Dear members and friends,
For the first time in human history, significant numbers of people are choosing the live alone; I’m one of them. This of course was not an option for our ancestors. Even as a small boy, I remember thinking that my grandparents’ generation had a respect – a deference – for the traditional values of our tribe, which I did not share; made me feel disloyal. They had been subsistence farmers – who helped each other bring in the grapes and the maize – whose very survival depended on collaboration.
Late in the 19th century – the sociologist Durkhein observed, that in the transition from traditional rural communities to modern industrial cities – people attain more independence; he called this the ‘cult of the individual’. Unprecedented economic growth has seen the spread of this cult way beyond what Durkhein could have imagined – so that now our ‘developed’ world reveres choice, freedom and the individual.
In countries like India and Pakistan (still pre industrial), the numbers of households with a single occupant is 3%; in China 7%. But in the UK we have now reached 34% – and in Scandinavia (better welfare provision) it’s nearly at 50%. This leads me to surmise that if all economic and cultural restraints were removed – that approx half of humankind would choose to live alone; which is, fundamentally, changing the way we understand ourselves and our most intimate relationships.
Yesterday (Wednesday), the Prime Minister launched Big Society Capital (BSC); its website has also gone live with a ‘coded’ account of what it’s trying to be (http://www.bigsocietycapital.com/). The overarching reality is that BSC is the brainchild of two city investment bankers – Cohen and O’Donohoe – designed for a social sector which can make repayments – with interest – from earned income; they envisage social investment as a self-sustaining independent market. But all research indicates that this describes how they would like our sector to be – not how it is. So, with supreme arrogance, BSC will set out to re-shape our world. Expect heavy promotion of ‘impact measurement’ – linked to govt contracts – with excessive payouts to consultants (think Private Finance Initiatives). To decipher their gameplan, follow the money! See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12148
Last week, I went to hear Prof. Thorvaldur Gylfason tell the inspiring story of the recent redrafting of the Icelandic constitution – by the citizens. He described the battle to reclaim their democracy from the corrupt grip of private vested interests. Lesley Riddoch ends her piece with a quote from Bill Jamieson, of the Scotsman, about the Edinburgh Establishment. He calls it "the largest and most enduring elite in Scottish life – interlocked, cross-connected and intensely self-reinforcing – with power and influence that extends over culture, the arts, business, politics and government." Riddoch challenges Scottish civil society to aspire to a politician-free, constitutional convention. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12151
Ever since Richard Dawkins wrote ‘the Selfish Gene’ (30 years ago) – we have all been told that humankind’s default position is genetic self interest. But now, an evolutionary biologist called David Sloan Wilson, is producing evidence from a major field study which seems to show the opposite – that we are in fact naturally altruistic. Having been out of fashion for decades – his theories are now finding favour on both sides of the Atlantic – with those seeking to foster community well-being. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12146
Beautifully written article by Peter Beresford in the Guardian – warning of the dangers to our society from what he calls ‘the feral overclass’, "We have now entered an age," he says "when it is the divisive and damaging effect of those who are very rich and powerful that we need to fear." The piece shows how the rich elite are tied-in with some of the most damaging developments in our society – yet continue to grow in power. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12152
The next big round of ESF funding will run from 2014-20. With the introduction of the Social Business Initiative in Nov 2011, the European Union is acknowledging the growing contribution social enterprise can make. In England, a consultation process is already underway – led by NCVO. Scotland, we believe, will be making its own consultation arrangements but, at the moment, it’s not clear when or by whom. If the social enterprise community is to have an influence on how this programme will be delivered, we need to get in at the start. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12149
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php This week:
JOBS: Edinburgh Young Carers Project, COVEY befriending, Quarriers, Citizens Advice Scotland, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Taste Ayrshire, Dundee Social Enterprise Network
EVENTS: Creative Adventures Easter workshops, 6 Apr; Action Learning, 15 Apr; WMH Workshop: Women and Munitions, 19 Apr; A Spoonful of Vintage, 22 Apr;
TENDERS: Supply & Delivery of Catering Sundries, Provision of Food Waste Processing, Baling of Mixed Plastic Bottles and Scottish Central Government Occupational Health Services Framework. For more details, see http://www.readyforbusiness.org
NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: 10 Youth SEN members this week completed a Leadership Programme with the Social Enterprise Academy. Early feedback is that the programme was very well received. Members of the Creative and Cultural SEN are also going through a similar programme with the Academy. This follows other learning programmes delivered last year with SENs in Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee and East Lothian. For this year, we are in discussion with the Academy with a view to delivering a residential some time in the autumn. We’ll have more details soon but if you’d like to note interest, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Networks News, see http://se-networks.net/showbull.php?articleid=236
The Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland (The Code) is now up and running. Over the last week, 20 organisations have signed up as either ‘subscribers’ (SEs only) or ‘supporters’ (others like Senscot). Remember – to sign up as a ‘subscriber’, you’ll require two ‘sponsors’. We’ll be updating both lists on a fortnightly basis. If you would like to do so, see www.se-code.net .
One of the most important contributions that social enterprises make is opening up employment opportunities for young people. There are lots of great examples of this across the country but here are two examples from KibbleWorks and Impact Arts that are a bit different. Both have been featured in the media over the last week. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12136
Firstport, this week, announced that Karen McGregor has been confirmed as the organisation’s new Chief Executive. Congratulations to Karen. In a good week for Firstport, it also announced that it will be managing the Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund (SEF) for a further12 months. SEF is open to individuals who have an idea for a social enterprise and offers start up grants up to £5000 (Level 1) and £20,000 (Level 2). Level 2 has 3 deadlines this year – 1st June; 31st August; 12th October. See more,
Assist Social Capital and Social Audit Scotland have come together to run a series of workshops – entitled
‘Getting to grips with Social Accounting and Audit’ and ‘Getting to Grips with Social Capital’. The sessions are taking place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness and will be run by our pals, Colin Campbell and Alan Kay. See details, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12145
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise with a difference, not just in Scotland, but throughout the UK. Scallops Direct Alba Ltd is a scallops processing social enterprise dedicated to supporting local fishermen and creating training opportunities and jobs for local people. Based in Annan in Dumfries&Galloway, Scallops Direct also supports hotels and restaurants within a 100 mile radius of Annan with locally sourced seafood. Founder, Geoff Tunstall is a previous Firstport awardee. See https://senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=12137
In Saturday’s Guardian mag – short statements about what living alone means to certain folk; I particularly enjoyed the impressions of Colin Toibin (56) and Carmen Callil (73). Here’s a flavour of Callil – founder of Virago Press.
"I left home when I was 21. Almost immediately, I fell in love with a man who was, vaguely, married. An open marriage, it would be called today. For a decade or so, I wanted to be available for him, so I moved into a bedsit above a salt beef bar in St John’s Wood. That was 1964. I was 26, and I have lived alone since. I very much liked being in love and repeated it all too frequently. But I also hated it. I have a photograph of myself aged two, in a pram outside Melbourne zoo. My chubby legs are battling to get out: the look of struggle on my baby face is tremendous. That is how I felt each time I fell in love and spent extended periods with the beloved object. Often it was boredom: hours spent doing what the beloved object wanted, rather than pursuing the thousand things juggling in my own head. When I was in love and thought of marriage, I always came to feel like that child in the pram." See here for 2 statements, https://senscot.net/?viewid=12138
That’s all for this week.
Good luck with your adventures
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