Senscot Bulletin 12.06.15

Dear members and friends,


            I learn that this is probably the last year of the BBCs coverage of the Open Golf championship – which makes me sad.  My memories go back over 50 years – before the excellent Peter Allis – when it was Henry Longhurst who dignified these occasions – setting the gold standard in public broadcasting.  Sky’s acquisition of the TV rights – will mean the end of live; ‘free to air’ broadcasting of the Open.
            One by one – our sporting bodies – (the blazer brigade) trade their sovereignty for big bucks – and grand occasions which we shared in common – become exclusive.  Next year – under Sky’s command – the Open will probably generate increased revenues for major world corporations – but will be watched by roughly half the number of people.  This will diminish both the commonweal and the game of golf.  ‘The enclosure of the commons’ – the act of putting fences around public shared assets.
            I remember being stuck in a 20 minute traffic jam – with a New York taxi driver (African American); him telling me about his wee girl’s illness – how it was wiping him out financially – the worry of it all.  When I told him about our NHS he started crying.  Made me realise how lucky we are.  We shouldn’t be in any doubt that the Tory govt. wants to privatise the NHS (and the BBC).  The sale of the Open golf makes me sad – a sense of loss – but the sale of these anchors of social democracy would get me on the streets.  Some say it’s already too late.


It is difficult to gauge what is the SNP’s vision for social democracy in Scotland.  My own model for instance – would position banking, utilities, energy, transport – in a mutualised public sector; I would steer social care to third sector social enterprises; housing also needs an ‘off market’ fix.  But such aspirations are easy when you’re not in power; a govt. needs to assess the appetite of the Scots for such a post neo-liberal economy.  This is an interesting piece about a Spanish nun Teresa Forcades – who has been granted temporary leave of absence from her convent – to become leader of a coalition of leftist group in Catalonia.  Scotland needs just such a political convergence – on the left of the SNP – but that will require a new unifying leader – and there ain’t ‘nun’.


Because I wanted to see the end of the Labour Party’s municipalist grip of Scotland – for many years I’ve made excuses for the SNP – but I’ve stopped pretending now; their instinctive position is a centralising one – which I oppose vehemently. The failure of their community empowerment bill – to even acknowledge that we have a missing tier of local democracy – is insulting.  Another great piece from Lesley Riddoch – setting Scotland’s democratic deficit in the context of mainly the Nordic counties – and referencing the ‘people’s council’ public meeting in Oban last week. 


Strong positive reaction to our referencing last week the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux.  His thesis is that a new wave of organisations is emerging – which reflect our evolving understanding of what it means to be fully human.  He case studies a dozen of these exemplars – which enable us to see emerging patterns: the dynamism of shared purpose – the energy released by worker self-management etc.  One of Senscot’s directors, Rodney Stares, offers his personal reflections on the book.  There is also an interesting short paper by Tom Nixon – looking at where organisations derive their purpose.


I feel fortunate to be living at a time when the people of Scotland have found a new democratic enthusiasm – are determined to be heard.  Not clear if this new energy is the result – or the cause of our online media – but I know that no progress is possible – without such voices – independent of the establishment.  Bella Caledonia – which goes from strength to strength – is currently crowdfunding £50k for its core costs.  Stuart Cosgrove – whose patter I love – speaks in support.




NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Tailor Ed Foundation, The Village Storytelling Centre, The Action Group, Silver Stag Scotland, Wood RecyclAbility Ltd, DSL Business Finance, Fife Employment Access Trust, Church of Scotland
EVENTS: Bill W and Dr Bob, 14 Jun; Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 25 Jun; Nesta Spotlight on Crowdfunding, 20 Oct;
TENDERS: Greenrig Mountain Bike Skills Course – Callendar Estate, Receipt and Processing of Dry Recyclable Materials from Kerbside and Communal Collections – City of Edinburgh Council, Provision of Respite Service to Children with Disabilities – Aberdeen City Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: With the new round of EU Funding due to come on stream later this year, Senscot – in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, DTA Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance – will be running a series of information sessions for social and community enterprises over the coming months. The first ‘EU Funding Masterclass’ is being held at the Teachers Building, St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow on Friday, 26th June (10am -12noon). This session will be hosted by Les Huckfield. Les has a long background in EU funding and has written some initial Notes on a “need to know” basis. If you’d like to come along, book here.


Inverness hosted, this week, the SE Summit 2015 – a two-day event celebrating 50 years of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Over 200 delegates also heard first hand from local SEs – all community-based and community-run – well as about the experiences from rural communities in Canada and Australia. John Swinney and Yvonne Strachan (Head of Third Sector Division) spoke again of the dual contribution that SE has – both in contributing economically but also in ensuring opportunities and services for all our communities – and their intention to work with the sector in developing further theSE Vision 2025 .


The world of social enterprise embraces certain tensions which require discussion. On the one hand there are locally owned and run projects / businesses – highly attuned, valued and driven by the particular needs of the communities that created them. On the other hand we hear talk of replication, going to scale, social investment, impact measurement etc – the alien language of commercialisation. This article discusses these differences as a contest for the very ‘soul’ of social enterprise – suggesting that the social value, that can transform lives, is under threat.


A recent parliamentary inquiry into hunger in the UK – called for an expansion of the food bank system – to be supplied by corporate food waste. A joint statement by Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils – boldly disagrees: “We believe that food waste is not an effective or socially just solution to food poverty.” A paper this week, from Scotland’s excellent Poverty Alliance, assembles research cautioning against the further entrenchment of foodbanks into Scotland’s welfare system.


I enjoyed this article “Is the Pope a communist?” by Ed Stourton for the BBC. There is no doubt that Francis enjoys rattling cages – especially those of USA Republicans. He will soon publish an Ecumenical – expected to deal with climate change; a priest who’s seen it says: “If some people think he’s a Marxist now – wait till they see what he says about the environment.”  I love it.


This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow SEN member – The Spark – which provides counselling services for couples, individuals and families. This also includes increasing their services within primary and secondary schools. First set up in Edinburgh in 1965 as a marriage counselling service, The Spark now has its headquarters in Glasgow and  has evolved over the years – as society as changed – into providing their services across Scotland. They currently have 15 centres across the country. With the development of new innovative relationship support services and the accessibility produced by technology, The Spark is now able to deliver relationship support wherever you are in Scotland.


For many years I read the spiritual insights of that gifted teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti – who described an elusive mental state he called ‘choiceless awareness’. He once explained this as “not minding what happens”.  Eckhart Tolle,a similarly gifted teacher, explains this:

"When I don’t mind what happens, what does that imply? It implies that internally I am in alignment with what happens. "What happens," of course, refers to the suchness of this moment, which always already is as it is. It refers to content, the form that this moment – the only moment there ever is – takes. To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship of inner non-resistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let it be. Does this mean you can no longer take action to bring about change in your life? On the contrary. When the basis for your actions is inner alignment with the present moment, your actions become empowered by the intelligence of life itself."         


I wonder if anyone ever arrives at such equanimity.


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