Senscot Bulletin: 09-09-2006

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Dear members and friends,

One of the pleasures of being in Italy is eating out – almost anywhere – simplest local produce – beautifully prepared – with pride and joy.  It makes me angry that Italian restaurants in Scotland can serve up slop.  When challenged I’ve been told that folk here don’t know the difference. I’m ashamed of this cynicism – and it’s not true.  But Cosmo Tamburro`s restaurant in Edinburgh’s Castle Street was for 30 years the bench mark of all that’s best in Italian cooking.  When Cosmo retired it was like a light going out.  Then I heard that ‘il maestro’ has trained a gifted nephew in the old ways.  Had to sample this!  Giovanni`s place is small – unpretentious  – 2 in the kitchen – 2 out front – – but all the signature dishes – the quality ingredients – the meticulous care – the grace of service.  It’s a joy – when people take pride and pleasure in what they do.  A new light has been lit.
 Herman Hesse’s novella Siddhartha recounts a classic quest for the meaning of life. A well educated young man – a pilgrim soul – seeks after truth – first through spirituality as a wandering holy man – then in the fleshpots of pleasure and wealth.  He eventually finds peace living the simple life of a ferryman.  The ‘thousandfold song of the river’ helps him to accept life – just as it is.  He comes to regard all beings, including himself, with `love, admiration and reverence`.  I am attracted to the idea of providing a humble service with dedication – as a way to enlightenment.  I wonder what the modern equivalent of a ferryman is? 

On the issue of Glasgow Housing Associations ongoing prevarication around the secondary transfer of its houses – a reader has sent a good article by Jimmy Black in the magazine ‘Property People.’  Black traces events and asks: ‘But what sort of stock transfer is Mr Lennon (CEO of GHA) actually committed to? References in various GHA documents to sharing services, consolidation and pooling stock, may give some hints as to what he would like the ‘middle way’ to mean.  My guess is a small number of very big transfers, with GHA continuing as a provider of support services and a major landlord in its own right.’  The more I learn about this affair the more I think it has the potential to escalate into a full blown election scandal.  The problem is that the SNP is just as centralist as Labour. Those of us who value Scotland’s community sector must keep solidarity with the hundreds of voluntary woman and men out there who are trying to hold the Scottish Executive to its promises. Last year Lennon was paid over £200k in recognition that GHA achieved 23 of its 24 targets.

A report has been released by Yorkshire Forward calling for Housing Associations to diversify into wide social enterprise activity. Written by consultant Chris Hall, the report says, ‘There is a strong business case that unless many associations redefine their role, they could well wither away. Housing association assets include their purchasing and borrowing power functions (such as payroll), expertise, networks and back office. Whether they choose to support existing businesses or start ventures themselves, these assets can be used to deliver jobs, training and services in a way which gives local people a stake and keeps money circulating locally, creating lasting change.’ There is an obvious synergy between the Housing Association and Development Trust movements.

As we mentioned last week the ‘Commission for Unclaimed Assets is coming up to Glasgow on 20 October to tell us about their proposal for a new Social Investment Bank.  The new bank would target Third Sector activity which reaches into our poorest communities.  Approx 50 of the 100 places are taken. Register with
Thanks to those of you who emailed to say you would buy a book of my bulletin ‘musings’ for £10.  We have had enough support to proceed and we anticipate delivery in November – in time for Xmas stockings.  We’re selecting the good bits but still haven’t come up with a name for the book – ideas welcome.
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: Scotcash, Community Enterprise in Strathclyde, Edinburgh Development Group, Beluah Scotland, Centre for Social & Entrepreneurial Activities, SCVO, Emmaus

EVENTS: 31 events, incl. Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, 12 Sep; Developing Social Enterprise, ½ day event, Paisley, 25 Sept; Migrants, Enterprise and Regeneration, 22 Sep; Decentralised Energy: What are we waiting for?, 28 Sept; Marketing Workshop, 10 Oct, Castle Douglas; How to Win Contracts, Edinb., 12 Oct
SPECIAL OFFERS: 32000 A4 size Manilla envelopes with windows, Almond Enterprises Ltd.; Skiing, Boarding, Mountain Boarding Block lessons starting 2nd October, Newmilns Snow and Sports Complex. See
Our Exchange has now received over 1500 inquiries for assistance. Last week, Pat was in Skye at the Highland and Western Isles Community Recycling Forum. The event included a visit to Touchwood ( ), the social firm based in Uig. For more info`, contact
Over 45,000 people in Glasgow are currently borrowing from home credit companies at APR rates of 164% and above. A new social business, Scotcash, aims to address this problem by offering small loans at more affordable rates. They are advertising for a manager.
Six Scottish Housing Associations are in talks aimed at delivering more community-owned wind farms in the Highlands and Islands. Alan Hobbit, whom we know from his work on Gigha, said last week, ‘ Housing associations have a clear understanding of the development process. There is very little difference between the process of putting up a wind farm and putting up housing: identify a site, do a feasibility study, get planning consents and build. The main difference is that it takes 12 – 18 months to build a housing development, whereas the windmills in Gigha went up in 6 weeks. My personal view is that in five years` time I would like to see 100 community wind farms through housing associations generating 100 social enterprises. Once the model is proven more people are likely to come on board.’
This week’s bulletin profiles one of Scotland’s best known and well established social enterprises, One Plus. Recently we reported that John Findlay was stepping down as CEO after 17 years to be replaced by David Coyne, once of CEDA. This will continue an impressive history going back 25 years offering new opportunities to Lone Parents in the West of Scotland. One Plus employs over 800 people, has a turnover in excess of £11m, operates over 100 projects, contracts with over 25 corporate customers and has over 10,000 end-users. Central to the way the organisations operates is the level of involvement of the service users who make up a majority on the Board of Directors that oversees the company. For further info, see
A young soldier who was imprisoned for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war, was on TV this week. He appeared unaware that he had done anything wrong. Writer Ian McEwan, at the time of the 9/11 atrocity remarked, ‘ Cruelty is a failure of the imagination which stems from an inability to grasp the fact that other people are as alive as you. If the hijackers had been able to imagine themselves into the thoughts and feelings of the passengers, they would have been unable to proceed. Imaging what it is like to be someone else is at the core of our humanity.’
C.J. Jung taught that if we cannot allow the validity of the other person, we deny the `other` within ourself the right to exist. When we deny our own unconscious `shadow` we become most under its influence. Those who do not understand the mythic basis of their strongly-held beliefs are dangerous, no matter to what culture, class, society or nation they belong.

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

Best wishes,

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