Innovators, industry leaders and curious minds will come together for a glimpse of the future at this year’s CONNECT exhibition on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
CONNECT, an annual networking and project showcase for regional businesses and community developers is the evening “party” held during the two-day Radically Rural Summit, Sept. 19-20, in venues throughout Keene. Both CONNECT evening and the Radically Rural Summit are co-hosted by the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and The Keene Sentinel.
This year, CONNECT will explore the possibilities of the future with its theme: “What’s Next!” Attendees of CONNECT will get a closer look at Radically Rural’s six distinct program tracks: arts and culture, entrepreneurship, journalism, Main Street, renewable energy and working lands. These will be manifested through artistic installations curated by Machina Arts, a Keene-based arts and event planning organization (see sidebar).’
The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship recently received a $10,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City to help present Radically Rural, and Hannah Grimes Executive Director Mary Ann Kristiansen says this year’s event is expected to be more innovative and highly attended.
“Radically Rural brings together a wide range of people, from different industries and communities in the region,” Kristiansen said. “CONNECT has grown so much over the years that now people are coming from all over the country, and it’s a great opportunity for locals to make national connections.
“We’re trying to use artistic expressions of ideas to get people to engage, network and talk about these important industries in a fun way.”
Machina Arts co-founder Danya Landis says the CONNECT installations will demonstrate “what’s next” for New Hampshire’s urban and rural communities, and possibly for the world.
“The organizations and individuals we worked with to assemble the installations are actual participants of their industries who are taking real action to develop them for better sustainability and efficiency,” Landis said.
The installations will be physical and interactive representations of future design and construction projects with connections to both rural and urban advancements. This year’s installations will include a solar-powered tractor, information and input about Keene’s future arts corridor, the future of lighting, The Sentinel’s history and impact and local entrepreneurship.
Machina Arts will stage and design the CONNECT event and will also serve a selection of craft cocktails from its restaurant, Machina Kitchen & ArtBar on Court Street.
“Art is the soul of a city, and we take that passion and bring it to the forefront with these installations,” Landis said. “These are opportunities for us to build community and work together to have an impact in our city the way that we want to, along with building a place where people want to visit and live.”
Food will be served by the catering arm of CC&D’s Kitchen Market in Keene, which has fed CONNECT attendees for years. Along with an array of hors d ‘oeuvres and spreads, barbecue pit-master Charles “Charcoal Charlie” Pini will offer smoked meats.
CC&D’s co-owner Denise Meadows says they’re venturing into new local and global culinary trends this year, including a 16-foot charcuterie and cheese display as a centerpiece.
“This event is always a creative challenge for us, and a fun opportunity to try new things,” Meadows noted. “We try to push ourselves to innovate with new and bigger ideas every year, and we are experimenting with some ideas this year that I can promise will not disappoint.”
CONNECT 2019 tickets can be purchased for $46. CONNECT tickets are included in the two-day $155 Radically Rural pass. To register or to find more information about CONNECT 2019 and Radically Rural, visit radicallyrural.org.