20 Reasons to Attend Radically Rural

September 19 & 20 | Keene, NH



1. The Summit is hosted across Keene’s picturesque downtown

The Radically Rural Summit is held across eight locations surrounding Keene’s quintessential New England Main Street. Keene is located in the heart of the Monadnock Region in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire, home to winding country roads, fields and forests, and a collection of enduring towns, villages, and mills. The Region offers many options for exploration and dining with locally-sourced food, locally-owned shops and other small businesses, and numerous events throughout the year. Visitors can experience many options for hiking and biking from an old railroad bed to the summit of picturesque Mount Monadnock.

 2. You will meet hundreds of like-minded individuals

Radically Rural is an annual two-day summit that brings together hundreds of people who are passionate about creating vibrant, robust rural communities and are eager to learn connect and lead the charge. Are you interested in fostering the advantages and opportunities of living in your rural community? Join the crowd on September 19th and 20th to inspire positive change in communities across the country.


3. Learn, shape, & share ideas to bring to your own community

The Radically Rural Summit is a platform for shaping and sharing ideas about rural living. That’s why speakers from all industries and all parts of the country come to share their experiences and successes. Experience the benefit of sharing ideas and success stories by implementing them in your own communities. Take home a manual to host a business pitch competition, learn 50 ideas to grow your media audience, how to survey and refine your downtown based on first impressions, and bring electric vehicle charging infrastructure to your area.


4. The Summit began with two local trailblazers

Radically Rural began with a partnership between the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and the Keene Sentinel – two thriving, independent, rural-based organizations in Keene. Mary Ann Kristiansen, founder and executive director of the Center, and Terrence Williams, president and COO of the Sentinel, are active and influential members of Keene’s community and beyond. In 2018, Mary Ann gave a TEDxFargo presentation on idea demons and rural entrepreneurship. The Keene Sentinel is the fourth oldest newspaper in the country, being continuously published since 1799. In 2018, The Sentinel received the “Windsor Brooks Award” by the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, and in 2019, the “Business in the Arts” award for promoting and supporting arts and culture in the region.

5. This year features SIX engaging and relevant program tracks

This year, Radically Rural is increasing its number of program tracks to six! Learn about Arts & Culture, Community Journalism, Entrepreneurship, Main Street, Renewable Energy, and Working Lands through a rural lens. Is your rural community facing challenges in these industries? Learn about opportunities and solutions that you can bring home and implement in your town! Each program track offers 3 individual sessions and one collaborative session for all attendees.


6. Arts & Culture Track

Arts & Culture bring creativity, energy, and civic engagement to rural communities. But they are also robust economic engines and often ignored for that potential. From hosting major arts events to licensing artwork and more, learn about radical models that are turning the preconception of a starving artists on its head. Learn how to develop a municipal Arts Commission, convert historic mills into art spaces, and build a vibrant arts enclave.


7. Community Journalism Track

Consolidation of media companies, the closing of newspapers, and reduction in journalism jobs have put rural regions at a disadvantage. The Community Journalism creates solutions to preserve local journalism, close coverage gaps, and build engagement with reported social issues. Learn 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. A sneak peek: How we built Radically Rural.


8. Entrepreneurship Track

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. Learn about Stage 2 Businesses from the nation’s leading Stage 2 Advocate, the Edward Lowe Foundation; watch a live business pitch competition with a $10,000 cash prize and take the manual to host one yourself; and


9. Main Street Track

It’s an idea as much as a location. Throughout rural America, nothing represents small businesses, friendly neighbors, and unmatched customer service better than small town Main Streets. Equal parts contemporary life and nostalgia, Main Street is a feeling of timelessness and of community. Learn how communities have embraced diverging views to fuel increased  engagement and opportunity. Learn ways to engage younger generations, maintain higher retention rates, and give visitors, travelers, and tourists the best first impression of your downtown.

10. Renewable Energy Track

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 a part of a new business and personal landscape taking hold in rural settings.  Did you know that rural households spend 33% more of their income on energy expenses than their urban and suburban counterparts? Learn about closing the rural efficiency gap, ideas behind electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in rural areas, and how your community can reach 100% renewable energy.

11. Working Lands Track

Land defines much of small town life and what so many of us seek to use, conserve, or preserve. So what it being done to sustain it? 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. Learn practices that foster carbon sequestration, success stories in state-level tax reform and policy management to encourage farm profitability, and several innovative financing opportunities for farmers and food producers!


12. You can jump tracks!

Does your interest carry across more than one track? So does ours! That’s why you can view all 19 available sessions and curate your own personalized schedule. Jump tracks, attend mini-mixers, and network across all different groups!



13. Wendy Guillies is kicking off the Summit with strong inspiration

Wendy Guillies, President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, will kick off the Radically Rural Summit as the premier keynote speaker. “Guillies leads the Foundation’s work to boost student achievement in Kansas City and to accelerate entrepreneurship across the country. Before becoming CEO, she played an instrumental role in building the Foundation’s local, national and global reputation as a thought leader and innovator in its fields” (read more). Watch Wendy Guillies’ TEDxFargo talk, “The Middle is the New Edge”.

14. Art Markman is leading a collaborative fourth session on rural gaps 

Art Markman, Professor of Psychology and Marketing at The University of Texas at Austin, and director of the IC² Institute, will keynote the closing session for all six tracks. The IC² Institute has been credited with creating the “Austin Model” and is now shifting its focus to rural regions. The Institute aims to discover and understand what gaps exist in rural communities and create solutions to bridge those gaps. Interested in lessening the gap between urban areas and your rural community? Join Art Markman on Septemeber 20th for Session Four: Bridgeable Gaps!

15. Watch a live business pitch with a $10,000 cash prize at stake

Lack of capital is one of the top causes for the steep decline in startup rates in rural America. The Hannah Grimes Center’s PitchFork Challenge offers the community greater control in shaping the local economy and reflects their values and the culture of the region. The PitchFork Challenge is a business pitch competition awarding one entrepreneur a $10,000 cash prize for the winning pitch and another a $1,000 cash prize for the winning business idea. The final pitch will be held on September 19th at 2:00 pm at Radically Rural. Interested in applying? hannahgrimes.com/pitchforkchallenge. Interested in running a pitch competition in your community? We will share our how-to guide at the event.

16. We make networking fun!

Put aside everything you know about typical networking events and join us for CONNECT2019: What’s Next! The Radically Rural Summit includes out highly attended annual networking event, CONNECT – an annual gathering of hundreds of engaged, locally focused community members celebrating and fostering the advantages and opportunity of rural living.


17. Interact with five innovative installations that represent parts of our rural future!

This year’s CONNECT event will feature installations that bring to life 5 projects or ideas that will transform the industry of each track – Arts & Culture, Community Journalism, Entrepreneurship, Main Street, Renewable Energy, and Working Lands – in the next 3-5 years. Sneak peek:


18. CONNECT is sta
ged by Machina Arts & catered by CC&D’s

Once again, CONNECT is artistically staged by Machina Arts and delectably catered by CC&D’s Kitchen Market. Machina Arts was founded in 2013 because there was a need in the community for art-based cultural activities. Over the years, Machina has transformed from a homegrown arts collective into a business offering creative event management, stylish interior design, and recently opened Machina Kitchen & ArtBar – the new place to be in Keene!

CC&D’s Kitchen Market began with Charcoal Charlie Pini, an award winning chef and BBQ pitmaster, and Denise Meadows, a catering powerhouse and passionate localvore. Together, they share decades of experience, stories, and scars in cooking. Each year at CONNECT, a new, creative, and locally-sourced display of food takes center stage.

19. Helen the Chicken is at the forefront of it all

Yes – Helen is our proud mascot. Helen is around five years old and was plucked from obscurity by her chicken mom, Amy Brewer, three years ago. She was found abandoned, dirty with mites and lice and her feet were badly misshapen from neglect. “It took months to nurse her back to health, but Helen is a fighter,” says Amy. Once Helen was back on her feet, her star quality personality began to shine through.  “She loves people, will follow you around and sit on your lap for hours watching TV by the fire,” notes Amy. Helen loves baths and having her feathers fluffed out with a blow dryer.  “She likes car rides,” says Amy. Her favorite destination: Tractor Supply. Helen, who got her name from a funny YouTube video of a groundhog yelling “Helen” over and over again, is also a good hunter (mice are her favorite prey), a prolific egg layer, and is a freelance duck herder. Her best friend is a Muscovy duck named Shasha. Helen’s newest job as a Radically Rural celebrity/cover girl came after an extensive Facebook search for a photogenic, friendly hen with all the plucky qualities that make up the Radically Rural character.

20. Early Bird Tickets are on Sale NOW!

Register now for Radically Rural and save with Early Bird discount ticket prices! Early Bird tickets are on sale now for the FULL EXPERIENCE and CONNECT ONLY through July 5th. Standard tickets sales begin July 6th and continue through the Summit. Visit radicallyrural.org to learn more about the program tracks, 19 sessions, CONNECT, mini-mixers and networking opportunities, and more!



We look forward to seeing you there!


Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Sponsors