Senscot Bulletin: 10-03-2006

Dear members and friends,

My car has packed in – an M reg Saab which I was fond of.  Reverse gear which had been jumping out finally gave up in the supermarket car park – terrible grating noises – everyone looking at me accusingly.  You could slap a child about in public in Scotland and it wouldn’t attract as much hostility as abusing your gearbox.  Eventually a saintly passing stranger – who knows about cars tries various things – then with real sensitivity says ‘sorry – it’s gone.’  I thank him, and we shake hands like at a funeral.  Then I walk to a nearby café – sit with an espresso and a carrot cake, feeling inexplicably serene.
 I’ve phoned around garages and to fit new gearbox would cost hundreds – too much so I’m considering living without wheels.  Public transport puts us at the mercy of weather – delays –sitting next to mad people etc. But slowing down could be pleasant. Shopping can now be done online; always fancied making my own bread; don’t need daily newspapers.  I’m attracted to the idea of having less and enjoying more. But there’s another kind of disengagement which is not healthy.  Need to think about this.  Some optimistic words by John Masefield ‘I have seen flowers come in stony places/ and kind things done by men with ugly faces/ and the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races/ so I trust too.’

Brochure arrived for the ‘Regeneration and Renewal’ national conference on 15th/16th May.  Good balanced programme covering all aspects of regeneration:  Physical development – Business growth – Attracting investment etc.  About 25% of the programme is about engaging and empowering local communities to play their part. See .  Can’t help comparing this holistic perspective of Regeneration with the Regeneration Strategy published last week by the Scottish Executive.  In fairness their new strategy takes a vigorous approach to attracting private investment into the most economically deprived parts of Scotland and this is welcome – but the document is without even a passing reference to the importance of local people themselves in turning around disadvantaged communities.  The tone suggests that Regeneration Policy in the Executive is unconnected to the work of their colleagues at Communities Scotland. Summary:

The English Development Trust Association has published a manifesto calling for the creation of 500 high-quality and sustainable development trusts each with assets of at least £1million.  Scotland needs around 200 such anchor organisations – whether Development Trusts or local Housing Associations or other models.  That’s what I would call a Regeneration Strategy.

The new Social Economy Advisory Group may wish to revisit the way in which the Social Economy is defined in Scotland – which is narrower than the European Union Definition here:  A significant difference is the exclusion in Scotland of employee-owned and mutual businesses some of which are very large.  Graham Boyd of the Caledonia Centre for Social Development argues that the culture of Scottish Enterprise and HIE is elitist and has for many years promoted investor controlled businesses at the expense of cooperatives – which they don’t understand.  The inclusion of John Lewis, Scotmid etc like in the rest of the European Union would certainly add gravitas to our sector.  Worth considering?

I have general reservations about the Community Voices Network – a bit too close to Government. I believe that the Community Sector in Scotland should have a more independent voice. Having said that, good reports filtering through from the Comm. Voices Conference last weekend. Professor Michael Carley didn’t mince his words in his presentation about Community Planning Partnerships.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 42 vacancies, incl. posts with: North Lanarkshire Federation of Food Co-operatives, Tenants Information Service, Create, Right Track Scotland, PBC Foundation, Barmulloch Community Development Company.

EVENTS: Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone (HISEZ) Annual Conference,  April 20, Strathpeffer; Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability conference, May 16, Birmingham.

For the life of me, I can’t grasp why anyone would want to set up a CIC. What are the advantages? What did the government have in mind? Will this specifically created model just fade away? Comment to Feedback File:

Senscot are fans of ‘open source’ – the collaborative sharing of information, software etc, to be modified, improved and redistributed free. Heriot Watt student Karl Monson is researching awareness and use of it in the social economy. Short survey and background here:  

Recently a couple of national journals raised the issue of whether or not social enterprise needs a brand.  At the moment, there seems to be two schools of thought – one that the sector is too diverse and not about a single issue and the other that the sector could benefit from increased public familiarity along the lines of Fairtrade. The Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition (SSEC) will lead a debate on the issue at the S2S event in Perth next month.

The Social Enterprise Academy continues to establish a niche for itself in Scotland’s burgeoning social economy. This week, the Academy was awarded the contract, commissioned by the Scottish Centre for Regeneration, to deliver a Leadership Development Programme for community regeneration. ( The programme will run over 2 years and involve 30 participants. The Academy has also secured funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to set up a small bursary scheme to fund learning for community organisations developing their enterprise leadership capacity. For more info’, see

This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise located in the west of Scotland. Discoverbest aims to provide training and development opportunities for individuals and organisations in community work, youth work, street work, social enterprise, positive child nutrition and personal development. The aim is to create a social enterprise model that can sustain itself and generate income for voluntary organisations and social enterprise business start-ups through franchise opportunities. With the support of Scotland unLtd, Discoverbest has developed a website that will provide a platform for the promotion of good practice and innovation in social enterprise. For further info’, see        

Last November a dozen leading world thinkers met for ‘conversations about the future’ at the Benedictine Abbey of Melk in Austria.  We attach an extract of the talk by Peter Senge one of the world’s leading business guru’s.  ‘It is one of the core assumptions of the industrial age is that materialism defines progress.  On a personal level, it tells us how well off we are.  When we look at our lives, we always define our lives by our relationships.  Is it not ironic? A good life is defined by how much I have got.  Yet none of us actually thinks that.  We are caught in this huge inner conflict continually. My accomplishments, my achievements, how well we did at school, what degrees I have got, what job I have got, what position I have.  It is something that does not mean terribly much compared to who I know, who knows me, who cares about me, who I care about.  Those are the things that define our life.’

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

Best wishes,

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