Senscot Bulletin: 08-02-08

Dear members and friends,

The city of Spoleto is overlooked from the east by the slopes of Monteluco, covered in a thick wood of centuries old holm oaks. ‘Luco’ comes from the old Latin for sacred wood – for thousands of years the chosen habitat of hermits and monks. Walking these shady trails on Saturday I felt a strong spiritual connection. In 1218, Francis of Assisi founded a hermitage on Monteluco – still occupied by Franciscans. Over the centuries, the modest structure must have been continuously adapted but, amazingly, the original corridor of 7 tiny primitive cells has been preserved – like a time capsule. Each has a door opening (under 5 feet), a wee window and a stone floor, approximately 7ft sq. For some reason I found the austerity of these tiny cells very moving – keep remembering them.
Isn’t it a marvellous thing that in every age certain individuals turn away from the getting of wealth and power – live simple lives attending to the needs of others. On Monday I spent some time at a children’s centre in London’s Lambeth area. The staff I met – their work with children whose lives have started badly – as good as anything I’ve seen. The chap who showed me around said ‘at the end of the day it’s about love’. It takes courage to say that in an age of cynicism. The wee man from Assisi spoke of society blighted by excessive wealth and desperate need. Not much change there, brother. He also spoke of the power of love – as perennial as the grass.
Some readers aren’t always interested in the whole bulletin – but please read this appeal for donations.

Stayed on in London for a conference on Tuesday called ‘Strengthening Communities’ – to get a feel for how the community empowerment agenda is evolving south of the border. 350 delegates – invited and hosted by Whitehall – civil servants – senior council officials – third sector intermediaries –  the suit brigade. The bit about Anchor Organisations was a damp squib – badly planned – expected ministerial announcement postponed. From the platform Stephen Thake, one of our best thinkers about the community sector, called for a serious debate about what we mean by community empowerment. It’s my view that all the Government intends is the upskilling of communities to deliver its programmes. But true empowerment is about independence. The next six weeks will determine how serious Scottish Government is about passing power down to local people. See the Local People Leading understanding of community empowerment
At Tuesday’s London conference, I liked the attitude of Phil Hope, the English minister for the Third Sector. In particular, I believe he understands and values the contribution of the wee local groups with no paid staff. He calls them the glue which hold communities together – so he understands the concept of social capital. His latest programme called Grassroots Grants is specifically designed to reach these small street level groups and it is important that Scottish Government emerges with some equivalent programme.

There is something genuine and thoughtful about Ian Duncan Smith’s concerns about poverty in Glasgow. His thinking transcends right wing stereotypes and he has a rare understanding of the impact of locally embedded community action. The latest report from his think tank (CSJ), `Breakthrough Glasgow` merits careful reading. By contrast, the suggestion this week of Labour’s new Housing Minister, Caroline Flint – that the unemployed should lose their council house if they don’t look for work – is less thoughtful. I’m coming to the conclusion that the Labour Party as we once knew it has run its course.

Senscot`s annual appeal for donations is more pressing this year because the bulletin has no funding. Any support you can give would be much appreciated. Link for details

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: 24 vacancies, incl. posts with: Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust, Groundwork UK, Drake Music Scotland, Scottish Government, Huggard, Street Level Photoworks, Rum Community Trust
EVENTS: 16 events, How the Land Reform Act can benefit your community, 14 Feb, Drymen; Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, 21 Feb, Fife; Final Conference, EQUAL Social Economy Scotland Partnership, 21 Feb, Glasgow;  Mental Health Awareness, 15 Mar, Kirkcaldy; More than Recycling 08, 11 Mar, Perth; S2S Third Annual Social Enterprise Trade Fair, 23 Apr, Dundee

The Edinburgh `Community of Business` event took place this week at the Grosvener Hotel. The event was a real success bringing together 25 social enterprises with over 40 of the city’s business community. This was the first of a series of events taking place round the country. Next stop is Aberdeen on the 19th Feb and then in Glasgow on 5th March. The Coalition has brought out a brochure to coincide with the events. LINK
For more on this and from around the Networks, see Colin’s weekly update

Next Tuesday (12th Feb), Senscot is hosting the second of three scheduled events for `Intrapreneurs`, with this one taking place at the Trades Hall in Glasgow. These events are being supported by NESTA and the Scottish Government’s Delivery Dept. The theme of this event will be how to raise the profile of enterprising/innovative behaviour within the public sector. There are still places available. If you’d be interested in coming along, contact Here’s the agenda for the day

Highland and Islands community enterprise company (HICEC) helps community groups to develop their own wind turbines, thereby securing an independent income. Scotland as the world capital of community owned renewable energy generation? See more

Senscot links with 18 Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs). This month, a party of 20 LSEN members, some in a mini-bus from Edinburgh, will be heading down to the Voice 08 conference in Liverpool (25th/26th Feb) to bolster the Scottish contingent. Sadly, we’ve had to disappoint a few people. The group will all be staying at the Travelodge at the docks so if you’re feeling a bit lonesome, that’s where you’ll find Colin and co. The trip itself is being supported by the Third Sector Division

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation in Fife set up to secure the long term future of the land surrounding Kinghorn Loch for the benefit of the local community. Kinghorn Community Land Association (KCLA) was formed in March 2005 following the threatened eviction of local community enterprise, Craigencalt Ecology Centre, from farmland adjoining Kinghorn Loch. Their plans for protecting and developing this asset for the community include incomes-generating ideas such as
pontoons, a café, new club houses and a renewable energy generation initiative. For more, see

It`s sixty years since Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. In the current Resurgence magazine, Satish Kumar has written a short tribute called `The Gandhian Trinity`.
‘The second part of the Gandhian trinity is Swaraj: Self Government. Swaraj works to bring about a social transformation through small-scale, decentralised and participatory structures of government on the one hand, and, on the other, Swaraj implies self-transformation, self-discipline and self-restraint on a personal level. `There is enough in the world for everybody’s need, but not enough for anybody’s greed,` said Gandhi.’

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

Best wishes,

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