Senscot Bulletin 11-06-2004



Dear members and friends,


20 months without a drink brings changes.  Former drinking buddies have gone.  ‘You’re not as much fun sober’, they said.  ‘How do you think I feel?’  I replied.  Anyway, my pals didn’t move the goalposts – I did.  And of course I miss them – and the pub – and the Tennents lager roar!  The comradeship – the intimacy – the release of it all.  But I miss the drink most to soften my bad moods.  I now realise how much I used alcohol to calm my demons.  Anger or fear.  Hurt or sadness.  Now when the bad moods come – I’ve nowhere to hide.  The Sufi poet Rumi said to welcome all our moods.  ‘The dark thought – the shame – the malice – meet them all at the door laughing – invite them in.’  (See end piece)

            Friends garden party on Sunday – lovely afternoon.  But as the drink flows I lose the wavelength.  Drift into the house – find some crayons – spend happy hour sketching vase of freesias.  Wee Charlene watches for a while – without warning pours her coke over my masterpiece.  My howl of protest startles her – she knows I’m angry – says in a wee voice, ‘You’re not going to be crabbit are you?’  Yes’, I say, ‘I am.’  She goes away crying – her mother arrives on the warpath.  ‘She’s only five.  You’re meant to be a grown up.  For God’s sake have a brandy.  You used to like children.’  She apologises later for saying this but it stung.  I’m better avoiding drinks parties.



Chatted this week with a group of Social Economy ‘anoraks’ variably ‘in-the-know’.  The ‘trade talk’ is that Jack McConnell’s office has culled the ‘Action Plan’ into a short ten pager based around a Scottish Futurebuilders Fund.  It is hoped that this can still emerge before the summer recess (July 5th).  However, I wouldn’t postpone your holiday.

            Senscot respects – gets on well with – Neville MacKay, head of the Executive’s Voluntary Issues Unit.  We attach e-mail announcing his resignation.  (   The conspiracy theorists (including us) assumed that Neville got disgusted with the ‘INaction Plan’.  We asked him and he told us he has accepted this move for family reasons – to be nearer his home in the Borders.



The Church of Scotland has made a courageous decision to focus its community development resources on the 54 poorest parishes in Scotland.  The Church’s money is to be supplemented by the Executive and each of these priority parishes will be eligible for up to £50K per annum for their community work.  Martin Johnstone, the Church’s priority area support worker said, ‘We have tried to prioritise those parishes where poverty is the overriding issue facing the community.  Senscot members tell that in poorer areas it’s often the faith communities which have the most effective reach to the people.’  This could become a very important initiative.  (  



The Community Recycling Network Scotland (CRNS) launches their new web site today – aimed at people who want to donate or need help acquiring furniture in Scotland.   For the first time, information about 52 furniture projects across Scotland will be available in one place.  For further information contact Linsay Chalmers on 0131 226 7565 –    



I’ve never met Andy Wightman the land reformer but I’m a fan of his ongoing work to map who owns Scotland.  So far he has coverered 6 million of the 16 million acres of private land in Scotland and he calculates that two thirds of it is owned by 0.025% of the population.  But Wightman is not for the Nationalisation of land. He wants private ownership but properly defined – more new forms of collective / co-operative ownership.  (  Good article about him in The Herald, Wednesday 9th June.



Full house for our AGM – but if you e-mail you won’t be turned away.



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


JOBS: 70 vacancies, incl: Impact Arts, CHAI, Home in Scotland, SCVO, RSPB, Engender, Community Links West Dunbartonshire, The Iona Community, Open Door Accommodation Project, SFHA.


EVENTS: EUS IT Summer School, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep; ‘Creative Conviction’ workshop at Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair, 11 June; ‘Hitting the target, missing the point’ – Evaluation Services Workshops, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aviemore 11, 14, 17 June; ‘One World Peace and Justice’ concert, Edinburgh, 12 June; ‘Land, Debt & Social Justice,’ keynote speech by Antonia Swinson at AGM of the Peace & Justice Education Centre, Edinburgh, 16 June. Centre for Human Ecology, Masked Celildh, Edinburgh, 19 June.


CAN YOU HELP: The Community Recycling Network Scotland (CRNS) are looking for some temporary office accommodation.  If you are in a position to offer any space or know of another organization who can help – please contact Linsay Chalmers – 0131 226 7565.


Shakti Women’s Aid has office furniture (desks, tables, filing cabinets, armchairs, phones) available free, must be uplifted by this Monday, 14th June: 0131 475 2399,


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:    



Ever since I’ve been involved in community work (30 years) there have been inspiring examples of how arts based projects have spearheaded community development.  Yet a new research report by the Edinburgh ‘Arts and Social Inclusion Project’ finds that the lessons have still not been learned.  Despite public support from ministers few arts activities have been integrated into the Executive’s Social Inclusion Agenda.  The report says, ‘Why reinvent the wheel – arts projects with proven success should be integral parts of community regeneration strategies.’  (  



This week’s bulletin profiles a social business in Fife that has rapidly been increasing its profile in recent months. Recycle Fife, set up and operated by Frankie Hodge and Jackie Dunsmuir, provides a recycling service to communities in Benarty, Kinglassie, Methil, Buckhaven, Kirkcaldy and Cardenden. Their idea was born through their involvement with the Fife West Action Group that campaigned against the proposed landfill site at Westfield. This led to a successful completion of BRAG’s SSE programme and a level 2 award from Scotland unLtd. Recycle Fife is now in the process of moving into new premises within the Crosshill Business Centre. For further info’, see (project profiles)



Whenever anyone mentions ‘monitoring and evaluation’ I feel myself switching off – someone else can attend to that – I want to get on with things.  Increasingly, however, funders want to know what they’re getting for their money and we’ve had to look more seriously at this issue.  We attach an excellent down to earth article on this subject from Cathy Sharp who runs Research for Real.  (  



The poet Rumi was born in 1207 in Balka, which was part of the Persian Empire.  Now, 800 years later, there are over 100 books of his poetry in print – in English alone.   Last year he outsold any other poet in the USA.  ‘The Guesthouse’ is one of his better known pieces.

‘This being human is a guesthouse. Every morning a new arrival.  A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.  Welcome and entertain them all!  Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, Still, treat each guest honourably.  He may be clearing you out for some new delight.  The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.  Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.’


That’s all for this week.  We all hope to see you at the AGM.

Best wishes,



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