Dear members and friends,
This week someone sent me the story of Michael Swaine, which cheered me up – so I’ll pass it on. Michael is a ceramics artist from California who for the past nine years has been mending people’s clothes for free. He enjoys sewing – giving new life to old garments – chatting to people; so he built a handcart carrying an old treadle sewing machine – an umbrella and a flickering neon sign saying SEW. On the 15th of each month, he parks his cart in a poor area of San Francisco and provides a free service – hemming trousers, sewing buttons etc. Sometimes Merlin plays his violin – Eric makes coffee… Antoine, a local kid, learns to sew; the cart attracts a little community. Michael says that people appreciate the sewing service – but mainly they just like to talk.
There’s something uplifting about this story – simple, fundamental – almost medieval. I think of the travelling knife sharpener, who would tell stories – sings songs. Or the smiling followers of Francis or the Buddha – spreading a little sunshine on their travels. If he was within reach, I’d visit Michael – ask him to stitch the handles of my old holdall – listen to his story – his spirit – bring a wee gift. His project feels original to me – not in the trivial sense of being new – but in the deeper sense of being old; original in the sense that it deals with origins. (Read Michaels story) http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9129
During last year, Senscot was in discussions with our counterparts in England about the establishment of a Social Enterprise Mark (SEM) – and its implications for Scotland. We argued our corner, but towards the end of the process, more persuasive forces (probably Whitehall) have determined that the eligibility criteria for SEM should be softened – to enable it to become a high volume/quick impact instrument. Our soundings with Scottish colleagues confirm our own view – that this strategy is short sighted and not the route we would choose in Scotland. The upshot is that, as things stand, we no longer feel able to wholeheartedly support the SEM – and intend to decline the opportunity to be the Scottish partner. Here’s our letter to our Scottish reference group. http://www.senscot.net/view_res.php?viewid=9128
The recent, 460 page report, ”An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK” describes a nation in which the richest 10% are a hundred times as wealthy as the poorest 10%. Richard Wilkinson and Kat Pickett understand the consequences of inequality more than most – in a Guardian piece this week they make it clear that it’s not only the poor – but all of us who are diminished. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9127
Six years ago, I remember chatting with Sandy Campbell down in Leith, about his pilot for Working Rite – which I thought was a very strong idea. Sandy was passionate about the importance, for boys in particular, of the transition from school to work – from youth to manhood. His project matches young lads with committed tradesmen – a role model – (just like the old apprentice system) where they are learn, not only about work, but about life in general. This piece in the Guardian tells how Working Rite has caught the attention of the Tory leadership. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9133
One of the most effective instruments for community empowerment in Scotland over the years, has been the establishment of community based housing associations – around 80 of them – mainly in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. The decision in 2003 to transfer the bulk of Glasgow Council housing stock to these successful local Associations has been thwarted for years by the rogue Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) – determined to forge its own empire. When Alex Neil became Scottish minister with responsibility for GHA, he voiced his determination to enforce second stage transfer. All credit to him – he seems to have delivered where his predecessors floundered.
Thank you for the flurry of responses to our annual appeal for donations. Apart from the money, it’s most encouraging to hear from folk whom our meetings around the country don’t reach. Your goodwill is much appreciated. We’ll keep this running for a bit. http://www.senscot.net/members.php
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php. This week:
JOBS: Social Investment Scotland; Edinburgh Advocacy Representation Service (EARS), The Scottish Huntington’s Association, The Scottish Government, Theatre Nemo, The Soil Association Scotland, Camphill Blair Drummond, Quarriers, Penumbra, Scottish Network for Families Affected by Drugs
EVENTS: View from the centre, 23 Feb; HISEZ Annual Conference, 26 Feb; SROI, 9 Mar; Introduction to business planning and strategy & measuring social impact, 10 Mar; CRNS 5th Annual Conference, 17 Mar;
NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: Earlier this week, we attended Voice 10 in Cardiff with a delegation of LSEN representatives. As well as the launch of the Social Enterprise Mark and the debut of new Coalition CEO, Peter Holbrook, I was struck by the greater prominence given to the co-operative movement than in previous years. Also, from a LSEN perspective, it was interesting to pick up on the activity emerging round Justice and Youth – two areas that we will have already begun work on for the coming year. The star turn was probably Nigel Annett from Welsh Water – http://www.dwrcymru.com/English/Company/Glascymru/index.asp – definitely a model we should be looking to replicate in Scotland. For more Networks News, see https://senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=127
The 18 places allocated to Senscot for the forthcoming Civil Society Summit have now been taken (see list). We’ve been allocated another 10 places. Richard Holloway has agreed to chair the Summit. If you’d like to take up one of these or to bring a friend or colleague, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9088
The loss of the local independent baker’s shop is a highly symbolic blow to the High Streets of our small towns. Well done the people of Dunbar who are organising a community owned bakery, as a social enterprise, to take the place of the retiring existing baker. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9134 Shared dossiers should be compiled nationally of successful social enterprises which operate as bakers – village shops – pubs – wind turbines etc – so that learning can be passed on. The English Social Enterprise Coalition is working with the Plunkett Foundation to develop an inventory of social enterprises, both urban and rural, offering post office and postal services. They’re keen that Scotland is well represented on the inventory. Responses are requested by 12th Feb. Let us know and we’ll pass on the info’. See more, http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9131
On Tuesday, Senscot attended Firstport’s ‘Celebration Day’ at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. Over 120 people attended – almost 90 of whom have received awards. Over the last twelve months, 86 new enterprises have benefitted from almost £500k worth of investment, providing a springboard for a new tranche of social entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all concerned. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9132
Senscot has been a supporter of the Aspire to Enterprise programme since it got underway 2 years ago. To date, they have supported over 130 social enterprises from the Borders to Aberdeen. It`s now entering its 3rd year and further places are now available. If you’re interested, see http://www.senscot.net/networks1st/shownotice.php?articleid=118
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Ayr that’s purpose is to help young people access sustainable employment. Real Work Skills – Suited and Booted’s real selling point is that as well as providing help with interview and job application technique, they will provide young people with appropriate outfits for interviews. Supported by Firstport, they are constantly looking for donations of business suits, jackets, skirts, ties etc. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=9135
A sublime evocation of sunrise from Robert Louis Stevenson.
”Soon she struggled to a certain hill-top, and saw far before her the silent inflooding of the day. Out of the east it welled and whitened; the darkness trembled into light; and the stars were extinguished like the street lights of a human city. The whiteness brightened into silver, the silver warmed into gold, the gold kindled into pure and living fire; and the face of the east was burned with elemental scarlet. The day drew its first long breath, steady and chill; and for miles around the woods sighed and shivered.’ (From Prince Otto)
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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