Senscot Bulletin: 07-07-2006

Dear members and friends,

Not a good week – feel rotten – and things are stacking up again – the dishes – unread papers – e-mails – washing – the list of people to phone. On Wednesday I went to the doctor-  antiobiotic for some bug I’ve got – may explain general lethargy. I got the young GP who looks about fifteen and she was so kind I felt choked. ‘How do you feel generally, Mr Demarco?’ But I didn’t know what to say. ‘Not great, Doctor, but maybe this is normal at my age.’ Pathetic, I know, but how are we meant to feel? So much of life we have to improvise as we go along. There’s no instruction manual. I keep asking, what’s normal? Is this normal now?
 Sometimes in my head I feel so ‘mortal’ – that all the bits could go flying off – atomised. The difference between feeling alive and not can seem slight. But there is a tiny ‘me-ness’ which holds it together – and this rickety ‘self’ behind all the masks which I wear, is somehow untamed – comes away with some really wild stuff. If we’re game, growing older offers release from what we have been – the freedom to wander. Pablo Neruda ends his poem ‘Truth’ on this theme: ‘And to truth I say: don’t stay so long that you harden until you are a lie. I’m no director, I’m not in charge of anything, and for that reason I treasure the errors of my song.’

Our Parliament in Scotland’s move to reshape local government has been repulsed by our 32 councils, and the issue is now in the long grass until after next May’s elections. In England, however, a ‘radical’ white paper is in the final stages of preparation and Ruth Kelly, the Local Government minister, said last week: ‘I want to remove the legal and financial obstacles to letting community groups take over management of poorly run local council assets.’ In whatever shape or form communities in England are going to get the chance to work towards a more independent status and I keep wondering who will campaign for the same opportunities in Scotland. It strikes me that our different associations – of development trusts, housing associations, recycling groups, etc, could form an alliance which would represent hundreds of community-based organisations. This Alliance could champion ‘the new community agenda’.

Since Victorian times, borrowing on extortionate terms has been integral to survival for many of the poorest people in society. Recent research conducted in Scotland on behalf of RBS/Natwest has confirmed that many of Scotland’s 10% population with no bank account are still prey to loan sharks and doorstep lenders. Through in depth interviews with key players, the researchers examined how the Scottish Executive’s financial inclusion plan is working, and identified best practice to inform future policy. To read the key findings:

The village shop owned by its customers is a really creative application of social enterprise. Eday Community Enterprises, featured last week, is an inspiring example of how such shops can become the symbol of a community’s survival ( A new interactive register of community-owned village shops (UK-wide) has been launched, which only lists five in Scotland. Surely there are more than that! Check it out:

Scottish charity regulator OSCR has issued guidance on a ‘fast track’ process for existing unincorporated charities on the Scottish Register wanting to become a company limited by guarantee.

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

JOBS: 28 vacancies, incl. posts with: BabyGROE, Bridges Programmes, Edinburgh Cyrenians, NISUS Scotland, Greenspace Scotland, Electoral Reform Socierty, Community Central Hall.

EVENTS: Kilsyth International Carnival, August 13;  CRNS ‘Carpet Recycling Roll Out’ event, Dundee, 23 Aug; Creating Connections – Strategic Campaigning Training, 11-12 Sept, Edinburgh.

New free training DVD on developing, managing and working within Scottish social enterprises; practical info, advice and experience from successful organisations and support bodies.

Southern Uplands Partnership proposes developing three new-build timber shared-office units in the rural South of Scotland. Interested? Make your views known at:

If marketing in social enterprise is your interest, there’s an opportunity to feed your views in to a survey on the subject:

The Edinburgh homelessness charity Streetwork is planning to create an upmarket coffee shop run by homeless people, which it hopes will rival major chains like Starbucks. Tam Hendry, the MD of Streetwork, said, ‘Apart from the main coffee shop we hope to have satellite units across the city.’

Big response to our item about the whisky barrel mountain. Thanks for all your ideas, which make interesting reading – see our summary. If you want to actually get hold of some barrels, the link provides useful information.

Because of the late delivery of a new piece of machinery, Recycle Fife had a ‘can mountain’ crisis last week and asked for volunteers. They send their thanks to the happy band of crushers who responded to their appeal – which is still not over:

This week’s bulletin profiles FSB Enterprises, in Kirkcaldy, Fife, a social firm set up in 2005 to provide professional services to advise on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). FSB Enterprises, a trading subsidiary of Fife Society for the Blind, helps make businesses accessible through transcription of print material, training staff in Disability, Diversity and Sensory Impairment Awareness and auditing buildings for accessibility.  

Plato taught that there two ways of arriving at truth – one he called mythos (myth) and the other logos (reason). He considered them complimentary and of equal stature – both essential.
In popular parlance a myth is something that did not happen, so to claim that a story is mythical is to deny its truth. But before our modern scientific age, myth recounted an event that had – in some senses – happened once, but which also happened all the time, e.g. Oedipus complex.
  Great teachers like Jung understood that across different ages and cultures the same archetypal myths shape individual and collective human history. For us westerners today, Logos (science and technology) is producing spectacular results. Mythos is discredited. But perhaps we need to reconnect with our sense of the mythical. We humans are meaning-seeking creatures, who fall very easily into despair. When faced with tragedy, reason is silent and has nothing to say. It was mythology and its accompanying rituals that showed people how to acquire the strength to go on.

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

Best wishes,


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