Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg Visits Williston
Mark Zuckerberg has been taking time to travel the entire country. As recently as yesterday, he was in Williston North Dakota.
In May, the Facebook founder announced on his Facebook page that he would spend time in states he had never spent time in before, "to learn about people's hopes and challenges, and how they're thinking about their work and communities."
Early Wednesday (July 12, 2017) morning, Zuckerberg posted some photos to his Facebook page announcing that he was in Williston.
The 745 word post expresses many of the things the billionaire learned about the area.
- "The invention of new techniques to fracture rock (fracking) to extract oil led to a boom where tens of thousands of workers moved from all around the country to pursue new jobs in this industry. This sudden influx of mostly men tripled the size of the town in just a few years. When oil prices dropped, some of this industry left and so did many people. This has led to some unique community dynamics."
- "Men come into town to work on the rigs for two weeks on and then often go home to another state for two weeks off before they work again. In Williston, they live in "man camps", which are basically cabins with 6 people in bunk beds. They come here because these are good jobs where people with a high school diploma can make $100,000 a year.The women I met said they feel safe, but they had unique stories. Some told me about finding out their boyfriends had families back home. (They thanked me that Facebook has made it harder for these men to live double lives.) Another woman told me she has never paid for a drink her whole life."
- "The school superintendent told me about how the school system went from shrinking and closing schools to surging from 500 to 1,500 students in less than a decade."
- "A local realtor told me that no one had the capacity to build the amount of housing required in the boom, so two-bedroom apartments that used to rent for $400 / month were suddenly renting for $2,500 / month. And now after the boom, some infrastructure is overbuilt while some is still underdeveloped."
- "It's interesting to see this perspective when science overwhelmingly suggests fossil fuels contribute to climate change, which is one of the great challenges our generation will have to deal with.
Many people I talked to here acknowledged this, but also feel a sense of pride that their work contributes to serving real needs we all have every day -- keeping our homes warm, getting to work, feeding us, and more. They believe competition from new sources of energy is good, but from their perspective, until renewables can provide most of our energy at scale, they are providing an important service we all rely on, and they wish they'd stop being demonized for it."
Zuckerberg had a lot more to say and you can read his full post and see the pictures here.