Senscot Bulletin: 13.08.10

Dear members and friends,

‘Worldwide bestsellers’ don’t always do it for me (I thought the Da Vinci Code was mince) – so I opened ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ with low expectations; but I was soon hooked – read the entire trilogy (1868 pages) in great hungry chunks.  On reflection, what lifts the book above normal, is the character of Lisbeth Salander – a truly original creation by author Stieg Larsson.
Lisbeth is 25 but looks 15 – slender build – Goth appearance with body piercings and tattoos.  There are strong indications of Aspergers syndrome – her capacity for intense, narrow focus has made her a world class computer hacker; but she also has the characteristic lack of empathy – the asocial aspect of Aspergers. Resulting from extreme childhood abuse – both parental and institutional – she won’t communicate with anyone in authority; police, officials, social services etc – just blanks them.  She is uncompromising – highly intelligent with a photographic memory – intensely private – fiercely independent.  Her well defined moral code is her own – includes an unrelenting war against ‘men who hate women’.  In spite of her slight physique, she is a ferocious and ruthless warrior.
It’s over a week since I finished reading the book but I still think of Lisbeth every day – wondering how she’s doing out there – among the bad guys – kicking ass.  For millions of readers like me, she is a fresh, modern symbol of an eternal human theme – the exploration of what constitutes heroism.

Since a period of `awakening` with the Pilton Sporting Club in the 1960s – I’ve been a zealot for community empowerment.  The basic rationale is that significant resources of energy and creativity languish unused in many Scottish communities – simply because local councils and public service unions prefer it that way – part of the Labour Party municipalist junta.  It was disappointing that, when they got the chance, the SNP had no appetite to rectify this situation.  From all indications, we are entering a period when the very survival of certain services will depend on doing things differently.  When it decided, Scottish Govt produced an impressive strategy for social enterprise.  Maybe strategists will soon realise that similar investment in community empowerment infrastructure would reap rich dividends.  Here’s an article by Stephen Maxwell called Power to the People from 2005 – since then precious little has happened.

In England, the Office of Civil Society announced this week that it is to reduce the number of its strategic partners from 40 to 15 (see list, ). The present mood in both England and Scotland is that there are too many Third Sector intermediary organisations – that henceforth it will be outcomes not organisations which will be funded from the public purse.  One year from now, the Scottish social enterprise landscape will probably be different; it is well said that the future belongs to those who hear the thunder coming – to those most willing to adapt. 

Again in England, the Cabinet Office has announced details of twelve Pathfinder public sector projects – to be run as mutuals – with public sector staff working alongside voluntary organisations. The projects are being referred to as `public sector spin-offs`. The winds of change are blowing. See

Contact from Thomas Fisher from South Uist who is interested in the potential contribution of Community Land Trusts in rural Scotland – particularly our islands. As well as tenanted properties, CLTs allow home ownership with the price controlled by the Trust – affordable to local people instead of highest bidder holiday homes. The attached correspondence between Thomas and Pat Conaty identifies some ‘challenges’ in the Scottish legal context. Maybe a dedicated e-mail group would be useful for activists interested in CLTs – to explore whether this mechanism is of value in the Scottish legal context.

We mentioned last week that the City of Edinburgh Council intends to spend thousands of pounds in the Court of Session in November to evict a group of Craigmillar charities from a 72 year old community centre from. The story has been picked up by Third Sector magazine – but the Council still declines to comment.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: St Peter’s Edinburgh; Voluntary Arts Scotland; Wester Hailes Health Agency; Mayfield and Easthouses Youth 2000 Project; Gorgie City Farm; Gowrie Care Ltd; Turning Point Scotland
EVENTS: More Than Furniture, 24 Aug; Hatches, Matches and Dispatches, 25 Aug; Next steps for social enterprise in Scotland, 2 Sep; EVOLVE workshops, 23 Sep; Another Lost Generation? 28 Sep;
TENDERS: ITT for an Advertising Campaign – Dundee; Ground Maintenance Contract; Window Cleaning Contract; Collection and Reprocessing of Dry Recyclables and Collection of Food Waste;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: This week, we’ve been liaising with SENs on their progress re Single Interfaces and access to the SVA Learning events. Feedback suggests there are 11 SENs who are looking to participate or have been in discussion and are abreast of what’s going on (see Places are still available for events in the Borders and Aberdeen and SVA say they’ll make every effort to include those SEN members who wish to attend. We’ve also put together comments on some of the issues that, in our view, SENs need consider from last week’s Govt letter (See
The next question to address is what happens in the areas where there is no SEN or identified social enterprise representative? For more Networks 1st News, see

Happy birthday to Social Firms Scotland (SFS) who celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, they are holding an ‘Inspiration and Celebration’ event at Oran Mor in Glasgow on 8th September. The event is free and everyone is welcome. See more

This week’s bulletin profiles a faith-based social enterprise based on the Isle of Lewis. Hebrides Alpha provides therapeutic employment opportunities and supported accommodation for people with addictions. They offer a range of services to the local community that include cleaning services, recycling (including a textile bank) and an inflatable hire service. The income generated contributes to the running of both the employment and accommodation services. See more,

Jimmy Reid died on Tuesday, aged 78 – I’ll never forget the way he rallied the workforce during the UCS work-in (1971/2) – one of the great stand up orators.  He was also one of the figures in my life who embodied the aspect of Scottishness of which I am most proud: anger at social injustice – the worth and dignity of everyone – independence of mind – intelligence – passion.  Harry Reid (onetime Herald editor) says of Jimmy: “He has a Glasgow way with words.  He could make you laugh and cry and think with one sentence.”  Of the many tributes I’ve chosen Tam Dalyell’s in the Independent.

Jimmy Reid achieved cult status and was elected rector of Glasgow University (1971-74). His rectorial address was printed in full on the front page of the New York Times. Here’s a snippet.
"A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice, lest you jeopardise your chances of self-promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts and, before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ puts it, ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’"

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

Best wishes,


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