Senscot Bulletin: 03-03-2006

Dear members and friends,

When I was young I was a snappy dresser. When Frank Sinatra sported a black hat with white satin band – I got one made the same. In spite of being cocky, I was shy with girls. Aged 16, I fell head over heels for a lass called Pauline who was emotionally about 10 years ahead of me. We went out a few times, but when she realised I hadn’t yet mastered elementary snogging – she chucked me. I took her rejection so badly that I now realise something unconscious was running, probably a delayed reaction to my mother’s death years before. I would spend hours alone, moping – listening to all those marvellous Frank Sinatra LPs from his years with Colombia Records. We had a posh cocktail cabinet with two dozen exotic liqueurs – over the months I worked my way through the lot. ‘One for my baby and one more for the road.’
 This fantasy tragic love affair with Pauline was followed by my enrolment in a seminary for the priesthood – and though we never met again, her memory lingered for years. Last October in Spain, lunching alone on the golf club terrace – four lady golfers arrive. It gradually dawns that one of them – with a Scots accent – called Pauline – is HER. She seems smaller – and so old – but still the haughty confidence. I don’t let on – no point – but feel compassion for myself and for this woman who’d once been young and beautiful – when I was young and beautiful.

Gordon Brown has added his endorsement to the growing political calls for a ‘power shift’ from government down to individuals and communities ( If this movement continues to gather momentum even the Scottish Executive may find it difficult to ignore.  Initiatives like Community Planning Partnerships, Community Voices etc were never intended to empower anyone so the Executive will come under political pressure to invigorate the community sector.  In England the four leading community networks got together a year ago to form a ‘deep partnership’ called the Community Alliance.’  Its plan has been funded (£2m over 15 months) and is already operating.  In both concept and implementation it is years ahead of us.

If a CIC (Community Interest Company) is not an acceptable form of social enterprise for Scottish Executive funding, it’s difficult to understand what it’s for.  A reader from England (a lawyer) writes: ‘Without looking at detail at the powers of the Scottish Executive I do not know whether or not it is entitled to give funding to a CIC which is limited by shares.  I suspect the case is that they do have such powers but do not fully understand them and therefore are resisting the applications from these entities. CIC Regulator John Hanlon this week explained to me that he has been up and down the country talking to many different funders about CICs in an effort to educate them and ensure that they are more flexible in their decisions. I know that the Big Lottery Fund is accepting applications from CICs. I would have thought that the Scottish funding organisations will follow suit.’ See Feedback File:

The Big Lottery Scotland will launch in the spring an important new funding stream called ‘Growing Community Assets’ – to help communities acquire and develop land and property.  An important aspect of this process is that councils are able to dispose of such assets below market value.  Such legislation was enacted in England in 2003 but the Scottish equivalent is mired in bureaucracy.  Does anyone know why?

Our 2006 appeal for donations has gathered £4,853. Our thanks to the 108 contributors – see full list.  If during the course of the year, you feel the impulse to contribute – you will not be rebuffed.

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

JOBS: 44 vacancies, incl. posts with: Dundee CAB,  Mercy Corps, Workbase Scotland, Signpost, Scottish Executive, Human Rights Scotland, SACRO, Bethany Christian Trust, Food for Thought Glasgow.

EVENTS: Edge Upstarts Awards entries deadline 31 March; Regeneration & Renewal National Conference, London, 15 – 16 May; Social Enterprise Academy June events, 1 day Masterclass in Inspirational Leadership (Edinburgh); 3-Day Wilderness retreat on Sustainable Leadership (Wester Ross).

The survey and evaluation season is almost over. We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to fill in questionnaires either on line or over the phone. We’ll put the findings up on the website over the next few weeks. These will include evaluations on the Exchange and the Local Social Enterprise Networks, as well as a survey on the support needs of over 120 social enterprises across Scotland. It is hoped that the findings of this survey will inform the imminent draft of the Social Enterprise Strategy.

Our much lauded Land Reform Act is not turning out to be as radical as was originally thought. The Holmhill, Dunblane court case will soon come to a judgement and Jim Bennett asks whether civil servants are wilfully subverting the intentions of the act.

Since August 2005, I have been writing a column for the national Regeneration & Renewal magazine ( I use it to discuss Regeneration from the perspective of Community Development. Some of our readers have asked if these pieces could be filed on our website:

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise, based on Loch Ewe in Wester Ross. Good For Ewe is a community based co-operative formed to satisfy the proven need for affordable, high quality, fresh fruit and vegetables and other local produce in Wester Loch Ewe and the surrounding areas. As well as the health and economic benefits, the project aims to strengthen the local community and build social capital. . The project will provide training and experience in a range of produce cultivation and transferable skills. This will help develop a support infrastructure for small locally based producers in the community, allowing them to generate a livelihood that would otherwise be unachievable as individual low input – low output businesses. For more info’, see       

A few weeks back, we reported the sad news that the Nolly Barge had ceased trading. From speaking to various people, a number of issues have emerged from which we can all learn. We have tried to summarise them.

Craig Venter is famous as decoder of the human genome. I have just read an extract of a talk he gave at a futures conference last September. ‘We have already exceeded our ecosystem. We have harvested over 95% of the fish in the ocean, we have depleted most of our resources, and collectively we are putting 3.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Just as I think every individual is important, every individual, each of us, is contributing to this. If we drive cars, if we have a refrigerator, if we use electricity in any way, we are taking coal and oil, which is the result of biology billions of years old. They took billions of years to develop. We are burning those billions of years of biology over a few decades and putting that in our atmosphere. We all know that we can’t keep doing that. Collectively we do it, because there is not clear-cut alternative choice for each one of us.’ This is worth reading.

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

Best wishes,

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