Radically Rural

Radically Rural is a two-day event Sept. 19-20 packed with programs to help small communities succeed.

Plus: Don’t miss CONNECT2019 ‘What’s Next!’ evening networking event on Sept. 19.

Keene’s downtown will be transformed into a conference center Sept. 19-20, as those interested in making their towns more sustainable and successful gather for the second Radically Rural event.

A partnership between The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and The Keene Sentinel, Radically Rural features six program tracks considered essential to the success of small communities: Main Streets and downtowns, arts and culture, working lands, renewable energy, entrepreneurship and community journalism.

The event also features the popular CONNECT2019, a major networking event that brings together attendees and community leaders for a spirited evening gathering featuring local food, drink and music. This year’s theme, What’s Next!, focuses on exploring ideas and projects that will transform these six industries in the next three to five years. Installations will be created in collaboration with Machina Arts, an art-inspired event curator, to represent each industry’s project.

Last year’s Radically Rural and CONNECT attracted nearly 550 registrants from 21 states.

“We have as a goal 800 attendees this year,” said Terrence Williams, president and COO of The Sentinel. “We want Radically Rural to become the destination event for folks from the region and around the country who are interested in making their towns and small cities stronger.”

The opening speech will be delivered by Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States with more than $2 billion in assets. Guillies leads the Foundation’s work to boost student achievement in Kansas City and to accelerate entrepreneurship across the country.

Also speaking is Art Markman, executive director of the IC² Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Markman has taken his interest in the human side of business to promote research on the development of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural regions and small isolated cities around the world.

“We have assembled a great team of speakers, and our program tracks represent an opportunity for attendees to hear about the unique challenges and prospects for each sector,” said Mary Ann Kristiansen, executive director for Hannah Grimes. “We think people will leave the conference inspired about how they can make their businesses, their communities, their surroundings better.”

RADICALLY RURAL ‘TRACKS’

The Entrepreneurship track includes programs on supporting Stage 2 companies, those with generally 10 to 99 employees; a focus on the “experienced economy,” which features new startups and initiatives by those older than age 50; and the popular Pitchfork Challenge, during which local start-up businesses, in a “Shark-Tank-like” setting, compete for a $10,000 prize.

The Community Journalism track features experts in collaborative reporting efforts, those in which several news organizations partner to explore regional and complicated issues in places where news coverage is often limited; solutions journalism in which reporting goes deep to suggest how such issues can be solved; and a session on the best ideas from around the country to build news audiences and revenue to support newsrooms at small news organizations.

The Working Lands track looks at how people can manage their land for climate resiliency; land and farm policies that can better provide support to forest managers and farmers; and creative ways for farmers and food producers to find financing for their businesses.

The Arts and Culture track provides a session on hosting major arts events and promotions; a look at communities who have built arts enclaves; and a deeper look at how arts festivals such as Burning Man can put communities on the cultural map.

Renewable Energy sessions will examine how communities can get prepare for more electric vehicles; bridging the rural energy gaps; and the movement of communities toward 100% renewable energy.

And the Main Street track examines ways downtowns can make the best possible visual impression; how to keep young people from leaving small towns; and how to resolve conflict that may be getting in the way of community progress.

All events are hosted at small venues situated throughout downtown Keene, providing ideal space for interaction, questions and networking. Several mixers are planned along with a noon tour of the new Wall Dogs murals displayed throughout Keene’s downtown. Local restaurants are preparing Radically Rural menus for attendees. CONNECT2019 will be held the first night of the conference on Sept. 19 on the campus of Keene State College

For more information on the event, the schedule and venues and to purchase tickets, go to www.radicallyrural.org or contact

Williams at twilliams@keenesentinel.com