Slab City

Slab City, California
Private Property
Squatter Settlement
1948 - Present

1 Slabs 2 Church 3 Cinema 4 Slab City Skate Park 5 Beer Garden

Slab City, California is 640 square acres of homestead land that nobody wanted. Wealthy retirees, aged hippies, army veterans, migrant farm workers, Christian fundamentalists, burners, and drop-outs park their mobile homes on concrete slabs (1), all that remains of the US Marine Corp’s Camp Dunlap. General Patton drilled there; the Enola Gay practiced there before becoming the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Officially, Slab City doesn’t exist. Like its residents, known as Slabbers, it has fallen through the cracks. There is no water, no mail, no electricity, no garbage collection, no municipal services of any kind. There are also effectively no laws, no taxes, and no foreclosures. Residents call it “the last free place.”

Jefferson spliced this legal loophole right into the DNA of the 1785 Land Ordinance, the biggest grid in the world. Slab City is sited on section 36, the township parcel designated for public education. Surveyed but never settled, Slab City is one square mile of desert intended for a school that was never built, owned by a state that can’t manage it, and patrolled by a sheriff’s department that is understaffed and has better things to do. Federal, state, and local authorities all turn a blind eye to one of the longest lived squats in American history.

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Annie Schneider

Communes in the New World

The question of how to live together—of how best to live together—is the foundation of any society. The last few years have exposed the fault lines in our current system: climatic catastrophe, economic crisis, supply chain collapse, civil unrest, rampant inequality, and a global pandemic. We live in congested cities and in potentially dangerous proximity, yet remain isolated. In light of these mounting pressures, it’s time to revisit the fundamentals. How to Live Together offers alternative ways of being, thinking, dwelling, and living. It calls into question every basic assumption and prevailing social norm: belief, sex, the nuclear family, property ownership, our relationship to land, production, and consumption. It is both a critique and a roadmap.