Money is flowing into North Dakota. So are people and traffic. A few remote farming towns sit on what is known as the Bakken oil field where billions of barrels of oil are sandwiched between shale rock across 200,000 square miles. Todd Melby, a journalist for public radio, is spending the year in the northwest corner of North Dakota covering the oil boom. He’s putting voices and faces to the wild statistics and explosive growth. Black Gold Boom presents portraits of people like Bobcat John the knife seller, rig workers looking for entertainment, Adell and her food truck, and the cage fights, rodeos, bumper stickers, pop-up restaurants, art, and massive development projects that radiate from this sudden activity.
I worked with Todd and Localore on developing an identity for the project, putting his audio portraits online with the aid of Zeega, and developing a series of public engagement materials to begin a conversation about the impact of the boom. Check out the first version of the site and meet the people who are rockin’ the Bakken at Black Gold Boom.
Nobody could smoke a cigarette like Linda Darnell.
Stories from the white spaces on the map.
A dub field of mid-century blues.
Love among the ruins.
Lonely gas stations and motel neon.
Her best friend was a little battery-powered radio.
He felt close to her while he drove, his insides vibrating like a teenage dream.
Somewhere Roy Orbison plays on a battered old radio.
There’s no such thing as weirding out the normals these days.
Seeing a toddler’s shoes dangling over a bottle-strewn alley or swinging from a lonely tree bothers the soul.
Things I’ve read that altered me.
The gatefold sleeve and dusty touch, the hiss and pop.