OIL BOOM BOYS

North Dakota has been at the center of conversations surrounding a more energy efficientAmerica. The state sits above a 200,000 square foot rock formation called “The Bakken.”Introducing Hydraulic fracking to the oil industries that created thousands of jobs forAmericans. People from all over the country migrated to the remote lands of North Dakota; thiscaused a major overpopulation issue for the small farm towns of Williston, Dickinson, WatfordCity and much more. Workers and the state were unprepared for the condition they would facein “The Bakken.”

In the early years of the oil boom, a lot was changing in the small farm towns of North Dakota.The state and police not prepared for the massive population, housing was almost non-existing, living in your car on Walmart property or near your work site became a reality formost. Oilfield companies started to provide housing to their employees later on. Theyassembled “man camps” that were portable housing units that would fit up to two people ormore in one unit. The ones that did not have this option from their employers would have toresult in overpriced apartments and trailers.

When I arrived in the oil fields, development had already kicked off; motels spread like theplague and townhouses. I was incredibly unprepared for the weather and workload in NorthDakota, “I had no idea what I was getting myself into.” I was lucky enough to rent a room froma local family for an affordable price and started working within 24 hours of being in NorthDakota. I started thinking how if I didn’t have a friend from my home state to help me, how hardit would have been for me to get on my feet. It was at that moment when I got my inspirationand focused on my photography in the oil fields. I wanted to take politics out of crude oil andshow the world who the workers are; fathers, husbands, sons, everyday Americans that cameout to make a better life for themselves and their families.

The oil fields have reached the lowest points of their eight years of exporting crude oil.Overnight, people have lost their jobs and had to move back to their lives in their home states.I feel like I have captured a significant moment in American History. Not only of the thirdgeneration oil boom or the movement of a more energy efficient America. For an example ofwhat the American people can do in a time of recession and the importance of family andbrotherhood that these men have shown each other. 

THE MAMALI

A road is built, cutting off the ocean to its original shoreline. Across where the shore was tomeet, is a community called The Mamali. The Mamali is a fishing community that has beenfishing the Taguig Shore for generations. When The National Road was created, the communitywas forced to fill the ground with soil. Their houses are now on solid ground, but deep in theground are the stilts they once stood on. The water is no longer flowing below them, nor is theirway of life, their fishing traps.

Kuya Jhuly, a media officer at Partido Lakes Ng Masa and community activist, invited me tocome and photograph the everyday lives of The Mamali, which faces being instinct in MetroManila. Kuya explains; "The National Government and Rich Politicians are planning to buildfloating restaurants where The Mamali fish." Kuya and The Mamali Neighborhood Associationprovide free legal services to the community and educate them on their rights as land ownersin the Philippines. This group of individual professionals is the only hope for this community toprepare for what lies ahead of them.

Early in the morning, a man and his son set out to the open ocean, before eating breakfast theygo to collect their catch of the day. The father sits by the boat`s motor, and the son takes aposition at the bow of the boat, with a paddle to steer. They ride out without lighting into thedark ocean waters. They reach their first trap, that is on a neighbors property due to TheNational Road cutting the waters to the man's house, the young boy climbs on top of the trapthat is supported by large bamboo poles. He does not wear his shoes; he can get a better gripwith his bare feet to lift the nets out of the water. The father ties the boat to the trap and jumpsup to help his son with the net. They reach the last trap, at sunrise, and they turn around toshore to sell their catch.

This way of life may not be one that everyone would want, but to The Mamali, it`s theirs. Theyhave tried so hard to distance themselves from the most populated city in the world, MetroManila; they now have to fight in a legal battle to protect their homes and futures. Sadly this isnot the first or last story small communities like this face. Metro Manila is growing inpopulation, and commercial development such as; malls, condos, hotels and restaurantsthreatens ways of life like The Mamali. Without government aid or compensation, they will beleft homeless to fin for themselves. 

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