Journalista: The Last Hippie Haven in America

By Yoonj Kim

There’s a dusty corner of the desert in California’s Imperial County that no soul has claimed for decades. Within that dusty corner is a tiny spot of land that bears some resemblance to a civilized community, and it is called East Jesus.

Located within Slab City, a barren patch of government-owned land taken over by RVs and squatters, East Jesus is an off-the-grid, hippie artist commune. It’s home to a rotating group of six to fifteen residents throughout the year, with up to a thousand visitors per week dropping by to look at the repurposed art.

The entire site is made of reclaimed, recycled and reused materials. Even its residents go through a process that involves the prefix “re-,” staying at East Jesus to essentially retreat from mainstream society and live life with minimal laws.

As solar companies eagerly buy desert lands, the future of the East Jesus compound is in the air, and its squatters have formed the Chasterus Foundation in an effort to purchase the land for the first time in its history. Playboy’s correspondent Yoonj Kim pays a visit and stays overnight at East Jesus, looking at the systems and the people that are working to keep it going.

This video was originally published on May 20, 2015.


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