Senscot Bulletin: 11.12.09

Dear members and friends,

 It’s so outrageous I thought I’d got the numbers wrong – but no mistake – the banks want to give five thousand of their staff £1 million – each.  I hadn’t grasped how far these people have drifted from the rest of us – it beggars belief.  But now I sense that public anger is hardening into determination – and when the voters decide enough is enough, politicians either get the message or get the boot.
 Major shifts in public consciousness don’t happen often – but there have been several in my lifetime.  That amazing social revolution of the 60’s – when our young people broke free from an over-rigid culture.  The Civil Rights movement – when black Americans decided they’d suffered enough abuse – went on the march.  Then the 70’s – when Trade Union barons so skunnered the British public that Thatcher was unleashed.  I also remember the wave of popular dissent which swept the Eastern Bloc at the end of the 80’s –flattening the Berlin Wall.  And then last year – the USA elected a bi-racial president whose relatives speak Cantonese, French, German, Hebrew, Igbo, Indonesian, Luo and Swahili.  Times they are a’changing.
 When I was young, a life of service was more highly regarded than the pursuit of wealth.  The dominance of the ‘greed is good’ culture is the most damaging thing that happened to society in my lifetime.  But across the world there are signs that a counter culture is emerging, attuned to the interdependence of all humankind, and our wee planet.  I sense that public consciousness is moving towards another major shift – that the pendulum is starting to swing back.

I’m not a person who joins things – but I registered this week as a supporter of the Scottish Review (SR) – (it costs £30).  My instinctive reaction to any group or cause is scepticism – my default position is finding fault – not a very mature attitude to life.  The SR is an online journal edited by Kenneth Roy – which comments in a forthright manner about Scottish affairs.  Inevitably some of the stuff irritates – but it is generally of a high quality – and it’s independent!  Enquiring/Investigating journalism is an essential part of democracy – as the print medium continues to recede, Huffington Post-type operations become more important.  If this trend diminishes the power of media moguls – good – democracy gains. Check out SR supporters,

The Measuring Social Value conference in London this week, heard how developments in this field (particularly SROI) are being driven by ethical investment funds across the world. Geoff Pope, from the Third Sector unit, gives Scottish Govt`s position on this issue.

The Govan Law Centre has over 20 staff and is recognised nationwide as a campaigning force for the underdog. Good interview in the Herald with Mike Dailly, its leading light. “It probably comes from my growing up in a difficult working class estate in Fife – people not knowing their rights. It seemed to me you needed to be clever about the Law for people with no money.”  Senscot is still on course to launch a social enterprise legal practice next year.

A small group of Wester Hailes residents is producing a book about the history of the estate. I worked there for 14 years and have contributed a chapter – which is attached below. It’s very much a personal reflection on my time there – some may consider it too subjective.

“The investment banking sector is not directly responsible for the creation of anything that enhances human welfare in any way.” So argues Diarmid Weir in the Guardian. “RBS”, he says “and probably most of the banking sector, should become a social enterprise, run to fund real projects of value to real people.”

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: RECAP, Church of Scotland, Victim Support Scotland, The Three Eyes Project, Health in Mind, The Big Issue, The Scottish Society for Autism, Almond Enterprises Ltd, The Scottish Government
EVENTS:  Xmas Arts Market 13 Dec; Facilitation Training (London), 17 Dec; Introduction to Women’s Studies 18 Dec; Learning from evaluation, 13 Jan; Facilitation Training Day (Edinburgh), 21 Jan;

NETWORKS NEWS:  Colin writes: Perth hasn’t been a hotbed of activity for Senscot up till now so it was great to receive an invite from Susan Scott of PlusPerth. They are actively exploring social enterprise opportunities for the site of the old Royal Murray Hospital. It’s a spectacular site, steeped in history with some amazing buildings. Ideas in the pipeline include a Backpackers Hostel; an Elderly Care Home; an artist works space; a market garden.  The Steering Committee is also exploring establishing a Community Development Trust. For more Networks News, see

Community Enterprise Ltd is researching the feasibility of a new trading subsidiary that will focus on of the marketing, advertising and promotion of social enterprises and their products and services. As part of their research, they are carrying out a survey looking at the successes, challenges and best way forward for social enterprises who engage marketing agencies. They’d welcome your feedback. To share your views go to:

If we lose our indigenous Scottish newspapers we will lose an important part of our national identity. I’ve been sent a recent piece by Harry Reid (former edition of the Herald) called ‘‘The Strange Death of the Scottish Press’’ he says ‘‘There is an arrogant, almost imperial, disdain in London for Scottish Institutions.’’

Our Scottish Coalition was down in London last week for the launch of its manifesto for the Westminster elections next year. Chair Laurie Russell took the opportunity to highlight two key messages – that the UK Govt needs to embed community benefit clauses into its programmes and that it needs to shake up its support for the sector, particularly in banking, employment, procurement and the environment. For more, see

Someone sent me a piece from the New York Times last week, called “Reflections on the First Decade of the 2000s”. It identifies seven emerging ideas and patterns of behaviour – some of which made me ponder. Here’s one of them: “Social enterprise, blending profiteering and do-gooding instincts, became a vocation of choice for educated elites globally.” See more,

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Perth that provides employment activities to local people with mental ill-health, disabilities and other disadvantages in the workplace. Giraffe Trading was also the first CIC in Perth and Kinross and operates a gift shop, café and art gallery in the town. Giraffe also ran another café in MacRosty Park in Crieff which will re-open once regeneration work to the park is complete. For more, see

The writer Margaret Drabble’s hero is Vincent Van Gogh.  ‘‘When I was a child, I knew that Van Gogh was the greatest painter who hand ever lived.  For years he blinded me to other artists.  I have learned to admire Botticelli and Caravaggio and Ivon Hitchens, but in old age I am faithful to my earliest love.  What Van Gogh did is, for me, what painting is.  The eye sees, the hand obeys, the spirit flows into brush strokes, the world is recreated and revealed.  As a child, I knew nothing of his long apprenticeship or his madness or his failures in the market place.  Nobody told me.  I saw nothing mad or tragic in his vision of the natural world.  I saw intensity and a world of glory.  I believe he looked into the heart of creation with the eye of God, and what the Hubble telescope has seen confirms my belief.  The glory exalted and blinded him.  That is enough to make him heroic.  He knew the mysteries of the cosmos.’’

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

Best wishes,

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