Founded by writer Gregory Rodriguez in 2003, Zócalo Public Square is a series of public events at which big ideas are pursued, examined and cherished. The locations change, but the topics always draw top experts to explore how humans' attempt to control nature affects L.A.'s wildlife and open spaces, the myths and legends of the Santa Ana winds, and how automobile drivers and bicyclists can peacefully coexist in our fair city. Zócalo, which holds well-attended panels in Los Angeles and now in other major cities nationwide, does a good job of making people think about ideas they've never considered before. It also has a great website, which offers an “idea exchange,” with articles about everything from the rise and fall of nuclear power plants to the real-life impact of the Affordable Care Act. You want to be smart, informed and ahead of the curve? Hook up with Zócalo. Location varies. —Patrick Range McDonald

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