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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Citizens vote on what their future will look (and smell) like...

Denton is a small Texan town with a world-class music scene, including homegrown bands like Midlake and Neon Indian. But a shadow hangs over its future as a creative hub as it votes on whether to ban fracking within city limits.

"On Tuesday 4 November, Denton citizens will vote on a proposal to ban “fracking”, or energy drilling by hydraulic fracturing, in the city limits. The drilling fight has awoken this normally laconic city of roughly 125,000 inhabitants 40 miles north of Dallas. In one corner is the anti-fracking campaign, supported by local residents and artists such as polka band Brave Combo. In the other corner is the oil industry. [...]

"The fight is about health and energy – residents have complained about experiencing respiratory problems from the fumes produced by the drilling. But the fracking vote is also a decision on what the town wants to be when it grows up. Currently, Denton is reminiscent of the Austin in Richard Linklater’s early films, combining the eccentric charm of a country town with the willful wackiness of an artists’ hub. When I moved to Denton in 2009, a neighbour warned me that he didn’t approve of people from New York (I’m from Ireland). [...]

Denton has a lot in common with creative magnets like Portland and Austin. Whether its trajectory follows theirs, or that of nearby Frisco, the quintessential Dallas exurb, hangs in the balance. “You’re talking about (attracting) millennials who can fill tech jobs and more entrepreneurial jobs … they don’t want to live in a city that allows frack sites 200 yards from their homes,” said Adam Briggle, a UNT philosophy professor and one of the leaders of the anti-fracking campaign. “People might say, ‘Yeah I want to move to Denton, but there’s this whole fracking thing.’”"