Twenty-Five miles from town, a million miles from mainstream society, a loose-knit community of eco-pioneers, teenage runaways, war veterans and drop-outs, live on the fringe and off the grid. Struggling to survive on little food, less water and no electricity, they cling to their unique vision of the American dream. Enthralling, action-packed and full of unforgettable characters.
'This community was built on being left alone by the cops. We don't want your government' cries Dred as he shoots at a can of petrol. Like many of the people living in this vast, dusty underworld, he went into the military as a teenager and came back a different man. 'I don't know anyone who's come out of a combat situation and gone right back into society. It takes a little time' explains Maine, a sufferer of post-traumatic stress disorder, 'this is the last remaining land of America. It's freedom'.
Covering 15 square miles in New Mexico, the mesa is home to around 400 people. All the residents share the anti-establishment feeling of the war veterans. Yet 'patriotism' is one of the only tenets here. 'I fly the flag, I believe in the constitution' explains Dred 'I just don't believe in the government'. There are no official laws but the philosophy: 'don't steal from your neighbour, don't shoot you neighbour' is rigidly upheld.
There's no money but 'if you've got pot you can trade for just about anything'. Marijuana is self-medication, whether it's for post-traumatic stress disorder, gulf war syndrome or general mental illness. 'It is the largest outdoor insane asylum' says Mama Joe, a former psychiatric nurse, 'it's where you can let your freak flag fly'. Yet the growth and distribution of Marijuana brings increasing police surveillance.
When the police raid the home that Maine built from scratch, anti-establishment sentiment is solidified. 'It changed everything' says Mesa elder Robbie 'we have to organise ourselves so this doesn't happen again'. Then a series of thefts by the 'nowhere kids' a group of teenage runaways, push the community's anti-government standing to the extreme. 'We've got a really serious problem in our community now because we don't want to call the cops' explains elder Robbie 'other members of the community are already picking up their guns'.
Suddenly we realise that 'this really is the wild west' until the elders form a council and decide that the 'mamas' on the mesa try to reason with the nowhere kids. 'I don't think it would have been resolved if a group of men had gone down' says Mama Joe, laughing. For the community, the triumph is confirmation of their way of living. 'We're not renegades down here, we're not outlaws, we're not bandits. Democracy is our most valued asset' explains Dred, 'I believe in our right to hold this council without involving the government. We are Americans. We have that freedom of choice'.