Greg moved to Williston from Washington State last winter looking for a job around the North Dakota oil boom. The demand for people to work the oil wells and all the support that goes around it has created a new gold rush out in the western part of the state. Greg arrived on a freezing cold day and found what many people find when they get here -- there's no housing. Greg spent his first night sleeping in a dumpster outside of a mattress factory and eventually got a place in one of the dozens of makeshift RV camps which have sprouted up. Even before he got to Williston, Greg began documenting his journey in a series of zany youtube videos and became something of an Internet celebrity -- he gets stopped on the street in town and people get their photos taken with him, out of town reporters call him asking for hookups with people and help with stories.
I'm here with three academics from the University of North Dakota, Brett Weber, a social scientist, plus Richard Rothaus and Bill Caraher, both archaeologists. They're studying these temporary worker housing camps and have been doing it since last august. I'm out here taking pretty photos to go along with the interviews they're doing. There's a newspaper article about us in today's Dickinson Press which explains more.
Clickenzee to embiggen! (The cat's name is Art.)
They've divided the camps up into three classifications, "Type three" are collections of tents and RV's without water, power or sewage. There are a surprising number of these because it is REALLY COLD out here. "Type two" camps are usually trailers which have water, power, and sewage connected. "Type one" camps are temporary houses usually made by huge companies who specialize in things like military barracks. We stayed at a type one camp on our first night -- which remarkably clean and warm, it was still pretty austere. I had to undergo a background check, and there were lists of rules which included no alcohol and no visitors. The type two camps are more relaxed and in the type threes, anything goes.
We spent the day yesterday interviewing people and taking photos -- it's breathtakingly beautiful out here. On friday night a fog bank rolled in and froze on the trees.
I got up this morning at 6:30 and went for a run with Bret (two miles, leg feels good) and we're about to head out to breakfast and plan out the rest of the day. I've gotten some spectacular photos which I'll post when we get everything together.
Clickenzee to embiggen!
Greg recently sold his RV and moved into an apartment, with a shower. You can check out his youtube videos around here.