Vibrancy — defined as “a place with an unusual scale and intensity of specific kinds of human interaction” — is an important word in the ArtPlace universe. It’s important in ours, too. MOCAD is blessed to be located in Midtown, an area of Detroit seeing population growth, small business and institutional investment, and, for better or for worse, lots of media attention.
Things are changing in the neighborhood — the Detroit Medical Center is expanding its footprint, new mixed-use buildings are replacing empty lots, Whole Foods is coming — so it’s important to take stock of how much vibrancy we already have so that it is cultivated and nourished, rather than paved over by the new.
Detroit might get cold in the winter, but proof of this vibrancy is evident in spades on Noel Night, which is set for Dec. 3 this year, its 39th. Produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc., one of our fellow ArtPlacers, the event features 50 destinations — all clustered within walking distance — with 120 music performances that culminate in an on-street sing-along.
Across the street at the newly renovated 71 Garfield, there will be tours of the building’s laudable green construction techniques and a couple of holiday pop-up shops. Down the alley, the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art will premier Kresge eminent artist Bill Harris’ The Dog on the Victrola, and, just down the street, the historic First Congregational Church will feature the headlining Blind Boys of Alabama along with their regular “Flight to Freedom” Underground Railroad tours.
Every year, Noel Night reminds us how alive, how vibrant, Detroit is now. It is important to remember that as we strive to improve it.