ur F Yo U T U
SUMMER CHALLENGE Frontier
Take your healthy habits on a summer adventure. Explore Oklahoma and be sure your kids get their 60 minutes of physical activity every day with this handy checklist:
EXPLORE SCIENCE MUSEUM OKLAHOMA HIKE OR BIKE THE LAKE HEFNER TRAILS VISIT YOUR LOCAL PARKS HAVE A WATER BALLOON FIGHT VISIT THE OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO SHOOT SOME HOOPS MAKE A SPLASH AT YOUR LOCAL POOL Like us and share your family fun!
For more activity ideas and attractions near you, visit ShapeYourFutureOK.com.
Table of Contents Summer Survival Guide
Skeletal Articulations Art
John Rex Charter School Community
Perfect Patios Food
Homeless Outreach Team Community
contact Editor: Ranya Forgotson Executive Director: Whitley O’Connor Director of Fundraising: Kelly Nugent
1724 NW 4th St. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106 405-415-8425 thecurbsidechronicle.org facebook.com/CurbsideOKC twitter.com/CurbsideOKC Design by Whitley O’Connor and Julia Zhu Layout by Whitley O’Connor
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The Curbside Chronicle needs your help to end panhandling in OKC! Cut along the black lines and keep these cards in your car to hand out to panhandlers instead of cash. Together we can employ and empower the homeless!
10 Things You Probably T Need to ’ n
Survive Summer by T.O. Bowman
This is an interactive article! Use your smartphone to scan the QR codes and experience these infomercials firsthand. These products are so ridiculous that you HAVE to see them.
For years, infomercial marketers have crafted psychological schemes designed to riddle our senses in an exceedingly apparent, low-budget attempt to sell their products to unsuspecting consumers. From the highly excitable, headset-mic-wearing actor at the state fair to the highly excitable, headset-mic-wearing actor on your television, ‘As Seen On TV’ has gone from just a turn of phrase to a trusted brand. If there’s something the ‘As Seen On TV’ marketing phenomenon does well, it’s convince people to hand over their money (in a fixed number of installments) to solve simple problems with complex, cheaply made solutions.
This is accomplished by drumming up a false sense of urgency around too good to be true deals that promise to make your life easier with some piece of household wizardry a guy named Skeeter came up with in his sister’s garage. Infomercials are particularly effective at saturating the market with copious amounts of stuff, all destined to remain unused in your closet, attic, shed, or garage until the day of your estate sale. Who among us has time to keep up with all of the amazing, life-changing products whipping our unsuspecting relatives into a frenzy with disingenuous countdown clocks on Wednesdays at 3:30 a.m.?
If only there were a local street paper with a cutting edge research team that could provide snarky commentary on the best panic buys your grandma/ aunt/uncle/sister/mom can get on TV this summer. But wait! There is such a street paper! And there is such a research team! (read this next part reeeally quickly) …and you can have this article featuring QR code links to videos for one easy payment of $2, but only if you order nnneeooow!! Like right now!!! For real, this offer expires FOREVER when the kitchen timer in my hand reaches ZERO!!
1. Yoshi Grill & Baking Mat Set You know the feeling. You’re sitting on the couch and suddenly think, “We should be cooking eggs over easy and melting cheese on the grill right now.” Well, now you can. The Yoshi Grill Mat isn’t a hilariously silly product that just sounds useful. Basically, the grill master slaps the mat onto the grill, heats it up, and wham-o! You can now cook eggs on the grill. What you get: 2 Yoshi Grill Mats, 1 Yoshi Bake Mat, 1 Grip N’ Flip Spatula for $14.99 Check out the Yoshi Grill & Baking Mat commercial and notice the distinctive grill marks you can now finally make on eggs. SCAN THE CODE AND BE AMAZED!
2. Dump Cake and Dump Dinner Cookbooks Cooking anything with more than three steps during the heat of summer can be an absolute nightmare. Recipes can be so complicated plus you need to learn to read first. Why not just dump a bunch of shit in a pan, heat it up, and stuff it in your face ASAP? Despite the fact that trailer park moms have been preparing “Dump Dinners” for years, Ms. Mitchell has somehow succeeded in touting a “cookbook” full of “meals” that college students wouldn’t even dream of concocting. Even more inexplicable than the book is how this has avoided a Larry the Cable Guy endorsement. What you get: A freakin’ book telling you to dump stuff in a pan for $10 But for real, this is unbelievable. Just because you use a simpler synonym for mixing ingredients, it doesn’t mean you made the act of cooking dinner any easier or more desirable.
3. Juggle Bubble This gem features a set of Magic Juggle Bubble Gloves and a specially formulated mixture of soapy water, which allows these bubbles to stay unpopped for seconds at a time. Literally seconds at a time! What you get: 2 supersized bottles of Juggle Bubbles (see soap + water), 2 sets of Magic Gloves, 2 Blow Wands, 2 Bubble Wells, and a Fun Guide for $10. I have a feeling that the Fun Guide was the most expensive piece to produce Juggle Bubble users are strongly cautioned to avoid bubble contact with their eyeballs to prevent combining childhood fun with the Thomas Dolby hit “She Blinded Me With Science.” The two should never be mixed.
4. Butterfly Abs If you enjoy the sensation of a Taser but don’t want to run from cops, get concussions, poop your pants, or drool in public, then Butterfly Abs may be right for you. This “FDA-cleared” - whew! - electronic belly shaker is a must-have for the pool season. Just sit back and relax while this device artificially sculpts your beer belly into, well, a really sore beer belly. What you get: 1 Rechargable EMS Unit, 4 Reusable Toning Pads, USB Charger, Workout Guide for $39.99 This product is perfect for those with an innate desire to exert minimal effort in the pursuit of increased sex appeal. So, you might think about it if the South Beach Diet doesn’t work out.
5. Tummy Tuck Miracle Slimming System Want a rock hard bod but working out is just not your thing? Take the “sweep it under the rug” approach to physical fitness and stuff it all away under a stretchy sleeve. This “space-age” girdle is so much easier to use than the medieval lace-up variety and doesn’t require a handmaid. What you get: 1 Tummy Tuck Belt, 60 day supply of Thermal Accelerator Cream (2 tubes), and an instructional video for $59.97 Don’t do this to yourself or others.
6. Snackeez Are you tired of always having to snack with two hands? Doesn’t it get old having to hold your drink in one hand while trying to eat with the other? Thanks to the makers of Snackeez, you can now spend your summer funneling solids and liquids down the same hatch while keeping one hand free. What you get: 2 Snackeez for $19.99 If there’s one thing ‘Mericans don’t need this summer, it’s a way to get maximum quantities of Cheetos and Pepsi into their star-spangled pieholes as fast as possible with only one hand.
7. Chillow Tired of waking up to find that your spouse has sweat the bed again? Do coworkers constantly remind you that you have a sweaty face? Want to know the solution? Sleep on a bag of water. What you get: One chillow for $12.95 The Chillow won’t solve your problems, but it might keep you from flipping over your pillow once or twice. Also, don’t dare Flick to stick his tongue to it.
8. Pocket Hose The Pocket Hose is a miracle solution for the space saving, cheapskate gardener, who doesn’t want to deal with the agony of actually rolling up the garden hose. What you get: Two 25-Foot Hoses and a Plastic Elbow Connector for $12.99 But for real, it works great as long as you don’t need more water than what comes out of a straw.
9. Magic Mesh Like the idea of a screen door but not so much the door part? Wish your door beads could keep bugs out? Stop standing there in your hemp slippers and pick up the phone! Magic Mesh uses Velcro and magnet technology to make the entry way to your home look like a camping tent. What you get: Magic Mesh door cover set for $19.95 Magic Mesh is pretty clearly what your office intern would come up with if you told him to make a screen door out of the stuff in the closet and break room.
10. My Spy Birdhouse Have you ever moved into a new house and looked around thinking, “What if the people who lived here before me installed cameras everywhere and are watching me lay around and do nothing all the time?” You’d want to move out if they were, right? That’s basically how this product works. First, you lure tiny, little birds into the birdhouse with the perception of privacy. The birdhouse is suction cupped to a household window. Then you remove the privacy curtain and watch their personal lives unfurl. It’s like Big Brother with birds. What you get: Birdhouse, Perch, 4 Suction Cups, 2-Way Mirror Film, and Curtain Card for $14.99 But for real, it does come with what they term a “privacy curtain.” If separation by cardboard is considered “privacy,” then consider UPS the Illuminati.
Oklahoma City Housing Authority
will begin accep�ng Sec�on 8 Housing Choice Voucher Applica�ons May 19, 2014 at 8:00 am. Applica�ons will be accepted online. Please visit www.ochanet.org to complete and submit the applica�on. For applicants who are disabled or those needing assistance with comple�ng an applica�on please call 405‐605‐3243.
Crossword puzzle answers from page 28
UNDEVELOPED AREA FARMS by Whitley O’Connor photos by Nick Aguilera
Skeleton: Mouse with butterfly wings
Have you ever seen a dead mouse and said to yourself, “That would look great with a top hat and cane?” Well, that’s exactly what Brian Magby thought when he found a mouse skeleton inside of his (then) newly purchased vintage RV camper. From this thought, Undeveloped Area Farms was born. Undeveloped Area Farms is a business run by Stephanie and Brian Magby that specializes in skeletal articulations. Skeletal articulation is the process of treating and arranging bones as skeletons for display like you’d see at a museum. However, many of Magby’s skeletons are posed in creative scenes like a knife thrower at a carnival, a post-apocalyptic mouse riding his bird to scout the land, and a mole dressed as the Pope (named Holy Moley). Don’t worry though, no animals were harmed in the making of these articulations. All of Magby’s skeletons come from animals that are already dead. These animals are kept frozen until they’re ready to be used. Then they’re skinned and gutted before their extra meet is cut off. Once most of the meat is off the bones, they’re dehydrated and fed to Dermestid beetles, a species of flesh-eating beetle. These are the same beetles you see serial killers using in horror movies. However, these beetles are much less dangerous than Hollywood leads you to believe. In fact, they only eat dehydrated, beef-jerky-like meat…tanners beware! Even though flesh eating beetles sound weird, the oddest part of the entire process is where the animals come from. While many of the skeletons come from local taxidermists, Brian told me that a lot of individuals bring them dead animals. “You’d be surprised how many people have dead animals in their freezers,” he said. And we’re not talking about deer meet stuffed into a deep freeze in the garage. We’re talking about birds, ferrets, and snakes right inside your kitchen next to your microwave dinners and frozen peas.
Stephanie and Brian have been selling their work for the past year, after getting their start in the Salvage Room (R.I.P.) in the Plaza District. Since then, they have been expanding and moving into stores in Georgia, Arizona, and Oregon (soon!). Locally they sell in Blue 7, the Osteology Museum, and festivals across Oklahoma. In fact, business has picked up enough to allow Brian to quit his job and pursue articulations full time. Not bad for frozen mice in top hats. So, what’s next for Undeveloped Area Farms? More articulations, a wider variety, and more opportunities to buy! Stephanie and Brian are moving to Weleetka to live in a house Brian built. There they will raise their own livestock, grow crops, and harness solar and wind energy in
an effort to live off the grid. And as promised, they will expand their business. In September, Brian will begin work on his biggest animals to date- two alpacas. He also wants to get into a wider variety of work, “I’d like to do some scenes with bugs and mice fighting each other.” In the future, Brian would also like to add rogue taxidermy to his portfolio (think full animals but in fun poses and costumes). Stephanie would also like to expand her jewelry line of wearable bones. Be sure to follow Undeveloped Area Farms on Facebook and Intagram to keep up with their latest work and growth. Also, go visit their GoFundMe page, where they are raising money for expansion and giving away awesome articulations in return for donations.
Website: www.undevelopedareafarms.com Facebook: facebook.com/undevelopedareafarms Instagram: @undevelopedareafarms GoFundMe: gofundme.com/undevelopedareafarms
“BY MUTUAL CONFIDENCE AND MUTUAL AID —
GREAT DEEDS ARE DONE,
GREAT DISCOVERIES ARE MADE.” — HOMER The foundation and lifeblood of any great city lies far beyond its brick, mortar and aesthetic. It’s manifested in the devotion and goodwill for all of its citizens. The idea that the very best in us is represented in the selfless, tangible contributions made for the progress of the empowered. We are a proud supporter of the Curbside Chronicle, and those whose initiative and entrepreneurial spirit is paving the way for a brighter tomorrow.
OKLAHOMA CIT Y | WICHITA | TULSA
John Rex Charter Elementary School The culmination of the downtown tur naround by Forrest Bennett
A key to breaking the cycle of poverty in any community is access to a good education. As The Curbside Chronicle knows, OKC has its share of poverty. So, when a new school pops up in the metro area, we’re interested in what it could do for the surrounding community. That is why we sat down with Joe Pierce to discuss John Rex Charter El-
ementary School, set to open this fall in downtown OKC. John W. Rex Elementary, named for the long-time civic leader and education advocate, is currently under construction at 500 W. Sheridan. The school – which will eventually host 500 students grades pre-K through 5 – has gained a lot of attention, ex-
citement, and of course, a bit of criticism. Many see it as a major step in revitalizing downtown and a boon to the underserved in the area, while others view it as a school catering to the children of wealthy energy executives who work downtown. The truth seems to lie somewhere in the middle.
Pierce, who holds a doctorate in education and has over 30 years of experience working in public education in Oklahoma, was very forthcoming about the makeup of John Rex’s inaugural class. “John Rex School has designated geographic attendance boundaries and any child residing within the Academic Enterprise Zone will, subject to capacity limitations, be entitled to attend the school,” said Pierce. He also noted that 60% of the students within those boundaries qualify for the free or reduced school lunch program. The boundary exists roughly from 13th street on the north to the river on the south, and Western Ave. on the west to Lottie Ave. on the east. It encompasses downtown, which includes some rundown areas but also includes some of the city’s most expensive housing projects. According to Pierce, the majority of the applications they have received so far have been from out of the geographical boundary. This may be due to common misconceptions about
charter schools. Many parents hear “charter school” and immediately think “this is going to cost us money.” Alternatives to normal public schools sometimes also mean a curriculum that is biased or lackluster in rigor compared to other schools. In this case, that is far from the truth. “John Rex is a tuition-free, public school,” Pierce explained. He went on to tell us that the school will be held to the same academic and testing standards as other OKC Public Schools. In fact, he said they will be implementing what he considers to be a “rigorous and relevant” manner. While the school must comply with OKCPS standards, it can get creative with the curriculum used to achieve them, and they intend to take advantage of that creative freedom. We asked Mr. Pierce if he planned to lend the state-of-the-art facilities to existing efforts to lift citizens out of poverty in the downtown area. To this, he said the following:
“As the leader of the new school, I am committed to embracing the work of the various community organizations that reach out to the least of those among us. I have met with several leaders in the community that have dedicated themselves to this work and [I] am pleased with the services they offer and the many possibilities where the school can assist. As a supporter of downtown OKC, I am very excited about the possibilities for John Rex to join them in doing whatever we can to help our community.” A school can be much more than a place to hold classes during the day. It can be the hub of a community, a rallying point for all residents in a neighborhood, and a place not for academic growth alone but for the growth of opportunity, creativity, and intellectual achievement. We hope to see this in John Rex.
PERFECT PATIOS by Ashley Dekat photos courtesy of respective restaurants
The Oklahoma City dining scene has been bursting at the seams the last few years. The menus are creative and decor trendy but one thing stands out: the patios! Perfect for all seasons, especially the dog days of summer, there are numerous patios around The Metro to enjoy, many of which have fans, misters, and heaters for added comfort. I have featured just a handful of OKC’s top patios and encourage you to try them and others around the city. So go on, be adventurous and eat outside!
FLINT When considering patios in OKC, it doesn’t get much better than Flint. Flint is located in the heart of Downtown in the bottom floor of the historic Colcord hotel. It boasts a perfect view of the Myriad Gardens on one side, the unique architecture of the Colcord on the other, and sits in the shadows of the neighboring Devon tower. The patio is very large and complete with plush couches, comfortable seating, and a private bar. I can attest that the shade and breeze created from the adjacent buildings along with the misters makes this patio comfortable even during the hottest Oklahoma summers. During the cooler months or on rare cold summer days, they have
a fireplace and heaters to keep you toasty. Flint is open daily and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with some amazing hand crafted cocktails, snacks, and desserts. The patio has a special menu and drink specials to go along with their live entertainment on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Can’t decide what to order? My favorite breakfast items include the Eggs Benedict ($13) with a super fluffy English muffin or the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes ($8). I almost always order one of their creative sandwich options like the Surf & Turf Po’ Boy (shaved pastrami, fried lobster,
tobacco onion rings, coleslaw- $19) or the House-Made Turkey Burger (free range ground turkey, tomatoes, butter lettuce, avocado aioli- $12) for lunch. And dinner wouldn’t be complete without their Lamb Chops (brown sugar-seared Colorado lamb chop, Grand Marnier, Israeli couscous, shaved brussel sprouts, broccolini, sun-dried tomato- $38) or many seafood features. Even if you just want snacks and cocktails, you won’t be disappointed with their creative options. Parking is easy with their complimentary valet, so head Downtown to check them out!
Located half a block from its neighbor, Flint, Park House is the year-round restaurant located at the Myriad Gardens. It offers a large patio with excellent views of the verdant gardens. Rain or shine, ample seating is available on the covered patio. If you don’t feel like sitting outside, there is still a great view of the gardens inside because three sides of the restaurant are floor-to-ceiling windows. They do not have a specific lunch menu, but don’t let that deter you from experiencing the gardens in the summer sunlight. For lunch, try something like their Classic Bacon Cheeseburger (daily fresh-ground beef, house cured bacon,
Wisconsin cheddar, Brioche bun- $14), their Wild Arugula Salad (house cured bacon, poached egg, Danish Blue, mustard vinaigrette- $12), or a bowl of their Rotisserie Chicken Soup ($7). In fact, rotisserie chicken is a Park House specialty. Free-range chicken is roasted for several hours in a spinning rotisserie, visible for all patrons to see as they enter the restaurant. The rotisserie chicken is then used in several of their salads, sandwiches, and appetizers. But why not get it as an entrée for dinner? It is perfect when served with a choice of two sides and Park House rolls ($19). The Halibut Fish N’ Chips ($26) or the Chicken N’ Chips ($16) are
both coated in a beer batter made with locally micro-brewed Mustang Brewing Co. beer and are served with crisp slaw, waffle fries, and housemade dipping sauces. For something a bit more fancy, try the Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon (cauliflower purée, Beluga black lentils, preserved lemon butter- $26). Make sure to save room for some sweet nostalgia and finish with warm cookies or donuts cooked to order and a glass of milk ($8). The Park House is open daily and accepts reservations, so it is a perfect place to go for special occasions or before events at Chesapeake Arena. They have valet parking for a fee or plenty of metered street parking.
If you haven’t experienced Packard’s rooftop bar, you are really missing out! It is located inside the historic Packard’s car dealership building at 10th and Robinson and has a fantastic view of downtown OKC. The vintage tile floor in Packard’s was part of the original showroom floor in the dealership. The décor perfectly matches its New American cuisine, with the focal point of the restaurant being a well-stocked bar. If you are hungry, plan on grabbing a bite in the restaurant before heading upstairs since they do not yet serve food on the rooftop. Packard’s proudly features a seasonal menu with locally sourced ingredients. Favorite appetizers to go with cocktails include the Campechana (shrimp, crab, tomato, avocado, cilantro, lime, house made flour tortilla chips- $13)
or the Chilled Smoked Salmon (dill cream cheese, red onion, pickled cucumber, capers, toast- $14). Lighter lunch options like Falafel (flatbread, hummus, red onion, lettuce, tomato, tahini- $11) and Spinach Salad (quinoa, strawberries, grapes, feta cheese, spiced pecans, Green Goddess Dressing- $10) are sure to please those who don’t want to indulge in the many rich (but delicious!) lunch entrees. Evening visitors will find their dinner entrees are equally creative. You can’t go wrong with Halibut (peas, shitake, roasted tomato, lemon jus- $32) or the Fried Lasagna (house made pasta sheets, mozzarella, spinach, peppers, tomato, onions, meat sauce- $15). After your meal, scamper up the stairs for rooftop drinks! With so many delicious, handcrafted cocktails it is hard to choose, but the Pack Mule
(Tito’s Vodka, Ginger Beer, sweetener, lemon, rose- $8) and the Honey Pepper Bacon Old Fashioned (infused Honey Pepper Bacon Bourbon, maple, bitters- $8) are a great place to start. If you would rather have beer, Packard’s features some great Oklahoma microbreweries like COOP, Mustang, Roughtail, and Prairie Artisan Ales, as well as national craft beer favorites like Founders, Green Flash, and Anchor. Not to be forgotten is their equally impressive wine list. The umbrellas on the rooftop make it a perfect place to come early and enjoy the colorful Oklahoma sunset. Packard’s kitchen and bar is open Tuesday-Sunday and the rooftop bar is open Tuesday-Saturday 4:30-close. Parking at Packard’s is available in a complimentary private lot across the street.
Whiskey Cake offers the ideal four-season patio. Located in the Penn Square Mall parking lot, it is one of only two locations (the second is in Texas). Even though they aren’t an exclusively Oklahoma restaurant, they feature as many local products as possible, such as local free-range meats and eggs, local cheeses, and locally roasted coffee. Near the bar is a chalkboard listing all of the locally sourced ingredients currently being used. Many local and homemade products (like jams and pickles) are available for purchase too. Another intriguing aspect of Whiskey Cake is their recycled décor: light bulb vases, egg carton ceilings, and mismatched thrift store mugs. Now about that patio! It is completely covered and showcases a huge fireplace. Don’t worry about
burning up in July and August though, big plantation style fans keep diners cool during sweltering Oklahoma summers. The patio has comfortable bench seating as well as rattan-style swinging chairs. It is a delightful destination for a relaxing meal or customized cocktail, both of which feature fresh ingredients from an onsite garden. I can go to Whiskey Cake for appetizers and cocktails and be completely satisfied, with selections ranging from Canyon Ridge Farms Warm Goat Cheese Fondue ($10), Fried Green Tomatoes ($6), or Thai Barbeque Duck Wings ($11). Unique specialty cocktails like the Wabbit Smash (Bombay Sapphire gin, freshly juiced carrot, local mint, Hilltop Gardens honey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, Kings Ginger Liqueur- $8)
and Tracey’s Garden (New Amsterdam gin, muddled English cucumber and fresh local basil, freshly squeezed lime juice, house made simple syrup- $8) are sure to tickle your taste buds while giving you a dose of vegetables and vitamins. There are too many fantastic entree options to list, but be guaranteed whatever you order for lunch, dinner, or Saturday and Sunday brunch is sure to satisfy. Your meal simply would not be complete without their namesake Whiskey Cake! It is a tender toffee torte with bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans, and a personal bowl of freshly whipped cream ($8). Whiskey Cake has ample free parking and is open daily with late hours (open til 2am on the weekends). Make a reservation on Open Table to guarantee your spot.
The Garage has the perfect urban patio that lends itself to casual dining and drinking. Although there are several locations around The Metro, their newest location is in Midtown, only half a block away from the previously mentioned Packard’s. The Garage’s patio is sandwiched between two tall buildings and faces Robinson Ave. There are plenty of chairs and tables for parties large and small and even a TV. The Garage streamlines your service to ensure you wont be standing in line for long. After placing your order at the front counter, take a number, fill up your cup at the soda fountain, and pick out
your perfect patio seat. Big juicy burgers are The Garage’s forte! I am hopelessly in love with their hamburgers. I am working on munching my way through their entire menu. So far, my favorite is the Classic (a simple cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion -$4.99). Another favorite is the Egg O’Nater (bacon, fried egg, and cheese- $5.99). They have a smorgasbord of creative burger options and all of them can be made with Angus beef, bison, turkey, or veggie patties. The freshly made buns really make the burgers special. You can also get your burger on a whole-wheat bun or as a lettuce wrap.
The bar at The Garage serves traditional beer, cocktails, and shots, as well as a decent craft beer list with several local selections. Their happy hour is offered 3-6pm and includes $2 domestic bottled beer and $2 Coors drafts. $3 shots and $5.50 Modelo 24 oz. cans are served all day. The nice thing about sitting on the patio is that you can start a bar tab from the comfort of your table! What more could I ask for in a burger spot? Great location. Great food. Great patio. ‘Nuff said!
photo by Ranya Forgotson
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Homeless OuTReach Team by Morgan Chesky
The voice was firm but gentle, “Is there anywhere you need to go right now,” he asked the woman inside the tent. “Can we take you anywhere?” Staff Sergeant Clinton Garst knelt down a few feet away and listened. The shade, where he and partner Paul Camacho waited, was no help on the humid June afternoon. Any breeze would’ve been welcome, not just for the sweat, but the smell. On either side of the officers, empty food cans, wrappers, and clothes offered one pile after another. The trash told a story the two men already knew, yet there they were, waiting in the heat to hear from the woman inside the tent. She said her name was Tonya and she was sick. She spent most days at a nearby shelter, cooking meals for those even less fortunate than she was. She said the tent was her home and had been for months. Both officers listened as Tonya told her story. Then, instead of a trespassing arrest or demanding that she leave, Camacho pulled out a bag stuffed with snacks, water, soap, and clean socks. After handing it off, Garst passed on a card with a cell phone number and said words Tonya had heard before but never from the police. “We’ll come out here and see what we can do to help you, ok?” From his branch station in Bricktown, Lieutenant Bobby Tompkins has spent the past three months working as more of a social scientist than a police officer. As supervisor for the department’s Bricktown bike patrol, he and his team watched as a growing cast of
faces became all too familiar. “We were seeing a trend of arrest, detox, people getting out of jail, going back to the camps that they’d been in, and going back to the streets,” explained Tompkins. “We were seeing the same people over and over again.” Tompkins confronted a numbers game with the odds stacked against him. This year, local estimates have close to 1500 homeless who call Oklahoma City home. Metro shelters, most of which already operate near capacity, take in as many people as they can. A remaining 300 men, women, and children fall into the category of chronic or unsheltered homeless. This small group of chronic homeless is responsible for a costly impact citywide in the form of emergency services. A survey by The Homeless Alliance showed that over the past year, OKC’s chronic homeless contributed to more than 1100 interactions with the police, racked up roughly 600 emergency room visits, and made close to 200 trips to the Oklahoma County Jail. “A lot of these people have created their own problems,” admitted Garst, who has responded to plenty of them over his 14 years on the force. “But when you actually get to talking to them, I mean, they’re human beings. Nobody deserves to live like this.” The struggle came in how to create that conversation. Tompkins looked to other cities for ideas. San Francisco’s Homeless Outreach Team of 35 officers was out of the question, but Colorado Springs featured a plan that in four years had already taken hundreds off the streets.
Tompkins explained that instead of saying, “Hey, you’re laying in this camp, you’re drunk, you’re going to detox now.” Instead of arresting for minor violations they say, “Hey, what can we do to help you get out of this situation?” Tompkins created the pilot Homeless Outreach Team (dubbed H.O.T.) and enlisted the help of two of his most experienced officers, Garst and Camacho. Their purpose is to become ambassadors to an inherently distrusting, transient population. “This sounded great,” said Garst, “Just for the reason that it was something different that might work.” For partner Paul Camacho, the calling was much more personal. “We’re all just one tragedy away from whatever that darkness is, you know?” said the 23-year veteran, who watched that darkness consume his own older brother. Decades of drug and alcohol use led Camacho’s brother to poor health and a life on the street. Camacho didn’t blink. It took years but he and his family worked to help his brother return to normal life. Camacho admits the process was painful but also offered the very experience he needed for H.O.T. “This unit here has been a Godsend for the city,” Camacho said. It’s a city Camacho and Garst now know on a deeper level. Days are spent going from camp to camp, making introductions, building trust, and arrests are only made as a last resort. Progress is measured in smiles and handshakes. And when a connection is made, it’s a lasting one. Living proof of H.O.T.’s early success can be found in a former
homeless, 49-year-old woman who goes by Trudy. “They’re very special people in my eyes,” she confessed. “I think they deserve a medal.” However, these kind words didn’t come so quickly. When Garst and Camacho first met Trudy in April, she was running a homeless camp of a few dozen people less than a mile from Downtown. After her home was condemned, Trudy became homeless for three years with her husband and son and developed an unhealthy distrust for anyone in uniform. “They thought they was going to have to fist fight me because they didn’t know what to think of a woman like me,” said Trudy, who still laughs about their first meeting. But then came the second, third, and fourth follow-up. By then the officers had become “Clinton and Paul,” who made it clear that if she wanted a new life they were willing to help. “I felt that I could trust them. I trust those men with my life,” said Trudy. “Without them we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we’ve accomplished.” Over the next month, “Clinton and Paul” drove Trudy to get a new ID, picked her up so she could get a social security card, and stood by as she got a brand new marriage license. The officers covered every fee and application cost. “We went to four different places and it took us three weeks,” laughed Garst. “It wasn’t easy.” But the payoff made it more than worth it. Trudy’s documentation and willingness to cooperate allowed The Homeless Alliance to help her family find quality, permanent housing for the first time in years. Since May, she’s been in a three-bedroom home
where she plans to celebrate her 50th birthday come August 1st. “I’m just going to be the old sweet grandma now,” she laughed. “I’m blessed, I’m really blessed and I like to tell people, ‘Don’t take things for granted.’” Stories like Trudy’s helped the pilot program officially shed its temporary label. In June, Oklahoma City Council voted to fill Camacho and Garst’s former bike patrol positions, allowing the officers to stay full time on the H.O.T. program. For The Homeless Alliance and other advocates, it’s these new friendships between the police and the homeless that translate into rewards trickling down to every Oklahoma City taxpayer. “If they’re able to get five Trudy’s into homeless services and reduce their utilization of public services, I think it [the program] pays for itself literally ten times over,” said executive director of the Homeless Alliance, Dan Straughan. “I think you could save a million dollars a year...I think nine months from now they’re going to look back on a year of work and say, ‘Man, that really paid off.’” Weaving his way down another well-worn trail, a familiar voice split the silence. “Oklahoma City Police, Homeless Outreach Team,” stated Staff Sergeant Clinton Garst. “Hello?” The camp he and Camacho approached was elaborate. Multiple tents, chairs, and makeshift tables made up the place a man and wife called home for the past year. A quick look showed both were gone. “We’ve met the couple before,” said Garst as he and Camacho looked over the empty camp. “They don’t cause trouble but can’t live like this, in these conditions. We’ll be back.”
meet laur a
Compiled by Ranya Forgotson
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
q a q a
Well, I’m from Minnesota and I majored in music. I went to Minnesota State University Moorhead. I graduated with a B.A. in Music Theory/Piano. I’ve forgotten most of the theory now. You had to have a major instrument and mine was piano. I started playing piano when I was 10 years old. It kind of spoils you though. You get to where you can only read music and it’s harder to create. As far as being spontaneous, I used to have a knack for rhythm. I thought I could join a folk band if I knew where to audition. But it has been some time since I’ve felt like tapping a table. I also enjoy singing.
How did you get into music? I’m from a musical family, so it was a natural thing. Most of my sisters and brothers play instruments or sing.
What’s your favorite type of music?
It’s hard to say. I like classical. That’s what I studied. I tried to join a barbershop chorus club but it got too expensive. This was in the Twin Cities. I was also in a Collegium Musicum group that played Renaissance style pieces. For musicians, I enjoy Cantus. They are a chamber group from Minnesota. You might have heard of their album Against the Dying of the Light. They are almost all a cappella. If I went to a concert, I would go see Cantus or a barbershop chorus.
What’s the hardest part about being homeless?
What were your plans after college?
I thought that I might become a piano teacher. It’s sort of assumed that you go to college. Afterwards, I just wanted to get a job, meet someone, and have a family. But piano is not a very marketable skill, so I didn’t get very far.
How did you end up in Oklahoma?
q a 28
When I became homeless, I came to Oklahoma with a boyfriend. We didn’t make it together because he was abusive. So, I was in Oklahoma and things would just not take place. I couldn’t get a job and I lost heart. I tried the labor places but work was hard to come by. I was angry when people thought that I wasn’t trying. I got fed up and began scrapping aluminum.
How long have you been homeless?
I’ve been homeless since 2007.
It’s hard to learn that you can’t even get a job as a janitor cleaning toilets. And you’re over qualified. You don’t get to develop. And then people turn around and say they don’t understand how you can be homeless when you’re so educated. There’s going to be such a divergence between your abilities (if you don’t forget them) and the type of jobs you’ll get. Your resume never looks good. You keep on looking and looking and no one hires you, and you have to explain why it’s blank. It’s hard. I just lost heart and I began to mope. I said enough trying. Enough of that humiliating ritual of filling out applications for people who don’t want to hire you. Then I heard about the magazine and I realized it was opportunity for me.
What’s it like being a vendor for The Curbside Chronicle? My favorite part is the feeling you get when you sell out early. There are also days when there isn’t much interest. At one time I didn’t like how panhandlers were actually getting more money than us. I would like the city to start encouraging us more. To treat us like salesmen and not panhandlers. A few people have offered me cigarettes or food instead of cash for a magazine. I would like people to not do that while I am vending. But I will accept water when it is hot.
What are some other jobs you’d like to pursue in the future?
I wouldn’t mind working at a metal recycling yard. I could be a telephone operator, typist, janitor, clean houses, or do yard work. I’m not certified but I can give massages. I have experience with these things. I would just like to work and get an apartment of my own. I don’t want public housing or anything given to me.
What’s it like living outside?
It might be better coming from someone who hasn’t been burnt out. You should ask someone just starting. When I had a boyfriend, I wanted to hitchhike with someone. Sharing that with someone, doing it together, and when you first start out it’s an adventure. But you’d get a better answer from someone else who is still interested in it. I’m a very organized person and right now I am in a very dirty place. Theft is also a huge problem. I have had 11 bikes stolen from me, all with locks.
What are some things you enjoy?
My gift is word puzzles. I’ve been into cryptograms, crosswords, and Sudoku for many, many years. I don’t know how fast I am at Sudoku, but I try to do difficult ones. They have different levels and I always try the hardest. I really like it when crosswords have a theme. The New York Times has a crossword puzzle that I love. I enjoy solving puzzles and doodling. When I’m not reading books or doing crosswords, I had intended to sew things. I don’t watch TV because I don’t like the visual element. But I like to listen to the radio. Sleepers Awake Program, which is classic and jazz, and I like to listen to talk programs so that I can fill the room with people speaking to me. I usually end up with a talk show that I don’t understand because that’s what’s on. But that’s still valuable to have people’s voices around.
What do you like to read?
It’s hard to pick a genre. I just try to see how a book grabs me. As for an author, I can pick a particular one I like. His name is Carl Hiaasen. I also like the children’s author Lois Lowry, who wrote The Giver.
What would you like to say about homelessness? I think homeless people are used as a dump for unwanted things. I’m tired of having so many oodles of objects and products given to me and anything except a job. And it’s hard having something of my own that I can give to people and not having it wanted, whether it’s speaking, conversing, or a talent that I would like to share with someone. photo by Ranya Forgotson photo by Ranya Forgotson
answers on page 11
answers on page 11
Since Laura loves solving crossword puzzles so much, she decided to make one of her own for you to enjoy!
ACROSS 1 - Handheld candy machine 3 - Ring of coral 6 - Slang term for “nothing” 7 - Subject line of a memo 8 - ____ comes before beauty 10 - Meaning not of Iranian origins 13 - The Gem State 14 - Elongated S-shape often used in architecture 17 - Brand of cola 18 - Cold side of a rock band 20 - Popular Canadian horror film from 2000
DOWN 2 - Tops of rock 3 - Bitter smelling 4 - Counselor or sex offender 5 - Spanish term for “prairie” 9 - It’s funny how things happen 11 - Your sister’s daugher 12 - Said when you “get it” 15 - Meaning “therefore” 16 - Department store in the mall 19 - Forensic TV show
TO OUR COMMUNIT Y & YOU
405.270.1000 W W W . B A N C F I R S T. C O M
by The Mysterious Maggienificent
CANCER The older you get, Cancer, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana. Then you just get squishy and brown.
Leos have a particularly difficult time during “The Dark Ages,” also known as “Thunder Off Season.” What’s a Leo to do without the adrenaline-fueled, screaming heart attack that is Thunder basketball to keep him up past his bedtime? Perhaps during this time of rest you should start a calming hobby. I’ve heard knitting is nice.
Do you know how difficult it is to stay in business as a fortuneteller when Buzzfeed keeps making these online quizzes that ask “What Kind of Dog Are You?” or “What Does Your Birth Month Say About You?” Before, the only way you could see into your future was this magazine. It’s been so hard to keep up with the digital age and all the recent digital trends in #fortunetelling. But you know what, Libra? You’ll stick by me because you still use MySpace. And I thank you for that.
VIRGO Your Horoscope is a Haiku. Horoscopes aren’t easy And sometimes they don’t make sense. Planetarium.
Have you felt misunderstood? Like no one can see your true motives? That’s how Godzilla must feel. He wasn’t trying to terrorize the city and strike fear into the hearts of civilians. He was just trying to find the nearest Chipotle. Have you ever tried to navigate through life without Google Maps? It ain’t so easy. So this month, let’s give everyone (even Godzilla) the benefit of the doubt, kapeesh?
The stars have inspired me to go into stand-up comedy. You’re my first audience, Sagittarius. (clears throat) Why did the hamburger go to the gym? BECAUSE IT WANTED BETTER BUNS! (crickets chirp) Okay, we all can’t have the natural comedic timing of you, Sagittarius. Your undeniable humor and impeccable joke telling skills may come in handy this month during a not-so-funny situation. Brush up on your knock-knock jokes and prepare to entertain.
CAPRICORN This month is one of those rare time periods when the cosmos acts gently and sensitively, trying to assuage human wounds and pains, following several periods of abrupt and discordant celestial mayhem. Planetary turbulence outweighs hearty encouragement. You follow me? Me neither.
Things will be thrown your way this month, Aries, but nothing that you can’t handle. There might be a couple times that you need to take a breather. Might I suggest starting a new series on Netflix? It really can take the edge off. You may find yourself calmer than before…it just might be 2 weeks before you leave your room.
AQUARIUS Channel your inner water sign this month, Aquarius, as you trek through the heat wave that is Oklahoma summer. You’re refreshing to those around you, much like a Route 44 Powerade Slush from Sonic during high noon. Keep up the good work.
Pisces, Pisces, Pisces. You’re hard to read, Pisces. Not because you’re at the end of the astrological signs and therefore I am out of material. Because thinking about your horoscope makes me start thinking of pie… cherry pie, apple pie, chocolate pie…. Oh my gosh, have you ever had the Peanut Butter Pie from Pie Junkie? It’s to die for, honestly. I couldn’t even predict how good it was going to be and that’s saying something since I can predict just about everything.
Life keeps you questioning things, Taurus. And that’s because you refuse to accept things for face value. Why are blackberries called black when their juice is purple? What if two people on opposite sides of the world dropped a piece of bread at the same time? Would that make Earth a sandwich? These are the questions that keep you up at night. Now, the next question for you to think about: How is El Chico still in business?
GEMINI James Thurber once said, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” Well James Thurber, you must have never wondered what the 23 flavors in Dr. Pepper are. Taurus, not all of your questions will have answers this month, but that doesn’t mean you should stop asking.