Senscot Bulletin: 09-11-07

Dear members and friends,

I was lucky enough to be a small part of the 1960s revival of folk music in Scotland.  Through a venue I opened called The Bothy, I became friendly with some of the musicians- particularly the Corries, before they were famous.  In the beginning, Ronnie Brown and Roy Williamson just copied Clancy Brother’s stuff and ‘made the rafters roar’ but when they got serious they developed their own Scottish material and wrote some fine songs including Flower of Scotland.  Exposure to Scotland’s traditional music convinced me of the absolute right of the Scots to independence if we so choose.  This conviction has never wavered.
For long enough my nationalism was expressed in sporting rivalry – at Hampden or Murrayfield –  singing, half fu’,  about ‘your wee bit hill and glen’; but with time it has hardened – become more purposeful.  For 30 years, as a front line community worker, I’ve seen the change in people and communities when they take power to themselves.  I’ve also now experienced for myself the smug arrogance of London and this has brought anger – ‘ not the conviction of a revolutionary but the smouldering rage of a peasant.’ It’s time for us to rise and be a nation again.
Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun said that it is the balladeer, not the lawmaker, who shapes a nation.  It’s true – Robert Burn’s vision of an independent and egalitarian Scotland is embedded in our national identity.  But why can’t we make our own laws as well?

Until the end of December, government in Scotland is conducting a consultation into community empowerment – how it can best be effected. The problem I have with the discussion paper doing the rounds (attached) is that it offers no reasons – no `why` for community empowerment. It’s not a civil servant’s job to offer the philosophical basis for a policy – but if politicians don’t say why they believe in something – we have to ask if they really mean it. In England the community empowerment agenda is framed principally around democratic renewal – headlined in many speeches from all parties for 2 years. It shouldn’t be difficult for an SNP minister to make a case for the benefits of self determination at community level. That’s what independence is about.

It seems to me that the `how` of community empowerment is much more difficult than the `why`. If you put the word community in front of each of the following words it becomes a function of Scottish Government:- Councils; Planning Partnerships; regeneration; engagement; capacity building; learning and development; enterprise; These functions all directly relate to the empowerment process – yet they are scattered across all the directorate of Scotland’s new government. How is all that to get joined up?

Four decades ago, US politician Robert Kennedy dismissed the use of GNP to set our priorities because, he said, it ‘does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning… it measures everything, in short, except that which makes our life worthwhile.’ The speech referred to above was almost certainly written by the economist Edgar Cahn who is speaking in Edinburgh this morning (Friday) at the Assist Social Capital Conference. The attached article asks how we can measure what matters. It’s by Andrew Simms – author of Tescopoly.

The Queen’s Speech included the expected bill to recycle unclaimed bank accounts for community benefit. The main spend of England’s share will be on youth facilities – the Social Investment Bank option which Senscot has been supporting is still there – but only ‘if there’s enough money’. They’ve decided to make the scheme voluntary which is a big mistake. Brown, once again, in the thrall of Banks. Although a devolved matter, our government has consented that the bill should apply to Scotland. But the decision on our spending priorities will be taken up here. That’ll be fun.
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: 31 vacancies, incl. posts with: Show Racism the Red Card, Forth Sector, Impact Arts (Glasgow) Ltd
EVENTS: 19 events, incl Meet the Buyer, 6 Nov, Angus; Reclaiming the Woods: Assets for Developing Communities, Dundee, 11 Nov; Fife Employment Access Trust, AGM & Launch of ‘Journey to Work’, 14 Nov, Glenrothes; Developing Community Assets, 20 Nov, Glasgow; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26 Nov, Edinburgh;

This year’s Social Enterprise Ceilidh is more or less full up – some spaces left for day delegates but all rooms are taken for `overnighters` – barring cancellations. If you’d still like to squeeze in, contact  Attached is the day`s programme.

We hear that the Social Enterprise Academy has appointed Neil McLean as its successor to Jackie Scutt who is taking a step back but continuing to be involved as an associate tutor. Neil, who will be taking up post in January, is known to many in the sector as the man behind Quit and Save – a social enterprise helping people stop smoking. . We send Neil our best wishes.

Last week, the bulletin commented on an increasingly expressed view that Social Enterprise is not in fact a `sector` but  a `business model`. Our friend Alistair Thornley offers some definitions adopted by Scottish Enterprise.

There`s a great line in Citizen Kane which goes ‘it’s no trick to make a lot of money if all you want is to make a lot of money.’ There is increasing evidence that commercial entrepreneurs, who have made their pile, want to do more. Some would look at social enterprises but we`ve not yet created a credible vehicle for engagement. When is the review of Social Investment Scotland due out? It`s time to start work on SIS 2.

The Senscot Exchange had many fans – much to the credit of Pat Bowie whose enthusiasm and generosity established the culture of the service. Pat wants to move on – and the Exchange is now with First Port who are looking to recruit a new Exchange Manager. You’ll need to be passionate about start-up social enterprises – a great networker/communicator. Your challenge is to unleash the next generation of social entrepreneurs

This week’s bulletin profiles Groundwork Gardening, a project managed by Your Choice Ltd and based in Bearsden in Glasgow. It was established in 2002 to help individuals with learning disabilities or mental health problems gain self-respect and confidence through employment. Individuals undertake a range of gardening activities and receive training to develop new skills. They are currently developing a new sensory garden at their base in Kirkintilloch. For further info`, see

 ‘A nation armed and prepared for war can no more help going to war than a chicken can help laying an egg.’  George Bernard Shaw
‘Can we rely on it that a ‘turning around’ will be accomplished by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This question is often asked, but whatever the answer is given to it will mislead.  The answer ‘yes’ would lead to complacency- the answer ‘no’ to despair.  It is desirable to leave these perplexities behind us and get down to work.’  E F Schumacher

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

Best wishes,

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