Senscot Bulletin: 07-12-07

Dear members and friends,

The big hype film just now is “The Golden Compass”, from a book by Philip Pullman. The author has said about it that some subjects are too large for adult fiction – can only be dealt with adequately in a childrens story. I like this – the recognition that children can see the big stuff – that in the beginners mind there are many possibilities – but in the experts there are few.
       As a child I loved stories, couldn’t get enough – but those of us raised during the war, saw too much sad stuff. Scotland’s fledging Italian community lost half its men in the sinking of one ship – I passed my early years among the grieving survivors – so much heartbreak. In the aftermath of catastrophe, children caught up in grief can be left with residual melancholy. To some extent we all carry this – but for all its sadness, it’s still a beautiful world.
       Writer/sage Doris Lessing considers that our brains are patterned for storytelling – I’m sure this is so. Stories have the power to shape lives – can also exert a shamanistic, healing influence – can bring hope. Philip Pullman again: “The world is the most precious place and we should cherish every moment we have here. We should write stories as if they made a difference – act as if the universe is listening and responding to us – we should act as if life is going to win”.

Laurence’s book You’ve Got To Laugh makes an original Christmas gift

A feature of John Swinney’s speeches is that he rarely bothers with the text the civil servants give him – he speaks his thoughts. This is new in my experience – a third sector minister who understands and develops policy – and he does this alongside running the mainstream economy. Scotland is blessed with a new calibre of politician. If I heard Swinney right last week we can all stop pretending that community planning is about engaging and empowering citizens – no one believed it anyway. But this shift begs the question of how central government will relate to the community empowerment agenda. The voluntary and social enterprise sectors have dedicated teams in the government – but responsibility for the community sector remains spread across several directorates. Senscot regular Edward Harkins sends his thoughts on the implications of current policy shifts

The Scottish Governments community empowerment consultation will not report this month as expected, but sometime in the New Year. Then it is expected that various models of enhanced empowerment will be piloted including community councils, community anchor organisations and others. The communities selected (maybe around 15) will be in Council areas which have already shown willing to work with local people. Senscot will research and showcase examples of community empowerment good practice.

The ‘Local People Leading’ campaign for strong and independent communities in Scotland has issued its latest briefings to supporters.

The Big Lottery Fund in Scotland’s decision to distribute its £10m DINC stream of funding in accordance with an overview shared with Scottish Government – breaches a fundamental principal of the people’s lottery. Both tax and lottery revenues derive from citizens; we expect government to spend our taxes with caution and restraint; we expect our lottery to foster innovation and experimentation in our third sector – which is always ahead of government in discerning community needs. Government don’t do risk and innovation – they do proven and tested. Keep them away from our lottery.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week:

JOBS: 20 vacancies, incl. posts with: Co-operative & Community Finance, Drake Music Scotland, FirstPort, Eric Liddell Centre, The Big Issue Cymru
EVENTS: 11 events, incl Second Annual Family Christmas Bash, 15 Dec, Appreciative Inquiry in Education, Jan 8, Edinburgh; Haddington; Getting down to business, 7 Feb, Edinburgh; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 21 Feb, Fife; Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth

News this week of a refreshed SIS website. Have a look at their updated case studies page.

I believe that lasting social change must come from the bottom up – through dialogue with ordinary people. However I am much impressed by the thinking of Professor F.J. Radermacher who wants to improve our world from the top down. He is one of the world’s leading systems analysts and he argues that if the fundamental frameworks which determine our daily activities are wrong, then all our initiatives for social justice only treat with the symptoms. Radermacher wants to substitute free market capitalism with an economic model he calls an Eco-social market economy. His vehicle is the Global Marshall Plan Initiative. Im going to get my head round this. Also see end quote

Here is a better than average fluff piece which enthuses from a private sector perspective about how fabby social enterprise is. Worth a skim.

If a housing association is locally owned, then it will be part of an alliance of local organisations and individuals engaged in developing their community. It could be the anchor of progress. If, however, the housing association is simply a branch of some empire building conglomerate – this advantage is lost – how does it differ from public or private sector housing? This and some other hard questions are asked in this piece by David Walker in the Guardian.

Both the British (BURA) and Scottish (SURF) urban regeneration awards have been announced. Congrats to Royston Road who impressed the UK judges –  and to all the Scottish winners
This week’s bulletin profiles an enterprise in Aberdeen founded by local artists in the 1970s. Peacock Visual Arts started out in 1974 as a facility for making fine art prints in the city. Over the years, it has developed and expanded and now has the widest range of visual arts production facilities openly available in Scotland and provides expert training in their use. Starting off with one member of staff, it now employs 14 members of staff, numerous tutors and an ever growing band of volunteers. For more see,

Professor Franz Josef Radermacher – Ulm, Germany

“For me the thing is quite simple. I cannot accept the extreme inequality existing in our world. So, I tried to understand why it steadily increased over the last 250 years. Being a system analyst, I came up with the simple answer that our current economic framework of the free market economy – which does not consider sufficiently environmental, social and cultural aspects – necessarily leads to this rising inequality and all its negative consequences. The alternative solution I am trying to push with the help of the Global Marshall Plan Initiative is an Eco-social market economy. Integrating the environmental, social and cultural guidelines in our framework is the most efficient way to improve life for 5 billion people on this planet.”

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

Best wishes,

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