Dear members and friends,
No great surprise – but my mood has turned dark as recent skies; sleeping badly, irritable – books, music, even food has lost its joy – SAD January returns: ‘seasonal affective disorder’ is not just ‘winter blues’ – it corrodes; need to shift this. After lunch today, in a soft smirr, I wrap up well and head into the woods opposite my cottage.
As usual, I start off preoccupied by my irritable, complaining mind – but, even in the silent grip of winter, the forest soon takes charge – enfolds me. Hearing the music of racing water, I follow the downhill track to Midhope Burn – swollen by the rain; watch the cold, swift torrent for some time. We make metaphors as easily as bees make honey – moving water has some special resonance for me; follow the burn for 700 yards – to a where it crosses the beach into the Forth: water coming together with other water.
I won’t remember a tenth of where it’s been, but for two hours this afternoon my imagination ran free in the woods – stretched itself. Trudging home, in the fading light, I surprise in myself, disproportionate delight at the prospect of a fish supper for tea – real appetite. Driving to the Golden Chip in Linlithgow, I think of Albert Camus: ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.’ Does fancying a fish supper count as evidence of my ‘invincible summer’? Probably not – but hey! it’s a start. ————————————-
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The politicians and officials of the EU must laugh at the embarrassing attempts of the Tories to negotiate Brexit – no one can work out what they actually want. Theresa May’s leadership is criticised – but she’s the best they’ve got. Andrew Marr show on Sunday – Corbyn was serene: I move in/out of believing he’s smart enough to run the country. Convinced that Labour’s manifesto would play well in Scotland – but Thatcher/Blair/Brown embedded free market principles deeper in the English mindset – a market ‘economy’ – becomes a market ‘society’ – everything for sale. The elites, who get rich on it, behave as though they control everything – could the UK be governed without their consent – or would they be able to hijack a Labour administration. The next general election – which can’t be far away – will be our chance to find out.
At the end of 2017, Google and Facebook were attracting increasing criticism – but George Soros’ Davos speech has really set the cat amongst the pigeons. He calls them monopolists – who crush potential competition and prevent innovation; that their manipulation of data skews elections; that they deliberately engineer addiction to their products; that they are a threat to public ‘freedom of mind’ – and should be tightly regulated. But, significantly, Soros said that these corporate giants have more political clout than US regulators; that it will be up to the EU to get a grip of them – through regulation and taxation.
There’s a book on the go, called – How Democracies Die – which Nick Cohen in the Guardian calls ‘fascinating and alarming’; it looks at the Trump phenomenon in the US – where every Republican leader endorsed a demagogue they knew was a threat to free institutions. Scary. The only safe measure of the health of any democracy is at community level – where our SNP administration (centralist) presides over a whole missing tier of representative democracy. Appin Community Co-operative (today’s profile) is an excellent example of the Scottish communities who just get on with it – ignoring party politics. The local vehicle for leadership/decision making, can either be an official, elected extension of the state (civic function) or community-owned – outwith the power of the state (civil society). Both have merits.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: The Melting Pot, RAMH, Govanhill Housing Association, The Salisbury Centre, WHALE Arts, The Tannahill Centre, Coach My Sport, Church of Scotland, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Church of Scotland
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 03 Feb; Kundalini Chair Yoga FREE Taster, 06 Feb; Management Training, 07 Feb; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 15 Feb; Glasgow SEN Meeting, 20 Feb; Fife Soup, 02 Mar
TENDERS: Summer Attraction – The City of Edinburgh Council, Organics – Establishing the Strategic Framework – Scottish Government, Stair & Communal Areas Term Cleaning Contract 2018-20
The SENs Weekly Update: This week sees the publication of Senscot’s January SE Briefing – Delivering Employability Programmes through Sport. This is the 6th in our series of SE Briefings and highlights how social enterprises can deliver effective routes to employment at a community level through sport-based activity. Senscot works in partnership with Social Firms Scotland supporting, respectively, the Sport and Employability SENs. This month’s Briefing outlines key aspects of successful employability programmes, including examples of diverse funding streams, opportunities to access public sector contracts and potential routes to productive partnerships. Case studies include: Let’s Get Sporty (Dumfries and Galloway); Morton in the Community (Inverclyde); and the Denis Law Legacy Trust (Aberdeen).
News this week of a new initiative involving the Scottish University Land Unit (SULU), DTA Scotland (DTAS) and COSS. SULU has been set up to encourage law students across Scotland to take an active interest in land reform, community empowerment, and community rights in respect of land; and, working with DTAS and COSS, to provide practical support to community bodies looking to exercise these rights. The principle is of a two-way relationship – giving DTAS/COSS access to the unparalleled wealth of legal knowledge and research skills – and, on the other hand, giving law students an opportunity to learn from DTAS/COSS experience in this area – gaining an invaluable insight into how the land reform/community empowerment agenda works in practice. A pilot in Aberdeen will run during the first half of 2018.
January edition of SCRT Bulletin now available. Stories include latest on its first Community Bonds; Ecology Building Society’s activity in Scotland; and news of a new investment pot from Carnegie Trust.
Is it estimated that there are more than ten thousand volunteer-run creative groups in Scotland – bands, choirs, groups for writing, painting, drama, sewing – anything you could think of; the need to express ourselves, through some creative activity, seems to be hard-wired in us. The Scottish Govt. is currently writing a cultural strategy for Scotland; while the support of top end professional performance should remain a priority – we should not forget that volunteer-led activity is the cultural backbone of our communities – providing pathways for the constant stream of new talent. Comment from Kathryn Welch – CEO of Voluntary Arts Scotland.
Measuring social impact (SIM) is a recurring theme amongst our sector’s ‘chattering classes’ – and one where consensus has been hard to come by. In an effort to ‘demystify and democratise social enterprise measurement’, Social Value Lab (SVL) is developing new training courses, a free advice service, and associated learning resources. These include identifying and addressing some of the main barriers – such as: the complexities involved; confusion around the value of SIM; and a lack of capacity of small organisations to undertake SIM. SVL is carrying out this work in partnership with Scottish Govt, SE Academy and others. Jonathan Coburn (SVL) provides this helpful background piece. To access free SIM advice and resources for your social enterprise – you can express your interest here.
This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s better known, and most successful, community co-ops. Appin Community Co-operative, located at Port Appin, Argyll – 35 miles north of Oban – was set up in 1983 with the aim of protecting the village shop as an essential service in a fragile community and to help develop the local economy. Over the years, the community co-op has grown and developed a range of projects that have included Low Cost Housing (15 units), an all-weather sports field, community car park, pedestrian bridge reconstruction and taken over ownership of five pieces of land for community use. Ongoing initiatives include exploring a community hydro scheme as well as their own community-based home care scheme.
Enjoying the many tributes to the late Ursula Le Guin. This is one of my favourite quotes – deep wisdom:
“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
That’s all for this week.
Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210