Making Home in the Bakken Oil Patch

This past week, Bret Weber and I put the final touches on a chapter that we’re contributing to Kyle Conway’s innovative Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018. The book combines the republication of the 1958 Williston Report with a series of new chapters that consider the Williston Report’s conclusions in light of the early 21st century boom. Having read the entire manuscript, the book is a useful response to our tendency to see boom as unprecedented and the challenges associated with them as unique. The similarities between the 1950s boom and the 21st century boom in Western North Dakota and local responses, demonstrate that while all booms are not the same in terms of scale, character, and setting, it is possible to learn from past booms, to avoid certain mistakes, and to anticipate the future challenges. (Whether we do this or not, has less to do with knowing the past (despite the famous Santayana quote) and more to do with whether we care.)

As you might expect, Bret, Richard Rothaus, and I offered our observations on workforce housing. The contribution isn’t perfect, but I think it’s pretty good. We do a much better job integrating some of our interviews into our analysis and the sections from the 1958 Report and the other chapters in the book offer useful foils and points of expansion for our contribution. 

Check it out here.

And stay tuned for the book in early 2020!!! It’ll be another contribution to our “Bakken Bookshelf”!

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