Senscot Bulletin: 13-04-2006

Dear members and friends,

Bulletin early for tomorrow’s Good Friday holiday.  Holy Week – Semana Santa – thoughts of Seville.  The thunder of drums – the pagan splendour of the processions – a medieval mixture of solemnity and revelry.  I was first smitten by Seville in 1982 – Scotland were playing Brazil in the World Cup.  A wee Glaswegian called Benny organised our trip from the Costa.  20 golfers – travel; 2 nights in posh hotel; match tickets – good price.  The coach trip took 5 hours. My seat was in the back row of Seville stadium – like watching a match in Princes St. from the castle.  David Narey scored after 18 minutes, and the Tartan Army roared but we lost 4 – 1.  A glorious defeat.  The Sevillianos love tragedy – losers who sing in defiance.  It was a night to remember.
 Me and my pals found a remote bodega in the Barrio Santa Cruz. We had fish baked in salt and lots of good Rioja wine.  Sometime after midnight a man with a Tio Pepe hat started strumming a guitar – the melancholy wail of a flamenco song – more musicians – the rattle of castanets – all of us clapping. A woman stood, hiked her skirt, and started the sexy passionate steps – soon we were all dancing.  Then wandering home at 4am – silent whitewashed alleyways – citrus-perfumed squares with ancient fountains – the waft of jasmine on the hot still air – bats swooping overhead. 18 June 1982. The night I lost my heart to Seville.

Tom McCabe the finance minister told last year’s COSLA conference that Scotland didn’t need 32 councils, 32 CEOs and 32 finance directors to spend £15bn a year.  He seemed gung ho for change.  But at this years conference (last week) he appeared to retreat from publishing his long awaited reform proposals.  He mentioned people who “protect their space” and the word is that he can’t get his paper through the municipalist dominated cabinet. McCabe rightly says that this is about much more than councils themselves – it’s about how we organise across a wide range of services in Scotland.  But if the Labour Party, which rules Scotland, is itself ruled by the powerful vested interests of municipal fiefdoms, how can our parliament govern?

The Conservative Party’s head of policy, Oliver Letwin, wrote an article in the Guardian on Tuesday signing up to Labour’s target of abolishing child poverty by 2020. More than anything this is an indication of how far Labour has shifted the political climate leftwards. The Tories now want deprivation at the heart of political debate and their lead policy is all about social entrepreneurs and social enterprises leading regeneration from the bottom up. Whilst this is also Senscot’s agenda, the state is a vital part of the equation.

Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) is holding its 3rd Annual Conference this year at the Westpark Centre in Dundee on 4th/5th  June. DTAS has now attracted over 100 members since it started in 2003. With more and more communities being able to acquire assets through the Land Fund and the forthcoming Community Assets Fund, the Development Trust movement will become an increasingly important voice for communities in Scotland. For details and booking form, see

A month or so ago, we were apologising for circulating survey stuff so much, but that period is over and the reports are now coming in. The latest is the evaluation of our Exchange service (16 pages – only for anoraks). So far, it has handled over 1,000 personal responses since Autumn 2004. One recipient of the Exchange service has been Allan Munro whose project The Strip is highlighted as a case study in the evaluation:

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs ( or events ( and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 39 vacancies, incl. posts with: Worktrack Ltd, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Snowsport Scotland, People First (Scotland), Intowork, Glasgow CVS, Amnesty International UK, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Craigmillar Community Arts is inviting tenders for a feasibility study for a new art project:

EVENTS: Scottish Community Composting conference, Perth, 2 May; ‘Skills+’ practical learning event, Stirling, 4 May; Assist Social Capital conference, Glasgow, 9 June; Money For Change 06, Community Development Finance conference, Bristol, June 22.

Recent update on work of the Social Economy Unit includes timescales on publication of Social Enterprise Strategy and news on the evaluation of the Futurebuilders Scotland funding programme. EKOS Consulting will conduct the evaluation over the next 18 months. It also includes a reminder of awards made to date

The ‘Awards for All Scotland’ Fund has £24m (£30m if you include 05/06) to distribute over the next 3 years – and the ceiling will double next month from £5k-£10k. This fund is tailored for small community groups – with a simple application form and 8 week turnaround. Check out who can apply and what they can fund: 8 week turnaround for £10k is very fast. If you want to ask any questions, phone Daniel on 0870-240-2391.  Also, we’ve received a breakdown on Big Lottery funding over the next 3 years. For details, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a community organisation in Fintry, Stirlingshire that is promoting the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency within its community. Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise (FREE), set up in 2003 as a company limited by guarantee, has agreed with developers of a local windfarm that the community will own and operate an additional wind turbine on the site. The profits from this operation will be used to fund domestic energy saving measures for the community of Fintry. In addition to this activity, the community has also set up another company, Fintry Renewables Outreach Support Team (FROST-FREE) that will help communities develop and benefit from commercial renewable projects proposed for their own local environment. For further info’, see          
Looking at my life I sometimes wonder what, if anything, is durable and true about my loyalties. Is there a pattern which stands for something – or is it all convenience? This passage is from ‘The Old Zen Master’ by Trevor Leggett:
“Some of us get good at seeing behind the masks of the world, but that is not the real problem. The real problem is that I myself am wearing a mask which is hiding what I really am. Buddhist teaching says, ‘Turn within, turn within.’ I must find what is behind my own mask of thoughts, memories, feelings, habits, intentions and ambitions. All these form a mask which is constantly changing; all the time it is changing. If the needle-point of meditation can penetrate the mask, I can find something that doesn’t change with the changing of the mask.”

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

Best wishes,

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