Radically Rural: From small to mid-sized America

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. One of the ways we achieve this mission is by freely sharing our resources. At last year’s summit, one of our Community Journalism Track speakers, Christiaan Mader, asked us how he could start something like Radically Rural in Louisiana. 

Big Towns in Mid-sized America

Christiaan had a wonderful experience at Radically Rural 2023 and wanted to replicate the conference in his own region with a focus on mid-sized America. At Radically Rural, we believe that everyone who lives, works, or recreates in rural belongs at our conference and we trust you to decide if you’re rural or not. Whether your town has a population of 30 or 30,000, you might be rural. It depends on your access to resources, proximity to a major city, and most importantly whether you feel rural yourself. 

While Christiaan enjoyed the Radically Rural conference, he wanted to make something a little bit more tailored to his experience living in a “big town.” He describes Mid-sized America as “places too big to be small towns and too small to be big cities.” Here, in Keene, NH, that’s a group we feel we fall into too,. That’s one of the reasons we place value on a flexible definition of rural. 

For Christiaan, rural versus mid-sized is a distinction worth noting. So, we shared the materials that we use to bring Radically Rural to life with Christiaan. His newspaper, the Current, partnered with the United Way of Acadiana to make their very own summit a reality. The Big Towns conference will take place in Lafayette, LA on April 23-24, 2024.

Continued Impact

Big Towns isn’t the only amazing idea to come out of Radically Rural. We’ve heard many other success stories from attendees. Just a couple are below.

  • Photographer, Helen Joy George, founded The Gathering Place in Saluda, NC after attending Radically Rural for the first time in 2022. 
  • One attendee shared with us that she went back to school and earned her PHD in rural studies after attending Radically Rural.
  • On the plane ride to Radically Rural last year, Sarah Green ran into fellow Kansan, Lindsey Young, who was presenting in our Community Journalism Track. They connected at the summit and continued to collaborate upon their return home. Lindsey and her husband Joey are the majority owners of Kansas Publishing Ventures, which oversees the publication of three weekly newspapers in south central Kansas. In 2024, the three of them brought dozens of Kansans together to explore the newspaper’s innovative location complete with a retro bar to accomplish their mission to be a community gathering place.

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Key Partners