Monday, December 21, 2015

DRAMATIC DEEP DESERT DEMOCRACY

I TAKE YOU WITH ME TO THE SLABS---We've been here before. But big things are brewing  now and we will witness them.

If you do not know about this amazing 1 square mile of land, google THE SLABS and then come back for the wonderous thing I'm about to show you.

Salvation Mountain--a painted hillside encouraging you to believe, repent and be born again.
A 25 year labor of love by Lenord Knight, now deceased.  Dedicated successors preserve this folk art work listed on the national registry.

To prepare you for the big event, you need to know that this is the only place in the U
S where you can select a spot and build yourself a domicile---with a fair likelihood of being able to hold on to it without paying for the land.
Here's another example of a squatting homesteader's cabin.

This, I believe is the meeting area for the friends of the library. (building located in the right background) A group of people live around it and keep it up.  ( worth a separate post for its history and thousands of volumes available to the public.)

This leafy bower is the meeting place for the current Slab City Community Group---a legal entity.  Everybody is invited to sit in on council meetings and so I went.  (no pictures)
The meeting lasted an hour and concerned itself with tomorrow's election of a new council.
The intelligence, decorum and good will displayed would likely put to shame your city council meeting. 

Afterwards I engaged a few of them. 


Slab city dwellers have organized themselves legally in response to the possibility that their land may be sold and them evicted.  If  Slabbers can hold on to this land, questions concerning how an individual could  take and keep possession of a campsite is being carefully considered, as this poster illustrates.

This poster was made for those unfamiliar with Roberts rule of order.
(on election day the president explained the gist of them with a single sentence:  We use these proceedures to assure that the majority will prevail and the minority heard).

Additional details cover the distinction between resident and visitor--both are allowed to vote for their representative on the council.
Election day came---the people assembled.


At the famous Range. You can see this very place in the movie INTO THE WILD.

The meeting began--nominations for the new council are made.  One by one the nominees addressed the crowd asking for their vote. I believe that's Builder Bob* speaking at the mike.
*Somewhat like the French Foreign Legion people here often acquire a new name.
This was a surprise.  That's Solar Mike speaking---and he asked that no one vote for him because he is opposed to the entire project.  He allowed his nomination just for the opportunity to have his say.

I think that's Robbie speaking.

I don't know who this was--but he made a good speech.

As did this guy

And this one.

The ballots were cast into this literal ballot box.  Two watchers assured the vote was honest.

You would have been impressed, I think, to see democracy work in so unlikely a venue.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Oh sweet people--you should have been there.  I was moved nearly to tears. Our founding fathers would have been proud.  I say to the tyrants of the world and to all who believe in force--LET THEM COME TO THE SLABS.
And I say to all the rent collectors of the world.  COME TO THE SLABS--and see a different system.
And I say to economic captives everywhere-- drudging their lives away in the capitalistic system-- yearning for freedom---COME TO THE SLABS.
Glorious it is not---BUT IT'S A START. 

Out of the mud and dust of things
Something lovely sometimes springs














15 comments:

Jerry C said...

Agree with Solar Mike. Sad to say, but probably the "beginning of the end". Politics. :-(

Al Christensen said...

Decades of glorious anarchy, made possible by the state's disinterest, are coming to an end one way or another. If the residents try to continue on as if nothing is changing, with no plan and no organization, they will be figuratively and literally bulldozed by outside forces who do have plans and organization. This is why anarchy is only temporary. Slabbers might ultimately fail, but like they say about the lottery, the odds might be astronomical, but you have zero chance if you don't play.

Robi said...

You got it Al Christensen! The world is changing and though we would like it to stay the same, we gotta be smart and have a backup plan. After the State Lands Commission came to Niland, it was clear they are serious about getting this land off their books. We might be able to stall, but not forever. East Jesus has already bought their plot...Salvation Mtn will complete their swatch in about 6-8 months, then the State will be looking to us. OR they could auction it, OR they could slip it into the massive BLM/State Lands trade...which is already being worked on. How smart are we...

After that meeting, a few of us sat with the Zoning Commission and found that they were open to listening to our ideas...at this point they are perplexed and really don't know what to do, so we have a sliver of a window to advocate alternative off gird lifestyles...provided we do it professionally and give them the researched ammo they need to satisfy the County Supervisors.

Hello, my name is Robi, and I have been voted as the new Secretary for SCCGI. Randy is right. The people currently on the Board after this new election, are intelligent, thoughtful and work hard taking in all the comments and concerns of the community. For example, we just voted a change to the Bylaws that states that "No resident, visitor, nor camper will be charged rent." Period.

Our Motto is "Land for People, NOT for Profit"

VtChris said...

I was in a Vermont commune when this very same thing happened to Earth People's Park in Norton, VT. Sad but true....hard to buck city hall.

Jim said...

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As a former landlord and newbie to The Slabs, I hope this amazing experiment is permitted to endure forever. I've never felt so FREE and unhassled by all the usual crap the dominant paradigm seems to insist upon. Having never been here before, my wife & I arrived with a certain level of fear and trepidation -- thinking surely we'd only stay for a night or two. Those irrational emotions abated almost immediately and 2-1/2 weeks later, we're still here and The Slabs feel like home. The place isn't perfect and I wish everyone cared more about keeping the trash picked up and hauled off, but I'm FREE to pick up trash as many hours a day as I want and I can keep my own area reasonably neat & clean regardless of what others are doing.
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Think about it. Where else can you go -- stay for as long or as little as you like -- live however you want -- for FREE? I, too, resist organization as that ultimately always evolves into a power trip for somebody and most of us don't like being told what to do -- especially if it's by someone we don't have an earned and personal respect for. I don't have all the answers but for no more than this place costs the state of California to just leave it alone? I'd think the state would be proud to own the last truly FREE place to BE in this country. It didn't cost the state anything to get this property and it's unfortunate they have no ability to see it as the asset it is instead of something they feel the need to "get off their books."
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sail4free
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Randy said...

Hey Mr Sail guy: (Hello Anne) Thanks for the input--a point I hadn't thought of. That the right question to ask is what this square mile, with its host of campers, cost the state
and what it is worth to the state. It saves tons of money and lots of resources. Slabbers are low consumers with a low carbon footprint. One person jokingly told me that the entire slabs were a low cost mental institution. It is truthfully a low cost, long term campground
serving hundreds of people.
More importantly it is a significant, noteworthy experiment in freedom that is worth careful study.

Sooper Edd said...

For some reason I thought it was bigger than a square mile; hopefully it remain as it is for a long time to come. Unfortunately, humans being humans, I wonder how long before an attempt is made to "improve" The Slabs and it is subsequently ruined. They are too many people in the world that can't stand it when others are happy and content.

Argie7 said...

Thank you for the update. It is very uplifting to see that people can live and enjoy in such a Libertarian environment. A real life experiment that can show a viable alternative to many people who feel alienated from our society mores. I have one question: does anybody know what the situation is regarding crime statistics and drugs for Slab inhabitants. If no worse than seen in metropolitan areas, it would make a fine argument against the "war on drugs" and the police state. May be someone can inform us about it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Randy for your slabs story, I was wondering, hearing all kinds of things, like their selling the land. I suppose rumors been floating around the slabs for years though. Who would want it is what it comes right down to I suppose. Only an idiot would want the tax burden of an isolated place like the slabs. I figure the planet welcomes its presence, cozy, authentic, wild, inviting to the few who stake a claim on its parched soul.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Solar Mike,
Randy should have an indepth conversation with him to share his and others views.

Jonathan Radford said...

It looks like this is really a great community.

Wonder said...

Hi Randy, I saw you in a documentary "Without Bond" very enlightening, left me wondering. How does one invest 100,000 dollars so that there is a 500 dollar a month return?

Randy said...

Hi Wonder: You are so painfully right: One cannot currently invest $100,000 to get a $6000 return. Now, I get zero return and must "eat my children" (dip into my savings) to survive.
However, I do not have to dip deep because I get $200 a month social security. At this rate of depletion I will be many years going broke. Hopefully, I will live out the words that will be on my tombstone: Perfect Timing
Here lies the remains of Randy Vining
A man who died with perfect timing.
Philosopher, Poet, Gadabout;
He died the day his money ran out

Wonder said...

Randy, thanks for the quick reply. It comes the gamble all retires make. But it seems you are truly free, free from fear.

Anonymous said...

Interesting take on things, though a bit hypocritical, in my mind. You advocate that these squatters simply be allowed to stay for free forever, on land owned by the California teachers retirement system, I believe. Are you then also advocating that these retired folks forfeit their investment in the land? Are you then also advocating that someone should be allowed to simply squat in your trailer, and live for free at your expense? I think not. Likewise you would never be on board losing your own investment nest egg simply because people who desire it believe they are somehow more deserving of your cash as rightfully as you who earned it are. Socialism always seems to fail when the workers run out of money and goods to support the rest. There are plenty of tax payer funded lands that people are allowed to fairly share, not for permanent homesteading. There is no good in any society that could come with allowing people to simply take what they want.