Dear members and friends,
These thoughts are from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins – I’m excited by his invention of the verb ‘to selve’ – as something we can self-enact. “Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves – goes itself; ‘myself’ it speaks and spells, crying ‘what I do is me: for that I came’.” I’m wondering to what extent I myself have ‘selved’ – what it means.
My neighbour has a six-month-old kitten; I’m entranced watching her stalk every inch of her new domain – a creature born with a ready-installed, never changing template of selfhood; but humans are more complicated. Because we have a ‘moral’ capacity, our ‘selving’ involves choices – cannot be automatic or inevitable. Our birth-tribe imprints its version of right and wrong – our brain conjures thousands of possible interpretations of our experience; is ‘self’ the bit that selects among them? Neuroscience suggests that conscious choice is a lesser part of decisions – mostly made by unconscious brain systems; does ‘selving’ mean becoming aware of our habits/patterns – training them: getting to know ‘that being indoors’.
It’s worth mentioning the work of palliative nurse Bronnie Ware – she concludes in her book that the most common ‘end of life’ regret is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a lifetime true to myself – not the life others expected of me.” If we believe this, there’s a simple lesson: “Whatever you’re meant to do – do it now. The conditions are always impossible”.
There is no prospect of a Brexit deal, and I don’t mean a ‘near miss’; we’re heading for the football equivalent of losing 5-0 – a rout – our whole team in disarray. The fallout will require a general election – and despite the daily drivel on offer from press barons – Jeremy Corbyn is probably favourite to form the next govt. His Labour manifesto sets out a decisive revival of UK Social Democracy – an economy for the many, not the few – in, or close to, the EU. May’s govt surrendered to the extreme Brexit right; if/when they are removed from the board – many of the deep differences between our countries will disappear. We Scots may even find ourselves more patient, about the shape and timing of our independence. Joyce McMillan has a different take – equally credible.
Why are we even discussing moving the main venue of Scottish football from Hampden to Murrayfield – the idea is divorced from reality. I don’t pretend any knowledge of the bureaucracies which run our football – I don’t pretend any interest in their financial shenanigans; but if they are seriously considering the Murrayfield option – they should be sacked. In many ways Glasgow is the real capital of Scotland; the ‘soul’ of the city – its culture and ‘manners’ – more truly reflect the particular history of our people. Football is one of the more passionate ways Glaswegians express their city; Murrayfield is not an option.
In poorer communities, the rise of life expectancy has not only slowed down, but actually reversed – owing to what Will Hutton in the Guardian calls ‘shit life syndrome’. Unusually this week, I attended an event in such a community – mingling with fifty residents; the effect of poverty on health was obvious on people’s faces; my complacency was jolted by this immediacy. Neil Cowan of Poverty Alliance has a good piece in CommonSpace, reminding our returning MSPs that poverty remains our greatest challenge. I can also recommend the excellent monthly newsletter of Rethinking Poverty – which summarises a selection of discussions on poverty and possible responses
Weekend Guardian article: eleven artists, designers and writers share what gets their minds whirring; my favourite was author Ben Okri.
“I walk long distances. I walk to go through zones of the mind. I become empty and aware and I listen. Creativity is our normal and fundamental way of being. It is everything else – our education, our social conditioning, our cultural mores, our upbringing – that imprisons our creativity. It you don’t believe me, watch a child at play. To them all things are possible because they have not learned that some things are impossible. We don’t need to learn to be creative. We need to unlearn not being creative.”
Next week sees the SE World Forum arrive in Edinburgh – 10 years after the inaugural event in the city in 2008. Over 1200 delegates from across the globe will gather in the city to discuss and debate issues around social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Hopefully, grassroot SEs and SEN members will have been able to take advantage of the bursary offers that were made available – taking the opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world – and share respective experiences. As well as the plenaries, debates and workshops scheduled for Edinburgh (12th-14th Sept) – further elements include a full week of ‘other activities’. These include Study Tours, a Young Talent Programme, Rural SE Symposium and kicking off – an Academic Symposium in Glasgow (10th/11th Sept) that includes the 2018 John Pearce Memorial Lecture.
Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.
Since 2005, Senscot has hosted a SE Conference and Ceilidh – firstly at New Lanark and, latterly, at the Westerwood. The event has evolved into one of the most important and enjoyable events on the SE calendar.
We have been lucky over the years to have been supported by RBS as well as a wide range of colleagues from across the sector. Senscot Board has decided to postpone this year’s event until spring 2019 – to coincide with Senscot’s 20th anniversary. We’ll have further news of our plans over the coming months.
The shortlist for the Scottish SE Awards was announced this week. Good to see a number of SEN members in the frame. Winners announced on 6th Nov. Congratulations and good luck to all the candidates.
The next Senscot Briefing Paper will focus on the role of SE in improving mental health and wellbeing – and we are keen to include a listing of SEN member’s related activities, services and products. Whether you’re involved in prevention, promoting good mental health, early intervention or support for people experiencing mental health problems, we’d like to highlight your work and raise awareness of the contribution SE makes to this public health priority. Please fill in details here if you’d like your social enterprise listed.
With the SE Action Plan committing to ‘strengthening and extending SENs across Scotland’, it’s encouraging to hear The Angus Community Planning Partnership is now working on its own 3 year SE strategy and Action Plan. The preparatory work includes a ‘Social Enterprise Huddle’ on the 25th Sept – as well as ‘An Intro to Partnership Working and Collaboration’, run by P4P on 20th Sept. It is hoped that a new SEN will emerge – taking the number of local SENs in Scotland to 18. Still on Tayside area, Dundee SEN has produced a new report – highlighting the contribution of SEs to the local tourism sector.
The trend of some local authorities across Scotland – pawning off land to property developers who simply churn important community spaces into student flats – is a growing cause for concern. The latest example is in Edinburgh: Drum Property Group is proposing to bulldoze a significant portion of Leith Walk to make way for 523 student bedrooms, 56 upmarket hotel rooms – and only 53 affordable housing flats. Earlier this year, a community campaign to save Otago Lane in Glasgow fell on deaf ears. Will #SaveLeithWalk fare any better? Improve its chances by voicing your disapproval on the planning application.
This weeks’ bulletin profiles a community pub that is one of the first of its kind in Scotland. The Merito Bar and Restaurant, in Dunlop, East Ayrshire, has been taken over by the local community – via Dunlop Community Hub – with the purchase going through in July. The Merito is the last remaining pub in the village and the community has been supported through a grant of £160,000 from the Scottish Land Fund. The bar and restaurant will continue to run as normal – with existing staff being kept on. There are plans to develop the upper floor of the building to become a space for community activities and events.