SENSCOT MEMBERS’ BULLETIN No. 172, FRIDAY 4th APRIL 2003
Dear Members and friends,
Anton Chekov wrote, ‘ In Siberia not only bears roar, but sparrows and mice as well. `the cat got it and its roaring` they say of a mouse.’ Never really understood this – until now. During the recent `false` spring, the blackest, most beautiful blackbird we`d ever seen befriended us – coming daily closer and closer for scraps. Saturday morning from the bedroom window, I see our blackbird flapping in a cat`s mouth – and its roaring. I rush out in my `jammies` but – too late. Bye Bye Blackbird. The incident unnerved me. War seems everywhere these days.
Evening out to supper at friends – 3 couples. After soup, David brings out a cordless vacuum and hoovers around our feet. I’m about to make a crack but Anne kicks me – There`s an intensity about him. Later, out it comes again – this time he crawls under the table. While he`s putting the `dustbuster` away, Jean explains, ‘David`s become obsessive about germs.’ We just look at her. She shrugs and says,’ We`re all a bit wobbly about something!’ Later, on the way home, Anne asks ‘What are you wobbly about?’ ‘You probably know better than I do,’ I reply. Then, for the tenth time today, I think of the blackbird that roared. ‘ I think I dwell on the negative too much. Does that count?’ ‘Yes,’ Anne says, ‘That`s a wobble.’
Our recent point about salary levels for top executives in the social enterprise sector got some response – from both sides of the discussion. BN wrote, ‘we’re not singing `cum by ya` round campfires anymore. I’m a businessman judged on profit – if I bring home the bacon, I expect to be paid.’ Some feel that there is no ideological issue in how much a person earns in relation to anyone else – others that our sector should offer a model/example of social justice which precludes huge disparities. I’m in this latter camp. Martin Meteyard reminds us how the Mondragon co-operatives in the Basque region have tried to resolve this complex issue. ‘They started with a differential of 3:1 between the lowest and highest paid, but market pressures pushed it upwards and it now stands at 8:1 but their highest paid executives still earn 30-40% less than they would in an equivalent job outside. Despite this disparity, polls show that Mondragon is still the company that most graduates would prefer to work for.’ For more info` on Mondragon, see http://www.fortune.com/fortune/bestcompanies/articles/0,15114,404446,00.html
Scottish Executive website on Monday announced changes to the small business gateway. The name has changed to `the New Business Gateway` but it`s not clear yet what else has changed. Although over a year has passed since the Gateway was given a specific remit for social enterprise development, the anecdotal evidence suggests that support available is patchy. In scale, the Social Enterprise Sector in London and Scotland are similar, but London has a comprehensive Social Enterprise Business Support Strategy whereas Scottish policy doesn`t even acknowledge a distinct social enterprise sector. In London, the mainstream business support service has a Development Manager, Andy Griffiths, dedicated to social enterprise. Why doesn`t Scotland have such a person. Instead of anecdotes, could an external evaluation be conducted of Scottish Enterprises current engagement with social enterprise?
For those of us who feel passionate about communities owning and managing their own assets – the recent crop of rural and island community buy-outs is most heartening. Following a review of its operations, the NOF Scottish Land Fund has now been given a further £5m to continue this movement. David Campbell who chairs the fund says, ‘Vulnerable villages all across Scotland have been able to take control of local resources like post offices, village halls, petrol stations etc’. If you want to stay in touch with this movement, there are several excellent websites available. The Island`s communities, in particular, have an impressive network newsletter available through www.scottishislands.org.uk
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) are hosting a conference and exhibition in Glasgow on 19th May 2003 at the Thistle Glasgow Hotel. The Conference will focus on new ways to resource the sector and financial sustainability. More details in a couple of weeks but for more info` or to book a place, see www.CAFonline.org/events
Castlemilk Credit Union has received a £100,000 funding boost from Bank of Scotland Community Banking. More info`, see www.senscot.net/LD/Articles/Community Banking.pdf
Workwithus.org Ltd, with Scottish Enterprise, is running a series of e-business workshops tailored for the voluntary sector. The workshops are planned to run from April through until June 2003 throughout Scotland. See http://www.senscot.net/LD/hot/events/main.asp
Friends of the Earth are holding a conference on 16th May 2003 at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow. The conference is titled `Principles and Profit` and will be looking at corporate accountability. More next week.
PROFILE: This week’s bulletin profiles the work of an ecological project located in Kinghorn in Fife. The Craigencalt Ecology Centre is a community-based organisation, established as a non-profit-making charity in August 1998. Their focus is environmental education using the resources of Craigencalt Farm. In April 1997 a group of local people joined with residents of the farm to set up an advisory group on how to manage and develop the amenity for community use. The challenge now is to build up the sustainability of the organisation and a Business Plan has been drawn up to address the future development of the organisation and its resources the farm has at its disposal. For further information, see www.senscot.net (Project Profiles)
New Start, an English regeneration journal, has launched a campaign to convince government that community representatives involved in regeneration programmes should be adequately compensated for their time, effort and expertise. They state that thousands of ordinary people in Britain’s most run-down communities are working their socks off to improve their neighbourhoods. Called the Just Reward Campaign, it is calling for Regeneration Programmes to offer remuneration to resident directors and Board members and that payments up to a ceiling of £8,000 should be disregarded for those in receipt of state benefit. When we consider the amount of money passing to outside staff and consultants it does seem unfair that the people who live in these areas can’t get paid for their work. Find out more at http://www.newstartmag.co.uk/justrewards.html
I’ve not yet visited the `Ceilidh Place` in Ullapool but friends say it’s a must – that Jean Urquhart`s hospitality has created a wee gem. Alex Bell in Monday’s Herald told us that he was there last weekend along with ‘academics, journalists, campaigners and concerned citizens – gathered to ponder the nation’s future.’ A few days and late nights in the bar – with thinkers of all persuasions – even Nationalists and Labourites – buying each other pints. I`d love to have seen that. Bell said that for Labour the unthinkable has occurred. That it is now possible to be critical of Scotland’s establishment party and not be shunned from polite society. ‘I never imagined that that day would come, and certainly not so suddenly.’ His piece finishes, ‘ The Ullapool sessions prove that fresh thinking is going on. For all the shifting positions, there is a fundamental optimism running through the arguments. These are exciting times and a new map of Scottish political thought is being drawn up.’ Sincerely hope that what Alex Bell discerned is true – that the Labour Party’s control of our nation is not total – but it I fear it`s a fair trek from the Ceilidh Place to Holyrood .
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your work.
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