A post by Alex Alsup
Thomas Frank wrote an excellent piece a few months ago in The Baffler about American cities’ frantic pursuit of “vibrancy”:
“…a city isn’t successful— isn’t even a city, really—unless it can lay claim to being “vibrant.” Vibrancy is so universally desirable, so totemic in its powers, that even though we aren’t sure what the word means, we know the quality it designates must be cultivated. The vibrant, we believe, is what makes certain cities flourish. The absence of vibrancy, by contrast, is what allows the diseases of depopulation and blight to set in.”
It’s a well-argued piece that lays out the bizarre logic behind the vibrancy equation:
“This formulation sounded ridiculous to me when I first encountered it. Whatever the word meant, “vibrancy” was surely an outcome of civic prosperity, not its cause. Putting it the other way round was like reasoning that, since sidewalks get wet when it rains, we can encourage rainfall by wetting the sidewalks.”
Detroit is mixing potions trying to summon vibrancy.
Wrote the Free Press in a 2010 article titled, “Leaders Discuss Making Metro Detroit more Vibrant”: “What struck Bob Berg, a public relations expert, about the study is that the most attached age group is 18 to 24. ‘You see a real vibrant community in (Detroit’s) Midtown. We have to do more of that.’”
There you have it, Detroit: Do More Vibrant.