Blogging the Bakken, Part 1: Man Camp in Dunn County, North Dakota

This video was taken on February 4, 2012, and it is a drive into the entry way of what was described by the security guard (self-identified as Joel) as a Man Camp in the south portion of Dunn County, North Dakota (to the southwest of the corner of 27th Street SW and the road that runs north out of Dickinson). While man camps provide quick nomadic housing, it seems that more attention  is intentionally or inadvertently drawn to said camps by the emplacement of chain-link fence topped with barb-wire and security guards outfitted in fatigues and jack boots — this is sometimes referred to as “negative publicity.” The impression and imagery suggests and reflects a type of lock-down or even penal colony atmosphere. I couldn’t help but to generally think of Mad Max or post-apocalyptic nuclear-winter type films while driving in to this specific man camp. Perhaps in the future the companies that put these up might also work with public relations and landscape architecture professionals. My reasoning is fairly simple: a place that appears as a penal colony will invite attention, and this is regardless of whether or not it intentionally was designed to function like a penal colony.

As well, if a company wants the work force to behave like a professional work force, they may also consider that individuals are often reflections of their environs. This means that if architects design and put you in a built environment that suggests you are a caged and corporate animal working in an oil field for nothing more than the bottom line, then indeed you will behave accordingly to your mercenary co-workers and the locals. Perhaps we might begin considering how to develop labor housing that is more conducive and constructive to a — ahem — culture in and of western North Dakota, or the Bakken field in general. Cultures ultimately require families (which invites grass-roots governance that ultimately develops into public governance and stability). This man camp is arguably the nomadic and initial shock wave to a settlement pattern that is only just developing. Perhaps the families are just around the corner…

One response to “Blogging the Bakken, Part 1: Man Camp in Dunn County, North Dakota

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