Senscot Bulletin: 12.12.14

Dear members and friends,
             In 1969 – when Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong on the moon – my paternal grandmother (nonna) refused to believe it. Her view of the world was organised and practical (if you lose something you pray to St Anthony etc); everything in its place. I recall a sustained interrogation – during which it became clear – that nothing in her mindset allowed for people on the moon. When I had answered all her questions, she simply said ‘non e vero’ – it’s not true.
            I had my own ‘non e vero’ moment last week – when the much loved Stephen Hawking delivered his ‘wind up’ about artificial intelligence. Hawking said that, at a certain point, redesigning themselves at an ever increasing rate – robots would outstrip the glacial pace of evolution – and spell the end of the human race. With respect to this international genius – I think he’s got this one wrong.
            There is part of the human psyche which needs to imagine everything as bad as it can be; dystopias like ‘brave new world’ recur in every generation. My own view is more boring – and was beautifully expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes: I don’t believe that there is anything new under the sun. What is coming down to us from future generations – is pretty much what we have now – unchanged for millenia. It is our ‘consciousness’ rather than intelligence which sets us apart; a moral dimension; so I have no fear of robot supremacy. I am aware, of course, that I am about the same age nonna was when she deemed the moon landing preposterous.     
We still have copies of Laurence’s book ‘Kindness’; a selection of Bulletin intros from 2007 – 2012. See,
Those of us who voted ‘yes’ in the indy ref – from a determination for what Scotland could become – need to remain alert to what can be achieved without further powers. A good example is the new Scottish Community Re:Investment Trust which chose yesterday’s Glasgow SE Trade Fair as the venue for its launch. Our Scottish third sector has substantial liquid reserves – which some reckon to be in the order of £4bn; but no benefit from this wealth accrues to our mission – it is simply dispersed and used among mainstream banks. SCRT, owned by the Scottish third sector, seeks to both harness the sector’s collective assets – and to provide a family of financial services relevant to our needs. If our civil society embraces this opportunity it could be a game changer. As part of the launch, Airdrie Savings Bank, in partnership with SCRT, also launched its New Anchor Savings Account – see, . For more on SCRT,
Because the charity sector provides public benefit, it is subsidised by our taxes – and is therefore state regulated. Many of us can’t agree that fee paying schools – which reinforce privilege and inequality – should be considered to provide public benefit. On Monday, the Scottish charity regulator reported on its review of the charitable status of private schools – this is a quote: “OSCR could not find any evidence of the view that private schools have a divisive influence on society”. And who then will regulate the regulator?
Glasgow, in spite of being a city with an internationally acclaimed artistic community, is not deemed to be worthy of a National Gallery of any kind. Kevin McKenna’s Observer piece this week points the finger at the Edinburgh-fixated arts establishment – and calls on our Government to revive the ‘stalled’ project for a Glasgow based National Gallery of Photography. See,   
There is a gravitas about the life and person of Jimmy Reid which somehow affirms and steadies; the larger than life orator-hero from humble origins – or maybe it’s his essential Scottishness. This is an interview with Ken Roy from 2003 – in which Reid talks about his family and upbringing and the emergence of his political philosophy. See,
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Rocket Science, Edinburgh University Students Association, With Kids, Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, Remade in Edinburgh, Bloombox Salads (3 positions)
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Xmas Market & Bruncheon, 13 Dec; Leading Growth for Aspiring Leaders (Award in Leadership), 4 Dec; Media Training (Public Sector, Charities, NGOs & Social Enterprise), 4 Dec;
TENDERS: Professional Confidential Counselling Service, North Lanarkshire Council; Family Support Services for Children Affected by Disability, Renfrewshire Council; Grounds Maintenance Contract 2015 – 2020, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar;
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland – the Code – has been around since 2012 and shows no sign of disappearing; in fact, its momentum is growing – a slow burner; the number of SEs signed up is moving through the 300s to an anticipated 500 early next year. Much of this has been down to the support of the SENs – both local and thematic – who either use the Code as part of their membership criteria or who alternatively promote it to their members. Whilst offering a useful benchmark against the casual use of the term ‘social enterprise’ – the code is not ‘fixed’ – in the sense that it is under constant revision. For the tiny group of us interested in definitional matters – we share the latest draft of the notorious ‘asset lock footnote’. Your comments, as always, are very welcome. See,
For more SENs News, see
“Nearly three months since the momentous indyref – Scotland is still gripped by a sense of movement, possibilities and new openings.” So begins Gerry Hassan in this thoughtful piece exploring our invigorating climate of political uncertainty. Hassan’s pugnacious style can make him sound like a non-believer – but he shares the general excitement that radical change is within reach. Radical politics, he says, can have no final destination; beware the strident certainties – nurture a set of spaces and resources – get comfortable with pluralism and change – and even doubt. See,
As part of its EU programme around supporting the demand for social investment, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has also commissioned some research to further define SE in Scotland by geography and sector – looking to build on (and update) existing research. The report provides a good overview of our sector. See,
A new group – made up of leaders from Scotland’s churches, trade unions, local authorities and third sector – has been formed to examine and highlight the impact of recent changes to the benefit system. Called the Scottish Leaders Welfare Group – it will focus on the plight of the most vulnerable in society and suggest improvements. See,
I’ve always been aware that healthy democracy is dependent on free uncensored journalism – but the lead up to the referendum brought home what power press barons have to impose their prejudices. I find I am now more generous with subscriptions to independent journals – online or print; they fulfil an essential service. George Orwell once wrote: “Journalism is printing what someone else doesn’t want printed; everything else is public relations”. See,
This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based social enterprise that is providing affordable work space to recent graduates and some of the city’s most talented start up creative practitioners. MANY, set up in 2010 and previously trading as Ironbbratz, has recently gone through a re-branding process that was delivered in collaboration with the Glasgow School of Art. Based in the heart of the Merchant City, MANY hosts 33 unique studio spaces for over 50 members – and is one of few city centre studio providers, offering 24 hour access, catering facilities – as well as a social space, an extensive creative and cultural network coupled with onsite professional expertise. For more, see
The philosopher John Stuart Mill once observed that there are two kinds of wisdom in the world: “In the one, every age in which science flourishes surpasses, or ought to surpass, its predecessors; of the other there is nearly an equal amount in all ages.” The first kind of wisdom is scientific – what we know about the world and how it works. The second, Mill calls ‘the wisdom of ages’, which consists of psychological rather than empirical facts – which, it seems, every generation has to learn anew “in that great business of ours, of learning how to be, to do, to do without, and to depart.”


Epicurus (341-270 BC) said this: “A person is wealthy in proportion to the things he can do without.” “Nothing is sufficient for those to whom the sufficient is too little.” “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” But after twenty three hundred years, each of us has to discover for ourselves the truth of these aphorisms – or not.


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