vi ·brant /vÄ«brÉ’nt/ adjective
full of energy and enthusiasm, (of color) bright and striking
Community member: “We want our downtown to be vibrant.”
Planner: “What does it mean to be vibrant?”
If this dialogue seems somehow familiar, join the hundreds of other core communities who have begun a revitalization dialogue along these familiar lines. Vibrancy seems to be a hard word to comprehend for some planners, but a vastly desirable descriptor for the ideal downtown. Looking at the definition of the word vibrant seems to paint a pretty clear picture. It speaks directly to place-making, to “experience” environments, and to the essence of a community.
When visiting northwestern Pennsylvania, you are brought very close to the Chautauqua Lake region of New York, and specifically to the lovely, small, lakefront village of Bemus Point. Visit this community any weekend throughout the summer months and I challenge you to find a more apt descriptive word for this community. Concerts on the floating stage, boats coming and going, cars riding the ferry across the lake, and people waiting to eat dinner on the patios of the destination restaurants create a sense of high energy and enthusiasm.
Stop by Bemus Point on a weekday (for coffee like I did) and the same description applies, but for other reasons. Even without the throngs of visitors and concert goers, the streets maintain vibrancy through dynamic color choices, bold landscape selections, and depth of character in each business.
Vibrancy is not defined by tourism, density, or population (at the last census, Bemus Point had a population of 340). It’s defined by character and attention to detail. It’s defined by the spirit of place that is conveyed every day to every person who travels your streets.