The Foundation is pleased to offer our grantees the opportunity to share information about their grant on our website.  We hope it will offer the public increased visibility for your work.

Terms and Conditions. This form is intended for those who have received a Puffin Foundation grant.  By filling out this form, you will be requesting Puffin to post information about your granted project on our web site.  Please fill out the form carefully.  It includes the option to provide an email address for the public to contact you, as well as providing an email address for the Foundation to use internally that would not be made public.  Note that if you include personally identifiable information in your public content, it can be used and viewed by others.   We are not responsible for the information you choose to include in public content.  The Foundation reserves the right to edit any submissions for size and appropriate content.  If you wish to give photo, audio or video credit for submissions, such credit should be included in your text under the description of your project.


The Last Free Place

Teri Havens
Year Grant Awarded 2012

Email >
State > CO Zip Code > 81623
Website >
Website > (under construction)

The Last Free Place

For three years I lived part-time in Slab City, a squatter's community located on a desolate swath of southern California’s Sonoran desert wedged between the Salton Sea and an active bombing range. Since shortly after World War II The Slabs have been a refuge for drifters, dropouts, artists, outlaws and other cultural dissidents who settle alongside the addicted and the elderly on the concrete foundations of an abandoned military base.

Slab City is a collection of fiercely independent, utterly original individuals. Cast out of, or just drifting away from, the “American Dream,” they come here seeking freedom from rules, rent, and the assaults of a society often unsympathetic to the underclass. Some are victims of poverty, of bad choices and bad luck. Others have renounced the “material world,” refusing to trade their time for money; many simply yearn for the sense of freedom that comes from vast open spaces.

And though desert life can be extremely harsh, and in truth there is little freedom in poverty, here they find love and strength within a community that accepts and nurtures the individuality of its members.

Inspired by the early images of the disenfranchised as depicted by the WPA photographers of the 1930’s, I began a series of portraits documenting the people of Slab City. Using available light, film and traditional printmaking methods, I attempt to capture the universal tension between hope and resignation, between community and isolation.