What's Happening To The Last Free Place In America?

What's Happening To The Last Free Place In America?

A snippet of the what the last free place in America is all about.
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640 acres of desert,140 miles East of San Diego lies the "last free place" in America. Slab City, CA.

What used to be an old, abandoned marine training base called Camp Dunlap, is now a squatter community. After the military left, the concrete slabs stayed, thus creating Slab City. Starting out as a campground to come to during the winter months where the population swells to about 4,000 people, a small portion of people stay year-round.

However, many are deterred from staying because of the extreme conditions. In the summer, temperatures can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite most people leaving after the winter is over, the year-round population of roughly 200 people are free to do as they wish. Being separate from the government allows them to live without paying rent or having zoning laws. Even though this freedom may come free in terms of money, it is not free all around. There is no electricity, no water, and no sewer system. There could also be munitions and military waste buried in the soil. At which point the Federal government is looking into this.

In Slab City, there are no stop signs, the homes are made of a variety of makeshift shelters ranging from old school buses to tents made from pallets and blankets to make them sturdier. Not everything is this run down, there are more upscale "houses" which are nicer RV's, some even have solar panels. The community has made a church and a library as well.

Slab City not only serves as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world but also as a place to create art. In one section of Slab City called East Jesus, there are many creations of art that people have made over the years. The art is generally made out of trash, items that would have been sitting in a landfill are either repurposed or used to make pieces of art. For instance, one sculpture is of a mammoth made completely out of tires.

This piece of land is owned by the state of California and they have recently put it up for sale. Alarming the residents of Slab City, they have decided to make an effort to buy it. The community is worried that Slab City could be turned into a geothermal energy or solar energy plant, destroying the last free place in America.

At the moment, Slab City's future is uncertain due to the fact that many of the residents live off government aid and Social Security. They need to raise approximately $500,000 in order to have enough money to buy the land for themselves. Right now, they have not come up with the $5,000 needed for the application deposit.

If you feel like this is the place for you, here are directions for getting you there. I bid you farewell and safe travels. Simply drive towards Niland on Highway 111, turn east on the street by United Grocery. Then travel for 3.5 miles to the city. The Salvation Mountain marks the entrance.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.
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I remember back to my childhood, standing at the top of the steps yelling down to my parents "Why did you decide to have another child?" I remember riding in the backseat yelling "Mom, was I not good enough for you?" as my brother threw snow at me .

I remember crying when my mom made us share our first cell phone. I remember playing in a pool at a waterpark, and my dad couldn't play with me because my brother couldn't swim and needed my dad to be with him. I played by myself, thinking "They must have not wanted a girl when they only pay attention to him."

But now, at almost 22, I realized that the best gift God has ever given me was my little brother.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a pain in her ass.

Oh, he'll be annoying. He'll get in the shower just because you said you were going to. He'll start talking every time you do. He'll pull stupid pranks, he'll make you listen to bogus music, he'll make you watch stupid tv shows, he'll smell up the bathroom (and probably smell himself.) and boy, I promise there will be day's you will resent him. But he's just training for living with your husband one day.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a role.

As a big sister, I had somebody copying all my moves. If I did something, so did he. If I didn't eat something, neither did he. If I didn't like somebody neither did he. He was like a little shadow that did everything I did, so I was always motivated to make good choices and make him proud of me.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a rough side.

I wouldn't have done half the things I did if it wasn't for him. Play basketball in the drive way, spend hours on our bikes, spend the summer days in the pool, or down at the park. I wouldn't have learned that it's okay to get in the dirt and have some fun. I wouldn't have played half the made up, imaginary games we played every day. I wouldn't have played with Hot Wheels, or Lincoln Logs, or Leggo's. I would have played with Barbies by myself all day long, and what's the fun in that?

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her the best friend she'll ever have.

In the end, when our parent's both pass away, I won't be alone, because I will have my little brother. When the world gets tough, and everyone turns away from me, he will always be there. No matter where he end's up in life, I know he will drop everything and come running when I'm in need.

For Christmas this year, I bought my brother his first tattoo. We got matching tattoo's on our sides. Our lives our different now, because we're grown up and live on opposite sides of the state. But no matter where we go in life, if we look up, we will be looking at the same sun and moon. We are made up of the same matter, 'made' by the same people, and love each other more than I think we'd like to admit.

Alex is my true other-half.

Give a girl a little brother, and you made her whole.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Engel

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