• Connecting California

    Come Home, Kamala

    The Vice Presidency, Under Biden, Is a Lose-Lose Proposition. And the California Governorship Is About to Be Open

    by Joe Mathews

    Come back, Kamala. Come back. Back to California, where you might have a future. Away from Washington, D.C. ...

  • Essay

    Interstate 10 Is More Than a Road

    Its Recent Closure Reminds Us of How We Need to Rethink Our Transportation, and Ourselves

    by Wellington Reiter

    Funny thing about the world we have created and the structures we build—they are only really seen for ...


In Gaza, Storytelling and Silence

A Mentor Stays Glued to WhatsApp, Awaiting Word from Young Writers

by Sarah Jacobus

Mustafa was one of the first young writers I mentored through We Are Not Numbers (WANN), a youth-led program based in Gaza that tells the stories behind the numbers in the news, giving voice to Palestinians and advocating for their human rights. Mustafa is a graduate of Al Aqsa University, and he managed a small convenience store to supplement his family’s income.
  Two years ago, I worked with him—virtually, from my home in Los Angeles—as he drafted and refined an essay about 13-year-old Muhammad, a familiar figure in his Khan Yunis neighborhood, who was bullied at school and compelled by extreme poverty to scavenge for castoff bread in the streets. In offering Muhammad odd jobs at the convenience store and extending his friendship, Mustafa awakened a sense of self-esteem in the boy. Through a series of Zoom meetings and Google Doc exchanges, we generated multiple drafts of the essay. And though Mustafa struggled with ...

The Takeaway

'AI Is Nothing Without Us'

Panelists for 'Is AI the End of Creativity—Or a New Beginning?' Find the Emerging Technology at Odds With the Creative Economy

by Talib Jabbar

Last week, the board of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI fired its CEO, Sam Altman, only to reinstate him days later—an ouster/“inster” that left many questioning the leadership, safety risks, and oversight of the booming artificial intelligence ecosystem. This week, people called foul after Sports Illustrated published articles seemingly written by AI, and Merriam-Webster announced “authentic” as its 2023 Word of the Year, in part because of the rise of AI technology.
  Last night, Zócalo, together with Arts for LA, ASU Narrative and Emerging Media Program, and LACMA, presented an evening asking the timely, urgent question: “Is AI the End of Creativity—Or a New Beginning?”
  The event brought together a panel of creative workers and thinkers: LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab program director Joel Ferree, Concept Art Association co-founder and artist ...

  • All’s Not Yet Fair in California Workplaces

    At Last Night’s Event ‘How Can Workers Make Sure They’re Treated Fairly in the Workplace?,’ Panelists Called for More Collaboration for Better Protections

    by Sarah Rothbard

    California workers’ rights are bolstered by some of the country’s strongest labor legislation, mandating higher minimum wages in many sectors, increased sick days, and other protections. But around the state, “you see quite a bit of suffering” among low-wage workers, Zócalo California columnist and democracy editor Joe Mathews noted Wednesday …