Beyond the Elections

Among the most stunning aspects of the recent elections are the numbers and what they reveal about our country. This is really important…

Since the Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960, which had a voter turnout rate of 63%, the percentage of eligible voters who actually turn out to vote has decreased steadily. By 1996, the year Bill Clinton was re-elected President, it was down to 49%. In 1992, when Clinton was elected the first time, there was a 55% turnout. Since 1996, turnout has edged up; in 2016, this most recent election, it was close to 58%.

During off-year elections, when we’re electing people to Congress, turnout has gone from 46% in 1966 to 36% in 2014.

No matter who actually gets put into office this year—some argue that Hillary Clinton should be inaugurated since she won the popular vote by almost 2%—that person will still have received the support of less than 30% of eligible voters. In other words, 70% of the adult population—those who didn’t vote plus those who voted for the other candidate—does not actively favor whoever becomes president.

When a minority of the voters in our country can put into a person into office who will gain immense power and authority in spite of his lack of support from the majority, we have the makings of tyranny. This has become the dynamic of our two-party system: two massive money machines, each gathering and spending over a billion dollars every couple of years, with little incentive to expand the franchise beyond the minimum it takes to put its own people in power.

Although all the pundits continue to exclaim over the wild-ride campaign of Donald Trump, who seems to have candidly attacked both parties, the fact is he did little if anything to engage more or even new voters. He will become the next President with around 28% of the eligible voters’ support. This does not help us build or maintain the world’s largest democracy. A new way forward must be found.

We advocate entrepreneurship as one means to restore, reform and continually improve an engaging democracy: by creating enterprises based on solutions to problems and the delivery of benefits to customers with clear needs and desires, we create the future through positive, productive action. New ventures can pay living, sustainable equitable wages. New ventures can reignite entire industries, creating jobs, and sharing wealth. New social ventures can, and do, choose to do these things as a priority and as part of their ongoing business mission, and they do it in ways with integrity that respect and honor all people, all diversities, all participants.

INCOMMN is the coming together of enterprise development and social justice economics, with a healthy proportion of a new political agenda: support an independent movement by electing non-partisan people to public office, by building on the Bernie Sanders model: elect solutions, not political parties.


InCommN Reborn

We’ve reconsidered, reconfigured, recreated, and relaunched INCOMMN. It’s entirely new: new vision, new mission, and new urgency.

Stunned by the 2016 election results—in fact stunned by the entire election season that seemed to run from early 2015 until November 8, 2016—we know we need to launch a new voice with a new message.  

Our lead goes deeper into our thoughts on this horrifying, almost two year long frenzy we’ve just survived—although with what outcomes we won’t know for a while. But first some more about our recreated INCOMMN.

INCOMMN has always been worker-owned and managed with best workplace democracy practices. We’ve always been—and continue to be—a social venture: our primary goal is to have a positive, beneficial impact on our communities and our society; INCOMMN exists to identify, assess, and solve significant problems such as economic and social inequalities, threats to the environment, the critical need for renewable and sustainable energy, and the various guises of social injustice such as racism and sexism.

INCOMMN subscribes to a “slow money” economic principle; we reject the pursuit of short-term high profits, seeking instead long-term, slow, stable and sustainable growth and profit that returns benefits to communities and the region. It’s the relentless pursuit of short-term, outsized profits—“fast money”—that has created the 2008 collapse and recession, the loss of jobs in manufacturing, the economic stagnation of the U.S. “Rust Belt”, the flight of companies to offshore production, and the flight of capital to offshore low-tax havens. Trillions of dollars and millions of jobs have left the country, leaving behind decaying infrastructure, collapsed communities, impoverished towns, and destroyed families.  

Now is the time for INCOMMN to double down on our values and practices and making them our only mission. INCOMMN will support workplace democracy, social entrepreneurship, community resilience through sustainability, and local (and regional) investment for regional economic development though “slow money” ventures.  We will do this through our writing and messaging, by mentoring social entrepreneurs, worker-owned cooperatives, and other enterprises seeking to change our world for the better by creating the future we need and desire.


Lean Launch and Lean Pivot

What is the Lean LaunchPad?

Pfeil rechts oben gruen.svgCreated by Steve Blank, the Lean LaunchPad rests on the insight that a startup is a different kind of business from an established one. The business development methodology a startup needs is a completely different animal from the processes that lead to continued success for a going concern. 

The Lean LauchPad teaches that a startup is a process of discovery about the products, the markets, the customers, the tools, the processes, and the team that a business need to develop to become a success. It emphasizes agility, flexibility, and above all, the need to get out of the building and talk to people.  

What do we mean by “lean pivot”? 

Hungary road sign D-007.svgWe’ve run a series of courses over the last year or so. One of the things we noticed is that already established businesses can profit from LLP as much as startups. The key idea is the pivot. When a business learns that one or more of its core ideas just doesn’t fit the reality of the world they’re trying to operate in, it’s time for a pivot. In traditional business development, this would be deemed to be somewhere between a problem and a disaster. In the new reality of startups and agile businesses, the pivot is the thing that keeps the enterprise alive and growing. Established businesses need to learn to execute the Lean Pivot, because the world they operate in is sure to change, and they will be overwhelmed if they don’t learn how to adapt.

The InCommN Lean Launch and Lean Pivot Course

A twelve-week course in the Lean LaunchPad for startups and going concerns. Work alongside passionate founders, guided by veteran entrepreneurs and investors, to accelerate sales and investor interest.

Here’s what you or your team gain from the course:


  • a detailed, actionable model built with the Business Model Canvas
  • a higher chance of success
  • speed, efficiency, and sureness in execution
  • accountability to an engaged peer-group
  • personal attention from veteran teachers
  • valuable social capital and connections

What’s Next?

Click to request information about the Lean LaunchPad training.

Angela is Back

Idea Killeritis

Angela Lussier“You know the feeling.

“You’re sitting in traffic watching your life go by while studying the bumper of the car in front of you. You start daydreaming.

“You wonder why flying cars don’t exist yet. You wonder why we still haven’t figured out the answer to highway congestion, and then, as you watch a mom with a van full of kids flip off a teenager who cut her off….you’ve got it!…

“I invite you to a free webinar I’m hosting with this Wednesday, August 27th from 12-1pm EST.”

More information and online registration.

Business, Social Impact, Democracy

Let’s start with an immediate example or two. Valley Venture Mentors, now a “rave” program and event because of the news about funding, is a great example of a participatory, continually creative process and program. And it is great: by being all that, VVM has grown, pioneered new and profound approaches to venture creation and development, and attracted large-scale regional support. Three years ago, we had a few entrepreneurs and 20 to 30 mentors. Last month, we heard from the 13 entrepreneurs who will be completing their program in September, as they presented their updates to an audience of over 140 business and social venture leaders from around western Massachusetts. There’s more coming: VVM is recruiting new applicants right now for the next round, AND VVM will be also launching an accelerator program in Springfield in January 2015.

Continue reading “Business, Social Impact, Democracy”

Easthampton co.lab Meeting August 5th

“Some of you couldn’t attend our last open house and requested info, some of you wanted to stay in the loop on our progress, some of you were recommended by someone else who might be interested in what we’re up to at the co.lab. Here’s the deal: “We’re starting a new Incubator/ Co-work space called the co.lab that’s being developed in Easthampton. Our first open house was so great, we’re having another one.

“We wanted to invite you to come and see our space in Eastworks, learn more about our mission and membership model, meet other potential members and ask any questions about next steps. It’s all happening on Tuesday August 5th at 7:00 PM.

“Please RSVP whether you can or cannot make it! If you want info but can’t make it, there’s a place to fill out that info.

“Here’s a brief overview of what we’re up to:

*what we’re doing
>>>Connecting people, place and purpose.

*how we’re doing it
>>> Engaging groups in collaborative and participatory processes to harness the power of creative intelligence.

*why we’re doing it
>>> Enabling people to better understand the value of their ideas, experience and skills in the context of community.

“This is an environment for connectors of all creative capacities to share a unique space where cross-pollination of ideas and work happens organically, while also increasing the visibility of personal and collective projects.

“This is an exciting opportunity and we’re excited to tell you more about it, and see if you are interested in being a member. There’s a lot of ways to be involved.

“Also, if you think of anyone else this would be well suited for, please forward this email to them but please DO NOT share this on any social networking sites. Thanks!

“Tuesday August 5th
7:00 PM
116 Pleasant St. Suite #301 Easthampton, MA 01027

“Please RSVP whether you can or cannot make it! If you want info but can make it, there’s a place to fill out that info. Thanks! Sita Magnuson and Seth Lepore”

SPARK Seeks Executive Director

Please Share with your networks:

The Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation is now seeking an organized, goal-oriented professional to fill the position of Executive Director who will oversee the SPARK (Stimulating Potential, Accessing Resource Knowledge) Entrepreneurial Education Program for Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Continue reading “SPARK Seeks Executive Director”

Social Ventures & Businesses: Never Ending Creativity

Rogers-Will-LOCTo paraphrase Will Rogers (died before most of us were born, but full of wit and wisdom for today!), we’re all smart, just about different things.  That’s the bounty and power of the Internet: a tool that weaves all these smart individuals into a world-spanning network any one of us can access, contribute to, and engage in. Because of this tool, the concept and practice of “interactive distributed community networks” —INCOMMN — is possible.

Continue reading “Social Ventures & Businesses: Never Ending Creativity”

I Don’t Know What’s Going to Happen Next

“One of the things I like about jazz, kid, is I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?”

—Bix Beiderbecke, American musician, born March 10, 1903

Bix Beiderbecke cropped

Click on the picture of Bix Beiderbecke to hear “Singin’the Blues.” The sax player is Frankie Trumbauer, who could blow a little himself. Beiderbecke looks like he’s about 12 in this photo.

Okay, entrepreneurs: here are ten technologies about to make the jump from “geewhiz” to “coming soon.” These are opportunities for innovators, investors, and cool, geeky start ups, and will bring enormous, society-wide change in the next couple of decades.

Speaking of geeky start ups, don’t miss Valley Venture Mentors graduation bash Wednesday, March 12 in Springfield. This has been an outstandingly successful session for VVM, and we’re pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of a great class of entrepreneurs.

I have two Macs, an iPhone 5, and an iPad Air. Up to now, I haven’t integrated Siri into my workflow. I’m experimenting right now with using Siri for dictation (it works really well). If you’ve got an iPhone and/or iPad, read this article and try out some of the tips for using Siri in your day-to-day work (and leisure). 

Jef Raskin’s comparison of using computers to wearing exploding shoes is still apt, even though things have improved in the last few years. 

Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00–8:00PM Springfield Build Your Own Betty
6:00–8:30PM Greenfield Creating Your Own Business in Quickbooks
6:00–8:00PM Turners Falls Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass


Ten Breakthrought New Technologies You Should Watch in 2014

“The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies identifies recent key trends in technological change in its annual list of Top 10 Emerging Technologies. By highlighting the most important technological breakthroughs, the Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and contribute to closing gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding. For 2014, the Council identified ten new technologies that could reshape our society in the future.”

10 Technological Breakthroughs Of 2014

Ultimate Siri Guide
“The great thing about Siri is that it doesn’t require you to look at your device’s screen in order to interface with it. And Siri is smart enough to consider your location along with the context of your commands and conversations. By doing so, Siri can respond intelligently to your requests.

“Inside, we’ll teach you some of the history of Siri and show you some of its basic usage features. We’ll then present to you with an exhaustive list of voice commands, and discuss Siri’s dictation features. ”

iOS 7: The ultimate Siri guide

The Last Word

“Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.”

—Jef Raskin, American scientist, born March 9, 1943