Keene’s second annual Radically Rural summit kicks off this fall, exploring the traits that define small-town communities, and the economic patterns since the recession that have disadvantaged their residents and businesses.
Mary Ann Kristiansen, Hannah Grimes’ executive director, explains that the backdrop for Radically Rural was a growing trend toward urbanization in the face of a counter-trend of ruralization.
The goal of the summit, she says, is to create a network, strengthen connections and share ideas between rural communities to improve all of them.
Kristiansen points to the recession, which created a schism in American ZIP codes. While metro areas have boomed since recovering from the economic downturn, she says many small towns and cities are in a worse position now than they were before 2008.
And she asserts that the last presidential election highlighted those disparities between urban and rural voters.
“So I think that diverging trend has caught the attention of economists and other people,” Kristiansen says.