TENT CITY ‘ORPHANS’ CREATE A COMMUNITY
By Mariecar Mendoza
The Desert Sun
Monday, April 18th, 2011
Corgi Street looks nothing like the streets of suburbia, but it leads to a makeshift community comprised of about 150 “orphans” united for the four nights and three hot days of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The founder of this community, dubbed “Tent City,” is Charlizzle Blizzle of Los Angeles.
On Saturday, sitting in the heart of her city underneath an umbrella to protect her from the sun’s rays, Blizzle said Tent City is essentially the “hometown” of “Coachella Adoption 2011,” the virtual group she created on Facebook.
The group was created in January with a mission to ensure Coachella fans didn’t have to go it alone, which emerged as a major problem when the festival wristbands sold out in record time.
“I wanted to find other people who were alone so that we could have three days together to forget about everything and have fun,” she said, adding that the group’s mantra is: “I Don’t Know You, But I Love You.”
Then, after months of communicating via Facebook, 32 cars converged on Jackson Park in Indio and caravanned to the festival campgrounds, forming one of the largest organized camp groups at Coachella.
“When we met everyone at the park, there was no ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello.’ It was more like, ‘Hey, are you…?’ because we all sort of already knew each other’s faces and names through Facebook, “ said Nick Salloum.
“It was the most positive experience I’ve had with Facebook…because it brought me here with all these people.”
The 25-year-old Salloum flew alone fromd Trinidad and Tobage to the valley for his first Coachella experience.
“Our first conversation about Tent City, we thought if we could get four cars that would be great and maybe we can push for eight. But this; we had no idea it would be like this,” said Salloum, who was among Volpe’s first orphans.
Nick Pisano and his girlfriend, Stefanie Cooper, both 25, from Hartford, Conn., also didn’t realize the magnitude of the group until they saw the snaking caravan head toward the campgrounds the first night.
The couple joined the group by selling their extra camping pass to a Tent City member via craigslist.org.
“It’s a bunch of people who would have gone by themselves – or just two or three other people – but instead came with 150 people,” Pisano said. “It’s epic.”
The diverse group has members who hail from all parts of the United States and other countries like Amsterdam, Australia, England and Mexico, proving that music is universal.
And the best part, Pisano and Salloum said, is that everyone watches out for each other (the group is identifiable by T-shirts that read “Tent City Revolution”) and everything is shared so that no Tent City “citizen” is left behind or in need.
“This is how the human race should live,” said Salloum.