Dar Williams on how to rebuild small town America

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Folk singer Dar Williams, author of "What I Found in a Thousand Towns". Photo courtesy of Dar Williams

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams has spent years on the road. Along the way she has learned a lot about America’s small towns and what makes them thrive. She talks about her book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns, and plays songs that relate to those themes. 

The show airs on Christmas Eve, when the famed movie It’s A Wonderful Life will be screened, as it has been annually for decades.

It’s A Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, the decent community banker saving his neighbors from the rapacious slumlord Henry Potter, has long fueled a nostalgia for the community-oriented, small town life depicted in Frank Capra’s imaginary Bedford Falls, even as people left those towns in droves.

But today, as the costs of living in large coastal cities skyrocket, small towns beckon once again.

And that is the topic of Dar Williams book. She talks about towns she has witnessed go through decline and rebirth, and offers up tips for reviving a town -- with welcoming coffee shops, retrofitted theaters and tapping into hidden "heatseekers" -- without sacrificing affordability and character.