Zócalo Public Square is a not-for-profit daily Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. We foster healthier, more cohesive communities by tackling important contemporary questions in an accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit.
Zócalo, a project of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and the New America Foundation, is based in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and roams across the country. We explore connection, place, big ideas, and what it means to be a citizen, be it locally, regionally, nationally, or globally. We are committed to welcoming a new, young, and diverse generation to the public square.
Gregory Rodriguez founded Zócalo—which means “public square” in Spanish—in 2003 as a response to what he believed was a deeply segregated civic life in Los Angeles. Although filled with community activity thanks to its wealth of museums, universities, and specific community organizations, L.A.’s cultural landscape was essentially segregated. Public events were in fact semi-private, targeted by ideology, race, or ethnicity, or promoted to paying members of particular organizations. Rodriguez designed Zócalo to invigorate and integrate the city’s public discourse.
In 2003, Zócalo hosted four events at one Los Angeles location. In 2004, we hosted 12, and in 2008 we hosted 50. In 2012, we will host over 60 events in 11 cities at 27 different venues. In addition to roaming across L.A. and Phoenix, we have also traveled to Bakersfield, Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Tucson, Washington, D.C., and as far as Shanghai, Berlin, and Guadalajara. In nine years we have featured over 1,000 compelling thinkers and doers from a wide range of fields—politics, governance, humanities, health, economics, education, technology, foreign policy, arts, science, and beyond.