jk2_bigAt its Wednesday, Dec. 3, luncheon, Venture Connectors will host JK McKnight, founder of The Forecastle Festival and The Forecastle Foundation. A writer, musician, producer, fundraiser and environmental activist, McKnight will discuss how he leveraged his environment, creativity, networking and innovation to grow The Forecastle Festival, which began as a small community event at Tyler Park in 2002, into a major, international attraction.

McKnight will provide a clinic on how to read the physical, cultural and emotional vernacular of your surroundings. He will discuss how to isolate creativity to build the right product that fits your market and solves a problem. He will talk about how to scale your business and network with your customers, stakeholders, early adopters and future purveyors. He’ll also offer insights into how to sustain growth through constant innovation and iteration.

Now one of the summer’s most anticipated arts and music festivals, Forecastle draws more than 60,000 attendees from 2,192 cities and 49 states to Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

In addition to featuring a who’s who of musical acts such as The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, Smashing Pumpkins, My Morning Jacket, Bassnectar, The Flaming Lips, Band of Horses, Sleater-Kinney and The Avett Brothers, Forecastle has consistently promoted local artists and focused on environmental activism and outdoor recreation. Past Forecastles have featured prominent organizations, industry leaders and distinguished speakers, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Riverkeepers), Rob Caughlan (Surfrider Foundation) and Christopher Childs (Greenpeace International).

In 2012, Rolling Stone name Forecastle one of the “Coolest Festivals in America.” It has also received accolades from The New York Times, LA Weekly, Chicago Sun-Tribune, USA Today, SPIN Magazine and more. In 2013, the festival’s economic impact on the city of Louisville was estimated at $14 million.

In 2010, McKnight fulfilled his dream to create an activism arm of the festival, The Forecastle Foundation. The foundation is an international, environmental 501(c)(3) organization that partners with organizations in biologically rich hot spots across the globe. These hot spots represent the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth. They cover just 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface, yet account for 77 percent of all vertebrae species and 50 percent of the world’s plant life. Hot spots play a vital role in regulating world temperatures and are endangered due to a variety of factors, including pollution, development, deforestation, illegal hunting and a variety of other harmful practices.

McKnight is a graduate of St. Xavier High School and attended the College of Charleston, Bellarmine University and the University of Louisville.

Venture Connectors’ luncheon meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the meeting runs from noon-1:15 p.m. Registration is required at: ventureconnectors.org.