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Watch this entire Truly CA episode: Darwin by filmmaker Nick Brandestini. (Running Time: 54:10)

At the end of a rutted road in Death Valley, a once rowdy and violent mining town now hosts a community where government and commerce have evaporated.

Welcome to Darwin, population 35.

Despite its dusty and remote exterior, Darwin is teeming with life. There are those who stayed after the mines’ closure, like Monty, a retired miner who has found the artist within. Others have joined the community more recently, like Ryal and her partner Penny, two twenty-somethings who found refuge in the desert while Ryal undergoes the transition from female to male. Susan the postmaster has the only job in Darwin, but she isn’t there for the paycheck. Many in the town have struggled with drugs, crime and tragedy, but in Darwin, the townspeople take pride in the fact that they are judged not by their past sins, but by who they are today.

The living may not be easy, but in Darwin, people live life on their own terms.