alliance staff.”

He said his involvement with the Curbside Chronicle has given him a “sense of pride and hope for the future.”

Davis gave words of hope for those who are struggling and those who might help.

“My hope is that anyone out there reading the article, realizes good people are out there, who would like to see you win! The question is, are you willing to find something positive that you can do, to make something good out of the bad things.”

Best Cultural Feature

Curbside Chronicle won Best Cultural Feature for “No seconds: the photographer humanizing death row inmates by capturing their last meal.” The piece was written by Whitley O’Connor.

Again, from the INSP website:

Rooted in religion, superstition and compassion, the final meal of U.S. death row inmates dates as far back as capital punishment itself. Curbside spoke to world-renowned photographer Henry Hargreaves as he aimed to humanise inmates via their last meal requests. Judges found a thought-provoking and memorable take on a challenging subject.

Staff response

Once the magazine’s staff got back into the U.S. Free Press visited with Ranya O’Connor, director.

“It’s been incredible,” said O’Connor who started the effort with her husband, Whitley, in 2013.

“Whitley had lived in Nashville before we were married while going to Vanderbilt and had seen how effective that city’s street paper was at helping the homeless,” said O’Connor. “I was at OU at the time, so we knew the need in Oklahoma City.”

Whitley was the author of the international winner of the Best Cultural Feature this year.

O’Connor was most proud of Chazzi Davis and what he accomplished with his photograph and the piece he wrote with staff member Marty Peercy.

“It wasn’t just received well locally,” said O’Connor. “But other street papers all across the world in the U.K. and Australia, they ran his story because it had a great picture and showed what that world looks like.  That’s not just a local issue, it’s a world issue.”

Sponsor response

One of several sponsors of Curbside Chronicle is the Fowler Holding Company which has a number of auto dealerships in the metro and state.

“For the past three years that Fowler has been supporting Curbside, we have always believed in the impact they are making for our homeless neighbors,” Kristen Vails wrote in an email. She is the director of community outreach for the company.

“Every time we see a photo of a vendor moving into housing, we can’t help but feel thankful we’ve been able to partner with them. To know we’ve been a small part of their success is something Fowler is very grateful for.”

Purpose              

On its own website, Curbside Chronicle says the magazine is dedicated to:

  • Providing a legitimate source of income for homeless and low-income individuals in Oklahoma City.
  • Providing a voice for the homeless within its magazine, covering a wide variety of social issues.
  • Ending panhandling in Oklahoma City by providing a positive alternative for those in need.
  • Building community between homeless and non-homeless individuals.
  • Increasing social awareness of homeless issues and decreasing stigmatization of the homeless.

Update 9:00 a.m., 8-28-17: Reactions from Chazzi Davis were added.

Update 9:45 p.m., 8-28-17: Staff response to the wins were added.

Update 3:10 p.m., 9-2-17: Sponsor response from Fowler Holding was added.


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