Cameron Hughes and Erica Schultz are two of the volunteers who operate the Bridgetown DIY autonomous music space and community center in Valinda, CA.

Erica Schultz & Cameron Hughes

The Punk Rock Organizers

Erica lives 40 miles away in Huntington Beach. Cameron lives in nearby El Monte. But at least twice a month, the two of them join other young people from throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond at Bridgetown DIY (Do-It-Yourself), a collectively-managed, all-ages music, art, social and political community center that’s been around since 2011. Cameron had gotten his start in organizing just the year before, while he was still in high school, and he helped to create an independent union for dining hall workers on a campus at Pomona College. “I had one foot in the organizing community and another in the punk and DIY communities,” says Cameron, one of Bridgetown DIY’s founders. “I thought there’s a way to bring these two groups together.” Over the past 8 years, Cameron, Erica and a large and constantly evolving group of young volunteers have built the only space in the East San Gabriel Valley where any community member can get involved, enjoy music, cultural and political gatherings, and use the space to host an event — for free, and without any of the typical red tape they may encounter at a club. “We’ve created a space that is explicitly nonhierarchical, egalitarian and accessible,” says Cameron. “It’s not just pie in the sky.”