Joe Wilhite


Haley Mowdy


Alexandra Bare


Mark Doescher


Kaitlin Manis


Carly O'Donnell


Rachel Hobbes


Kathryn Shauberger
Antonio Namwong
Alanna Moore
Shar Rother
Kelsey Higley
Melodie Lettkeman
Shar Rother


Tammy Boyd
Lindsay Cuomo
Jen Elsner
Victoria Malcolm
Grant Schatzman
Leighann Carroll
Chris Joseph
Jeff Provine
Cheyenne Simmons
Lezlie Christian
Tyler McComas
Carligh Foutch
Taylor Hickney
Brenna McLaughlin


Rachel Campbell


Tia Nguyen

Becs Yeager


Joe Wilhite
Randy Laffoon
Perry Spencer
Tracie Gray


StART Norman

For a few glorious weeks in April and May, StART Norman, an experiment using the arts to reintegrate the populace into the community, transformed Main Street between Webster and Santa Fe Avenues.

StART Norman turned Main Street into a vibrant, engaging community for citizens and artists alike. The south side was filled with food, art and fun.  Vendors sold ice cream and artwork, and there were music and games in the yard at the corner of Main and Santa Fe. The north side included a cycle track, bike parking and outdoor seating. More importantly, the old lumberyard at the corner of Main and Webster was renovated and retooled as an artists’ studio where spontaneous works of art were created.

The arts were represented exceptionally well at StART Norman. Art exhibits and performances included an oompah band, the Norman singers, sidewalk chalk art, poetry reading, Namron Players Theatre, the Norman Public Library, live painting, film screenings, writing workshops, woodworking projects, open mics, the Sketchbook Project and the Songwriters Association of Norman.

One example of the artisans who participated in StART Norman is Bob Mansfield. Mansfield was the accordionist for the oompah band that played April 12.  His bigger contribution, though, was a demonstration concert on the accordion, covering the instrument from its invention in the mid-1800s forward.  The concert was about an hour and fifteen minutes long and featured accordion music by the decade.

“We had eleven different instruments in the concert, accordions as well as squeezeboxes,” Mansfield said. While the concert was personally satisfying, Mansfield did say he wished StART Norman had been better attended.

Despite lower-than-anticipated attendance, existing businesses, like Sweet Basil, Elusive and the Bead Shop, benefitted from the uptick of people and commerce in the area, as did several “pop-up shops” from merchants like Eat At Local, Das Boot Camp and Mariposa Coffee Roastery. Furthermore, many of the artisans exhibiting at StART Norman were able to introduce themselves and their work to a broader cross-section of the community. Perhaps most encouraging, the next generation was introduced to the arts through a variety of family art activities during StART Norman, including an aluminum foil sculpture activity that is still featured on StART Norman’s Twitter feed (@STARTnorman).

StART Norman was conceived as a fusion of two national model projects: Better Block and No Longer Empty.  Better Block started in Dallas, Texas, in April 2010. Over a two-day period a “blighted block” was restored, empty storefronts were once again filled with businesses and residents were able to enjoy outdoor spaces and a heightened quality of life. No Longer Empty employs an “interim-use model” that locates art exhibits in empty or abandoned buildings in a community. Curators work with recognized artists, emerging artists and the hosting community itself to establish the curatorial theme of the art exhibit.

While it is unclear whether or not StART Norman will be held again next year, many of this year’s participants would like to see it return. And they would like to see even more of the Norman community come out to join in the festivities. For more information on StART Norman, contact the Norman Arts Council at (405) 360-1162.


Get Involved: Stuff The Bus

One of the best parts of back-to-school time for kids is undoubtedly back to school shopping. For a 90s kid like me, there was nothing better than a new Lisa Frank folder and a pack of glitter gel pens. For many Oklahoma families, though, coming up with the extra money to pay for the school supplies for their children can be a struggle. Always looking to remain involved in the community, the United Way of Norman continues to support the Stuff the Bus fundraiser to help ease the burden of these families in need by raising money to provide school supplies for local children.

The Rotary Interact Club at Norman High School originally started Stuff the Bus through a partnership with the United Way Teen Advisors of Norman. The fundraiser’s committee is comprised entirely of high school students with some assistance from local rotary clubs and adult advisors. 2014 marks the fifth year for the Norman Stuff the Bus fundraiser.

This year’s event will take place on July 27th in the Sooner Mall parking lot located at 3301 W. Main Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You will be able to easily spot the event given that, of course, the fundraiser’s school bus will be parked outside the mall! Last year over $18,000 was raised for Stuff the Bus according to Diane Murphree, United Way’s Director of Community Impact. Between 700 and 1,000 children have consistently been helped by this fundraising effort. For 2014, volunteers hope to garner an additional $2,000 for a total fundraising goal of $20,000. It takes approximately $30 to stuff a backpack full of school supplies for one child, so even the smallest of contributions have a large impact.

Low-income families in need of the assistance Stuff the Bus provides can register for the program from July 14 -18 at the Bethel Baptist Multipurpose Building located at 1132 McGee in Norman. Registration will take place each day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will serve families with children in grades Pre-K through 12th grade who attend school in Lexington, Little Axe, Noble, Norman and Robin Hill. Interested families must bring current proof of income (including TANF, SSI, DHS, child support, etc.), current proof of residence, social security cards for all family members and a current driver’s license or photo identification card.  The school supply distribution is set to take place on August 9 from 9 a.m. to noon at the same location.

If any school supplies and funds are left over after distribution, the United Way receives referrals from counselors to ensure that all of the items make their way into the hands of children in need. The items being provided include crayons, Kleenex, pencils, spiral notebooks, scissors, watercolors, markers, glue sticks, folders, erasers, pencil sharpeners, pencil bags, pens, combination locks, composition notebooks, colored pencils, 1 inch binders, dividers, notebook paper, construction paper, dry erase markers and school boxes.

“The high school students put a lot of time and effort into this program,” says Ms. Murphree. “They realize that children in Norman should have the advantage of starting school with all the supplies that they need to be successful. They make that happen through Stuff the Bus.”

If you would like to get involved with this cause but do not have time to stop by the event, you can donate online at More information on the Stuff the Bus program can also be found at this site or you can contact the United Way of Norman at 405-329-2025. 

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