Cornelia, 28, from Minnesota, uses a punch bag in her dwelling at Slab City, a squatters' camp about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles. She has been on the road, living in her van since 2011 after leaving her family. At first, she was staying at the Slabs seasonally but around three years ago, she finally settled. A year into her permanent stay, she decided to re-establish the Slab City library. Now in Cornelia's private living space, there is a games room, movie theatre, bar, and hundreds of donated books. She also paints and sells hand-made jewellery and made a short video about Slab City life on You Tube where she has more than 3500 followers.
'One thing I hate about going to the city is that I feel very small and insignificant but here, I am respected and allowed to have control over my own life.'
Slab City, known as The Slabs, is named for its areas of concrete where for many years, since the military based closed, people have parked their RVs as they travel south for the winter. There is also a permanent community of 'Slabbers', around 200 people, who have established themselves living free in the Sonoran Desert where temperatures can reach 48 Celsius in the summer and, while there is no rent, there is also no water, electricity or services. Slabbers are an eclectic bunch often escaping poverty but also holding in common the desire to escape the rules and order of society in what they like to call 'the last free place on earth'.