Senscot Bulletin: 13.04.17

Dear members and friends,

Don’t know why, but a recently watched DVD keeps replaying scenes in my mind – trying to tell me something?   It’s the 2011 Italian film by Michelangelo Frammartino called Le Quattro Volte (the Four Times); it’s slow-moving with absolutely no dialogue – just the kind of art house nonsense I avoid; yet it opened a new perception of the world and my place in it.
            The ‘Quattro’ in the title refers to nature’s four categories – mineral, vegetable, animal and human; each is observed from a dispassionate distance in the lovely Calabrian countryside.  The film’s extraordinary achievement is that it treats all four with equal dignity; human affairs are not the centre of the universe but seem at a distance. The focus becomes a burning charcoal kiln – a sensational pine tree – a new-born goat ….  From this viewpoint – rid of human grandiosity – we can see the seamless interconnectedness of all nature – in harmony with the seasons. It feels ‘religious’ in its true meaning.
            The film reminded me of this poem by Rumi: “We began as a mineral.  We emerged into plant life and into the animal state.  Then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early spring when we almost remember being green again.”  That, I think, is what’s happening with the film – the power of nature – to ‘startle us back to the truth of who we are’. 
            This will be my fourteenth year in this garden – my infinitesimal part of the universe – which contains it all.


With Scottish Council elections looming, it’s time to remember that they represent an average population of circa 170k – against the European average of 14k; for this reason, they are remote and ineffective and turnout is poor.  When you remove the plentiful lies and hypocrisy – the reason Scotland clings to oversize, dysfunctional local democracy is simply because professional politicians prefer it that way – and the public don’t care enough to ‘get them telt’.  In this regard, SNP politicians are particularly to blame – their instinctive centralisation of everything, at complete odds with the inherent ‘subsidiarity’ of independence. Of all the party election manifestos, only the Scottish Greens are consistently on message. Lesley Riddoch keeps plugging away in her Scotsman pieces.


Individuals who can get things done – shift institutional inertia – will inevitably bump into things (including envy); we need to cut them some slack – on balance, I’d prefer to reserve judgement about the high profile Josh Littlejohn and Social Bite; but Mike Small’s article in Bella Caledonia makes some valid criticisms which deserve to be acknowledged.  Like Small, many in our sector object in principle to the idea of crowdfunding to solve homelessness – social housing is too ‘core state function’ for that; and the whole celebrity culture circus feels ‘crashingly inappropriate’. Small asks a question which should give our SE community some pause: “Is this the outcome of years of sloppy social enterprise boosterism”.  Good piece.


The Press Gazette, a trade journal, has launched a campaign to ‘stop Google and Facebook from destroying journalism’.  This article says that by 2020, Google and Facebook are expected to take 71% of all UK digital advertising revenue – mostly at the expense of the news industry, which actually generates journalistic content.  The Gazette campaign want Google and Facebook to reform themselves – return value to journalistic endeavour – before the state is forced to intercede.  “We are entering the era of the two most powerful news publishers in world history”.


Off tomorrow (Friday) morning – 7am, Edinburgh – Malaga; I was already dreading the journey before that poor man got dragged screaming off the United Airlines flight. I’ve been travelling regularly from Scotland to Malaga since 1972 – and, over 45 years, have watched the experience descend, akin to the movement of livestock. In the manner that ruthless commercial practices have replaced human courtesy – air travel, sadly, reflects a wider deterioration. Budget air travel points the way our society is moving: bare knuckle, feral, without compassion.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Dundee SEN, Govan Community Project, Social Enterprise Academy, Age Scotland Enterprises, BOLD, Stramash Social Enterprise, The Caravan Project, Pilton Community Health Project  
EVENTS: Digital Marketing for Small Businesses, 25th Apr; Carluke on the Run 2017, 21st May; Breathing Space Callander 10k – Spring 2017, 5th May; Express Yourself, 10th Jun; Sharing the Knowledge, 5th May
TENDERS: TENDERS: Path Vegetation Control – Scottish Borders Council; Supporting People with Learning Disability – Social Opportunities and Natural Networks – West Lothian Council; Corporate Taxi Service – East Ayrshire Council; Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.


The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes: Recently, we invited Thematic SENs to participate in a Tick List Survey – identifying activities or policy areas that SEN members were keen to address in the year ahead. One of those identified was work SEN members are involved with in seeking to combat loneliness and isolation. A useful resource on this issue is the VHS Loneliness Briefing Paper. Two opportunities are currently available to SEN members to contribute further in this area. Firstly, as part of its commitment to producing a National Isolation Strategy, Scottish Govt hosts a stakeholder event in Edinburgh next Wed, 19th April – that will begin discussion on what a National Strategy should contain. In a similar vein, for SEs in the Highland and Moray areas, Glasgow School of Art is carrying out a research project with the aim of developing a toolkit that would help and support social enterprises to share best practice in this area.


Wednesday saw the launch of the Social Enterprise Action Plan at the Milk Café in Glasgow. The Action Plan itself is a three year programme – listing around 92 specific actions – that will support the SE Strategy that was launched back in December. As the document says: “This sets out a wide-ranging, ambitious and long-term framework to help realise the full potential of the social enterprise sector. These are important first steps, working across government and with partners, to deliver on our vision for social enterprise over the next three years. Subsequent action plans will follow in 2020 and 2023”.


For many social enterprises, increasing their capacity and impact through partnership is far more preferable and realistic as opposed to pursuing an organisational growth strategy. This approach – ‘Scale through Collaboration’ – was recognised in the recent 10 year SE Strategy document and will be supported via the new three year SE Action Plan. An excellent, existing example of this approach in action is the Glasgow Wood Co-operative (GWC). Set up in 2014, the GWC’s membership includes the likes of Glasgow Wood Recycling; Galgael; MAKLAB; and the Coach House Trust amongst others. As GWC’s Alan Rochead says: “Our combined ability to work on everything from boats to buildings and tables to raised planters gives us a real edge, combining technical skill with traditional craft”. See Alan’s recent Blog on the work of GWC.


Congratulations to The Melting Pot, on reaching its 10th anniversary. Since opening its doors in October 2007, The Melting Pot has emerged at one of Scotland’s leading centres for ‘co-working’ – specialising in supporting entrepreneurs interested in social change and innovation. Over the years, it’s membership has grown to over 180 individuals and now – with support from Scottish Govt – it is looking to build connections across Europe through its Co-working Accelerator Network. Thumbs up to Clare and her team. See piece from The National.


This week’s bulletin profiles an East Lothian SEN member that offers high quality, affordable activity experiences to all ages and abilities – with a particular focus on delivering Educational Adventurous Activities to members of the community who may not normally partake in such activity. Venturing Out CIC is also an Approved Activities Provider for Edinburgh City Council and Scottish Borders Council – offering walking, canoeing, cycling and sea kayaking expeditions at all levels – and, in partnership with the Councils, delivers three core community programme: Personal and Social Development Programme; Inclusive Activity Provision; and Raising Attainment Outdoors.


Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) was the greatest Sufi mystic and poet of the Persian language. In recent years, people across the world are turning to his work as transcending religious, national and ethnic borders. This poem is called Evolutionary Intelligence.


“This groggy time we live, this is what it is like: A man goes to sleep in the town where he has always lived, and he dreams he is living in another town.  He believes the reality of the dream town.  The world is that kind of sleep.  The dust of many crumbled cities settles over us like a forgetful doze, but we are older than those cities.  We began as a mineral. We emerged into plant life and into the animal state. Then into being human, and always we have forgotten our former states, except in early spring when we almost remember being green again.  Humankind is being led along an evolving course, through this migration of intelligences, and though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream.  It will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are.”


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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