Yesterday, the North Dakota Man Camp Project received some great press coverage from the good folks at Prairie Public Radio’s Main Street. Ashley Thornberg spent half a day with us as we visited several different types of workforce housing in the area around Alexander, North Dakota. She then complemented our work with some conversations with folks in Dickinson, North Dakota and elsewhere and put together a gallery of the photographs.
Here’s the link to the archived show. Our segment begins at the 18:30 mark and runs for a close to 30 minutes. I’ll look into getting a direct link to the segment. The report continues after a short break for news.
Aside from my one painfully obvious mistake (where I say “E.P. Thompson” but mean “Frederick Jackson Turner” and, in my defense: I was on location and had been talking about the E.P. Thompson-like things just moments before (oh, and I’m a Byzantinist)), this is probably the best media coverage our work has received (other than some great attention from Forum Communication’s Amy Dalrymple.)
Ashley did two things differently from most members of the media. First, she did not become preoccupied by asking us for answers or specific data. She recognized quickly in the interview that we were not producing a census or attempting to document every single camp and every single unit (although that would be awesome!). We also are not producing policy statements (yet), but collecting a range of data that addresses both scholarly questions and contributes to a persistent archive that will inform future scholarly work.
Second, she took the time to understand the tricky character of “archaeology of the contemporary past” and pursued questions that helped us articulate how looking at objects can tell stories about the present. Her prompts to me were really effect and spot on, and I appreciate her willingness to give both me and my collaborator Bret Weber to talk about how our research will develop.
I won’t say any more and encourage you to go and listen to her segment on Main Street.