PROJECTS: American Nomads
A central goal of the American Dream is to one day own your own home. Yet our beginnings were forged out of another, antithetical idea: that of movement and searching for self-determination. Today this idea still exists, but far away from our neatly manicured suburban homes and out of view of the mainstream. In the United States, there exist large communities which have turned their backs on the idea of settling down, opting for a nomadic life. One such community open to this lifestyle is Slab City, located on the Salton Sea in southern California. There are no amenities or services. No potable water, no electricity, no stores, nothing. What this community does offer is a sort of freedom, which for many of them begins with its root: free. No rent, no taxes, no fees. This is a community of barter and necessity, completely anarchic. Not chaos, as it has been associated with, but pure anarchy – or as pure as is possible. It is not a true utopia, as Thomas More envisioned, but it is not dystopia either.
At first glance, this community is both raw and harsh, but there is also much beauty and love. There are thieves and rampant drug use, but also picnics and birthday parties and an always-open door. And much like the rest of the world, they eat and bathe and sleep and marry and die. But they do it on their own terms.