How poor cultures capitalize on historic sites with Archeologist Larry Coben

If you’re a regular listener to this podcast you’ve probably heard me bash capitalism a lot. The reality is there’s no escaping it, it’s taken over nearly every corner of the world. That certainly hasn’t stopped me from wincing whenever I travel to a far-away lands and am met with local trinket shops and people peddling their wares. But who am I to judge whether this is good or bad for a society. Oftentimes these are poor, macho communities with substantial pressures on them. They see the money come in and out of their world without them able to touch it. 

Often these countries also have remote destinations that house incredible archeological sites, but have a community that remains poor and helpless to take advantage of its history. And then there’s the question: should they? And if they do, what would that do to their culture? Would it be a positive or negative thing to suddenly take capitalism and mix it with something like archeology? 

Well, I learned a lot about that from this week’s guest, Larry Coben. He started his career as a Venture Capitalist focused on energy companies until he decided to make a huge career change and pursue Archeology. He’s since figured out away through his non-profit, The Sustainable Preservation Initiative, to combine both his backgrounds. He’s incredibly focused on preserving the world’s cultural heritage through sustainable economic opportunities for poor communities where a lot of women and cultures are struggling. How he has decided to approach this— to empower these poor communities all over Central America— is truly thought provoking, a bit controversial and, in the end, an incredibly cool solution for how to bridge the past with the present.