Sunvale Village – Twentynine Palms, California - Atlas Obscura
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Twentynine Palms, California

Sunvale Village

In this roadside "community for the small," abandoned toys gain new lives. 

Along a stretch of dirt road is a unique desert village. You won’t find people dwelling here, though. This is a home for discarded toys, called “smalls.”

The artist behind the community uses the smalls to make commentary on significant contemporary issues such as the environment, gender biases, politics, ownership, and gentrification of communities. The thread of commonality for the smalls is their past experiences of rejection, abandonment, and isolation.

Most smalls were found in the desert at decaying homestead cabins or illegal dump sites. There’s a detailed, imaginative story for each small regarding its past, passage to the village, and rationale for becoming a resident. Each personality serves a purpose for the small community.

The first three figurative toys established Sunvale Village, a community for the small, in April of 2017. They included a plastic toy from the site, now known as Small Dog and the original homesteader; Dogu, an abstracted clay figurine who has become the Goodwill Ambassador; and Peppe the Pink Pig, a found pepper shaker (he and Salt’n had broken up) and cousin to Ms Piggy, who joined the village later to become a minor rehabilitation officer to those who had been screwed up by show-biz.

Since those three smalls started the village, its population has continually grown. By the summer of 2018, the population of Sunvale Village increased to 56 residents.

Each small has a custom-built home reflecting its personality. Currently, there are 34 homes and two community use structures. There are also privately operated but community shared places, where the smalls can spend time together.

Know Before You Go

This is located in a rural area, on a dirt road. There is no official parking available. Photo images and their corresponding narratives that document the development of the residents of Sunvale Village, a community for the small, are posted regularly on the Facebook page, Sunvale Village. 

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