Senscot Bulletin 12-03-2004




Dear members and friends,


Garrison Keillor the
American writer was in Glasgow on Wednesday speaking at a dinner.  I’m the same age as Gary – I try to copy his
patter – we even gave up the bevvy together (though he knows none of these
things).  Gary is finishing a book
telling the world why he votes Democrat. 
“The simple idea of a social compact is required for civilised
life.  If you are in serious need – I’ll
rally to your side – and you’ll do the same for me.  This is the assumption that enables us to travel outside our
tribe.  Without it all life is brutal.”  Surely this is basic.  We all have the innate capacity to ‘lose
it’.  Events like bereavement show how
paper thin is our ability to feel that the world is real.  We need each other.

            A former colleague lost his mind for a time last summer –
after his partner moved away.  He’s
getting it back together but phones occasionally (like last Thursday) weepy
drunk – just needs to talk.  I listen
for half an hour while watching Star Trek. 
Dr Spock says, “We’ve sustained damage Captain but we can still
manoeuvre.”  Say this to my pal –
encouragingly, “You’ve sustained damage Alex – but you can still steer the
ship.”  Pause.  “Have you got the telly on?” 
He asks – must have heard it. 
“Yes, Star Trek’s on.”  Not
pleased – soon hangs up.  He may not be
a Trekkie – but Alex is a true Hibbie – I’ll see him at Hampden on Sunday.  Hibs have sold 35,000 tickets for the cup
final against wee Livi.  Awakened dreams
of “Glory, Glory.”



If the
interminable meandering of our wee Social Economy Action Plan is a reflection
of how government operates in Scotland – then it’s clear that our
Administration has not yet grown up.  It
is evident that Ministers and senior civil servants are not working well
together.  Margaret Thatcher (no less)
attested that the TV programme, ‘Yes Minister’ captured the innate tension in
our system between ministerial and civil service power.  We should assume that this same dynamic
plays out at Holyrood -the constant sparring. 
But if two well matched partners know the steps – this dance can work
well.  So what’s wrong – is it the
Ministers’ fault, or Sir Geoffreys?  We
citizens only get to change the politicians – we need to ask them – “What the
hell is going on?”



We hear
that Scottish Enterprise is drafting a paper (for April) which will spell out
clearly which Social Economy organisations they intend to engage with and on
what terms.  Long overdue.  Last year, for the first time the LEC
network had specific targets – to undertake business review plans with 115
Social Economy organisations.  The April
paper will report on achievements and on targets for next year.

            If we expect Scottish Enterprise and
Communities Scotland to make their services to social enterprises clear and
accountable then it is reasonable that the intermediary support organisations
within the sector (including Senscot) should do the same.  We attach comment, from a Senscot member who
recently ‘did the rounds’ trying to get help to set up a social enterprise.  These comments suggest that we all need to
get better co-ordinated so that customers don’t miss out. Senscot will be happy
to publish comments from organisations with next week’s bulletin. (  



From a
book about baby development and teddy bears, “Generally by the time you are
real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get
loose in the joints and very shabby. 
But these things don’t matter at all because once you are real you can’t
be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”  Elvis understood this, “Let me be your teddy bear.”



Still time to enrol for the
CRNS/Senscot/Social Firms Scotland Conference on Wednesday 7th
April.  The event is free (including
lunch) and the venue is The Tolbooth in Stirling.  We’re particularly keen to attract front line project workers – a
chance to exchange experiences.  So
convince a pal and e-mail
For further details:



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


JOBS: 56 vacancies including
Scottish Social Enterprise Academy, WWF, GCVS, The Wise Group, Drumchapel
Opportunities, Shelter Scotland, Julibee Scotland, Keeping Well in Greater


‘Developing New Audiences’, Scottish Adult Learning Partnership Symposium,
Edinburgh, 16 March;  ‘Design For
Deconstruction: Reducing construction and demolition waste’, Glasgow, 16 March;
Voluntary Arts Scotland Mapping The Future Planning Seminar, Bearsden, 20
March;  ‘Next Generation: Better
Services for Young People’, Glasgow, 22 March; Skillshare On Planning &
Environmental Justice, Perth, March 26; 
8th European Business Ethics Network Annual Conference, Edinburgh, 1-2
April; Scottish Global Awareness Conference, Edinburgh, 24-25 April.


New Equal
funding bulletin for March


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



raising of the population threshold from 3,000 to 10,000 means that a further
117 settlements will gain the right to buy their land later this spring (   But these rights still depend on land
coming up for sale – and without any land tax there is no pressure on
landowners to release land.  Andy
Wightman – author of ‘Who Owns Scotland’ – is campaigning for a right for
communities – which can show an urgent need for social housing – to compulsory
purchase a suitable field on the edge of their village.  (



This week’s bulletin
profiles a Development Trust on the Isle of Whithorn – Isle Futures. This is a
project that has been set up with the objective of improving the economic,
social and environmental life of the community. It is already registered as a
company limited by guarantee and, in terms of community participation, has
almost over 250 members – 80% of whom are residents of the village which only
has 300 residents in total. Isle Futures has recently completed building a new
harbour slipway to improve access to the sea for both visitors and local
residents and has a number of other initiatives in the pipeline. In the longer
term, they intend to address four key areas: The Natural Environment, including
the traditional industries of fishing and agriculture; Crafts & Skills,
Tourism and Accommodation.  For further



ask yourself what the world needs – ask yourself what makes you come
alive.  And then go do that.  Because what the world needs are people who
have come alive.” – Harold Whitman



asked for the full text of last week’s end piece – Ivan Illich’s tirade against
foreign aid workers.  It’s on our
website (


Garrison Keillor speaking on
why he (and I) gave up alcohol:

was drinking too much so I thought why don’t I just stop. All these years you
tell yourself you’re doing it because you enjoy it and not because of some dark
compulsion. I realised that if that was not the case I would have to go off on
some programme and sit on folding chairs and drink coffee out of styrofoam cups
and weep with a group of people I really didn’t want to be with. I enjoyed
drinking alcohol a great deal. But you get to a certain age and you have to
weigh the cost of feeling that the next morning. I like to write in the morning
and I didn’t like to wake up feeling foggy. This is more so as you get older –
and I have a lot of work I still want to do.’ (



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

Best wishes,



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