Violence, its after effects, and the threat of violence, continue to disrupt millions of lives in the cities of Latin America. As recently as the 1990s, politicians and designers from Medellín traveled to Caracas to see how design might contribute to breaking the stranglehold of violence during Medellín's darkest years. The ongoing crisis in Caracas, rising violence in Mexico, and instability in Brazil's major cities remind us of how difficult it is not just to achieve any kind of fragile balance within urban societies, but also to sustain the conditions of peace and prosperity over the longer term.
The third Designing For Life Symposium: Violence and Cities in September 2016 at Wentworth Institute of Technology's Boston campus brings together some of the clearest and most hopeful voices on how design has, and can again, play a role in breaking political deadlocks, offer hope to otherwise disparate factions of society, and consolidate new alliances around shared visions for change. The extreme conditions of Caracas and other cities trapped in cycles of violence, and the recent memory of similar threats in Medellín serve to illuminate questions around the role of public space, policing strategies and urban form, land rights, and inclusionary design strategies for a healthier civil society in ways that renders them legible in less extreme circumstances elsewhere. As in previous symposia in 2008 and 2013, the 2016 Designing for Life Symposium will invite the professionals and educators of the region to convene to consolidate the lessons of past successes and strategize approaches and initiatives in the face of new and ongoing challenges. Exhibitions and Symposium discussions address the translation of principles, practices and dispositions between Caracas, Medellín and Boston.