Imagine driving into the desert, a place of wide open spaces where you can see for miles, and not being able to breathe. This was Mary Sojourner's first experience with desert, somewhere between Parker, AZ and 29 Palms.
Mary had moved west in 1985 from Rochester NY ‘to write and fight for the earth'. It was Edward Abbey’s ‘Monkey Wrench Gang’, which spoke to her loud and clear.
In 2007 Mary felt Flagstaff changing – gentrification as we know it today was happening. Mary was living in a small cabin with a wood stove, no running water, sharing a shower house and outhouse with other cabin dwellers. The landlord cashed in and rents were to be raised significantly.
At the same time, a chance encounter with a representative of Mojave De...
Dawn Rowe's first experience with desert was driving to Las Vegas for a Marine Corps Ball. Alan, her late husband, needed something for his uniform and decided they would drive the back way to Vegas, passing the Marine Base in 29Palms where he would pick it up at the PX. Driving up the Morongo grade and then down into the valley, Dawn remembers her first thought was "Who lives out here?” And now she does – falling in love with a community where she's become a very involved and active citizen, all the way to her current position as San Bernardino Third District Supervisor.
Prior to coming to the desert, Alan’s military career found them spending a lot of time in the San Diego area, then Virginia and on to 29 Palms. After landing...
Janelle Pietrzak's first experience with desert came while driving cross country from Philadelphia, to a new job in LA. Traveling with her partner, Robert, it was July and they made a stop in Marfa, TX, then on to Joshua Tree for two nights – most of which was spent at an aquatic center in Palm Desert (40 miles away from Joshua Tree) to escape the heat.
Janelle has always working in textiles and even though she spent 10 years in the fashion industry doing fabric sourcing, she knew as soon as she began working in the industry, it wasn't for her – the roles in which she found herself were did not allow her to be hands-on or a maker of things – except coffee and files.
Janelle started weaving as a hobby and became obsessed, making m...
Patti Brown wisited Yucca Valley for the first time in 1989 to meet, who would become her future mother-in-law and real estate mentor.
That first trip Patti felt like she might be going on adventure that she wouldn’t be coming back from and her first impressions of the desert were that it was barren and somewhat far removed from what she considered her ‘normal necessities of life.’ It was very different from the lush green she'd grown up around in Northern California.
After a number of visits to Yucca Valley, Patti began to feel the peace and serenity that came with each desert visit. Driving in the snow, down the Morongo grade, heading home after a Christmas visit, the conversation turned to, ‘why wouldn’t we just stay here?" Be...
Born in England, Jane 'Spider' Fawke grew up watching American Westerns at a Saturday morning program near where she lived. It wasn't John Wayne who captured her attention, but the beautiful vistas of Monument Valley in the background.
Growing up poor, Jane gravitated to the fashion scene in Paris after graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Fashion & Textile Design. After some encouragement from a friend, Jane moved to New York.
Jane came to America after 10 years in the ready-to-wear industry in Paris, France and speaks fluent French and Italian. She designed in the US for another 15 years. Then, sensing the onslaught of 'throw-away' fashion, Jane pursued her second dream, to become a Park Ranger. She start...
At eight months old, after being born in Hollywood, Susan was brought to her mother’s burnt homestead cabin in Pipes Canyon. The family first lived under the stars and later in an Army tent.
Susan was raised in upper Pipes Canyon – in what is known today at the Wildlands Conservancy. She attended a one-room schoolhouse, collected bottles for coins from Hollywood cowboys in Pioneertown and set pins at the original bowling alley there.
Walking from school, Susan would walk through the movie sets of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, though the excitement was lost on her as she watched them doing the same thing over and over. Sometimes she’d ride her pony to and from school.
Karmolette O’Gilvie, born and raised in Houston, Texas, has lived in 29 palms for 27 years. She and her husband of 38 years moved to 29 as part of his military career.
Karmolette's first experience with desert was in California. She and her husband were stationed in Camp Pendleton and discovered 29 Palms by riding up to visit other military families. They immediately noticed the night sky, the peacefulness and low crime. Over the years, Karmolette has witnessed many military folks come here to the desert with great uncertainty about remaining, then sees them leaving for the next assignments, tearful and sad to be leaving a place that crept into their souls.
After three years stationed in Corpus Christi TX, she and her husband had...
A native of Wisconsin, Shana Rhodes says she didn’t feel the connection she was hoping for in Portland when she decided to move there.
Intrigued by a documentary about dancer Marta Beckett, who landed in the Mojave desert under interesting circumstances and spoke of the wild horses and amazing sunsets, Shana said to herself, "I have to see this place". She packed her camera and paints and drove to the Mojave to see Death Valley for a two week exploration.
Like Marta, proprietress of Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley, Shana was immediately taken with the unique beauty and solitude of the desert. Wandering through abandoned homestead cabins in Wonder Valley, she became fascinated with things weathered by the desert.
Heather recalls her first experience with desert was on a road trip with her grandmother and says that wasn't the one that put the desert in her heart. At 14, on a Nile river cruise to Egypt with her mother and grandmother, the desert set her soul alight.
Years later, living in Silicon Valley, Heather traveled to LA for work and planned a solo motorcycle trip back through the Mojave, up through Tahoe. She’d camped in Joshua Tree National park overnight, waking up to the sound of coyotes. Heather tells us as she drove out of the park into 29 Palms and heard a voice inside her say, "you’re going to live here someday".
Heather bought a property in Wonder Valley and after taking a writing sabbatical at one of her own desert properti...
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Janet became enamored with the desert while traveling through New Mexico on a family vacation to visit her dad’s one and only uncle in San Diego. Driving through the desert she thought, “I have to come back to this place.”
Attending school for architecture in Cincinnati, Janet decided she wanted to get into the construction side of the business and through a co-op program at the college, she'd heard about Habitat for Humanity and landed a co-op in Atlanta, GA. While there, she caught Albuquerque architect Antoine Predock on the cover of Time magazine - this was her way back to the desert.
Though the Predock office continued to say no co-op opportunities were availa...