Calzona, California: Possible Futures for Forgotten Lands

An essay reframing traditional spacemaking ideologies at the intersection of art and social engagement.

About five hours east of San Diego sits a town brimming with possibility. Amidst the scorching desert heat and a beautiful sense of isolation, the unincorporated territory of Calzona, California calls itself home to two men, a dog, and a quasi-imaginary marijuana dispensary. Long dirt roads leading nowhere seem to wind endlessly toward the horizon, and dry dust permeates the air. With nothing but arid desert for miles around, Calzona seems to have an atmosphere that invites a calm sense of isolation. It seems impossible that an abandoned and antiquated subdivision (with an estimated population of two) could epitomize the idea of a landscape full of possibility and hope. However, in rethinking the ideologies of “possibility” and “value” as they are attached to the capitalistic economic system, the empty town of Calzona reveals itself as a space with value that transcends that of the commercial. While land in Calzona is worth almost no money, its true worth lies types of possible futures that the land itself imagines for us.

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