Senscot Bulletin: 03.08.12

Dear members and friends,

One of my lower front teeth kept infecting – so my dentist reluctantly removed it; the solution we choose is to crown the adjacent teeth – make a three tooth bridge. The temporary one he fits is acrylic. We’ll do the final job when he returns from holiday.
 Watching the Olympic swimming – eating After Eight mints – when suddenly it’s like I’m eating peanuts brittle – something’s wrong; spit everything into the bathroom sink. The bridge must have come loose – and I’ve crunched it into bits. Disaster. Now my smile has a big gap – with two spikes – like a vampire; folk politely avert their eyes – but small children look scared – even start crying.
 My dentist is not only a friend – but also family; I know that he’s over in Picinisco for his annual holiday. It’s nearly a hundred years since our ancestors moved from Picinisco to Scotland – they would be pleased to know that the connection has not been lost – that throughout August the valley will echo with Scottish accents; an annual festival of wedding feasts – and the rituals of courtship.
 I wouldn’t dream of disturbing his family holiday – but if Charlie is sitting at Bar Centrale on the piazza today – with a Peroni; and if he happens to read this bulletin on his Blackberry – that’s not my doing. And it may be that he’ll email a colleague who can patch me up – so I can stop frightening the weans.

Big Society Capital (BSC) was created by the UK Govt. to provide the third sector with the investment it needs; but the way it is shaping up indicates two major distortions.  The first is that BSC’s definition of the ‘social sector’ it serves, appears to include ‘ethical investors’ providing capital to private sector businesses – that do no harm – but not much good either.  The second (worse) risk is that SE’s are pulled away from their primary mission – into activities that generate a financial return – but no social value.  Senscot believes that the SE community needs its own investment vehicles – which share our mission and values – and that BSC promotes alien values.  Excellent new piece by Daniela Barone-Soares who runs Impetus Trust; she agrees that BSC has mistaken its market. See,

Senscot argues that true community empowerment comes from the ownership of assets and income streams – the ability to run services and influence the local economy.  One of the finest achievements of Big Lottery Fund Scotland has been the operation of its Growing Community Assets (GCA) programme.  In this Scotsman piece, Jackie Killeen (Scottish BLF Director) headlines some findings of the current major evaluation of the GCA programme. See,

In Nepal, if a woman is jailed – and there’s no one to look after her children – they go with her to jail.  I was moved by this story of a young Nepali woman, Pushpa Basnet’s, response to this situation – so typical of the social entrepreneur’s ‘light bulb’ moment. See,

Earlier this month, 50 leaders of the English Voluntary sector met to discuss whether the PMs ‘Big Society’ vision is a busted flush – on whether it could be ‘reinvented’.  Getting these 50 folk into the same room was impressive enough – and I found these snippets of their conversation very interesting (and revealing). See,

Email from Alison McLeod from Applecross – a small community on the North West coast with a ‘very active’ population of around 200.  Alison says their doctor is leaving – and they’re trying to find a new one; she invites bulletin readers to visit and ‘like’ their Facebook page called ‘Applecross needs a GP’.  See,

Philip Blond’s ResPublica think tank – usually comes up with useful stuff – but I can’t get my head around ‘Community Infrastructure Bonds’.  I agree with the aims – but it’s far too complicated to engage the interest of local communities. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Beatlie Buddies After School Club, Turning Point Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, Udny Community Trust Company Ltd, Community Woodlands Association, Transition Extreme Sports Ltd 
EVENTS: Miss.Fit Sisters Vintage Circus, 11 Aug; Strengthening your Social Enterprise, 21 Aug; Getting to Grips with Social Accounting & Audit and Social Capital (Dundee), 30 Aug;
TENDERS: Supply and Delivery of Bikes and Bike Accessories in Glasgow, Supply and Delivery of Office Seating, Donor Communications Centre for the Scottish Blood Transfusion Centre and Reprocessing services on behalf of Angus Council for paper, cardboard, plastics and cans.  For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: We are delighted to announce this year’s Social Enterprise Conference and Ceilidh takes place once again at New Lanark on 15th/16th November. This year – our 8th – we will be joined by 12 colleagues from the social enterprise community in Northern Ireland. Booking forms available shortly – with 2012 Programme to follow. We expect demand to be as high as ever so the sooner you book your place the better. If you want to get in early, email  Priority will be given, as always, to SEN members. Like last year, we’ll also be charging a nominal fee of £30. For more Networks News, see

Splendid rant from George Monbiot about how neo-liberalism – and the dominance of large corporations – threatens democracy.  He asks what we all want to know; why it is – given that corporate power operates against public interest – that its influence is still so dominant.  ‘The strange non death of neoliberalism’.  See,

One of the themes which Senscot develops (through the work of Diane Cameron) is the marriage of SE and Sport.  It’s a no brainer for us that sports clubs should be owned by their fans – lots of examples in Europe but did you know that American NFL team, the Green Bay Packers is also supporter owned – and has been since the 1920s . See,

I didn’t realise that co-op schools represent such a thriving sector in England – 350 and expanding rapidly.  Check out this thoughtful Guardian piece – which tries to trace the reasons for their impact.  See

Between October 2007 and October 2008 the Fife Diet asked people to sign-up to eating food from the region of Fife, for a year, monitor their progress and share their experience. Since then, it has evolved into a much larger network of people trying to re-localise more generally and to explore what sustainable food might be. This week, they launched a new food manifesto for Scotland as a contribution to the food and drink policy framework. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a children’s boutique in the Southside of Glasgow. Merry-Go-Round operates out of a shop in Nithsdale Road and provides a range of high quality, re-used children’s goods – at a fraction of the original price. Merry-Go-Round’s aim is to provide the local community with high quality items at low cost and in the process create volunteering and employment opportunities. It also has a parenting room for feeding, changing and meeting other parents. See,

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between hard work and inspiration in the creative process.  I think song writer Jack White has it about right.
 "Inspiration and work ethic – they ride right next to each other… Not everyday you’re gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re gonna write a song from it.  Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out". And here’s an amazing letter from the legendary composer, Tchaikovsky, to his patroness – on this very subject. See,
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210