The two organizations had come together in 2016 and 2017 to stage CONNECT, an event initiated by Hannah Grimes in 2008 to connect graduates of one of its business programs and grew to include graduates and participants in HG programming, funders, board members, and the local business and community.
The new approach and concept of CONNECT, to showcase the innovation and entrepreneurship in the Monadnock Region, drew crowds of 400 to network in a fusion of art, food and music. This success suggested something bigger was possible: A small town summit at which experts in the arts, downtowns, entrepreneurship, land use, clean energy, healthcare and journalism could gather and share thoughts on sustainable, thriving rural communities. Radically Rural was born with an emphasis, as its name suggests, on inventive, contemporary approaches that attendees could absorb and take home.
The 2018 summit drew more than 500 registrants from 24 states. The 2019 gathering expanded to more than 600 attendees. And the summit in 2020, held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, still attracted 500, but this time from 43 states.
Today, Radically Rural has moved beyond a summit, to year-round programming offered in the track areas showcased at the summit. And now it has its own full-time director. The mission, a simple one, is the same: Radically Rural builds sustainability and success for rural life and places by building a network that connects people to each other and to new ideas.