Senscot Bulletin: 08.01.10

Dear members and friends,

 My country cottage, down a steep lane, has been frequently cut off during this freeze – days pass when I speak to no-one – mostly I enjoy this solitude.  Under snow the countryside is stunning – especially in crisp sunlight; at each window I’ve set up feeding stations for the birds – all doing a roaring trade.  Taoist philosophy, which I have long admired, teaches that in the pursuit of knowledge we add something everyday.  But that in Taoist practice, every day something is let go – till we’re in harmony with the way things are – content to just go with the flow.  Living in this ‘whiteout’ has taken daily life back to basics – keep warm – eat properly – phone a friend – how little we really need.  I feel a bit spaced out though.
 In his new memoir called ‘Waking Up in Toytown’, Fife writer and poet John Burnside describes a similar vibe.  ‘‘Sitting there – enjoying the stillness – becoming the silence – learning how to vanish.  Everyday, in everyway, I am disappearing, just a little; but it has nothing to do with the will – nothing to do with trying.  If it happens at all it happens as a gift – and this is the only definition of grace I can trust’’.
 Not sure why, but I find Burnside’s reference to grace affirming.  Does he mean a supernatural gift? They say that one is never an ex-alcoholic – only ‘recovering’.  I often wonder if something similar is true of ex-Catholics.

The current issue of Social Enterprise Mag. features the views of three successful UK practitioners on how our sector is evolving.  The only one I disagree with is Michael Quicke of CCLA – who advocates a no-nonsense private sector attitude – including ‘‘a complete lack of interest whither the social entrepreneur ends up with a house in the south of France”. The issue of appropriate salary levels is, of course, much broader than a discussion about social enterprise.  Those of us lucky enough to have any choice need to decide how much we care about inequality in the world.  After we have a sufficiency, our salary becomes an expression of our values – and those of our organisation.  In my view, people who really feel they need a place in St Tropez shouldn’t choose to work in the third sector – not the day job anyway.  Ultimately our sector stands for social justice and can’t ignore the gap between the rich and poor.

The demise of the Glencraft Factory in Aberdeen caught the public imagination and our politicians paid attention.  Much credit is due to the campaign of the workforce and also a lot of background people, including civil servants, who appear to have brokered a solution.  The main driver seems to be a very successful, Aberdeen based, private business called PSN which will bring its commercial confidence and acumen to the re-launch of Glencraft (social enterprise) Ltd. I tend to be sceptical about the private sector’s dealings with our world – but would be happy to eat my words. See

As anticipated, Ed Mayo, the new secretary general of Co-operatives UK, is wasting no time is asserting that the co-operative model is a powerful alternative way for society to organise itself.  Here’s his piece from Wednesday’s Guardian – more strength to his elbow.  As a sub theme though, he seems intent on taking pot-shots at the culture of individual leadership as opposed to cooperative effort.  I think this is false position.  As he must know, Robert Owen at New Lanark – the John Lewis Partnership etc etc – are not exceptions, but typical of how social progress has often been the vision of enlightened individuals.  To pretend otherwise serves no-one and could hinder the spread of the co-operatives movement.

Kay Carmichael, the inspirational lecturer, writer and activist has died aged 84.  Her work had considerable influence on the development of social policy in Scotland – particularly how we treat our children and our attitudes to prison.   Her thinking and personal kindness influenced my own involvement in both these areas of work.  I’ll always remember her as someone who showed the way to go. Here’s the Herald’s obituary,

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: RECAP, Church of Scotland, Victim Support Scotland, The Three Eyes Project, Health in Mind, The Big Issue, The Scottish Society for Autism, Almond Enterprises Ltd, The Scottish Government
EVENTS:  Carbon Conversations Facilitators Training, 10 Jan; Learning from evaluation, 13 Jan; Facilitation Training Day, 21 Jan; Climate Change: Effective Communication (Edinburgh), 22 Jan

NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes:   Happy New Year! 2010 sees the coldest start in 30 years – long before Senscot was even a glint in Laurence’s eye! What will 2010 bring us? Already we have 4 conferences on the cards over the coming months; Community Benefit Clauses on 20th January in Dundee; our third ‘Fit for Purpose’ conference in March; a Coalfields SEN conference also in March; and a Social Enterprise and Culture event in April. Other things in the pipeline include the IPS Model Rules, a new social enterprise and community sports initiative and further Vital Stats Surveys.  Whilst we expect to see the impact of the Third Sector Investment and Enterprise Funds begin to kick in, we are also very aware that the chill wind is going to be with us for some time as public sector cuts begin to bite over the next twelve months.
For more Networks News, see

The Melting Pot is running two programmes this year offering free workspaces to social innovators and/or enterprises. The Assisted Places Programme is supported by Scottish Govt. 5 places are available from Feb ‘10 and another 5 from July’10. The deadline for applications for the first programme has now been extended to 25th January. For more info, see

NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) is virtually unknown in Scotland because it has never put in place a distinctly Scottish process; there is a particularly London attitude which regards Scotland as a subdued colony.  This seems to be changing with the launch recently of Age Unlimited Scotland – a new programme aimed at older social entrepreneurs.  NESTA wants to get alongside folk in their 50s & 60s who have an idea to make life better for elderly citizens.  They have designed a programme (including money) to help you realise your idea. See more,  

Before the holiday, the General Secretary of the trade union Unite, rubbished social enterprise as unfit to provide health services – saying that we are in “ a race to the bottom” in our standards of employment. I was impressed with this riposte from Alison Ogden-Newton, CEO of Social Enterprise London. See

Triodos Bank, with Social Enterprise Mag, runs an annual photography competition to capture the work of social enterprise. The winning photographs feature in their Social Vision Calendar. The 2010 calendar includes Fintry Development Trust and The Bread Maker. Triodos have a few copies left – if you’d like one, contact

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise whose primary aim is to provide employment opportunities for people with Long Term Conditions. SKSscotland has recently set up as a CIC and will provide ‘hands on’ support to social enterprises in achieving their specific business goals. SKSscotland services include business delivery, planning and development. For more, see 

From ‘‘The Power of Now’’ by Eckhart Tolle. 

“If you feel called upon to alleviate suffering in the world, this is a very noble thing to do, but remember not to focus exclusively on the outer; otherwise, you will encounter frustration and despair.  Without a profound change in human consciousness, the world’s suffering is a bottomless pit.  So don’t let your compassion become one-sided.  Empathy with someone else’s pain, or lack – and a desire to help need to be balanced with a deeper realisation of the eternal nature of all life and the ultimate illusion of all pain.  Then let your peace flow into whatever you do and you will be working on the levels of effect and cause simultaneously.”

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

Best wishes,

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