Senscot Bulletin: 11.05.12

Dear members and friends,

My Dad, Tony Demarco, had two younger siblings – Aunt Marietta, who raised me, from age 4, alongside her own boys (my quasi brothers); and Uncle Nods, who went to train for the priesthood, aged 28 – but who sadly died from heart disease when only 37. No-one remembers why he was called Nods. Fr Alberto Demarco SJ (he was ordained early) was not your typical Jesuit – neither intellectual nor remote; his hallmarks were ready humour (a gifted mimic) – an infectious grin and simple goodness of heart (blessed are the peacemakers).
 One of my ‘quasi’ brothers (above) lives mostly in Spain now and recently sent me this email: ‘Uncle Nods sent me a letter for my tenth birthday which I came across sorting through my mother’s stuff. He actually sent it on 5/5/55, to celebrate that unusual date; it was a special birthday letter, full of wee drawings and jokes and ended like this: "I will end now by wishing you all joy and happiness – and the chance to see Hibs win the Cup some year. Your father and uncles have got too old to live till that day – which is, I believe, due to happen in 2012. Love, Uncle Nods’"
 Now, I don’t think for one minute that this strange prediction was a flash of spiritual clarity or mystical insight – he was simply poking fun. But…wow!! What a coincidence. At Hampden on the 19th – Uncle Nods will be there with us; and win or lose, I’ll imagine his big grin.

I got quite animated last week about the local elections – a frisson of excitement as ‘the nation decides’; but the actuality was disappointing – I’m deflated again. The UK has a missing tier of democracy – close enough to communities for people to feel involved; only a third of Scots voted last Thursday. This speaks of civil society in crisis; what a recent report from the Jimmy Reid Foundation calls the ‘Silent Crisis’. The introduction (below) is a compelling re-statement of Scotland’s democratic deficit. I’ve got a practical proposal. Lesley Riddoch has a very rare blend of media, political and showbiz savvy; she is also passionate about local democracy. Scotland should hire Lesley to take a year long roadshow around the country – everywhere that wants a visit – 200 meetings. The findings feeding into a radical blueprint for revitalising our civil society. This needs to start from the bottom. The political class will not move to share power. See,

I’m a member of the Green Party – not because I expect them to form our Govt any time soon – but because it’s the only radical party – the only one which is not part of the global kingdom of neo-liberalism. Our policies are based on some unpalatable facts of life; like our planet having only finite resources – which need to be shared fairly. The philosophical basis of Green politics – its core principles – are set out below – few people would argue with them. Our problem is one of public perception. Kevin McKenna’s Observer column (he’s a pal) recently ridiculed Green politics as ‘more cycling lanes and turning George Square into an allotment’. Very droll. But the truth is that the mainstream parties mostly just say what people want to hear. We need to start with the truth. See,

Another probing piece from Gerry Hassan (a bit long) in which he explores the ‘silences, omissions and collusions’ of Scottish public life; he makes specific reference to Rupert Murdoch, the Referendum and Rangers FC. Hassan’s always good on this theme – Scotland’s privileged elites – beyond democratic reach – maintaining their position – marginalising alternative voices – governing over us. Go on yersel, Gerry! See,

Since June 2010, the Senscot website has carried a ‘hot link’ called ‘Defining Social Enterprise – the Scottish Criteria’. We co-ordinated this drafting with widespread help – including, notably, from the late John Pearce – a pioneer of our SE community. The 5 Scottish Criteria have stood the test of time – and this week, Scottish Govt notified its intention to use them as eligibility for its new International SE Programme. See, . The more recent Voluntary Code of Practice – is a filling out of the values and behaviours by which our SE community defines itself. It neither replaces nor contradicts the 5 criteria. They sit comfortably side by side. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: The Voluntary Action Fund, The Patients’ Advocacy Service, Social Enterprise Academy, Places for People Scotland, The Village Storytelling Centre, Carluke Development Trust, Rowan Alba
EVENTS: Book Sale, 12 May; Renewables for Communities: Virtual Coffee Morning, 15 May; Forage Walk & Medicinal Herb Workshop, 19 May; Prove, Improve, Account, 23 May;
TENDERS: This week’s tenders include Direct Meal Service in Edinburgh, Furniture and Soft Furnishings for Care Home in Aberdeenshire and Scottish Central Government Occupational Health Services Framework. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Places are filling up for the ‘Fit for Purpose: SE and Health’ event in Glasgow on 14th June. The day will include a Panel discussion on Measuring Impact. Our Panel includes Dr Esther Curnock (NHS Ayrshire & Arran); Prof Cam Donaldson (Yunus Centre for Business and Health); and Jonathan Coburn (Social Value Lab). The debate will explore interpretations of asset based approaches and its value in evidencing health outcomes; as well as asking what commissioners / procurers are looking for?  Michael Roy – also from the Yunus Centre – will introduce this session with a short presentation on his work in this area. Places are free. To book, see
For more Networks News, see

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), in partnership with the Lloyds Banking Group, is inviting applications for its new Social Entrepreneurs Programme. The Programme will support 150 social entrepreneurs each year, for five years, including grants of £4,000 and £15,000 and an annual £25,000 award.
The Scottish Programme will run in Edinburgh with 17 places available each year. Starting in October 2012, the Programme will last approximately 12 months and will include 12-14 direct contact days. Closing date for applications is Monday, 28th May. See details,

Scottish Govt this week announced the launch of the People and Communities Fund. The Fund will provide £6m per year for the next three years to support community anchor organisations and registered social landlords deliver local regeneration activity and promote change in our most disadvantaged communities. Whilst the Fund is limited, other Scottish Govt initiatives such as public service reform and the forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill will provide further opportunities for Govt to demonstrate its commitment to community-led regeneration. See,

The West Highland Free Press reported last week that another community in the Western Isles is considering community ownership.  Local residents of South Harris Estate met on Thursday 10th May to consider taking ownership of the place they live. See, . Steve Wyler’s latest Locality blog happens to be on this theme – Steve’s an enthusiast.  See,

A year or so back, Senscot put together a list of social enterprise venues offering meeting/conference facilities etc (See, ). We’re delighted to see Community Enterprise Ltd taking this a step further with their new venture – SE Venues – Scotland’s only website dedicated to listing charitable and social enterprise venues. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a sports social enterprise that over the last two years, through basketball, has engaged with nearly 8,000 young people across South and North Lanarkshire. Reach for the Sky, founded by Graham Hunter, currently runs a number of basketball development academies, school initiatives, Easter & summer camps and outdoor streetball initiatives. In recent months, local leagues have also been established. In providing these opportunities, Reach for the Sky hopes to make its own contribution in tackling some of the social and economic issues experienced by local communities.

I have long thought of ‘creativity’ as seeing unlikely connections between things. The entrepreneur seeing – and making – undiscovered, opportunistic connections; Picasso revisualising a toy car as a sculpture. Came across this quote from the late Steve Jobs: "Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things". Picasso said that all children are artists – the problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.

That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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