I was not surprised, but still unhappy to read that criminal cases in the oil patch are skyrocketing. We probably all knew that would eventually come to pass.
Let’s face it, we have the second coming of the Wild West out in Western North Dakota. It just isn’t the same place as it was a few years back – with the oil patch has come a different identity.
But folks are getting rich and the State of North Dakota is benefitting economically – doesn’t it go to follow that this a good thing for North Dakota? Well, I hate to be the one to rain on anyone’s parade, but I wonder whether we are going in the right direction with this. I think we may have lost our way in this situation and in the process I think we have lost control. The North Dakota that long-time locals know and love is quickly fading into a memory.
Not that we can turn back time and say, “Ah shucks, we are just gonna’ sit on this oil – we value our way of life more than money.” All that is left to do at this point is to start from where we are and try and get back some of that which has been lost to us. There needs to be some serious strategic planning done in regard to the oil patch and its impact on the State of North Dakota. And note, strategic planning is not just throwing a bucketload of money into community infrastructure items like roads, first responders, and court operations. Strategic planning needs to look beyond the basic growth needs and toward the community it wants to foster and develop. It also must look across the entire state and adjoining states to appreciate the ripple effect of actions. This planning requires an aggressive team that isn’t afraid to create a strong framework for the future…a framework that puts primacy on maintaining the character of North Dakota.
Money isn’t everything. I would argue that on most North Dakotans’ lists of priorities money isn’t even in the top three – try family, health and happiness (likely followed by quality of life, lefse, and hunting).
The solutions to the oil patch’s challenges long-term must be tied to North Dakota’s identity. Those solutions need to be crafted now before the oil patch extracts more than oil – before it extracts who we are - our North Dakota essence, which cannot be replaced by any amount of money.
One thousand and thirty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da