VIP Reception/Q&A with Dar Williams


In the decades that Dar Williams has been touring, she has been seeing how towns and cities, like people, have been coming into their own, becoming more resilient, unique, and prosperous. While so many people said that towns and cities were “dead”, she had been seeing them come back to life. She realized that the key ingredient in the success of these places was what she called “Positive Proximity”, where there was an understanding that living side by side with other people was a good, constructive thing. Positive proximity was a civic state of being that could be built and sustained, and Dar was collecting stories and notes to support her growing theory. She said, “Someone should write a book about this.” And the muse said, “You’ve written fiction books, you interviewed people for your green blog at Huffington Post, you’ve written about towns and cities in your songs since day one. The person who should write this book is you.” In the spring of 2015, just before setting out on the tour for her ninth studio album, Emerald, Dar signed a contract with Basic Books, now Hachette Publishing Group. In September, 2017, she started touring new venues, speaking in bookstores and at city planning conferences in support of her book, “What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities” One Dog Run, …. At A Time. 2018 was a time to deepen her connection to these themes of town and city building and planning as Dar gave keynote speeches at the Boise Downtown Association, the Vermont …, the Southern New England Planning Association conference, and the Congress of New Urbanism, among others. “What I Found in a Thousand Towns” is an impassioned account of the fall and rise of small American towns she cherishes. Dar chronicles practical success stories and challenges, delivering her message with hope and love.

All Festival Weekend Pass and Friday Night VIP Ticket holders are cordially invited to join Dar and Jim Meigs, co-host of the popular podcast “How Do We Fix It?” as they discuss the power of positive proximity and how working on local projects together can bring different parts of a community together. Dar speaks of the strength of weak ties and why they help build networks of people who act as stewards for the places that they love. (Her book also offers some wonderful examples of how coffeehouses and music festivals have played a big role in helping fading towns and cities revive.)

Jim Meigs is a veteran magazine editor and writer. He has been editor-in-chief of four magazines, including, most recently, Popular Mechanics. In his 10 years there he updated that century-old magazine to become a distinctive voice on modern technological issues including energy, infrastructure, green technology, and digital privacy.

Meigs has also covered environmental issues and adventure travel at National Geographic Adventure, and entertainment at the movie magazine Premiere, and at Entertainment Weekly. He began his career covering the consumer tech industry. As a freelance writer, he has written for Rolling Stone, Details and other publications.