Senscot Bulletin: 11.07.14

Dear members and friends,

Charles Bukowski wrote about low life USA – the men and women on the edge – in bars – cheap digs – bum jobs – on the streets; in the 1970s and ‘80s, he spoke to something in me – which must have been a bit lost. When he titled a poetry collection: ‘You get so alone at times that it just makes sense’ – I remember feeling relief – that someone else enjoys melancholy. It was the same recognition – when I heard the whispered, gravelly voice of Leonard Cohen; a fellow traveller, I thought – who is not afraid to sing of sadness.
‘A Broken Hallelujah’ is a new book about Cohen – which examines some key influences; it confirms his ‘talent for loneliness’ – the chosen solitude of the wandering pilgrim soul. Not surprising that he admires the Spanish writer, Lorca – and his understanding of the concept of ‘duende’. This refers to the deep sadness (emotional darkness) at the heart of things; for Lorca, the inspiration to create memorable art – comes not so much from style and technique – but from the courage to look unflinchingly into the darkness.
Some time ago, we learned that Cohen’s manager and close friend had defrauded all his money (what a piece of work he must be). Although he turns 80 this year – this meant a return to doing live concerts – and a triumphant late life creative resurgence. For old geezers like myself, this shows that it’s possible to keep working. Having something that you really want to do must be half of it – health the other half. See,

Most of the media this morning is pretending to be outraged at yesterday’s co-ordinated strike action by public sector workers; this is because our media is owned by the 1% who own everything – and they hate it when the plebs organise. It was the great US economist, Galbraith who argued…. that a capitalist system, to operate effectively, relies on a ‘countervailing power’: corporates against robust unions. Over the past 30 years, we have lost the countervailing power – and Galbraith was right; the result is dysfunctional levels of inequality and economic crisis. Union membership stands at 6.5 million – nine times the total of all political parties; it is the UK’s largest democratic movement and, at this time, we need it to step up its role in public life – to restore some balance – and economic justice. See,

A journalistic voice I wish we heard more of – is that of Neal Ascherson; we link to the beautiful piece he wrote –  and was read out at the ‘Scotland on the Cusp’ event in Glasgow last Sunday. Ascherson admits that the ‘Yes’  side may not win the vote in September – but says that they have already overwhelmingly won the campaign – that he has never seen Scotland in such a mood as it is now; of creative doubt  – of opening locked minds and changing opinions – of self-questioning – of new faith. “Wake up,” he says “ from today, let’s start to act as if we are citizens of an independent country – and don’t worry, history will catch up with us.” See,

The journalist Hannan Swaffer remarked long ago “freedom of the press – is freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to.” Good piece by George Monbiot – reiterating that the main threat to press freedom sits in their own newsrooms – from the monomania of proprietors and the editors they appoint in their own image. See,
Free, independent journalism is alive and well in Scotland – but mainly due to the internet. I increasingly use a social not-for-profit called Newsnet. See,

There is nothing remarkable in the linked story about neighbourhood action; anyone with direct experience of community work will recognise the vibe – will have such stories of their own. The point is that when local people come together – to respond to their own particular situation – it is infinitely more effective than the efforts of some remote, target-setting agency. There is nothing mysterious about the power of localism; it is simply small and informal enough to enable relationships of trust – (the basis of all successful interventions) – and there is an added multiplier effect – whereby creative connections keep spinning off. The provision of local services should be ‘local by default’. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Living Solutions, Healthy n Happy, EUSA, Remade in Edinburgh, Community Enterprise Ltd
EVENTS: The Bridge Rising, 14 Jul; Dream Time, 17 Jul; Out of the Blue Flea Market, 26 Jul; INSP Conference 14, 12 Aug;
TENDERS: Economic; Social & Environmental Monitoring/Advisory Services Framework – Scottish Canals, Lochboisdale State Aid Brief – 

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Having a common understanding on how to measure social impact has proved elusive both to third sector organisations and to funders. We have gone ‘round the block’ from SROI to social auditing and accounting – without ever reaching a consensus on the most satisfactory way on achieving this. In recognition of this, and in light of SE’s prominence in the EU’s new operational programmes, the EU has now published  a new standard to allow SEs to better measure and demonstrate their social impact and, in turn, help them in their discussions with partners, investors, and public sector funders. The ‘’standard’ proposes a more flexible five stage approach – adaptable to the needs of different social enterprises. We’ll get the reaction of some folk ‘in the know’ and feedback their take on this. See,  For more SENs News, see

Dave Simmers (CFINE) and chair of the North East Scotland Credit Union (NESCU) alerts us to NESCU’s open day and the launch of their new CredEcard next week (18th July) in Aberdeen. After 10 years, NESCU now boasts 1500 adult members as well as 700 young people. With Government legislation bringing about changes in the way many credit unions now operate, NESCU continues to maintain its core values. As Dave says, “Credit unions are needed more than ever. They provide increased financial management and security for lower income families and, for the more affluent, a great way to build savings while contributing to financial and social inclusion.” For more info’, see,

Last week’s joint statement from Senscot Legal and OSCR has triggered quite a bit of interest. The statement seeks to address some of the regulatory challenges faced by SEs becoming charities and vice versa – in an effort to make the process easier and quicker to navigate for all parties. Here it is again,  For more info’, contact

Senscot is part of the new Village SOS Learning, Outreach and Engagement Campaign which will run over the next two years. The campaign will help to provide a support network for rural communities looking to develop their own locally-based community enterprises. Working with Forth Sector and Rocket Science, the focus will be on signposting rurally-based SEs to the wide range of services and support available in Scotland. See more  Before the programme gets underway, a survey is being carried out to get views on what would be the most appropriate support for community enterprises in rural areas. It takes about 10 mins to fill in – see,

Last week we linked to new social investment guide for SEs in Scotland – produced by the BIG Lottery (Scotland) and Firstport. Big Issue Invest Scotland and Local Energy Scotland have been in touch with updated information. See,

This week’s bulletin profiles a well-known Glasgow venue and new member of Glasgow SEN – Pollokshaws Burgh Hall (PBH). The venue hosts a range of different activities, from wedding receptions and family occasions to business meetings and training sessions as well as a variety of leisure activities. In early 2008, the Scottish Cinema Organ Trust began installation of a large Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in the hall that inaugurated regular musical shows – concerts, tea dances, silent movies with organ accompaniment and other similar events. For more on SE venues across the country, see . For more on Pollokshaws Burgh Hall, see

‘This is the True Ride’ by Jennifer Welwood

“My friends, let’s grow up. Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here. Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice. Look: Everything that can be lost, will be lost. It’s simple – how could we have missed it for so long? Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings, But please, let’s not be so shocked by them. Let’s not act so betrayed, As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life’s only promise to us, and she keeps it with ruthless impeccability. To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild, and her compassion exquisitely precise: Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth, she strips away the unreal to show us the real. This is the true ride – let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage: There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high. We are not children anymore. The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost. Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!”

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210