Urbanization of DickinsonIf you haven’t driven north of Dickinson on Highway 22 lately you may not realize that there’s enough oil-related construction going on just outside of town to simulate a World War II D-Day invasion.
By: By Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
If you haven’t driven north of Dickinson on Highway 22 lately you may not realize that there’s enough oil-related construction going on just outside of town to simulate a World War II D-Day invasion.
Companies like Halliburton are building enormous facilities which will be filled with a lot of workers who’ll need lots of homes and roads to drive on, churches to go to, groceries to buy, gas to guzzle, classrooms to learn in, and toilets to flush, which will ultimately lead to rapid growth in the Queen City and that will bring with it a whole new ballgame.
It’s called urbanization and it has happened everywhere in America so far except in the region that I’ve always called home: Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota, where men are men, women carry pliers, the air is crisp and the snow is hard. Because every other state has at least one big metro mess, except maybe Idaho, which has Boise, and even that’s a city that I think we can say is close enough, since they do have freeways that stall with traffic, so we’ll go ahead and lop them in.
Now urbanization is officially defined as the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change and it is closely linked to modernization, industrialization, the sociological process of rationalization and probably a few more “izations.”
But the key “ization” is rationalization, which is a term used in society to refer to a process in which an increasing number of social actions become based on consideration of efficiency or calculation rather than on motivations derived from morality, emotion, custom or tradition. So, in a nutshell, what they are really saying is that when urbanization arrives, morality and traditions tend to leave.
Having returned to North Dakota three and a half years ago from the nation’s second largest city, I can then tell you that there are some quirky social attributes that tag along with urbanization that will irritate you at first, frustrate you in time and drive you crazy in the end.
And no, I’m not necessarily referring to the obvious infrastructure issues like long lines and empty shelves at grocery stores, limited housing and traffic. Nor am I just talking about the increased drug use, violent crime, gangs and prostitution. I’m really talking about those socially weird, also done in the dark, immoral actions that only psychiatrists and sociologists try to define like arson, tagging and a bit of an offshoot; impersonal service.
Take tagging for example, which includes writings or drawings that are scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or surface in a public place and might be better known to you as graffiti, like you see on those railroad cars that roll through town every now and then.
Because I’ve always thought it’d be fun to form a graffiti posse of four people armed with BB guns, who’d hide in the bushes across from a public wall that is consistently tagged and unload when the perpetrator begins his or her latest creation. Except that often times those artists are gang members marking their territory and a BB or two might not be quite enough ammo to defend yourself once the battle begins.
Still, the question I’ve always had is, if you live in an area, why do you want to deface it? To which I was told that taggers will rarely deface images of the Virgin Mary, the American flag or things that pay homage to the deceased. So apparently that is what you need to put on your public wall to stop the repeated activity, kind of like holding up a cross to a vampire.
Nevertheless, according to researcher Regina Blume, taggers tag to express themselves, criticize, protest, reject, mark out a territory, document group membership, search for contacts, for aesthetic and creative pleasure and out of boredom, which seems to me to be why a lot of people do a lot of things much less destructive but what do I know?
Meanwhile Barry Woods, president of Graffiti Control Systems of North Hollywood, Calif., says that gangs are responsible for 80 percent of what is usually repeat graffiti so I guess if you eliminate gangs, you eliminate graffiti.
But arson is another issue. And either one dude or a team of dudes has set 39 fires so far in southern California and if you’re familiar with the vegetation there you know that it is everywhere, it hasn’t rained in the last 200 decades and most of the eucalyptus trees, when near a fire, blow up like a bomb or fireworks in the sky, sending sparks in every imaginable direction and making a fireman’s job a living hell. Then again, maybe that’s just a Los Angeles thing.
And then there’s the worst “ization” that accompanies urbanization and that is “impersonalization,” where doctors don’t really care if you get well, store clerks don’t care if you find what you need, motorists are rushed and unfriendly, policemen assume you’re guilty, faces just aren’t familiar, no one says “hi” on the street and concrete replaces grass.
Or as singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell so successfully said, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.