The Last Free Place: Slab City, California

The residents of Slab City, California, proudly call their unincorporated settlement in the Sonoran Desert “the last free city in America.” The community is built on an Marine Corps base, abandoned since the 1950s. Mobile homes, tents, and cabins built from mismatched wood planks are scattered along the main gravel road that snakes through the community. Sculptures made from recycled materials grow like cacti from the ground. A libertarian ethos defines the community: there is no source of water or electricity, no police presence, no taxes, no sewage, no paved roads. But there is a lot of stuff. This project explores the relationship of Slab City to mainstream human society, as told through the objects people use, repurpose, and discard in this off-the-grid community.