Senscot Bulletin: 13-10-2006

Dear members and friends,

My mountain retreat was beautiful, austere, remote – at 3,000 feet the air was pine forest pure. But I fell out with the guy who runs the place. I think I reminded him of his dad, whom he obviously can’t stand. After three days I ask myself why I’m having an acrimonious relationship with a total stranger in a foreign language – on my holidays. So I’ve moved into the familiar apartment I rent on the beach near Estepona. The restaurant here is run by Miguel, who comes from an older world of grace and respect – he calls me ‘caballero’ and we give each other good smiles, small kindnesses.
 The weather is bright and sunny but this creaking body reminds me that old age will not come alone. For the challenge ahead I need to develop more resilience – impatience and discouragement are too close. I would like to make an internal place where I can go, and feel safe – where ‘they’ can’t get me. But I am constantly surprised by how little I know myself – that I am still caught unawares by swoops of anger, fear, tenderness.
 On ‘Cracker’ last week Fitz is asked by his wife if he still loves her. The big man ponders. ‘A lot of the time I don’t know,’ he says, ‘The only time I’m sure is when something hurts you. I feel rage. Then I know.’ Some of us only catch our true feelings in glimpses.

BREAKING NEWS: Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for Bangladesh’s poor, have won the Nobel Peace Prize:
I believe that democracy is in trouble in our country – because the majority of citizens feel remote from its workings. The answer, I believe, is to go back to the grass roots and build democracy anew from communities upwards. This will mean serious investment over the next decade in building a vibrant community sector – thousands of citizens – at neighbourhood level – across Scotland – making decisions – renewing democracy. At long last a politician has stepped forward in Scotland to champion this ‘community agenda’ – the passing of power down to communities. The Liberal Democrat leader, Nicol Stephen, nailed his party’s colours to the mast in his recent ‘premanifesto’ document which gladdened my heart. More next week.

For some time there have been discussions between the Trustees of Senscot and Scotland UnLtd about forming a new joint venture called First Port. The new agency plans to focus on the needs of emerging social entrepreneurs and their enterprises and will combine the support services of the Senscot Exchange with an awards programme. We believe this initiative can play an important role in the development and growth of the sector in the years ahead. Our rationale for this new venture is outlined in a short paper.

In October 2004, Senscot hosted a talk in Edinburgh by Ernesto Sirolli on Enterprise Facilitation. Two years down the line, after much discussion and consultation, we are delighted to hear that the communities of Kintyre and East Perthshire are on the point of recruiting their own Enterprise Facilitation Managers. East Perthshire will be advertising over the next month or so and Kintyre have already done so. Here’s their ad: We wish both communities well.

The new book of Laurence’s musings has gone to the printer – delivery is expected first week in November. It is called ‘You’ve Got To Laugh – musings in sunlight and shadow’ and comprises 150 pieces chosen from a possible 300 by journalist Simon Pia – who has also titled them all. Order your copy:

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

JOBS: 43 vacancies, incl. posts with: Almond Enterprises, The REAL Project, Midlothian Voluntary Action The Iona Community, Shakti Women’s Aid, Harmeny Education Trust , Scottish Youth Parliament.

EVENTS: 27 events, incl. Power to the People: Micro-Renewables Workshop 21 Oct, Fife; Call handling skills for frontline staff, 26 Oct, Glasgow; Thematic Forum: ‘Personal Finance and Enterprise’, London, 9 Nov; Out of the Maze: step by step guide to business planning for social enterprise, Edinburgh, 29-29 Nov.

Social Firms Scotland and Scottish Business in the Community are running 8 free workshops in key areas of business and organisational development.

An interesting contrast in the progress and standing of social enterprises in the field of health and social care between Scotland and England was provided by two recent events. Senscot co-hosted an event in Stirling last week with the Scottish Forum for Public Health. 60 people attended but invites to MSPs and ministers were declined. This week Colin attended the NHS Networks event in London. 450 delegates heard Patricia Hewitt, the Minister for Health, announce a £1m package for social enterprise development in the sector between now and March ’07. For more info’, see

A piece in Tuesday’s Times by Big Issue founder John Bird says the time is right for wider recruitment for the social enterprise sector: ‘we need the bright to throw their lot in with us, to surpass our early efforts’.

Michael Lyon in the Guardian last week argued for a more dynamic alliance between voluntary and local government sectors than has hitherto existed:
This week’s bulletin profiles a UK-wide social enterprise dedicated to celebrating coalfield culture and history and promoting educational opportunities and research in former coalfield areas. Coalfield Learning Initiative Partnership (CLIP) has this month launched a new website, The site will showcase good practice in regeneration in coalfield areas. One project, Dark Energy’ is looking for public help to create an archive of images of former industrial communities – not only coalfields but also steeltowns, textile towns or fishing communities. For further info’, see   

Long before the Iraq war, the American satirist, the late Hunter. S. Thompson wrote, ‘We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world – a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just whores for power and oil but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. That’s how history will judge us.’
This extract from a speech by the writer Ben Okri in 2003: ‘In Iraq, the need of the Americans to protect oil fields, but not hospitals, museums and libraries, is a catastrophic failure of imagination and a signal absence of a sense of the true values of civilisation. The end of the world begins not with the barbarians at the gate, but with the barbarians at the highest levels of the state. All the states of the world. The real war always has been to keep alive the light of civilisation everywhere; to keep culture and art at the forefront of our national and international endeavours.’

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

Best wishes,

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