Dear members and friends,
On Monday I’ll be 70 – becoming an old guy now – adjusting to the slow unfolding of life. When I was young, I couldn’t understand how anyone would give up the chance of excitement – to potter in a garden; makes me smile to remember. The swallows returned this week – suddenly the fruit trees are in full bloom; the terracotta Bhudda smiles from its new niche and I’ve started planting sweet peas and the like. The rewards of manual work and closeness to nature are much undervalued. I find myself absorbed.
Often, when I’m gardening, a tall gaunt woman passes – a toff – ages with me but more mobile. I’d guess, from her face, that she is familiar with ‘the grave and constant’ of human suffering – but her spirit seem undefeated. She usually has the smell of strong drink about her – sometimes glides past in a beatific state of drunkenness – but we always exchange smiles; seasoned travellers who know that the only path through life is the one we make with our footsteps.
The Tao Te Ching was written 2500 years ago – we don’t really know by whom. 81 short chapters – timeless wisdom on the art of living in harmony with the way things are. There are at least 30 current English versions – the one I mostly use is by Stephen Mitchell (1988). In chapter 67, it says: ‘‘I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion’’. I’ve decided that these are what I want for my 70th birthday – to help me navigate the remainder of my journey.
As an optimist, I believe there is a deep wisdom in democracies and yesterday an exceptional turnout decided not to give a mandate to either of the UK`s parties of Govt. As this bulletin goes out the count is almost complete and it’s still impossible to determine who the next PM will be. One senses that the electorate would like to change the way politicians behave – more co-operation – so that they put national interests before tribalism. It’s going to be interesting.
The recent advance of social enterprise in public consciousness – particularly political consciousness – is a significant achievement for our movement. As always though, the enthusiasm of politicians and govt. invites caution, because they have very little understanding of grass roots activity – that it is the particular response of particular people to particular need. Govt’s instinct is to co-opt the front line as an instrument of top down policy – to standardise and regulate – which raises serious issues of both principle and practice. Peter Holbrook, CEO of the English Coalition, addresses this point in a recent article
Regular readers will be familiar with my hobby horse – that there is a missing layer of democracy in the UK. Whether in rural villages or urban estates – communities need representatives and champions who live amongst them. Most European countries understand that this is the bedrock of effective democracy. Polly Toynbee of the Guardian is dismissive of localism – propounds Labour’s municipalist orthodoxy – so I expected her column this week about community action to be hostile. But it’s a thoughtful piece – which gets closer than most to the daily grind which is the reality of community empowerment. Her mood is melancholy rather than dismissive. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9474
There’s a simmering anger in Scotland’s third sector about Lloyds Bank’s disgraceful treatment of its Foundation in Scotland – you may wish to sign this petition. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9483
The political climate in the UK favours an imminent expansion of the co-operative movement – but I found this Guardian special feature on Saturday unsatisfying. In fairness – Lisa Batchelor’s piece is more than fluff – worth a skim – but I wish someone could point me to an uncompromising appraisal of the present co-operative movement – its pros and cons. From the outside, it appears stuck in the past – with dysfunctional labyrinthine structures. What will the new wave of front line co-operatives make of the mother ship?
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: Inspire (North Berwick Christian Youth Trust), Greyfriars Community Project, Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers, Upkeep (Shettleston Community Enterprises), Community Enterprise Ltd, Senscot
EVENTS: Maximising Participation: How to hold large scale interventions, 13 May; The Fruitful Gathering, 22 May; Creating a difference- introduction to cultural social enterprise, 26 May; Living Wage Conference, 27 May; Exploring Sustainable Living, 28 May; Greyfriars Recycling of Wood – Display of Works, 11 June
NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: Over recent weeks, 3 SENs (Dundee, Clacks and Fife) have begun to employ admin staff through the Future Jobs Fund to help them facilitate meetings and other activities. In Dundee, Factory Skatepark, Helm Training, Dundee Women’s International Centre and Claverhouse are providing up to 20 Future Jobs positions between them via SCVO. It’s also possible to access Future Jobs Funds (which can provide host organisations up to £2,000 per 6 months placement) via Local Authorities. If you think this could be of value to your SEN, see http://research.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund/pdf/fjf-guide.pdf For more Networks News, see https://senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=138
Places at Scotland’s first creative social enterprise conference are filling up fast – 20 places left. The event – ‘Social Enterprise and Creativity: Introduction to Creative Social Enterprise’ – takes place at The Lighthouse, Glasgow on Wed 26th May. The event aims to raise awareness of social enterprise amongst creative organisations. Keynote speakers include Sergio Lopez Figueroa (Big Bang Lab, London) and our own Derek Marshall (Factory Skatepark, Dundee). The event is FREE. See Flyer and booking form, http://www.senscot.net/view_event.php?viewid=9409
Over the next year, DTAS is undertaking a programme of work to encourage the transfer of public assets into community ownership. Later this month, they are holding a policy symposium in Edinburgh to explore some of the issues. Not many places left. http://www.dtascot.org.uk/pat-symposium.cfm
Proposals to pilot a Community Allowance Scheme are one of several UK wide campaigns which Senscot supports. Community organisations would be able to pay welfare claimants up to £92 per week without affecting their entitlement to Benefits. Such engagement with purposeful work could benefit everyone involved. The proposal appeared to win the backing of the Dept. of Work and Pensions in 2008 but it has subsequently delayed the project several times and it appears to have stalled. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9479
A new initiative has been launched to provide placements/work experience for students within social enterprises across Scotland. Students into Social Enterprise (SISE) is managed by SEAM in Midlothian, supported by Scottish Govt and will involve students from 7 universities and colleges throughout Scotland. If you think this may be of interest, see https://senscot.net/?viewid=9478
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise being run by a group of primary six pupils in West Lothian. The youngsters from Peel Primary in Livingston have set up their own food co-operative and healthy eating café. The enterprise started after the school’s head teacher, Janice Nesbit, attended a course run by the Social Enterprise Academy and included an inspiring visit to Kibble. The enterprise has flourished over the last year attracting pupils, parents as well as the wider community. Much of the produce is provided by CFINE, the north-east based social enterprise that has recently taken over the services previously delivered by WELFHED. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=9477
This quote is from the American (Pulitzer Prize) writer Jane Smiley (2007). ‘‘Not only are they rich and powerful, they feel that they deserve to be rich and powerful, because the free market is the highest good and they have worked the free market and benefited from it, and so has everyone they know. There are two things about them that you have to remember – that deep down they feel guilty and undeserving and that they live very circumscribed lives. Inside the office, inside the house, inside the health club, inside the corporate jet.’’
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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