Senscot Bulletin: 04-08-2006

Dear members and friends,

It’s impossible to observe the way some people abuse alcohol without concluding that they are trying to destroy themselves.  I speak from personal experience.  There could be many reasons why a person self destructs but often even the drinker doesn’t know.  When I eventually decided to get sober I understood clearly that it was a life or death choice.  When push came to shove, I suppose I wanted to live a bit longer.  I feel very lucky – like another chance.
 At a recent gathering my wee cousin Gloria was in confessional mode.  She spoke of blackout binges – lost weekends – I could tell she was frightened.  “I know I should stop,” she said. I gave my best smile.       “‘Should’ has not got much to do with it Gloria.  You’ll stop or you won’t.  I drank 20 years longer than I should.  From what you have told me drink will cause you much grief.  But many of us are attached to grief.  I suppose it will come down to how much you like yourself – what you feel you deserve.”
 I sometimes wonder if all the detours we take in life are an inevitable part of our particular journey.  It certainly seems much simpler now I’m older – without the same need to go anywhere – or prove anything.  I know there’s no security in life but somehow that’s OK now.  It’s a beautiful evening – I’ve spread a blanket under a heavily scented buddleia which the local bees love.  I’m alive – sober – working – good friends.  The luckiest guy in town.

Since the beginning of our Scottish Parliament, community planning partnerships (CPPs) were the big idea for the better governance of Scotland. The recent review of CPPs by Audit Scotland has tried to be tactful, but no one is in any doubt that it is a very poor report card. Most revealing from a community perspective is the information that only 20 out of the 42 CPPs have any representation from the communities they are supposed to serve. This review has only confirmed what most front line workers already know – that councils which don’t want to engage with their communities, simply won’t. CPPs don’t work – but it suits ‘the system’ to pretend they do. A number of community sector organisations in Scotland are beginning to discuss the possibility of forming a cross-sector alliance to tackle this and to promote the new community agenda being rolled out in England.

For some rural villages, the only chance of retaining a shop is to own it themselves – the very essence of social enterprise. VIRSA, the Village Retail Services Association, is operating a new start-up funding programme for villages of over 200 residents which want to set up a community-owned shop. They told us that while they would like to operate in Scotland, they don’t yet have support on the ground. What is the position in Scotland? It would be a pity if we don’t have an equivalent scheme. VIRSA is run by the Plunkett Foundation, which has just published a series of detailed plans on how to set up rural enterprises like farmer’s markets and wood-burning for fuel. Download excerpts for free at:

We recently received the attached organisational chart from the Scottish Executive which shows that the Voluntary Issues Unit has created a new Third Sector team. This suggests an alignment with Whitehall’s Office of the Third Sector. I wish we had an Ed Miliband too.

The best explanation I’ve read of the origin and value of CICs is published in the current edition of Social Enterprise magazine by Stephen Lloyd, who is credited with inventing the model:

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

JOBS: 23 vacancies, incl. posts with: Scottish Community Foundation, Move On, AlterNativity, CVS West Dunbartonshire, Midlothian Healthy Living Partnership Project, Positive Action in Housing,

EVENTS: Social Enterprise and Housing – Maximising the Potential, 25 Aug, Glasgow; Social Enterprise Institute conference – How to deliver triple bottom lines, 8 Sept, Heriot Watt, Edinb; National Sports Social Enterprise Conf., 14 Sep, Leicester;  Women as Social Entrepreneurs & Leaders in Business, 15 Sept, Edinb;

Cyrenians are looking for potential Community Shareholders for their small, organic farm in West Lothian.
In return for their investment, Community Shareholders would receive an annual dividend of a share in our harvest plus discounts on a range of other services. If you’re interested, contact

The people of Neilston in East Renfrewshire could be about to make history by becoming the first urban area in Scotland to use the community right-to-buy legislation. The former Clydesdale Bank in Main Street is up for sale and the residents want to retain it a focal point of community life. The Neilston Development Trust hopes to install the local Credit Union as anchor tenant with offices above. ( Meanwhile in North Ayrshire, Irvine Urban Regeneration Company has asked the Council to use compulsory purchase orders to allow development of a large number of derelict buildings left to rot by speculators in town centres:

Susan Aktamel has sent a good article about Aspire, a successful social enterprise whose efforts to expand through franchising brought about its collapse. People involved relate their story. ( On the same theme, Leona McDermid sends in a piece in which Jim Schorr, from Juma Ventures, addresses the question of long term sustainability and believes the sector is at a crossroads. The options, he suggests, are either to develop new social enterprise business models that are of a scale to generate sufficient revenue or accept that the vast majority of existing social enterprises will not be able to do this and, therefore, develop stable, ongoing funding sources to subsidise the shortfall. A must read for practitioners.

This week’s bulletin profiles Blair Castle, a category ‘A’ listed building situated on the outskirts of the village of Culross in Fife. The castle is part of the Scottish Mining Convalescent Trust and, as well as providing a valuable resource for ex-miners and their families,  is also operating as a social enterprise offering conference and residential facilities. Their recently completed ‘West Wing Project’ now means that they have 28 fully refurbished bedrooms available in addition to conference facilities, a licensed bar, games room and other meeting room space. For more info’, see

Paul Cezanne is often referred to as the father of modern art. He tried to explain: “Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realising one’s sensations.” A month before his death in 1906 he said, “I am progressing very slowly, for nature reveals herself to me in very complex forms; and the progress needed is incessant…. I am very old and ill, and I have sworn to die painting… the only thing that is really difficult is to prove what one believes. So I am pushing on with my researches… I begin to see the promised land.” The painter Fernand Leger said, “We all come from Cezanne.”

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

Best wishes,

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