Senscot Bulletin: 08.07.16

Dear members and friends,

Iceland first came to my attention about 10 years ago – a ‘Nordic noir buddy’ gave me Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason, and I was hooked; nine of his series about Inspector Erlandur have been translated into English – all are in my bookcase. It’s the character of Erlandur that captivates: gloomy, private, anti-social – struggling to come to terms with a failed marriage – estranged children; I find his brave bleakness irresistible. But the books have also given me an appreciation of the grandeur of Icelandic landscape – the drama of extreme weather.
            The second time I noticed Iceland was around five years ago – a unique experiment in direct democracy – ordinary citizens drafting a new constitution. The 2008 financial crash had brought Icelanders onto the streets banging pots and pans – senior bankers were jailed. Then the recent Panama Papers implicated Icelandic politicians with offshore funds – anger flared again. A quiet-spoken academic – a TV pundit – captured the public mood; suddenly there was a clamour for Prof. Gudni Johannesson to run for president; he did and was elected on June 25; Icelanders don’t mess about.
            The third time I noticed Iceland was last week – when they knocked England out of Europe. This is a nation of only 330 thousand people – with no professional football clubs but where every town and village wants a good football team for the parents and for the kids; major investment, over 15 years, has made all weather facilities and qualified coaches available to the remotest areas. In the advancement of both democracy and football – Scotland can learn from Iceland; in gloominess though, we need no lessons.


Excellent piece in the New Zealand Listener by Liam McIlvanney on Scotland’s calmer Brexit mood (he’s a writer and son of a great one). Liam says that the revolt of Scotland’s post-industrial wastelands, against the distant, uncaring elite, was already underway – only aimed at Westminster – not Brussels; our independence movement blames neither the EU nor immigration for the country’s woes. Scotland ‘gets’ the concept of pooled sovereignty – been doing it for 300 years in the UK; we’ve also been doing migration for centuries – it’s not a dirty word; historically our problem is too many people leaving not arriving – try to convince a highlander that the country’s full. Finally, he says don’t underestimate political leadership; Nicola Sturgeon spoke to “those who have done us the honour of choosing to make Scotland their home”. It’s a different tone, isn’t it. Good piece.


The Observer magazine on Sunday carried a profile of La Fageda – a social enterprise dairy farm in Spain with 256 employees – which exists to support the mentally ill in the Catalan region of Garrotxa; a great story about the disillusioned psychologist Cristobal Colón – who became a social entrepreneur. Colón resists pressure to expand beyond his local community/region: “we’re a local brand – we don’t need to accumulate wealth”, he says “but the world of business is a marvellous place to inhabit and to develop your dignity.”


It’s two and a half years since that terrible helicopter crash at the Clutha bar in Glasgow; out of respect for the victims, the owner Alan Crossan left the building undisturbed – and it’s only about a year since it reopened. He’s been talking this week about how Glasgow seems to have adopted the Clutha as its own – that, as well as music, it has become a venue for charity nights and fundraisers. He says he’s inclined to take the pub in that direction – as a community hub which helps young musicians; make it a social enterprise – with any profit reinvested in good causes.


It takes a lot to get me on a march, but I was part of the crowd that stretched from Glasgow Green to the SECC on Feb.15 2003 telling Blair he had no mandate for war on Iraq. I can’t say I have much enthusiasm for a 12 volume report, 13 years later, sifting through the deceptions; but when an irresponsible declaration of war has cost unknown thousands of innocent lives – a democracy must hold its political leaders to account. The Chilcot report is no whitewash and it will be interesting to see what results from it. This is Robin Cook’s resignation speech.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Douglas St Bride’s Community Group, Fauldhouse Community Development Trust, New Caledonian Woodlands, Transition Extreme Sports Ltd, CEIS, Hwupenyu Health & Wellbeing Project SCIO, Fife Forum
EVENTS: Greenwood celebration, 9 Jul; In Focus: Membership & Friends, 28 Jul; The Glasgow Girls of Garnethill Women’s Heritage Walk, 31 Jul; Women’s Heritage Bike Ride, 13 Aug;
TENDERS: Auchenback Active Limited / Barrhead HA Consultancy Tender, ERDF Workshops Framework & Specialist Support – Dumfries and Galloway Council, Portable Appliance Testing Service – NHS Highland, Ayrshire Youth Employment Initiative – East Ayrshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.

The SENs Weekly Update
: Kim writes: The latest stage of consultation – via a series of Roundtable events – to inform the development of a Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland is just about complete and feedback from those sessions is currently being collated. There is still plenty of time to contribute your views directly into the strategy process here – we would strongly encourage SEN members to take just 5 mins to ensure that local voices are heard in the consultation. There is also the opportunity to rank and prioritise ideas for the strategy and join in the conversation via social media and online forums at the website. The final strategy document – co-produced with Scottish Govt – is expected to be published in the autumn.


Senscot’s series of workshops at next week’s Homeless World Cup – are now sold out. Around 180 people have signed up to hear sport SEs and other community-based sports organisations showcasing their work and the contribution they make to local communities. Thanks to all who have signed up.


In the USA, the term ‘social entrepreneur’ refers to individuals, who having achieved substantial wealth, diversify into social projects – ‘putting something back’; in the UK they are more typically ordinary citizens – driven to invent new social solutions – often from a personal life event. Such was David Drysdale – The much loved founder of Father’s Network Scotland – who has died of cancer aged 50. Following the apparent suicide of two friends, David changed his life entirely; became a passionate promoter of men’s personal development – particularly dads as nurturing parents. This TFN tribute outlines his considerable legacy.


One of the real success stories in our sector over the last couple of years has been the growth of the Community Share model  – supported and guided by Community Shares Scotland (CSS). CSS was set up in 2014 to support a growing band of community groups seeking to raise funds through Community Share Offers. During this time, over 76 communities have registered an interest – with 10 having completed their ‘offers’ – raising over £8m between them. This includes the hugely successful Glenwyvis share offer. Two community share offers are still open – BroomPower and Scotland the Bread. For more info on the work of CSS, here’s a helpful infographas of May 2016. 


This year’s DTA Scotland Conference is being held on 4th/5th September at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld. Now in its 13th year, the DTAS Conference is Scotland’s biggest community sector event – with this year’s theme being, ‘Climate Change, Localism and Social Justice’. To attend, see booking form. The positive impact that Development Trusts are making both socially and economically on local communities has recently been highlighted in a report released by Education Scotland. Seemore


This week’s bulletin profiles a ‘hub’ in the east end of Glasgow that is the setting for a thriving new network of social enterprises, community projects and creative individuals and/or organisations. On the Corner (OTC) is based ‘on the corner’ of London Road and Bain Street and, as well as being the home for emerging social enterprises such as the Dream Machine and the Nae Such Thing Cafe, is looking to expand their ‘family’ by renting out newly available spaces for fellow travelers in the creative industry – such as the visual arts; music; theatre and dance; and even options for a 60 seater cinema.


Margaret Wheatley’s essay ‘The Place Beyond Hope and Fear‘ made a big impression on me – still does; she writes of a ‘place’ familiar in Buddhist thought but not to our outcome-driven world.

"When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.  Life now insists that we encounter groundlessness.  Systems and ideas that seemed reliable and solid dissolve at an increasing rate.  People who asked for our trust betray or abandon us.  Strategies that worked suddenly don’t.  Groundlessness is a frightening place, at least at first, but as the old culture turns to mush, we would feel stronger if we stopped searching for ground, if we sought only to locate ourselves in the present and do work from here".


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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