Past Events

Seriously Fun: Envisioning the potential of your community through play

Saturday, May 20th @ 2:00 – 3:30 PM | Outside The Farm Cafe/Toadstool Bookstore

No Registration Required | Free Event

Come with us on a playful journey to think about community building in new and different ways! Radically Rural, the national programming of our very own Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship, is trialing a new way of community building inspired by the book, Dream, Play, Build.  

The future of our communities is often discussed and decided in settings that are intimidating, uncomfortable, uninspiring, and not fully accessible or inclusive. Public hearings at town hall, for example, leave little room for the creativity and collaboration that local challenges often demand. We end up getting boxed into the same old ideas.  The alternative approach that we’ll be experimenting with at this session grants permission to reimagine and dream. 

This session is family friendly and designed for drop-in participation.  Come visit us anywhere between 2-3:30 to build a model community—either one you hope to see in the future or a cherished memory of one you’ve experienced in the past. We’ll provide the materials.  No experience or skills needed; anyone can do this!  

Whether your community is a school, a neighborhood, a town, or something else, come “dream, play, and build” with us and leave inspired and with ideas for implementation for your community. 

Updating Your Town’s Master Plan: Growth & Development

April 12, 2023

Participate in a conversation about rural town planning and the benefits to updating your town’s master plan regularly. Hear from Sarah Thompson, Director of Rural Development for Johnson County Iowa and Jamel Torres, city planner for North Conway, New Hampshire as they discuss the benefits of strategic planning and share their experiences implementing those plans.

Coworking: Rural Style

March 8, 2023

Join us in exploring coworking spaces and why they are such a good fit for rural communities. Coworking spaces provide more than just a quiet place with reliable wifi to work. They often provide access to conference rooms, connections to the business community, and other helpful resources that employees and business owners alike can take advantage of. Hear from Andrew Button, CEO of Mashup Lab, about his experience with coworking in Nova Scotia. Then, join us in discussing how coworking can work for your rural community.


Finding More Volunteers: Beyond the same ten people who try to do it all now

February 15, 2023

We all know that small towns run on volunteer power. How do we get more people excited about it rather than burning out the same 10 people over and over again? The secret to finding volunteers in small towns today is to let go of old ways that no longer serve us. In this virtual Roundtable co-hosted by Save.Your.Town, you’ll discover things you don’t have to do anymore, and new Idea Friendly ways that will attract more new volunteers.

BusinessLab™: Learn how to use this freely shared business model in your community

December 14, 2022 | 2-3 PM 

Business Lab™ is a course consisting of seven weekly sessions, which builds a cohort of business owners to a completed plan and a public pitch of their business. The hands-on course is interactive and covers marketing, idea viability, values, financial management, implementation and pitching. Impact studies have shown that 83% of the businesses that have been part of this iterative program since 2005 were still in business after 13 years. In 2019, it was estimated these businesses were contributing $19.2 million to the local economy each year.

The Hannah Grimes Center has created a detailed Instructor’s Guide for this program which your community can access for free. This roundtable will share what we’ve learned over the years and will offer tips and answer your questions. We hope communities will take this guide as a starting point and feel free to iterate and customize it to the unique set of entrepreneurs in their communities.


Community Heart & Soul

November 09.2022

Every town has a heart and soul that reflects what residents love about their community and why they choose to live there. Join Community Heart & Soul as they discuss their model for capturing that heart and soul and bringing together small communities to improve the towns they live in.

Open Mic Rural Story Hour

June 01.2022

What is happening in rural right now?

Join us in an open mic rural story hour to find out. In true roundtable format, this discussion will be open for any and all concerns, struggles, successes, or models that you would like to share regarding your own rural community. Whether living or working rurally, we all have something to share to help make rural life more livable. By coming together, we can share what’s working and support our peers across the country who may be facing similar problems to our own. By sharing innovative ideas and making connections, we can equip rural communities all over with the tools they need to be successful and sustainable.

Each attendee that comes with struggles and success to share should expect to speak for about 3 minutes before the floor is opened to discussion. Whether you plan to speak or just come to listen, this roundtable will be a great opportunity to hear from rural folks of all kinds and to practice problem solving with fresh eyes and ears.

Fibersheds & Community: Building a Community Movement for Local Fiber and Beyond

May 22.2022

Regional leader’s discussion about Fibersheds at Stonewall Farm.

This event was organized by Mary Ewell of Locally Dressed and sponsored by the Monadnock Food Co-op, Radically Rural, and Stonewall Farm. Speakers will include local and sustainable clothing experts from Western Massachusetts Fibershed, Bobolinks Yarns, Nothern New England Fibershedm and Vermont Fibershed. 

PitchFork: A fun, friendly, free pitch model that builds a path between wealth in your community and the entrepreneurs that need it

On Zoom: May 11.2022

Are you interested in expanding your community’s support of local entrepreneurs? Come learn more about the Hannah Grimes Center’s PitchFork Program. Hannah Grimes is an entrepreneurial hub for businesses to learn and advance their skills and make meaningful connections in the community. PitchFork was established in 2016 when it became abundantly clear that rural areas were not recovering in the same way as their urban counterparts and startup rates were abysmally low. PitchFork has grown and changed over the years to meet the need for diverse types of funding for startup and growth.

In this friendly, rural pitch competition, local businesses are chosen to pitch their plans and ideas in front of the community in order to earn investments, loans, networking opportunities, and other resources. Hannah Grimes has iterated the PitchFork platform many times to meet their needs, the needs of its entrepreneurs, and the needs of the community. 

Watch and learn how the Hannah Grimes Center has made this event a success for years and how you can replicate this model in your own rural community. 

As the BONUS of this roundtable, there were breakout groups for participants to come up with a one-minute idea pitch of their own to compete for the grand prizes of glory, fame, and some free Radically Rural tickets. 

Welcoming and Supporting Newcomers to America in your Rural Community

On Zoom: April 13.2022

Individuals, organizations, businesses, and municipalities from all over the country who are intentionally working to support Newcomers to America will be discussing what has worked in creating a welcoming environment and solid infrastructure in their communities. In true Roundtable format, we will be having open conversation as we hear from folks like Veronica Reyes, a Latino Loan Specialist in Nebraska with the Center for Rural Affairs, from Project Home, a grassroots nonprofit supporting asylum-seekers in Keene, and from Karla Castillo, a Latino Business Consultant who specializes in supporting Hispanic Entrepreneurs in Western NC.

This work isn’t just a good idea, it is absolutely necessary. We must welcome and support migrant workers, immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Doing so helps us too; these folks bring innovation, creativity, and diversity of experience that will help our communities thrive.

Rural Childcare: We can do so much!

On Zoom: March 10.2022

Are you, like so many others, overwhelmed with the many difficulties in the rural childcare system?  Come hear about some models of partnerships and projects happening in west central MN that are WORKING to recruit and retain family and center child care programs. Afterward we will have discussion and invite attendees to share models that are working in their rural community.  While we have many challenges to overcome, there is so much we can do. Let’s bring our collective efforts together and multiply our impact!

Presenter: As the Director of Early Childhood at West Central Initiative for the past 18 years, Nancy Jost is a champion for advocating the best possible start for children toward a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding.

Through those Early Childhood Initiative efforts, Nancy helps lead 10 advocacy groups, one from each county of West Central Initiative’s service area and the White Earth Nation. She leads regional and statewide advocacy efforts, including supervision of the Early Childhood Dental Network and the Early Childhood Mental Health Network. When the legislature is in session, Nancy can be found testifying on behalf of the state’s early childhood education and child care efforts.

With a sociology degree and licensure in Parent/Child Education, Nancy has been a licensed family child care provider, a child care center teacher, worked in Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Family Education, School Readiness, and Child Care Aware. For more than 45 years, this has been her work, her life, and her passion. She has been active on many early childhood boards, committees, and regional and state work groups. She was appointed by former Governor Dayton to be the Chairperson for his Early Learning Council.

Nancy is married with two children and eight grandchildren. She is an avid reader of novels and anything to do with early childhood, brain development, and equity. She loves to bake, garden, and hunt for treasures at garage sales and thrift stores.

Engaging Everyone: Accessibility as Sustainability

On Zoom: February 09.2022

Jules Good, Founder and Consulting Lead at Neighborhood Access, discusses how and why to include the disabled community in your entrepreneurial ecosystem. Creating accessible spaces and processes not only makes your community more inclusive; it also helps you develop flexible development and implementation methods to keep your business agile in the face of adversity. They will provide concrete strategies for making your business accessible.

Presenter: Jules Good (they/them) is the founder and consulting lead at Neighborhood Access. Jules is a late-deaf, multiply-disabled entrepreneur with a passion for leveraging design, community, and talent to create more accessible communities.

Growing Rural Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
Lessons from Tupelo MS to Ord NE

On Zoom: January 12.2022

One of the most powerful stories of rural community transformation in the last 50 years is Tupelo, Mississippi (38,271 in 2019).  One of the most compelling emerging stories of rural community transformation is Ord, Nebraska (2,310 residents in 2019 anchoring a rural region of 10,000).  Don Macke, curator of the Ord Story, will share lessons learned in rural entrepreneurial ecosystem building through the lens of Ord’s 50-year transformation from deep and hopeless decline to a thriving community today.

Presenter: Don Macke leads e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (formerly the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship), an initiative with NetWork Kansas to build sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems across North America. Don has over 40 years of community economic development and policy experience. He was most recently the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the National Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. Through this work, Don helps communities and regions throughout North America grow entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies and ecosystems. Don calls Nebraska home and he is a proud resident of America’s Great Plains Region.

Against the grain

Stories from two brewers in Oregon who are reintroducing refillable bottling to the US market

On Zoom: April 29th, 2021

Over the last 75 years, the tide has been rapidly flowing away from refillable bottling (think–the milkman from the 1920s). Rather than being swept away, Matt Swihart with Double Mountain Brewery was actively swimming against that tide. For six years he was the only brewery in Oregon running a refillable bottle system. Now the movement has spread into a statewide program, and others such as Van Havig with Gigantic Brewing are swimming right alongside him in this once crazy-sounding endeavor. Their commitment to this movement is grounded in the staggering difference in the environmental impact of using refillable bottles rather than single-use containers…….

Growing Second Chances

On Benevolence Farm, a NC nonprofit that is using entrepreneurship and farming to reap change in the rural criminal legal system.

On Zoom: May 27, 2021 

In Alamance County, NC, Benevolence Farm is a fully-functioning farm and residential program that seeks to cultivate leadership, promote sustainable livelihoods, and reap structural change with individuals impacted by the criminal legal system in North Carolina. They do this through three primary means:

  • Housing & Community resources
  • Social enterprise
  • Advocacy & outreach
    Benevolence Farm provides its residents with safe, stable housing and pays them a living wage through employment at their farm, which grows and sells its organic produce and seedlings locally, and has a line of soaps and candles that can be purchased in their online store…….




Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Key Partners