Senscot Bulletin: 02-12-2005


Dear members and friends,

This is my second winter in my country cottage – increasingly I enjoy the immediacy of nature – the weather; the trees; the wildlife.  Some creature has moved its family into my roof space – they make sudden noises but it’s companionable.  My oil fired boiler is on the blink but the wood burning stove is a great comfort – we understand each other.  When I came to live here I had no points on my license – now I’ve got 9.  Living here without a car would be a challenge.  20 minutes walk to the bus.  Maybe I could get a horse.
 Big turnout for Victor Crolla’s funeral.  A letter from him was read out in church – practical – stoical – sardonic – everyone clapped.  Then 100 of the extended Crolla clan gathered in the Elm Row restaurant – super nosh.  Nearly all of the older generation is gone now.  My lot are the next in line for decrepitude – for the Big Sleep.  I remember Victor saying that 70 years is long enough.  He lasted 90.
 I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be 90.  On bad days 65 is grim enough.  I often wonder whether I’m brave – or a big baby.  Sometimes I look in the mirror to see how I should feel.  Got an appointment in January for an endoscopy.  They stick a camera down your throat – don’t fancy that.  What if they find something?  Annihilation skulking there – waiting to unfurl.  But we alone are in control of how we respond to life.  That’s our ultimate freedom.  Pain and suffering are inevitable – but misery is an option.

Fritz Shoemacher’s understanding of decentralisation is more complex than simply breaking a large organisation into smaller bits.  He proposed the idea of ‘smallness within bigness’; that to be effective a big organisation needs to behave like ‘a related group of small organisations.’  Applied to the Third Sector this philosophy would commend a diversity of discrete but related subs sectors.  The ‘community sector’ working to neutralise local democracy; The ‘social enterprise sector’ extending the way society defines capitalism; The charity sector with its own venerable model; etc etc.
 Stephen Maxwell, in SCVOs weekly newsletter argues once again that social enterprise should not be ‘differentiated’ from the wider voluntary sector but I would ask why not. In my dictionary ‘undifferentiated’ is one of the pseudonyms for ‘monolithic’ and there is a frequently expressed opinion that SCVO is too big.  It’s the same argument as Tesco’s share of the High St. All monopolies are against public interest whether public, private or voluntary sector.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s new £50m programme to invest in ‘growing community assets’ is set to become a major player in our sector over the next 3 years.  It is therefore of paramount importance to us all who is selected to administer and manage this money.  If the management fee is capped at 10% – that’s £5m over 3 years – which is more than enough to launch a new sectoral consortium.  If ‘investments’ were to include a package of money and tailored support we could create a whole new generation of sustainable community ‘anchor’ organisations.

One of Scotland’s most intrepid campaigners, Andy Wightman (author of ‘Who owns Scotland’) has done it again – this time he has set the cat among the pigeons with regard to his recent report ‘Common Good Land in Scotland: a review and critique’ which points to ‘literally hundreds of millions of pounds of unaccounted for assets’ which belong to local communities and not the councils which hold them.  The Herald did a piece on Monday (  For me the central issue here is that the ordinary citizen – collectively as the community – is quite distinct from the council and the authority of our communities needs to be reclaimed from rotten local politics.

NOTICES/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: 38 vacancies, incl. posts with: Castlerock Edinvar Housing Association, CVS Inverclyde, Turning Point, Shelter Scotland, Parent Network Scotland, Bethany Christian Trust.

EVENTS:  ‘Here’ – an evening of music, art, theatre and film from Scotland’s capital and beyond’, Edinburgh, 8 Dec;  Volunteering impact assessment toolkit events, Edinburgh, Inverness, N. Lanarks, 19 Jan 2006.

CAN YOU HELP: All Ears Music Productions are looking for premises to set up a recording studio in Edinburgh. They need approx. 400sq.ft. Any ideas, contact

The East Lothian Social Enterprise Network meeting on 6th December has been postponed. The meeting was due to take place in the Maitlandfield Hotel in Haddington. The meeting has now been rescheduled for the New Year. For info’, contact

Scotland’s first social enterprise trade fair, S2S, takes place in Perth on 25 April 2006.  Antonia Swinson writes, ‘S2S is designed to give social enterprises across Scotland the opportunity to trade with and learn from each other. Entrance and exhibition stands are free. Please register now for a stand – deadline is Dec.16th. There will be scope for delegates to network throughout the day. We’ll be inviting private and public sector organisations who are interested in doing business with social enterprises as well as the trade and business press.’ For application forms or more info’, contact Cheryl Hoffman at  If you are interested in attending S2S, register your details online at

Work on the Social Enterprise Strategy is now underway. Senscot has been asked, along with other national organisations, to forward a survey to members that will inform the Strategy. The survey is targeted specifically at social enterprises and aims to get the view from the sharp end.   A selection of Futurebuilders Scotland applicants will also be contacted. A draft strategy will be available in March 2006 and it is intended that the final strategy will be published in June 2006.

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation based in Dundee that
operates in both Tayside and Fife. CraigOwl Communities was set up in
2002 addressing issues of disadvantage and exclusion in local communities by providing learning and employability opportunities. As well as the established learning centres in Dundee, which offer ICT training, Literacies, Employability and Personal skills training, CraigOwl has also created employment opportunities through Social Enterprise. They have two cafes in Fife, one in Crosshill (BRAG Enterprises) and one in Kirkcaldy (Training Services Fife), and an IT support programme for social economy organisations in Dundee and Tayside. CraigOwl operates from six sites in Dundee and Fife and employs around 20 staffFor info’, see  

I’ve discovered the writing of John Fante.  My old pal Bukowski told me years ago that he was the ‘real thing’ but I couldn’t find any books.  Now Canongate has reissued some.  I’m going to buy another.  In this piece a young lad discovers the power of the word. ‘Then it happened.  One night a great spirit slipped forever into my life.  I held his book in my hands and trembled as he spoke to me of man and the world, of love and wisdom, pain and guilt, and I knew I would never be the same.  His name was Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky.  He knew more of fathers and sons than any other man in the world, and of brothers and sisters, priests and rogues, guilt and innocence.  Dostoyevsky changed me.  His books turned me inside out.  I found I could breathe, could see invisible horizons.  The hatred for my father melted.  I loved my father, poor, suffering, haunted wretch.  I loved my mother too, and all my family.  It was time to become a man, to leave home and go out into the world’

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

Best wishes,

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