Senscot Bulletin: 01-07-2005


Dear Members and friends,

Back from a week in Spain. The road west from Ronda – the C341 – skirts the deep valley of the River Genal.  In the 8th century, the all conquering Moors built on these steep slopes a series of dramatic fortress villages which retain their Arabic names.  The hotel we’ve come to see is in one of these white villages – which I googled.  700 metres above sea level – 152 dwellings – 294 residents – most work the land.  Set among chestnut, pine and cork oaks – our village still has a Moorish feel – ghosts of hermits and bandits.  Midday last Saturday – hammering heat – impossible steep alleyways – a whitewashed stupor. Our meet is in the only bar – doubles as a shop – four old guys playing dominoes.  Agent shows us hotel – 12 bedrooms – bar/restaurant – all well fitted – ready to roll – a municipal investment in the local economy.  We wander around – taciturn faces poke out of the houses – the church, a strange savage place.  A blood splattered Christ – behind glass, a grotesque mummified corpse.  The frivolous coast is only an hour away – but this is a separate isolated world.  I think it gave my friend the creeps – ‘The hotel is a good price’ he says ‘but this place is a time warp – probably better left’ – he flew home on Sunday. (continued at end)

There has always been an understanding within the third sector that the ratio between the lowest and highest salary in the organisation should be kept as low as possible – one of the ways we build social capital.  Will Hutton’s latest Observer piece is a rant against the greed of city bankers which corrodes the values of our society.  How folk who move money about – with minimal public benefit – earn absurd commissions from ‘rigged’ markets – while high value workers like teachers, nurses etc can’t get a decent house.  Such is the dominance of the free market mindset, that our govt. won’t take on the invisible cartels of the investment bankers.  I wonder if they even want to.  I’ve a friend who’s director of a charity which supports 3rd world development – 200 staff.  His salary is voluntarily capped at £50k.  ‘That should be enough for anyone’ he says.  

A month or two back, the bulletin reported on a partnership between DTA Scotland and Fife Council that has resulted in the appointment of two development workers to work on developing and establishing Development Trusts in Fife. This collaboration is now producing more results with Fife Council inviting tenders from development trusts and other social enterprises to partner them in the development of business incubator units in areas prioritised for regeneration. For details, see

John Bird, founder of the Big Issue in England has attacked ‘the homelessness industry’ for ‘mollycoddlying’ homeless people instead of offering them the opportunity to ‘grow up and move on’. This concurs with what colleagues in the Big Issue in Scotland have been saying. The Big Issue’s relationship with its vendors is not charitable. They buy a product – sell it at a profit. It’s hard work. But lots of charities now offer the homeless easier options – but they don’t build self-reliance.  

I’m a big fan of google – have been since it started 7 years ago. The best engineers in the business, they’ve built a huge cluster of Linux machines which can sift and rank instantly about 8 billion pages. No other company has computer power approaching this scale – or the expertise to run it. The Google mission is simple – to organise and make available all the information in the world. But its probably not in the public interest that anyone should hold such power – Rupert Murdoch could buy it. This is why I am against ID Cards – a massive databank with all our stuff on it. Invasive – inaccurate – accessible – the potential for surveillance and confusion is nightmarish. Probably wouldn’t work anyway – unless Google run it. My pal Rodney has written to his MP about the proposed bill:

YELLOW PAGES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and
we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 58 vacancies, incl. posts with: Community Can Cycle, Powerful Partnerships, North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Sikh Sanjog, Scottish Churches Housing Action, Evaluation Support Scotland.

EVENTS: Business in the Parliament Conference 2005, Edinburgh, Sept 8-9; Proposals call for: Practical Connections event for community and participatory arts practitioners, Edinburgh, 8-10 Sept. ‘Making Knowledge Work’, social capital conference, Stirling, 25-28 Oct;

Next Wednesday, 6 July, the Social Enterprise Academy will be giving a presentation and information at an event in Dumfries organised by the BASE project. For further details contact Ann Rae, 01387 245276.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Partnership (WEEEP), Midlothian, has 50 monitors to give to voluntary organisations and social enterprises in Scotland. Contact: / 01875 822 817.

The Social Enterprise Academy has just passed its first birthday. Copies of ‘Reflections on our first year’ and the ‘Prospectus for 2005’ can be downloaded from their website – . They are now actively recruiting for their autumn programme that includes 12 separate courses running in different parts of Scotland. Staff will be out and about offering information and a chance to have a ‘taster’ of the programmes over the next couple of months. For details on the programmes, click here or phone on 0131 220 5333. 

Scottish Enterprise launched this week a competition to showcase projects that
have enhanced Scotland’s urban and rural environments. The Dynamic Places Awards
2005 will be presented in categories such built environment and community development. Previous winners include the Falkirk Wheel and Cope Enterprise in Lerwick. (

This week’s bulletin returns to Ayrshire to profile an emerging social enterprise that works with local adults and children through the provision of creative activity courses with a associated retail outlet. Crafty Women, based in Girvan, devise creative activity courses, tailored to meet clients’ needs – whether educational, recreational, therapeutic, team-building, or personal and professional development. In delivering their programmes, Crafty Women re-use and re-cycle textiles, wool, yarn, paper, wire and other materials, adding design and craft skills to produce new original craftwork that is then available for sale in their shop. For further info’, see (project profile)

Rory’s had this beach bar since early 80s – a cockney who loves music – he still sings with his own band -bluesy classics.  Valerie watches the till.  Really chuffed they remember me.  ‘When you were drunk, you always talked about God – death – heavy stuff’ ‘I do it sober now’ I laugh.  ‘Melanie our eldest remembers you – you used to tell her stories – she’d love to see you.’  Reading on the beach after lunch – a lovely young woman, about 30, comes up and kisses me.  ‘I’m Melanie’ she says – slightly shy.  But its easy – we click immediately – talk for 2 hours.  She’s telling her lost uncle her adventures – some sad – but no bitterness.  Then she says ‘Do you remember the time you burned your shoes. It was a late night beach bonfire – right here – we were all sitting round singing Beatles songs – you’d bought new white leather shoes – but they were too tight – so you put them on the fire.  I was only about 10 – thought it was amazing – you looked so happy as they burned.’ Strange what folk remember.

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

Best wishes,