Today more and more Americans can’t keep pace with the soaring costs of living. Some have found refuge under the unforgiving sun of California’s Colorado Desert in Slab City: a community of squatters, snowbirds, survivalists, migrants, musicians, homeless people and artists.
Without official electricity, running water, sewers, trash pickup or taxation it’s built on the concrete slabs of Camp Dunlap, an old Marine training base.
The scale of construction ranges from cardboard on the ground to two stories tall structures made of pallets. Each one is what that particular person wanted to make, but against the restraint of limited resources and ability. Most people live in vehicles, trucks vans and RVs.
190-mile drive inland from Los Angeles, the heat in the summer is inhuman and it is almost incomprehensible that people with so little would live here. Temperatures top 120ºF and most residents have only fans to keep cool, the 100 or so year-round residents are largely in active at this time of year, saving their energy and doing what they can to stay cool in the dangerous heat.
In winter it’s an entirely different place. Thousands of “snowbirds” arrive from colder regions in RVs for the fee-free parking. It is much more alive, kids chattering and music playing.
Some call it “the last free place” and “an enclave of anarchy,” Slab City is the end of the road for many.