In a major career shift, Nathan Poppe has left The Oklahoman, one of the state’s long-standing legacy newspapers, and joins the small, nonprofit Curbside Chronicle as editor.
Curbside vendors can be seen in their green smocks selling the slick, impressive magazine produced to help the vendors work their way out of homelessness.
But this is not a sudden thing for him.
“From the month they started Curbside, I knew that was an awesome project,” Poppe told Free Press in a recent interview.
“If you pay attention to what is happening in Oklahoma City and you are involved in the community, then it is impossible not to hear about the work that Curbside is doing.”
For the last four years, Poppe has been one of the key entertainment writers for The Oklahoman.
But, he decided to move his skills over to Curbside, increasing the staff from just three to four.
Ranya and Whitley O’Connor founded Curbside with Homeless Alliance sponsorship in 2013. They added trainer and make-it-happen guy Marty Peercy in 2017.
The magazine is a “street paper,” a unique term given to local publications produced to help homeless and/or poor individuals earn money and find their way out of their conditions.
It is an idea that had organic growth from one individual who wanted to find a way to help the poor and has taken root around the world.
Free Press has published a number of stories about the magazine.
- Curbside Chronicle wins top international awards
- Small Staff, big impact — Curbside Chronicle fights homelessness
- Curbside Chronicle vendors selling flowers through Valentine’s Day
- As Mother’s Day nears, Curbside Chronicle vendors selling flowers fast
Curbside Chronicle is one of many projects sponsored by the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Much to learn
Poppe jumped into the job on the Wednesday before Mother’s Day when Curbside was ramping up their flower sales for the special day.
He helped in just about any part of the operation where he was needed and that gave him a good cross-section view of the vendors’ efforts.
“I was blown away by just how hard our vendors work,” he said.
Having grown up mostly in the suburbs, he is fully aware of the stereotypes of the homeless and the poor as lazy and not wanting to work hard.
“But man, I’ll tell you what, the dozen or so people that I worked with last week put in more work than I could ever have imagined.”
What’s the biggest challenge? It’s the staff size of only four, the most the organization has ever had.
“I’m looking forward to growing the vendor stories,” he said.
Not only do the staff writer, but, they coach some of the vendors who write stories and contribute photographs from time to time producing a very unique publication.
“The strength of Curbside is its point of view.”
We asked him what the vendors need from him?
“They need opportunities that might not ordinarily be there,” Poppe said. “That’s what Curbside is. It’s giving an opportunity to someone that might not have the easiest of access.”