Senscot Bulettin: 09-06-2006

Dear members and friends,

The daughter of a close friend was beaten up on the streets of central Edinburgh last week – kicked about the head and face. Bad bruising – but it’s the traumatic stress and fear which is most damaging. Carol is a fine young woman in her early twenties whom I’ve known since she was a wee girl. On family holidays I bought her ice cream, told her stories. We’re good pals. I’ve been jolted by the violence of my reaction to this incident. I have recurring fantasises of splitting the guy’s head open with a baseball bat. I keep thinking of the opening sequence of the Godfather: Marlon Brando in that darkened room – with the cat – Don Corleone meting out rough justice – ‘and then they will fear you’. The urge to vengeance is frighteningly close.
 This week, first rats and then hooded crows have invaded my bird-feeder. Their ugly intrusion upset me, so I’ve stopped supplies. Now it stands soiled and abandoned. But there is danger that by our detachment we empower darkness – that the rats and the hooded crows take over – that ‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’. Tomorrow I’ll make a new feeder. I have thought of a design to exclude predators – and bring the songbirds back to my garden. Carol’s anguish will be more difficult to sort.

Today (Friday) I’m attending Colin’s Assist Social Capital Conference in Glasgow. I understand social capital to mean networks of people with shared values and understanding – which facilitate co-operation among members. This is how I think of Senscot. Last weeks’ bulletin informed that the sole petrol pump in the village of Comrie is under threat. Our network responded with news of several villages which have taken control of their pump – and with offers to help. Our network works.  The main speaker at today’s conference is Dr Tom Sander – an expert in social capital – over form the USA. He argues that the black and poor victims of the New Orleans hurricane were trapped by the want of social connections – to offer them a lift – a spare room in another town – even bus fares. They died for want of social capital. Papers from the conference will be posted on the Assist web site:

The Scotsman’s lead yesterday (Thursday) was about the bold suggestion by our independent water regulator Sir Ian Byatt, that the Executive should turn Scottish Water into a mutual/not-for-profit – because its dependence on Treasury grants makes it vulnerable.  Social enterprise is a powerful business model because it combines social ownership (which the Scottish public wants) with business mechanisms (which the banks want). I hope this suggestion is pursued:

Last weekend, DTA Scotland (DTAS) held its 3rd Annual Conference in Dundee. The Development Trust movement is now firmly established as a major voice for community-led regeneration in Scotland. Over 150 delegates attended, creating a real buzz amongst its burgeoning membership. In the months ahead, DTAS will be focussing on the production of a manifesto for next year’s Scottish elections. Its major themes will be extending community ownership of assets and promoting the genuine empowerment of local communities.

Gordon Brown will be launching the ‘Social Enterprise in Fife Directory’ at BRAG Enterprises on 23rd June. The Directory, with supporting website, was commissioned by the Fife Social Enterprise Network with member organisations securing the contracts to carry out the work. This is the first of its kind amongst the LSENs with, hopefully, more to come in the future. Due to demand, attendance is by invite only. For info’, see  

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 36 vacancies, incl. posts with: Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, Turning Point Scotland, Impact Arts, Community Woodlands Association, Council for Scottish Archaeology, Fife Council.

EVENTS: Gorbals Youth & Community Theatre – Rock Monster Show, 8-10 June; Edinburgh Treefest and Woodmarket 2006, 10-11 June, Inverleith Park;  Scottish Animal Rights Alliance, Cruelty-free Rock Night, 11 June, Bathgate; Launch of ‘Hidden Work’ report, new economics foundation/Gorbals Initiative, 28 June, Edinburgh; Kilsyth International Carnival, August 13;  2nd National Procurement Conference, SECC, 31 Oct.

We’re informed this week that the Social Justice Teams within Communities Scotland have been renamed Community Regeneration Teams. This is effective as of 1st June. The feeling is that Community Regeneration better reflects the work that the teams are doing.

The Executive is to review the way the Land Reform Act legislation has been operating. The move has come from concerns raised by Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, following the recent rejection of Holmehill Ltd’s appeal to gain the right to buy land near Dunblane. The Green Party is urging community groups to feed their views into the process so that the legislation can be improved. For info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a community based arts organisation that is increasingly using social enterprise as a way to support its objectives of using the arts as a key component of community regeneration. Impact Arts, set up in 1994, is based in Glasgow but has been involved in the management and delivery of projects from Aberdeen to Manchester. Their core work involves the creation of support and work opportunities for freelance artists committed to working with local communities. Some of their more recent initiatives include Fab Pad – an interior design project for homeless young people securing a new tenancy and Home – a creative furniture recycling social enterprise in the Gorbals. For info, see

Next week, Senscot is holding its first AGM as a limited Company. The meeting, for company members only, is an invite to contribute to a discussion on the future direction of the organisation. For information, we’ve posted an abbreviated version of our most recent accounts on the website.  See

The German writer Hermann Hesse has been influential over the years in shaping my view of the world. This quote is from an unpublished letter:
 ‘Life is meaningless, cruel, stupid, and nevertheless magnificent – it does not make fun of us (for that requires intelligence), but concerns itself with humans no more than with the earthworm. We must take the cruelty of life and the inexorability of death into ourselves, not by moaning but by experiencing our despair to the full. Only then, only when we have taken all the meaninglessness of nature into ourselves, can  we begin to confront it and to force a meaning on it. That is the highest achievement we are capable of. Most people do not suffer from meaninglessness, any more than the earthworm does. But precisely the few who do look for meaning – are the meaning of humankind.’

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,


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