In 2019 we hosted 586 attendees from 25 states. We continued to offer the five tracks from 2018 and added Clean Energy to the lineup. The summit was full of energy and spontaneous meetings on the streets and in cafes between sessions. Some of our attendants’ favorite touches were the Cheshiremen barbershop quartet that met attendees outside of their sessions to give them directions in song, the newspaper coverage on the first day of the summit that was waiting for everyone on day two (community journalism in action!) and the innovative food and art at the CONNECT event. Check out the full 2019 summit below:

 

Click each track icon to learn more about it and its four sessions.

 

 

Arts & Culture

Rural communities are excellent places to thrive as an artist. There is affordable living, space to focus, natural beauty, and connected networks of neighbors and passionate community organizers. Here, artists can have time and space to make, but also to become advocates and catalysts in their communities. Explore the power of creative work in rural communities and learn how to bring the unique values of rural arts to the attention of funders and investors.

Local Organizer: Monadnock Arts Alive!

 

SESSION ONE


Bringing Community Stories to Life Through the Arts

September 19 | 10:00 am to Noon

TBD

SESSION TWO


More than a Farm: Building Equity & Community through Cultural Programming

September 19 | 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The representative from The Clemmons Family Farm will share the story of the farm, discuss the challenges to land ownership and community building for people of color in rural areas, will share the value of having an African American owned and led location in a rural community for the greater community to discuss and learn about issues of ethnic and cultural diversity, and will share progress on programming and community-building happening currently at the farm with the support of an ArtPlace America grant.

Speaker: Amber Arnold, Founder, Sacred Vibrations Sound Healing

SESSION THREE


Stewardship of Place: Art & Events on Conserved Land

September 20 | 9:00 am to 11:00 am

This workshop is for anyone looking to organize a killer creative, organically growing, attractive event. We will have speakers from events and conservation speak about the process, challenges and delights of developing programming on conserved land – and building a community that values the principals of conservation. Following a presentation by featured speaker Emma Weisman of Burning Man, Ryan Owens, director of the Monadnock Conservancy, will facilitate brainstorming some of the more serious fears communities may have about hosting an event, and talking through solutions or ways to address those fears.

Speaker: Emma Weisman, Agency Relations Manager, Burning Man Festival

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin


Tracks: Arts & Culture | Clean Energy | Community Journalism | Entrepreneurship | Land & Community | Main Street

Clean Energy

Certain to be more and more a part of the sustainable lifestyle many seek, renewable energy offers economic and household opportunities to small towns everywhere. Tax credits, net zero construction and solar power are all part of a new business and personal landscape taking hold in rural settings. What makes regions like yours most likely to adapt to and adopt this approach to energy use?

Local Organizer: Monadnock Sustainability Network

SESSION ONE


Bridging the Rural Efficiency Gap

September 19 | 10am to Noon

Rural households spend 33% more of their income on energy expenses than their urban and suburban counterparts. This “efficiency gap” puts rural regions at a disadvantage. Closing this gap would keep money circulating in the community and add both security and energy resiliency to the region. Hear from leaders in the industry who have developed practical tool kits to bridge the gap that can be adapted to your own rural community.

Speaker: Sarah Brock, Energy Program Manager, Vital Communities

SESSION TWO


Charge It – Electric Vehicles are Here. Are we Ready?

September 19 | 2:00pm to 4:00pm | Moderator: Clay Mitchell, Natural Resources & the Environment, University of New Hampshire

Electric vehicles are 3 times more efficient than those that consume gasoline and the fun driving experience is rapidly increasing electric vehicles’ market share. An Upstart manufacturing company has launched an electric pickup truck with a 400-mile range, prompting major manufacturers to follow suit.  With every state receiving Volkswagen settlement funds, many are choosing to direct the money toward building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure. How do rural communities advocate to stay “current” with these technological advances and trends when charging stations will appear in urban areas first?

Speakers: Daniel Gatti, Senior Transportation Policy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists; Charlotte Ancel, Director of Strategic Development, Eversource Energy; Steve Walker, Founder and CEO, IMBY Energy; Clay Mitchell, Founding Partner, Revolution Energy

SESSION THREE


Crazy Good – On Our Way to 100%

September 20 | 9:00am to 11:00am

Ready For 100% communities are spreading across the country. Right here in Keene, NH, community leaders have passed a resolution to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% renewable energy for transportation and heating by 2050. Learn effective practices from communities who have successfully begun their transitions toward 100%, and start making a plan for your own rural community!

Speakers: Sean Hamilton, General Manager, Sterling Municipal Light Department; Patrick Roche, Assistant Director of Clean Energy, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Kelly Lynch, Ready for 100 Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin

 

 


Tracks: Arts & Culture | Clean Energy | Community Journalism | Entrepreneurship | Land & Community | Main Street|

Community Journalism

Small town journalism is at risk. Consolidation of media companies, the closing of newspapers and reduction in journalism jobs have conspired in some cases to create news deserts. What happens to small communities when the news they have relied upon for decades erodes or disappears? What can be done to preserve local journalism and news coverage? Did you know it’s more expensive to live in communities without journalism watchdogs? We have solutions.

Local Organizer: The Keene Sentinel

SESSION ONE


Collaboration – Competitive barriers drop; Journalists work together on Rural Issues

September 19 | 10:00 am to Noon | Moderator: Leah Todd, Regional Manager, New England, Solutions Journalism Network

If you live well outside the city of Bozeman, Montana, there’s a good chance you’re living in a town with a contracting economy, shrinking population and growing opioid and mental health issues. All under the radar. There’s no one to cover the issues. That changed due a group of journalists from western Montana, supported by High Country News and the Solutions Journalism Network. What was produced was an exhaustive, comprehensive look at what many small towns across the country face – and the coverage came with solutions.

Speakers: Nick Ehli, Managing Editor, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bozeman, Montana; Stefanie Murray, Director, Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University

Panel Discussion: Melanie Plenda, Project Manager, Granite State News Collaborative; Dawn DeAngelis, Vice President, Chief Content Officer, NHPBS

SESSION TWO


Solutions Journalism – Helping Communities Take Next Steps

September 19 | 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Moderator: Leah Todd, Regional Manager, New England, Solutions Journalism Network

News consumers these days can come away from the experience feeling depressed, disengaged, powerless, hopeless. Solutions journalism envisions a more productive experience, one that builds engagement, trust and a renewed hope in democracy, by reporting rigorously on the responses to social problems — in addition to the problems themselves. Find out how this is being done in rural places, the training behind it and the encouraging results from this disruptive approach.
An interactive session featuring solutions journalists.

Speakers: Leah Todd, Regional Manager, New England, Solutions Journalism Network; Amy Maestas, Digital Editor, Salt Lake Tribune

 

SESSION THREE


Crazy Good – 50 ideas that will Grow Your Audience

September 20 | 9:00 am to 10:30 am | Moderator & Session Leader: Tim Schmitt, Project Manager, Gatehouse Media

We’ve reached far and wide! Here are more than four dozen ways you can build better bridges to your readers – from thought-provoking story ideas to collaborative ways to tackle big projects to new newsroom structures. If you only have time to do a few of these, you will be happy you did. A sneak peek: How we built Radically Rural. Leave with a magazine that has curated these ideas.

Speaker: Tim Schmitt, Project Manager, Gatehouse Media

 

BONUS SESSION


Funding Journalism – Where to look for help

September 20 | 10:30-11 am

We present a detailed rundown on the growing number of funding sources for journalism projects and initiatives.

 

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin

 

 


Tracks: Arts & Culture | Clean Energy | Community Journalism | Entrepreneurship | Land & Community | Main Street|

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship has a powerful impact on creating regional prosperity through job creation and building local companies, which care deeply about their communities. But we see growing disparity between rural and urban entrepreneurial activity and a corresponding socio-economic and political gap between the two. Distinct solutions are needed for there to be a rural advantage. Innovative small town ecosystems are bubbling up across the nation. Join us to learn about the creativity and change that is driving local economies AND building small communities, which thrive.

Local Organizer: The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship

SESSION ONE


Growing Stage 2 Businesses

September 19 | 10:00 am to Noon

Second-stage companies have moved beyond the startup phase and have the intent and capability to grow. With generally 10 to 99 employees and between $1 million and $50 million in annual revenue, these companies are significant job-creators, bring in outside dollars, offer high-quality jobs and contribute to their community. Learn more about second-stage companies from the nation’s leading Stage 2 advocate, the Edward Lowe Foundation, including how to work with them and how to develop the kind of supportive culture they need to flourish.

Speakers: Rich Grogan, Executive Director, Community Capital of Vermont; Paul Bateson, General Manager of External Relations, The Edward Lowe Foundation

Panelists: Adam Hamilton, Co-Founder, Nuttin Ordinary; Amy LaBelle, Founder and Winemaker, LaBelle Winery; Dan Dube, Founder & CEO, Compass Innovative Behavior Strategies; Michael Knapp, CEO, Green River; Nancy Cain, Founder & Co-Owner, Against the Grain Gourmet; Nicole Carrier, Co-Founder & President, Throwback Brewery

 

SESSION TWO


PitchFork – A Pitch Challenge with a Rural Fit

September 19 | 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The PitchFork Challenge provides money and momentum for local rural entrepreneurs to apply to be part of a business pitch competition. Over the summer local entrepreneurs are coached to create a compelling pitch and pitch deck describing their business opportunity in pursuit  of a cash award. There are two different tracks and awards; one for a rural startup business (less than three years old) and one to encourage the most important phase, the idea phase, by having soon to be entrepreneurs pitch their business idea with a cash award of $10,000 and $1,000 respectively. Join the excitement as these local rural entrepreneurs pitch their business and receive the “operating manual” on how to run this event in your own community. Winners will be announced at the CONNECT event in the evening.

Judges: Judy Rogers, Founder & Owner, Prime Roast Coffee Co.; Maureen Curtiss, Senior Business Unit Manager, Janos Technology; R.T. Brown, Director of Business Acceleration & Community Capital Development, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation; Roy Wallen, CEO, TendoNova Corporation

 

SESSION THREE


Crazy Good – The Experienced Economy

September 20 | 9:00 am to 11:00 am

Think your aging population is a problem?  Think again!  This session shows the 50+ cohort as an asset to be embraced. Participate in a vibrant working session that will use exercises from the Experience Incubator® to ignite a dynamic dialog and create a Living Lab at the session. The Experience Incubator® is the first and foremost global program unleashing the potential of 50+ year olds in the workplace to activate entrepreneurial activity by catalyzing experience across generations. Its unique platform increases employee engagement and retention and accelerates innovation, knowledge transfer, productivity and new business startups. Activating intergenerational experience is today’s competitive advantage. We call this “Experieneurship,” and it’s too valuable to ignore and it’s crazy good!

Speaker: Elizabeth Isele, Founder & CEO, Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship

 

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin

 

 


Tracks: Arts & Culture | Clean Energy | Community Journalism | Entrepreneurship | Land & Community | Main Street|

Land & Community

Land. It is the asset of rural life. It is what defines much of small town life and what so many of us seek to use, conserve or preserve. It is through which water flows, in which food grows and upon which we in rural communities uniquely rely. So what is being done to sustain it; to keep it robust and producing; to enrich it and keep it? If so much of our rural character is because of the land, what should we expect ahead?

Local Organizer: The Cheshire County Conservation District | Monadnock Conservancy

SESSION ONE


An Acre at a Time: Managing Land for Climate Resiliency

September 19 | 10:00 am to Noon

Recent reports that the planet had its hottest four years on record highlight the need for accelerated work to keep global warming below critical tipping points, as well as the need to ensure that our communities are prepared for the changes in climate we are already experiencing. Management of working lands can play a vital role both in helping to mitigate the effects of a changing climate as a natural solution, and in adaptation. This workshop will showcase practices that foster carbon sequestration, such as restoration of the land, grass-based agriculture, and conservation of forests, and offer practical solutions to using working lands to help prepare our region for a changing climate.

Speakers: Joshua Faulkner, Farming & Climate Change Program Coordinator, UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture; David Patrick, Director of Conservation Programs, The Nature Conservancy, NH Chapter; Steven Whitman, Founder and Principal, Resilience Planning & Design; Karen Fitzgerald, Senior Landscape Architect, Toole Design Group

 

SESSION TWO


Crazy Good: Governing for Farm Viability

September 19 | 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Farm and forest entrepreneurs are at the heart of the New England landscape and an integral part of what makes our region a quality place to live. Agriculture is not only vital to our heritage but an integral driver of our local economy. This session will focus on how we can ensure our farmers have the support they need from state and local farm policies and direct services geared to support farm viability. We will highlight success stories in state level tax reform, farmland access, and other policies to encourage farm profitability and the continuation of the agricultural tradition in New England.

Speakers: Jennifer Rushlow, Director of Environmental Law Center, Vermont Law School; Laurie Beyranevand, Director of the Center for Agriculture & Food Systems, Vermont Law School; Sara Dewey, Director of Farm & Food and Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation

 

SESSION THREE


Crazy Good: Show Me the Money – Creative Financing for Farmers and Food Producers

September 20 | 9:00am to 11:00am

Every small business owner knows the challenges of securing capital.  This proves even more challenging for farmers since lenders often don’t “get” farming and see their businesses as riskier. Thankfully, this view is starting to change as more lenders get on board with lending to the agricultural community.  This workshop will highlight several innovative financing opportunities for farmers and food producers, including a new farm-focused credit union—the first of its kind in the nation, a community loan fund that offers business planning services alongside its lending products, and a “slow money” model that allows community members to invest directly in local farms and food businesses.

Speakers: Scott Budde, Project Director, Maine Harvest Credit Project; Charlene Andersen, Farm Food Lender, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund; Rebecca Busansky, Program Manager, PVGrows Investment Fund

 

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin

BONUS LUNCH


Related to Your Plate: Working Lands Lunch

Chef Jordan Scott and Machina Kitchen have a passion for high quality food and cultivating strong relationships with the local farmers and food entrepreneurs that produce it. Scott will share his perspective on the role of a chef in the local food system and how nationwide chefs are creating change in communities. Stonewall Farm, a vendor of Machina Kitchen and also the newest New England Savory Hub, will be highlighted. Scott is a board member of this educational working farm and he will shed some light on their land management efforts – demonstrating the connections of rural land conservation, and culinary enjoyment, to the economic vitality of a community.

About Chef Jordan Scott
Partner & Chef Patron, Culinary Director

Jordan Scott is a classically trained chef with a passion for globally inspired seasonal food made with local ingredients. Jordan has described his wine dinners as a study in simplicity. He finds great joy in creating simple, elegant dishes built on a foundation of technique and with care given to each ingredient. His dishes delight the most sophisticated palate, balancing rustic charm with an innovative and artistic twist. Jordan has a great deal of respect for the traditional French style of cooking and uses that as a foundation from which to explore modern and progressive methods and flavors. Jordan cares deeply for our local community and has been a passionate advocate for local foods and has worked tirelessly to build long-term relationships between our restaurant community and our local farms.

 


Tracks: Arts & Culture | Clean Energy | Community Journalism | Entrepreneurship | Land & Community | Main Street|

Main Street

It’s an idea as much as a location. Throughout rural America, nothing represents small businesses, friendly neighbors and unmatched customer service better than Main Street. Equal parts contemporary life and nostalgia, Main Street is a feeling of timelessness and of community. Main Streets are survivors – of malls, of flight to cities and now online commerce. Can they continue to thrive? Yes. Think radically.

Local Organizer: Prime Roast Coffee Company | Monadnock Economic Development Corporation

SESSION ONE


Diverging Views Producing Positive Change

September 19 | 10:00 am to Noon

Disrupting entrenched Community habits to find healthier and more productive ways to reach short and long term goals. Look beyond traditional views of community conflict.  Traditionally, downtowns have viewed conflict as a negative force which needs to be eliminated by imposing more structure or uniformity. Today, though, successful towns are more likely to embrace diverging views, realizing that they can lead to increased creativity, opportunities to improve, and greater productivity.  Rather than eliminating conflict, the goal is to better manage the conflict that inevitably comes with the open exchange of ideas.

Speaker: Carole Martin, Independent Consultant, Carole Martin Consulting

 

SESSION TWO


Rural Downtown: The Land of Opportunity

September 19 | 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Rural Regions offer inexpensive and attractive places to live with a quality of life one can enjoy. The majority of the United States remains rural yet research shows we are preparing our gifted young people to leave their small towns, never to return. Meet a group of individuals who chose rural and in the process transformed their downtown into a vibrant economic hub! Recognizing a need or lack of belonging, these entrepreneurs thought radically, pushed social boundaries, capitalized on geographical opportunity and embraced change and their community! Get ready to take inspiration and ideas back to your community!

Speaker: Geoffrey Sewake, Community & Economic Development Field Specialist, Univeristy of NH Cooperative Extension

Panelists: Breanna Neal, Master Barber, Instructor/Owner, Polished and Proper; Emmett Soldati, Owner, Teatotaller; Marty Parichand, Founder, Outdoor New England

 

SESSION THREE


Crazy Good First Impressions

September 20 | 9:00 am to 11:00 am

A newspaper contains pages of news and information, important stories and happenings from the first page to the last, each page worth reading. But what page gets the most attention? The front page, of course. The bold print headlines, top stories and most intriguing photos…the first impression. Main street is your community’s front page. Does your main street represent your community to the best of its ability? Does it engage and inspire further exploration into the streets and neighborhoods beyond?

A vibrant downtown serves as a gathering place, a place for people to dine, shop, and conduct business. First Impressions is an assessment program that examines your main street through the eyes of potential residents, visitors, and businesses, helping communities learn about their opportunities and empowering them to take steps to improve their downtown.

Attendees will learn skills to assess their own main streets for vibrancy and will hear examples of how communities have revitalized their downtowns through art, business retention, and connecting with trails.

Speakers: Casey Porter, Community & Economic Development Program Manager, UNH Cooperative Extension; Molly Donovan, Community Economic Development State Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension

 

SESSION FOUR


Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change

Colonial Theatre | September 20 | 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Keynote Speaker: Art Markman, Executive Director of IC2 at the University of Texas at Austin

 

Main Street Sponsors

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Key Partners

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