Senscot Bulletin 12-11-2004



Dear members and friends,


When I moved to my rented cottage in July I wasn’t sure how I would handle the solitude – but its been a good move – not even scared at night anymore. And I’m slowly opening to the ‘benign indifference of natural world’ – learning the names of trees and birds. A great Lebanon Cedar stands nearby – a young spotted woodpecker eats my peanuts. It’s a blessed spot. The allotted garden to the side of the cottage is just part of a big field – so I’m building a drystone dyke to mark the boundary. – on walks I forage for discarded rubble or fieldstones – retrieve them proudly. In a copse of trees beside a ploughed field stand 8 great lumps of moss covered sandstone – each about a ton.  The farmer has said I can take them – but how?  

On Monday, I spot a JCB digging a trench – agree a price with the driver – a stone in the front bucket, one in the back – four trips. Now I look out on these 8 beauties which I’m gradually linking with collected rubble. There is something deeply satisfying – elemental – about stone which speaks to us.  Neal Ascherson chose it as the symbol for his book ‘Stone Voices’ – about the ancient and creative culture of Scotland.  He quotes Hugh MacDiarmid:  ‘ The inward gates of a bird are always open.  It does not know how to shut them.  That is the secret of its song, but whether any man’s are ajar is doubtful.  I look at these stones and know little about them, but I know their gates are open too, always open, far longer open, than any bird’s can be….’ more from ‘On a Raised Beach’



Yesterday (Thursday), the refreshed Smart Successful Scotland Strategy was unveiled by Scottish Enterprise.  The big news from our point of view is the overruling of Jack Perry’s determination to ditch the network’s involvement with social exclusion. The Executive’s insistence that Scottish Enterprise must work with everyone else in gov’t ‘to close the opportunity gap’ does credit to our politicians.

Also encouraged by the first meeting on Wednesday of the ‘Reference Group’ advising the new Social Economy Unit on the Futurebuilders programme. Paul Gray, the leading civil servant, showed authority and leadership and is a good listener – boding well for the future. Those of us from the social economy have a better grasp of some issues but there’s a shared commitment to make it work. Probably still a month away from application bumff.



The new minister Malcolm Chisholm has wasted no time in getting the first tranche of Futurebuilders support money out the door – which includes the long anticipated funding for Senscot to operate our Exchange.  Pat Bowie the Exchange Manager is already in post and has created a new Exchange section on our website which includes an explanation of the assistance we offer to emerging social enterprises – check it out here



The bill that creates a new type of company for social enterprises has now received Royal Assent.  From July 2005 organisations and individuals will be able to set up CICs (Community Interest Companies).  The idea is that they will offer the advantages of company form but with a new feature – a legal lock to ensure that assets and profits are used for community rather than private gain.



Andrew Robinson is a banker – but most unusually he is a banker who understands and values Social Enterprise. Also for a banker he has some radical views on the market its limitations, as he makes clear in this recent piece.  Andrew is Canadian and quotes his countryman, Brian Murphy on social change ‘Not truth, but humanity: Not structure but community: Not form but creativity: Not civility, but mutuality.’



Andrew chaired the judges’ panel in this year’s Enterprising Solutions awards.  From the 6 finalists, Senscot has selected three which some of you may wish to read or even copy. A woodland enterprise, a wind farm and a community foster care business – each very special. (



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: 78 vacancies, incl. posts with: Social Enterprise Academy, the Iona Community, Reach Community Health project, NCH Scotland, CVS Fife, Castlemilk Voluntary Project.


EVENTS: EDAS 5th annual conf., Edinburgh, 24 Nov; ‘Appreciative inquiry’, Resolution/Imagine Scotland event, Perth, 25 Nov; Knowledge is Power, Scottish Civic Forum human rights event, Edinburgh, 27 Nov; Triodos Bank, Evening Celebrating Social Enterprise, Glasgow, 9 Dec.


Arts and Communities’ Cultural Planning for Scotland conference at the Lighthouse on 23-24 Nov has a few free places available for artists and unwaged.



EXCHANGE: CAN YOU HELP: Moss Pharmacy are upgrading all tills from Scottish outlets and want them to go to good use in vol. or social enterprise sectors – contact Roger Cotton, including name of org., geographical location and how many tills are required:



The Social Enterprise Academy has been underway since September and is beginning to run its initial programmes. Already, 11 associate tutors are undergoing a 6-month training programme. Tutors have been selected in view of their successful track record as social entrepreneurs and, over the next year will deliver a number of programmes throughout the country for grassroots social enterprises/social entrepreneurs. More immediately, the Academy pilots its first ‘Journey’ in Edinburgh next month. Altho’ the two day programme will cost £495, this includes dinner and overnight accommodation in an Edinburgh hotel. Attendees may be able to access funding through Communities Scotland’s Seeing is Believing Fund. (



This week’s bulletin profiles The Furniture Project (Stranraer) Ltd, on Dumfries & Galloway’s west coast. The project collects furniture and repairs, restores and sells it throughout Wigtownshire at a 40% discount to people on low incomes. Since opening in July 1997 around 9,000 items (around 500 tons of waste) have been diverted from going to landfill. It was short-listed for ‘best social business’ in the Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway Business and Learning Awards 2003, and featured on Borders TV in November 2003 for its Internet Access Project. Trading income rose from 23% in 2nd year of operation to 37% in last financial year. More   



‘By the mid 17th century most English Puritans saw in poverty – not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved but a moral failing to be condemned; and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will’.  George Monbiot argues in Tuesday’s Guardian that this distorted Christianity has resurfaced in America. ‘ Because it has to. The enrichment of the elite and the impoverishment of the lower classes requires a justifying ideology if it is to be sustained.  In the US, this ideology has to be a religious one’.



‘It is the Child that sees the primordial Secret in Nature and it is the child in ourselves that we return to.  The child within us is simple and daring enough to live the Secret’ by Chuang Tzu.


‘If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artifical, the alienation from the sources of our strength.’ Rachel Carson from ‘The Sense of Wonder’.

Got both these quotes from an article in the current edition of Resurgence which extols the joys of ‘Wildwood Adventure’ for children between the ages of 6 and 12: ‘They quickly return to the primordial state of their distant ancestors – the thin veneer of civilisation falls away – They exult in the new sense of freedom and wonder at the natural world.’


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

Best wishes,



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