This week’s Southwest Airlines ‘One Square Mile: Texas’ Sneak Peek takes us to Midland,Texas! To get to Midland, one can either drive (as you’ll learn more about in the post below) OR fly Southwest Airlines to Midland International Airport (MAF). Check out the full One Square Mile: Texas’ episode on Southwest's onboard WiFi or atwww.osmtx.com/southwest
Once again, Michael Golembieski takes us on a behind the scenes journey of filming one square mile, this week finds the guys in West Texas.
Midland stands alone.
We had originally planned to shoot all nine square miles in groups of threes, and Midland was to be part of the first run the featured Silverton and El Paso. However, when the opportunity to shoot SXSW in Austin presented itself, we decided to film Midland on its own.
Carl and I began the four-hour trip west from Fort Worth on March 15, 2013. As you make the drive on Interstate 20 past Abilene and Sweetwater, the landscape is littered with farms of wind turbines that rise up into the Texas sky with Don Quixote-like proportions. The road continues taking you deeper into the Permian Basin, where you soon learn that the sound of the wind goes “BOOM!”
Also booming is the local economy being fueled by the energy industry. Help wanted signs are everywhere. Drive-thru lines spiral twice around restaurants. The home construction and housing markets are in full swing. Hotels are booked solid by oil and gas companies to house workers. Fast food jobs are available for $12 to $13 an hour. Plans are announced to build a downtown skyscraper. In short, everything is busy in this one square mile.
Our first location on a 92-degree sunny Saturday morning takes us to the practice greens and ranges of Nueva Vista Golf Club. We're there to talk with the club’s golf pro Mike Crosser. Along with Mike, we also met his daughter Sydnee Crosser. As a recent transplant who moved to Midland for employment reasons, she fits the city perfectly.
David Vandermeer is an architectural draftsman,whose job places him at the forefront of development—turning fallow fields into subdivisions to meet the current home demand. He's had a hand in building many of the houses in this square mile, including his own.
Mallory Buck is a professional portrait photographer. Along with her firefighter husband John and their two children, she gives us insight on what it's like to raise a young family during the rising tide of present day Midland.
In the hope of finding a story we attended a service at Stonegate Fellowship, a non-denominational mega church. This is where we met James William "Bill" Zauner who plays keyboard in the church band and is a member of its young professionals group. A teacher at one of the local high schools, Bill gives us an insider’s view of being a young adult living and working through the boom.
Greg Golden has owned Ranch House Golden Glazed Ham Co. for almost 30 years. He's lived through the many boom and bust cycles of the city. You could say he's a business survivor. He adds gravity and perspective to Midland's recent growth spurt by recalling how not that long ago there were weeds growing through the streets of downtown. Oh by the way, he can glaze a thousand hams in a single day. Pretty impressive.
Abell Junior High School is our stop for education in Midland's square mile. It's here we met Ashton Dunavan, a student who's returning to normalcy after struggling with cancer. Ashton is inspirational, lively, and sweet with a good sense of humor. We also got to invade the class of science teacher Deborah Gonzalez. A longtime Midlander, she takes the cyclical nature of the city with a grain of salt. It was a joy to get to spend some time in her class. And here's some insider info … she does a mean hokey pokey.
Carl and I left Midland on a Wednesday morning with seven stories. The Midland shoot was unique not only for its production schedule, but for the present day nature of the city's accelerated economy. We hope we provided enough of a glimpse from inside that bubble. For those reasons and many more Midland truly does stand apart.