Breaking the Car Habit

“Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.”

—W. H. Auden, English poet, born February 21, 1907

320px-Potato-ChipsWhen you’re trying to break a habit, it’s very useful to build a sort of “scaffolding” to support you in avoiding the bad habit and sticking with the new one. For example, if you want to lose weight, it helps to replace high calories snakes with fruit and vegetables, because when you would go for the bad stuff there isn’t any around. Have a handful of carrots instead.

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Parks and Recreation

“I think that every sexual position is fundamentally comic.”

—Judith Butler, American philosopher, born February 24, 1956

640px-East South East View Mt Sugarloaf South Deerfield MAWhen people study why entrpreneurs choose to build their businesses where they do, they find that their reasons have little to do with the things that politicians and economists go on and on about: tax rates and regulations. Nope: the questions they ask are whether a city is a nice place to live, whether it’s a good place to raise a family, if young people want to move there, and whether they’ll find other people like them there. These factors are certainly strong points about the Pioneer Valley, towns and cities that want to grow should keep them in mind in their plans. Yeah, I’m looking at you Greenfield, Holyoke and Springfield.  

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The Networking Animal

“Don’t lie if you don’t have to.”

—Leo Szilard, American scientist, born February 11, 1898

I got a nice note from somebody about to graduate from Marlboro College Graduate Center with an MBA in Managing for Sustainability. He’s job-hunting, and also asked for advice on how to get started as a consultant. Here’s how I responded:

Apropos of getting started, it’s tough out there: if you have the (financial) ability, I might suggest doing some pro bono work for non-profits in the particular area you’re interested in, get some experience and results, and network like hell. LinkedIn is a great way to grow your professional network, but by all means get out there and meet people in the flesh as well as online. Consulting is a relationship business, and you need to get your name and reputation in front of as many people as possible.

All business is relationship business. Willy-nilly, we are animals who operate in social networks. Improving your connectivity may be the most important thing you can do to “grow your business”, assuming you have integrity and interesting skills to offer. That’s why InCommN is so committed to curating and publishing our business calendar: we want everyone in the community to find opportunities to learn and grow, and we put our money where our mouth is to provide the information.

By the way, don’t forget DELA in Holyoke this Wednesday. Also this Wednesday evening is Valley Venture Mentors’ Monthly Meeting. There: two great ways to get more involved in the Western New England business community, make some new friends, and show the world what you’ve got to offer.

The more we learn about what’s going on in Holyoke, the more excited we are about being part of the next chapter in the city’s history.

Love him or hate him: Ray Kurzweil has some cred when it comes to the future.

Have you read this week’s News From InCommN? If you subscribe, it hits your inbox every Friday at 1:30PM, right around the time you’ll be looking for anything to think about besides work. People say it’s informative and fun to read and look at.

Edison was right: if the only reason you’re doing work is for the money, you’re missing out on the best parts.

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00-7:00PM East Longmeadow Professional Women’s Chamber of Western Massachusetts Free Networking Event
6:00-8:00PM Westfield Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30-8:30PM Agawam Advanced Quickbooks Workshop
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass
7:15-9:00AM Hadley Amherst Chamber of Commerce Breakfast
11:30AM-1:00PM West Springfield Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield Lunch and Learn
5:00-7:00PM Northampton Northampton Chamber Arrive at 5
5:00-7:00PM Westfield Westfield Chamber After 5 Connection
5:15-7:30PM Springfield Valley Venture Mentors
6:00-7:30PM Shelburne Falls What You DON’T Know About Your Business (And How to find It!)


Holyoke Rising

“Two properties on Appleton Street were readied for marketing. Funding came through to convert the old Holyoke Catholic High School to apartments. Veterans Park was renovated.

Work should begin this year on a passenger-train platform and at least three new businesses plan to open on High Street.

Pieces of the economic development puzzle here are materializing into form, however slowly, officials say.

‘Things have been happening in Holyoke for a long time, but 2014 is poised to be the year that people see it, feel it, and become a part of it. Holyoke is rising, and 2014 will be a year to remember,’ Mayor Alex B. Morse said.”

Holyoke highlights economic development efforts in 2013, plans for 2014

Ray Kurzweil Places His Bets

“2017: Self-driving cars…2018: Personal assistant search engines…2020: Switch off our fat cells…2033: 100 per cent of our energy from solar…2040: Stay young for ever….”

Ray Kurzweil—How the World Will Change

The Last Word

“One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But… I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success.”

—Thomas A. Edison, American inventor, born February 11, 1847


Lolita and Dr Zhivago in Sochi

“They don’t ask much of you. They only want you to hate the things you love and to love the things you despise.”

—Boris Pasternak, Russian novelist, born February 10, 1890

putinWe really tried, but we just couldn’t live with DELA. I’m sorry to report that, for the most part, Rick F and Rick P have been reduced to eating at their desks. I appear to have reverted to middle-school geekdom, shunned by the Kool Kidz in the cafeteria. (Kidding. I think.)

Solution: the all-new, Don’t Eat Lunch Alone: Industrial Strength, hosted at Universal Quality Machine in Holyoke. The first meeting is this Wednesday, February 12 from 12:00–1:30PM. This is a no-food-available location, so bring your lunch. Come prepared to talk about manufacturing, in addition to the usual DELA mixture of matter and mishegoss. We’re interested in getting to know everybody in Holyoke who are doing interesting things and people in manufacturing and engineering from anywhere in Western New England. Please pass on the invitation to your networks.

We’re pleased to see improvements to air travel options in the region. Having Worcester come on line with commercial flights is great for Central Massachusetts. International flights may come to Bradley next year. Now if we could connect the trains with the planes…

A story about a web developer who stopped charging for his work and started asking people to give him a gift they considered equal in value in return. Most people give him gift of cash, which is reasonable if you consider how people prefer gift cards to lame attempts at finding something they’d like. For freelancers who struggle with pricing, this is an interesting article. (The picture shows a potlatch, which you should read the Wikipedia article about and think about in the context of money and social values.)

Boris Pasternak, author of “Doctor Zhivago,” (probably not a favorite of President Putin’s) was alluded to in Sochi’s Impenetrable, Utterly Russian Opening Ceremony, as was Vladimir Nabokov, author of “Lolita,” who was an émigré from Russia, and might have had a few acerbic comments to make about the ham-fisted propaganda on display.

See you at DELA:IS on Wednesday!

Today and Tomorrow in #westernma

8:00-9:00AM Westfield Westfield Chamber Mayor’s Coffee Hour
7:00PM Easthampton Nerd Nite 4
8:00AM Agawam MarketRight
5:00-7:00PM East Longmeadow Professional Women’s Chamber of Western Massachusetts Free Networking Event
6:00-8:00PM Westfield Plug Into the Creative Valley
6:30-8:30PM Agawam Advanced Quickbooks Workshop
6:30PM Indian Orchard The Geek Group of Western Mass


Regional Air Transportation Infrastructure News

“From Bradley International Airport in Connecticut to Worcester Regional Airport in Massachusetts, people who live, work or play in western New England have more options than ever when it comes to flying the friendly skies.

“In 2013, the regional airports saw a number of new direct flights making it easier for people to reach their destinations without traveling to New York or Boston’s busy Logan International Airport.”

Western New England Air Travel Options Improving

I Forgot to Ask For the Gifts

potlatch-ceremony“…This, of course, can be an inconvenient realization for an adult with a family. But Hoppel had given it a lot of thought, and decided to make a specific sort of change: he stopped charging money for his work, and instead began to operate within the ‘gift economy.’”

This Guy Stopped Charging Clients And He Has Zero Regrets

The Last Word

“No one can be good for long if goodness is not in demand.”

—Bertolt Brecht, German poet, born February 10, 1898