Harrowing gorilla warfare once earned Comuna 13 the grim distinction as the most dangerous neighborhood in the world. That history is being reclaimed as inspiration for art and music that now emanates from the community. There’s a distinct tone of optimism and integrity unique to the painting and poetry being created in those hills near the outskirts of Medellin. It reminded me of Chicago. As a college student, I lived in Pilsen on the border of South Side, the murder capital of the United States during that time. Beneath the gang fighting runs an undercurrent of cultural diplomacy — built on the ash of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, just 6 years after the end of the U.S. Civil War, the blueprints of that city manifested an idealist vision of congruent metropolis in the segregationist era. Over a century later, the city was marred by violent discord. As artists, designers and young idealists, we believed part of the solution was in creative renovation of public space. Walking though Comuna 13, I was surrounded by evidence of the capacity for art to supplant violence, a model we can learn from to fix our own broken cities.