There has probably been at least a dozen documentaries made about the Oil Boom of North Dakota - the Bakken to be precise. I have finally quit looking at them because they focus on the negative: crime, road conditions, truck traffic, human traffic, crime, infrastructure, water, bars, prostitution, flares, trains, trucks, and crime.
This week I had an opportunity to inject my personal opinions about the boom here in Peaceful Valley, North Dakota, when an interviewer (also making a documentary) crashed our Ladies Bible Study to ask our opinions.
He started with the natives and asked specific questions:
"What changes have you seen here in your peaceful valley?"
"It used to be a sleepy little town. We knew everybody and their relatives."
"We never locked our doors before, because some neighbor might get caught in a snow storm and need to find shelter in our home. We lock it now."
"The police chief says there hasn't been a vehicle break-in in a year and only one house break-in."
"It was my house.... a very inebriated man just walked in looking for his friend."
"Have you seen any positive changes?"
"Yes, we have met all these wonderful people from all over the world."
"We have a new grocery store, a new hardware store, new restaurants, new convenience stores. The school, the hospital, and the city pool are all getting renovations."
"All my children and grandchildren have moved back here because there are jobs available. We are all together again (except for one grandson who is only 80 miles away."
"I love it here. I would never move."
Then to us transplants he asked, "What brought you here and what stories have your heard?"
"Well, while North Dakota was in a BOOM, the rest of the nation was BUSTED. Many, many people came here for a fresh start (and maybe out of desperation) after they lost homes and businesses."
"It has made a difference in the lives of a lot of good people."
"I have been richly blessed. Not just financially but richly blessed by knowing the wonderful people here."
"As for me, I have experienced North Dakota Nice at it finest. Neighbors have invited us over for our first Thanksgiving away from family. They brought homemade bread, jelly, rhubarb, beets and garden fresh carrots. They have helped me rake my yard, used their snow blower on my drive, pulled our stuck truck out of the snow, and helped us pull up a dead tree. Oh, yes, and they stop for you to cross the street."
"I just came for a visit, but when I decided to stay, the ladies at church brought me winter clothes and rounded up furniture for my apartment."
"Have you put down roots here?"
Two said "yes" and my fan club across the room told him that I wasn't going to be allowed to leave. Ain't that sweet? My, answer, "North Dakota will always be in my heart."
But the best story came from the mama of five, who came when the logging industry crashed and her man took an entry level job in the oilfield. They got here in January when the temperature was -22 (that is twenty-two degrees below zero) and lived in a travel trailer (remember, five children) in the city park. A lady in town brought muffins and offered her home, her kitchen, and garage if they ever needed anything. They showered in the park restrooms. This family lived in the park for two years (in a travel trailer with five children). They have now purchased a home and a business. Her husband is climbing the oilfield ladder of success. She says the ladies Bible studies helped her keep her sanity in those early days in the travel trailer with five children. And, yes, she is here to stay.
"One last question. Since this is a Bible Study, do any of you have a scripture about what is going on here?"
After a long silence, this Texas gal told him about how her man had worked in the same place for 40 years and they had lived in the same house for 40 years and they had done the same things for 40 years. Then when the opportunity came to work in the Bakken, she ran across a scripture about God talking to his children who had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
God said, "You have circled this same mountain long enough. Now turn north." (Deuteronomy 2:3)
With that, our interviewer snapped off his camera with great flourish, a nod, and a little smile. "That's exactly what I was looking for."
As he walked out the door, I heard him almost whisper, "North Dakota Nice. I like that."