Black Gold Boom Fights Hard, Flies High, Gets Sticky With It

"This is big for Williston to have events," booms the announcer at the Williston Basin Blowout, a night of mixed martial arts fighting captured by Localore producer Todd Melby and photographer Ben Garvin in a striking audio slideshow.

"As the population grows, we need things to do to keep us out of trouble. Agreed?" The crowd roars.

a view from the airStory by story, Melby and Garvin are crafting an interactive documentary of North Dakota's oil boom from unexpected angles—including from above. They joined Adell Hackworth on top of her food truck to capture her thoughts on the "the highway of hope," and then took to the air above the oil patch to capture images of the rigs, man camps, and homes being built to accommodate the burgeoning population. 

"There is a paradox about the oil patch," says Garvin. "It's such a beautiful country...especially from the air. And at the same time we fly over and we see these scarred bandages over the land of pipelines, and oil tankers and massive oil wells." Hear more about the process of the shoot here.

Williston is the fastest-growing "micropolitan" area in the country, and the influx of workers, trucks and new money is both a boon and a burden for residents. Back on the ground, Melby is asking locals to share what they love or hate about the boom by writing it on stickers.

Stickers are a popular medium for self-expression in oil country—listen to Melby's interview with James Goeres, who sells pickup truck decals with a motto of "tattoo your ride, not your hide." But the more wired types can chime in too, by tagging their comments #ilovetheboom or #ihatetheboom. Follow both sides of the debate on the Black Gold Boom site.

love/hate the boom



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