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LA Forwards & Backwards

News & Politics Podcasts

Opening up on the conversation on the issues being debated in today’s Los Angeles. Featuring interviews with local social and environmental justice leaders, plus the kind of big-picture context you won’t find anywhere else. Hosted by the founder of LA Forward, David Levitus, Ph.D.

Opening up on the conversation on the issues being debated in today’s Los Angeles. Featuring interviews with local social and environmental justice leaders, plus the kind of big-picture context you won’t find anywhere else. Hosted by the founder of LA Forward, David Levitus, Ph.D.


United States


Opening up on the conversation on the issues being debated in today’s Los Angeles. Featuring interviews with local social and environmental justice leaders, plus the kind of big-picture context you won’t find anywhere else. Hosted by the founder of LA Forward, David Levitus, Ph.D.




Lessons from the Campaign Trail

Excited to share a panel discussion with three progressive candidates for office in 2020 who shared what they learned, what they wish they knew when they got started, and how we can build the political power needed to advance our movement for justice! Moderated by David Levitus and featuring Aura Vasquez, Godfrey Plata, and Yasmine-Imani McMorris, Culver City Councilmember.


Redistricting in Los Angeles and How You Can Be Involved

For the 1st time ever, LA County has an independent Redistricting Commission that gives residents, not politicians, the power to draw district maps and prevent gerrymandering. YOU can shape the redistricting process by serving as a commissioner. You will need to apply by August 31. Learn more by listening to this workshop hosted by LA Forward and Common Cause. Full video version is available at


LA Civics 101

Are you discovering the power of local government for the first time? Confused by what you're learning? Want to get educated so you can be effective in making sure our budgets and policies reflect our values? Listen to a recording of our 2020 teach-in on LA Civics 101 to get an overview of the nuts and bolts of local government. What's the difference between LA City and LA County? What about the 87 other cities in LA County? What kind of power does the LA City Council have compared to the...


Putting Our Schools & Communities First

Our schools and communities face huge challenges. A major culprit is the lack of resources to ensure small class sizes and comprehensive student and community services. Thankfully we have the opportunity to change that by closing a corporate loophole on commercial property. Check out this panel discussion of the Schools & Communities First measure to learn how we can reclaim $3 billion a year for LA schools, colleges, social services, parks, libraries, health clinics, affordable housing, and...


Defending Democracy - Redistricting, the Census, and the Future of California

We're excited to have the Advancement Project's Alejandra Ponce de Leon on the show to discuss crucially important issues like getting a full, accurate census in one of the hardest-to-count places (hint hint-- it's Los Angeles), why it matters for our democracy and getting the resources we need to tackle our region's biggest challenges, and how people like you can prevent gerrymandering through the independent citizens redistricting commission.


Housing the Houseless

We're back! Tommy Newman of the Everyone In campaign joins us to discuss one of our biggest challenges -- the 52,765 human beings who are homeless in Los Angeles County. It's cruel and immoral and fortunately Everyone In is leading efforts to make sure we actually build the affordable and supportive housing that's needed to solve the problem. We go deep into the long- and short-term causes of the crisis and what people like you can do to make a difference.


Defending Immigrant Communities

This special episode was recorded live at the SIJCC and features LAFB's first ever panel discussion. We bring together leaders from four of California's leading immigrant rights organizations to discuss how to effectively fight back the Trump administration's attack on immigrant communities — through sanctuary policy campaigns, political organizing, lawsuits, legal representation for individuals, guerrilla post-it-noting, and more.


California Power Politics, Net Neutrality, and more

Season 2 is here—thanks to the generosity of listeners like you! To kick things off, we welcome Sandra Fluke, California Director of Voices for Progress who gives us the inside scoop on how politics works in our state. From gerrymandering and term limits to corporate capture of certain Democrats, we get real talk about who wields power in Sacramento and how they do it. Then we discuss the fight for a strong "net neutrality" law and the abolition of "money bail," plus how you can get involved.


Intersections of Injustice

Rabeya Sen of Esperanza Community Housing joins us for a wide-ranging conversation about the connections between issues as diverse as domestic violence, immigration enforcement, the criminal justice system, and urban displacement and gentrification.


Urban Oil Drilling

Martha Dina Argüello talks with us about the STAND-LA coalition’s work to phase out the silent but deadly oil drilling that still exists near homes, schools, and hospitals across Los Angeles. A native of the neighborhood around Vista Hermosa Park and its plethora of oil wells, Martha shares her story and highlights the need to push for a just transition where disadvantaged communities and workers all benefit from the move from fossil fuels to clean energy.


Homeboy Electronics Recycling with Kabira Stokes

Kabira Stokes of Homeboy Electronics Recycling joins the podcast for our first live show which took place at the beautiful, historic Pico Union Project building. Kabira shares the fascinating story of how she came to establish and lead a social enterprise that employs formerly incarcerated folks, boosting the local economy, and fighting both toxic pollution and climate change in the process.


Redemption Against the Odds

This Thursday, April 12, Kabira Stokes, the Founder and CEO of Homeboy Recycling joins a special LIVE podcast event at the gorgeous, historic Pico Union Project to discuss her work to employ formerly incarcerated folks to recycle electronics in an environmentally sustainable way right here in Los Angeles. Get your free tickets through our website ( before it's too late. From aspiring costume designer to political staffer to a leading social entrepreneur, Kabira...


Youth Justice

Julio Marcial of the Liberty Hill Foundation talks with us about LHF's work to transform the youth justice system so it focuses on investing in young people, intervening with community-based solutions, and shutting down youth prisons. We discuss how youth of color are overpoliced and overincarcerated and survey the incredible work of grassroots organizations across LA County that has already cut youth incarceration in half.


Fighting Sexual Harassment and Violence

Maya Paley of NCJW-LA joins the show to discuss the fight against sexual harassment and violence beyond the headlines. After she shares the story, we dive into the data on the widespread nature of the problem, discuss this year's top policy priorities, and learn about NCJW-LA's "Talk Project" to engage teens in peer-to-peer trainings.


Climate Change

Bryn Lindblad of Climate Resolve joins us to discuss the unique challenges faced by our region as a result of climate change and what we can and should be doing in response. We discuss how critical it is to stop the construction of "High Desert Freeway," which will generate massive carbon emissions and destroy Joshua Tree-filled wilderness. We also chat about the importance of more trees and shade structures to make our streets walkable, as well as initiatives to combat the "urban heat...


Planning For Equity

Laura Raymond of ACT-LA joins us to discuss recent successes of the "Transit-Oriented Communities" program, why the market can't solve all problems, and the importance of regional planing that integrates a racial equity approach from the start. We talk about work to expand equitable transit-oriented development across LA County and the need to build upon, not undermine, such work at the state level.


What Is Affordable Housing?

KeAndra Dodds of Enterprise Community Partners joins the show for a conversation about what "affordable housing" means, how the different types of affordable housing get built, and how local ballot initiatives like Measures H, HHH, and JJJ and recent state housing bills are part of this evolving landscape. If you've been affordable housing-confused or just affordable housing-curious, this is the episode for you.



Jessica Meaney of Investing in Place talks with us about how she came to found a transportation advocacy organization, the often-ugly history of transportation in LA, and reasons for hope today. We discuss Measure M (the massive funding measure passed by LA County voters in November 2016), some of the good things it'll do, and where we need to keep pressing the Metro Board and the 88 city councils across the county.


Criminal Justice Reform

Zach Hoover of LA Voice joins the show for a discussion of spiritually-based organizing and the enduring legacy of white supremacy, including “The New Jim Crow” of mass incarceration and repressive policing. We discuss the generational challenges we must overcome to create a fair society and the work of multiracial coalitions in confronting today’s architecture of injustice.


Affordable Housing & Equitable Development

Mariana Huerta Jones of ACT-LA talks about their coalition's campaigns to create housing and transit that serve all Angelenos, including the backstory on Measure JJJ which City voters approved in November 2016, and how we can ensure implementation is done right. Plus a bite-sized segment on the history of inequitable development in LA to help us understand the present moment.