Musician, author Dar Williams to discuss ‘positive proximity,’ perform at Mabel Tainter

Public events April 28 encourage connections between university, community
Abbey Goers | April 12, 2022

UW-Stout’s Center for Applied Ethics and the Chancellor’s Office are co-hosting an evening with singer-songwriter and author Dar Williams on Thursday, April 28.

The event, Promoting Positive Proximity: Finding Connections in Our Community, will have two parts; both are free and open to the public. Registration is required for each event as space is limited:

  • Book discussion with Williams: 3 p.m., UW-Stout’s Harvey Hall Theatre. Register here.
  • Musical performance by Williams: 6 p.m., Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. Register here.
Dar Williams
Dar Williams / Promotional photo by Ebru YILDIZ

During the discussion, Williams will share ideas from her book “What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities – One Coffee Shop, Dog Run, and Open-Mike Night at a Time” and explain the concept of positive proximity.

The discussion will also be available via livestream.

Williams is an American pop folk singer-songwriter from Mount Kisco, N.Y. She has toured with such artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin and Joan Baez.

“This event is about community building,” said Professor Kate Roberts Edenborg, interim director of the Center for Applied Ethics. “We are hoping that community leaders and organizations, as well as campus leaders and students, take away some thoughts about collaborations we can have and really discover what we are doing to make connections. We are hoping this starts an ongoing conversation throughout the community.”


Portrait of Kate Roberts-Edenborg
Professor Kate Roberts Edenborg / UW-Stout

Edenborg leads a campus sharing community called Town & Gown, a group of faculty and staff who discuss the relationships between the campus and the larger Menomonie community.

“We talk about connections and collaborations as well as challenges,” she said. “I brought Dar Williams’ book to one of our meetings. She tours all over the country and returns to cities every few years. This gives her the opportunity to discover how a community has evolved. While ‘What I Found in a Thousand Towns’ is not exclusively about communities that have universities, there were messages that resonated with our group members.”

After reading Williams’ book, University Library Systems Librarian Ann Vogl “could see all of the things Menomonie is doing and the potential to get better. And I wondered how we could get more people to read her book and discuss her ideas,” she said.

Vogl is helping to coordinate the positive proximity event. “I think it’s important to showcase what is already being done in Menomonie and keep the momentum going toward greater community building and more collaborations,” she said.

The sharing community connected with Chancellor Katherine Frank, and she offered support through a co-sponsorship by the Chancellor’s Office.

“I’m pleased to provide support for this event,” Frank said. “This will provide a wonderful opportunity for members of the university and Menomonie community to enjoy Dar Williams’ talents, connect, and reflect on how we can continue to strengthen our university and community relationships.”

The sharing community is also collaborating with other community organizations, including the Menomonie Public Library and Downtown Menomonie to provide a showcase in the lower level of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. This will take place after the discussion and before the concert. Those who are already creating connections will be able to share their projects with others in the community and potentially inspire future collaborations.



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