Marquart’s North Dakota writing workshops gush with oil boom stories

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If you read about the oil boom in western North Dakota, the word "challenge" keeps coming to mind. The Bakken oil fields have turned areas of Deb Marquart’s native state into a modern-day gold rush. The vast oil field is alive with wells and workers, who are stretching everything from available housing to public services. Population growth, traffic, crime and environmental questions challenge decision makers and frustrate residents.

Last year Marquart, a professor of English, spent time in "The Bakken" under a grant by the state’s humanities council to gather the stories and experiences of people whose lives have been impacted by the oil boom. She hosted creative writing workshops for residents to tell their stories.

"They had dug deep for stories. For the most part, these were not trained writers," she said. "Many of their stories and our conversations centered on the logistical difficulties of the boom – the increase in traffic, the danger of sharing two-lane highways and gravel county roads with water and oil tankers that run constantly day and night."

See Deb’s insightful report of the changing landscape in North Dakota.

– Steve Jones