Senscot Bulletin 08-08-2003



Dear members and friends,


Some guy on Radio 4 last week was saying that it isn’t so
important whether the story about Jesus’ life is historically true – it’s a
story, he argued, which has reached and changed millions of lives and that “we
decide for ourselves the ‘truth’ of any story.”  I think I agree with this and it reminded me of a recent talk I
was giving to about 20 folk at a community businesses seminar.  At the end a woman who looks familiar
introduces herself.  It’s TCP – we
worked together 20 years ago and I greet her warmly.  (Her nickname came from her maxim: ‘TCP in every orifice’)  I recognise the familiar aroma.  She smiles – “I was directly involved in
your story about the community chip shop but you gave it a different
ending.”  “Which ending do you prefer?”
I ask, “Oh the new one – definitely.” 
“I’ve been working on it for years”, I smile, “It’s better isn’t it.”

            This blurring
of fantasy and reality arrives daily on our computers, “You’ve won a free
cruise” click “Guaranteed P**** Extensions” click “Prozac without
prescriptions” click.  What if this
porridge of sad scams – measures in some way what we amount to?  But that’s only the scummy end.

            Outside my
window the sun has come out – two joiners are sitting in the front of their
pick-up having lunch – obviously good mates. 
The younger one – recently married – is getting kidded ‘cos his wife has
put posh stuff in his piece.  In this
moment they seem so happy.  That’s how
happiness comes – unexpectedly.



We missed it – so did most people – but two weeks ago Bob
Millar – Head of Communities Scotland posted on their website that he was
leaving – with immediate effect.  While
this has taken everyone by surprise the ‘talk in the trade’ for many months has
been about the length of time the agency is taking to get staffed up.  Several managers have come and gone –
suggesting that something’s not right. No one will talk openly about problems –
but what is clear is that the process of the agency’s integration into the
Scottish Executive has been a nightmare and a full year has been lost.  Bob Millar was a rare blend of private
sector developer and public sector administrator hard to replace.  Senscot hopes that in due course he can be
persuaded to say why he left because it’s important for us to know what’s
wrong.  If as rumour has it Communities
Scotland is being deliberately undermined – heads should roll.




Last week we advocated the introduction of legislation to force
banks to reinvest in our poorer communities. 
Leslie Forsyth CEO of ‘The Pool Trust’ responded, “You’ll know that the
USA has such a law and banks have to sign up to it if they want to handle
certain kinds of federal funds”.  Leslie
has recently been over looking at how it works and says. “Unquestionably
impressive – however, it was fascinating to observe the lack of
“joinedupness”.  They could see no
inconsistency between their willingness to lend at below base rate to social
entrepreneurs in poor communities and at the same time pursue a policy of
branch closure in the same poor communities. 
I think this shows the limits of legislation and that of itself it is
insufficient to change banking culture at a fundamental level.”



Chris Thompson also writes about fundamentals: “It’s naïve”
he says, “to expect banks to act out of anything but self interest, as long as
the overarching ideology of society is relentless economic growth.”  He sends us a paper by the late Susan George
which argues that using economic growth to solve today’s social and
environmental problems is like using petrol to put out a fire.  (
Chris argues that what we need as a society is a new unifying ‘central purpose’
along the following lines, “to nurture human growth and development, to support
human learning in the broader possible sense, to foster wisdom, creativity and
love, and to create a home for humanity within nature that nourishes all
life.”  This concept of a ‘central
purpose’ is discussed in another American paper, ‘Pathfinding’ by Willis Harman
and Tom Hurley (



YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every
notice you send. But please send in any relevant items and we’ll post it on our
site (Send in your items to
This week:


Jobs: 20 vacancies, including posts at Grangemouth
Enterprises Ltd, Create Ltd, Blake Stevenson, Pilton Partnership, Colinton
Community Compost and C-Beta.


Info Bank:  Scottish
Community Foundation, collection of essays “Innovation in Public services”.


Events: Community Transport Association Advice Networking
Day, Glasgow, Aug 20; 2-day event on Community Furniture projects, Glasgow, Aug
21-22; CEL – Charity Trading seminar, Sept 11; International Rural Community
Development Conference, Edinburgh, Septr 18-20; ‘Walk Your Talk’ Event,
Findhorn Foundation Sept 18-21; Glasgow Homelessness Network Conference Oct 21.


For details on these and more:


Diary Date: For all sorts of administrative reasons we have
decided to switch the date of Senscot’s annual conference this year to
Wednesday 19th November and we have booked The Lighthouse for the


Check out Scotland UnLTD’s new website –



Chancellor Gordon Brown spoke recently about the particular
role he sees for social enterprises in a UK with ‘world class public
services’.  (



This week’s project profile is of a new social enterprise,
located in Port Glasgow but seeking to provide a service throughout Scotland.
Equip Scotland, launched this week, will provide, through its portal, a free
online database that can be used both by companies, organisations and
individuals to donate items that are surplus to their requirements and also by
community organisations to make online requests for donations or support.
Through this matching process, Equip Scotland seeks to facilitate the exchange
of a wide range of resources and services between the corporate and community
sectors. With the support of partner organisations, Equip Scotland aims to
provide a full matchmaking, collection, refurbishment, storage and distribution
service for the benefit of communities across Scotland. Further information:
(‘Project Profiles’)



Antonia Swinson’s latest book which is called, ‘Root of all
Evil’, shows us how we can make our spiritual values count even if we are, as
in the UK, caught between our feudal social order and a rampant US style market
economy.  Antonia will be discussing
this new book at the Edinburgh Book Festival, 19th August 10.30am
(see Events at Yellow Pages



The Welsh assembly has produced a Social Enterprise action
plan (for consultation) which we have posted on the website. It’s worth a
browse by sector professionals.  



‘The Horses’ by Michael Longley

“For all the horses butchered on the battlefield,
shell-shocked, tripping over their own intestines, drowning in the mud – the
best war memorial is in Homer: two horses that refuse to budge despite threats
and sweet-talk and the whistling whip, unmovable as tombstone, their heads
drooping in front of the

streamlined motionless chariot, hot tears spilling from
their eyelids on to the ground because they are still in mourning for Patroclus
their charioteer, their shiny manes bedraggled under the yoke pads on either
side of the yoke.”


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

Best wishes,



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