The two organizations came together in 2016 and 2017 to stage CONNECT, an event initiated by Hannah Grimes in 2006 to connect graduates of its business programs. The event grew to include graduates and participants of HGC 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. The 2021 summit was hybrid, both in person and online because of it’s helpful impact of accessibility.
Today, in addition to the summit, Radically Rural hosts year-round programming. As of 2021, it has its own full-time director. 2023 marked Radically Rural’s return to an in-person only summit, finding the sessions and connections to be more powerful when everyone gathers together. We are committed to accessibility with sliding scale ticket prices and free virtual events year-round.
Summit Program Tracks
Program tracks feature topics that offer strategic opportunities for transformation in rural communities
Radically Rural builds powerful networks of passionate, engaged, innovative people willing to share ideas and resources and take action to strengthen their small communities across the country.
Rural communities across the country will be working in harmony with the land and each other, creating vibrant and inviting communities through pragmatic, bold and innovative solutions to social, political and environmental problems. They will be highly valued for their aggregate contributions to our world and will feel pride in what makes them great.
What makes someone Radically Rural?
It’s not just about population size, but the shared values of a community. At Radically Rural, we value…
Positive Deviance: We find those who have identified unique and replicable solutions to the problems facing small communities and then elevate what is working.
Innovation: We foster innovation by creating an environment that is ripe for ideas to grow. Our annual summit and year-round experiences are unforgettable. They generate energy, excitement, and exposure to new ideas in order to keep rural communities on the cutting-edge.
The Common: Historically a public gathering space, we want Radically Rural to be a common platform through which rural people of all kinds can work together and engage in a free exchange of ideas—where “all flourishing is mutual” – Robin Wall Kimmerer.
History: We value the ideas, cultures, and dreams that came before and have nourished our rural realities today. We also acknowledge the history of inequities and oppression that brought us to today. Valuing our history helps us move into the future in a more radical way.
Genuine Inclusivity: We know that accurate representation of rural means diverse representation; our work is far more relevant and impactful when we bring all rural voices to the table.
Rural Empowerment: We know that each individual community has expert knowledge of both their needs and what makes them great; we strive to provide resources and connections to empower them.
Conscientiousness: We put great care into every aspect of our work. We strive to be intentional about how we handle all aspects of our work, including our relationships, funding, support, and time.
Reciprocity: Brining balance and reciprocity to our relationships with the earth is what we know will bring lasting change. Rural communities are the sustainable communities of the future and we will exhibit leadership in this new way forward.
*We accept communal accountability for these values. If you observe us not living by them, please let us know and help us grow.