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Excavating the Future

Welcome to "Excavating the Future," Capital & Main's series of conversations about what life could and should be like after the pandemic.

We take our title from a book called "City of Quartz" by native Angeleno historian Mike Davis. It's the idea that, as overwhelming as our current crisis feels, humanity has been here before. And many times, out of crisis arises something better. Last year, in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in modern history, we asked writers, scholars, and activists to explain where we were at, where we're headed — and to sift through the past to figure out what or what not to do to get to that better place.

"Excavating the Future" is hosted and written by Rubén Martínez and produced and directed by Marco Amador for Capital & Main, an award-winning news publication that reports on inequality, climate change and other issues.
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Protestors hold signs during a Black Lives Matter protest near The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors building on the first anniversary of George Floyd's murder.

Commentary: Manuel Pastor on a World That Lives Up to Our Highest Hopes

Reflecting on the changes that have occurred during the pandemic, Dr. Manuel Pastor discusses how society can reverse the bad and build on the good. The future is forged through our every day actions.
Panorama of El Sereno homes

How Home 'Reclaimers' in El Sereno Pursue Self-Determination, Inspired by the Zapatistas

Roberto Flores, co-founder of the Eastside Café, saw a potential solution to the housing crisis in the vacant state-owned homes of El Sereno. He draws on lessons from Indigenous communities in Chiapas to organize for community control and stable, dignified housing.
Protesters overtake the 101 freeway near downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

Excavating the Future: A Pandemic Remembrance

In the personal essay below, Rubén Martínez, host of Excavating the Future, reflects on individual and collective experiences over the past two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID a global pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Mobile Clinic Delivers Vaccine to Central American Indigenous Residents in Los Angeles

CIELO Co-Founder on How Indigenous Oaxacan Knowledges Light the Path Ahead

Odilia Romero, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), talks about how traditions of mutual aid have helped Indigenous immigrant communities survive the pandemic.
a new development photographed next to other smaller homes in Koreatown

A Place Without the Tension of Injustice: An L.A. Journalist Reflects on Gentrification

Erin Aubry Kaplan explains how historically Black L.A. neighborhoods are pushing back against gentrification. She envisions using the pandemic's "pause" to shape a better future.
Protesters march holding placards and a portrait of George Floyd during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Hollywood, California.

'Now Is the Time to Defund the Police and Reimagine Public Safety,' Says Black Lives Matter Co-Founder

Black Lives Matter co-founder Melina Abdullah shares how the past can inform efforts to reshape public safety.
The border between U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, which is on the water.

'We Belong on Both Sides of the Border' Says MacArthur Fellow

MacArthur Fellow Cristina Rivera Garza spoke to us from her home in San Diego to contemplate the U.S.-Mexico border, something first conceived in the imagination — which means that the imagination can also be erase it.
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