Senscot Bulletin: 01-11-2006

Dear members and friends,

Letter this week says I’ve been caught going through a red light – which takes me up to twelve points. Sunday, getting to my feet in front of wood-burning stove, place my hand on top for leverage – now I have five second-degree burns. The rats were making such a racket in my roof space that I put down poison – now live with the smell of their rotting corpses. It’s easy to complain about our ‘luck’ but each of these mishaps results from a decision I made. What we call destiny is shaped by millions of wee decisions which build like a coral reef.
 In 1987 I applied to be CEO of a major Scottish regeneration agency. On the page asking for relevant experience I wrote only, “I have worked in Wester Hailes for ten years – my work is well known.” Too cocky!  If anyone tried that on me, I’d ‘bin it’ on principle. But I got an interview and one of the panel enjoyed telling me later that it was only my arrogance which lost me the job. Looking back I can see that spoiling that paper was no accident. The personal myth that shapes my life doesn’t want ‘a successful career.’ Who’s to say that’s wrong – as long as the story we live is our own. A great line from Milosz: “Who can tell what purpose is served by destinies – or whether to have lived on earth means little or much.”

Laurence’s book is now also available at Word Power Bookshop, 43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. See:  Anyone know of a possible outlet in Glasgow? Also, last posting for Christmas ‘pressies’ will be Monday 11th December.

The ongoing Conservative Policy review quite rightly wants to make more use of community-based groups to deliver local services. Quite simply they’re better at it. Matthew Parris wrote in the Times last week: “Mr Cameron may find that the reason the small platoons he wants to rope in to a national plan have been succeeding is that they have not been roped in to a national plan.” His point is that government patronage can be the kiss of death: Oliver Letwin, Tory policy chief, acknowledges that Parris makes a serious point and signals his party’s intention, as a matter of policy, to take risks. Their motives may be suspect but the Tories are looking at this more radically.

All our public services are learning that they need the help of local communities to achieve their objectives. In a recent paper Professor David Donnison argues that a new profession is emerging whose skills include a capacity to work with local communities and their volunteers. The training of these professionals will require care and intelligence. We don’t want to end up with a new profession of highly-trained community based, public service workers that can only be entered by people who belong to the right professional institute and have the right letters after their names.

Last week, we featured the Social Enterprise Coalition UK’s policy paper, setting out the case for business support provision. The document featured appendices giving a low-down on the existing set up around the UK, including a good piece on Scotland, provided by our own Coalition people. See

More awards for social enterprises in Fife. This time it’s Pat Callaghan’s Furniture Plus, picking up both the environmental and business awards in the Calor Gas Community of the Year. Pat’s organisation last year assisted over 7,000 families and also generated 70% of its own income. Congratulations are in order.

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

JOBS: 22 vacancies, incl. posts with: Edinburgh Community Food Initiative, Impact Arts, Outside the Box Development Support Ltd, Council for Voluntary Service Inverness, Scottish Executive.

EVENTS:17 events, incl. Christmas Art and Craft Market,  Portobello Community Centre, 2 Dec; Strathmore & the Glens Christmas Market, Angus 3 Dec; ‘Get Your Voice Heard!’ project – reporting seminar, Edinburgh, 13 Dec; Social Firms Scotland policy paper launch and AGM – Scottish Parliament, 15 Dec; Developing Social Enterprise, Edinburgh, 17 Jan 07;.

Nick Temple, network director of the School for Social Entrepreneurs wrote a letter to Third Sector magazine last week with some very impressive stats about Fellows of the School: “85% of the organisations they’ve created are still running – the 1998 cohort’s survival rate is more than one and half times that of conventional businesses. They gain an average six-fold increase in turnover, more than 50 percent get more than half their income from trading, they create jobs and volunteering positions (30 and 70 respectively per ten fellows), and are delivering countless positive outcomes and inspiring others in their various communities.”   Brag in Fife runs an associate SSE which makes a major contribution to Fife’s growing reputation as the kingdom of social enterprises.

The NESTA Starter for 6 project in Scotland went live on 1st November 2006. It is accepting applications from innovative business ideas/early trading businesses in Science, Technology and/or the Creative Industries (and those who work across these sectors), as well as businesses which fall into these categories but are ‘social enterprise’. See here for more details-

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise providing tailored information and communication technology (ICT) work for charitable organisations operating with disadvantaged communities throughout Glasgow and the West of Scotland. E-bility Trust, set up in 2005, has already developed a range of partnerships with various clients and stakeholders, including a number of Glasgow’s Local Development Companies. A typical E-bility solution comprises broadband connectivity, web site design/hosting, e-mail, spam filtering, data backup, technical maintenance and discounted application/antivirus & security software. For further info’, see

I have listened to a talk from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and believe him to be a truly spiritual leader. He teaches that we become a different person when we are aware of our thoughts and actions in each moment;

“Don’t drink your tea like someone who gulps down a cup of coffee during a workbreak. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.”

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

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

Best wishes,

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