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Keene is an interesting community: It's rural and folksy in some ways, but it's worldly as well. Consider these points:

On the International front, some local employers do huge amounts of their business abroad, and from time to time they bring their foreign contacts to Keene. It's not all that unusual to hear a foreign language being spoken at a local restaurant. And it's not out of the question to get a job at one of these firms and wind up with an expense account that deals with euro dollars or yen.

Keene is an old community that is rich with history, as many New England towns and cities are. The people around here guard and enrich their heritages for the interested public, and not just for scholars and researchers. There are several centers of local history in Keene, the most prominent of which is the Historical Society of Cheshire County, right across Main Street from Keene State.

There are a vast number of employment opportunities in Keene. The official Keene labor-market area, covering southwestern New Hampshire, has a civilian labor force of about 44,000. At the start of the century, Keene produced automobiles. Its factories have also made chairs, hats, shoes, woolen blankets and countless other products. Today, there's no single dominant employer. The area hosts a wide variety of high-tech manufacturing in the medical field, ball bearings, machine tools and printing technology, among other industries.

There are many places in Keene where you can go to soak up some culture. The KSC Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond is one of several centers for the performing arts. A film society also screens movies there in an unusually sophisticated theater that can show 70mm films. The nonprofit Colonial Theatre on Main Street offers movies, concerts and shows. Singers and musicians perform at a number of other places in and around Keene; the newspaper carries the listings regularly. Every Thursday, The Sentinel's Spotlight section offers the most comprehensive entertainment calendar in these parts.

If it's sports that you're interested in, Keene offers a wide variety of choices. Keene State offers athletic spectacles and opportunities for most who are interested, and hosts several N.H. Phantoms soccer games every season. There are also sports off campus. Keene is a center for men's and women's softball leagues, and Keene High and Monadnock Regional High School in nearby Swanzey field full sports programs. In the summer, the Keene Swamp Bats play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League; winning the 2002 NECBL Northern Division Championship, in front of crowds averaging 1,500 a night. More than 5,000 saw Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk throw out the first ball at the league all-star game, held at Keene High School's Alumni Field. The Sentinel runs a daily schedule for local, regional and professional sports. In addition to spectator sports, the Monadnock Region is a haven for participant sports, particularly the outdoor variety -- swimming, hiking, skiing, skating, you name it.