Today my hometown, Denton, is voting on a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial technique used by the natural gas industry to pull energy from rocks. Even if it is approved by voters, the resulting ordinance likely will face legal challenges.
The Guardian took note of the fight today, in a piece that trots out the usual symbols of Denton as “slacker capital of the American southwest” — namely the picturesque, yet funky square and the city’s fondness for live music and music festivals. They even bring up Frenchy and his orange trucks.
But the paper goes a bit far in the final paragraphs of the piece, implying that today’s vote will determine whether Denton will one day inspire a mildly funny IFC sketch comedy show or instantly convert into an endless sea of McMansions, corporate campuses, and shopping centers:
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.’”
I love Denton. In some ways, it’s several degrees more awesome today than the Denton that I grew up in. It’s changed, and grown, tremendously.
The future of the city’s hipness does not hang on today’s outcome. When the heart of the Fry Street area was razed and replaced by a corner that might’ve been plucked out of Plano, the fun merely migrated over to the square. Even if fracking occurs, the city is going to go right on chicken-dancing with Brave Combo every April at Arts & Jazz.
Denton abides. I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.