Roping the Wind

Roping the Wind

Rural Texas farmer Cliff Etheredge saw an opportunity to cash in on a crop of the future that revived his dying town: wind power.

The oil and gas boom bypassed Roscoe, Texas, and until recently it was just another rural American town in decline. But in 2004 farmer Cliff Etheredge saw an opportunity to cash in on a crop of the future: wind power.

As chairman of Wind Works, a wind farm development company, he introduced wind energy to Roscoe. Landowners earn income for each turbine placed on their property and a percentage of the profits from the energy each turbine produces.

Now his formerly dying town is no longer totally dependent upon agriculture for its income. Windmills are generating electricity and jobs, and as Etheredge puts it, they are a symbol of progress.

This independently produced video by Nacho Corbella tours the town of Roscoe and is narrated entirely by interviews with wind farmer Etheredge. Selling the wind, he says, has brought about a major attitude change in the Roscoe culture. Unlike gas and oil, there’s an endless supply of wind and the wind energy industry has created good, permanent jobs. Now young people are choosing to stay in town after high school and some are even coming back after college.

This video is part of the series, “Powering a Nation: The Quest for Energy in a Changing USA,” a News21 project by students of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The series won an Award of Excellence in the Pictures of the Year International category of “Documentary Project of the Year.”

“Roping the Wind” won a Gold medal in the College Photographer of the Year 2009 awards, and first place in the “individual video” category of the National Press Photographers Assocation’s September 2009 Multimedia Contest. Other sections of the Powering a Nation series have also won accolades from College POY and NPPA.

Length: 3:32

By Nacho Corbella