Dear members and friends,
“You expected to be sad in the Fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the cold wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen”. Of all Hemingway’s books, I dip mostly into ‘A Moveable Feast’ – autobiographical sketches about the young writer in Paris – beautiful evocations of a city in the grip of its seasons.
Living alone in the country has made me more aware of the seasons and how they affect me. This is a quote from Yoko Ono: “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes, and one’s remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” Three of these impressions are words I could have chosen – but I don’t recognise the connection between autumn and ‘reverence.’ Like Hem, my match for the Fall, would be some kind of ‘melancholy’.
On an afternoon of sunlight, I’m out doing Autumn tasks. A frequent ‘rambler’ past my cottage, is a posh old lady – some ‘dowager’ relative of the laird; don’t know her name, nor she mine – but when I’m in the garden we chat. She tells me that Autumn is her favourite season – everything bursting with its last beauty, before the black and white of winter. Though not religious, she feels at this time the presence of ‘a source’ – a superior spirit, far beyond our understanding – which we can only humbly admire.
Does this count as ‘reverence’?
Wed 5th Sept, saw the publication of the final report of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice – ‘Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy’; this piece is by its chair, Tom Kubasi. I’ve lived through two periods of fundamental reform: Attlee’s Keynesian reforms of the 1940s and Thatcher’s free market reforms of the 1980s; this report says that, ten years after the financial crash, change of a similar magnitude is once again required. A detailed plan is set out, not only to redistribute wealth through taxes and benefits, but how we can rebalance power across the economy itself. The profound economic injustice in the UK hasn’t happened by accident – but because of deliberate decisions. Our forthcoming general election will gauge the appetite for change.
One of the most worrying consequences of almost a decade of austerity is the way the UK is breaking into completely different social worlds. As the public realm shrinks, the wealthy replace it with privatised, individualistic services in health, education, everything; even what we watch on TV is segregated by wealth – those who can afford a Sky Sports package, and the majority who can’t. Good article by John Harris about the growth of private policing in England; he tries to examine the role of the beat officer on our streets – collective, consensual, social authority – so fundamentally important for people’s sense of security.
As this Bulletin frequently mentions, children in Finland don’t start formal education till age 7 – from age 3, they benefit from universal kindergarten provision. Sue Palmer, chair of Upstart Scotland wrote this piece in Nov 2016, but Scotland’s introduction of ‘standardised assessments’ in Primary 1 has re-ignited the issue. 4/5 years olds arrive for ‘formal’ education, who are unable to speak, let alone read or count – who are not toilet trained – some, distressingly, are agitated by domestic trauma. A careful assessment is clearly needed of the starting point of each child – but children tell their story through their play – not some pretend exam for toddlers.
While much attracts in Buddhism, it always rankles me that our ‘sense of self’ is discredited as delusional. At last, a Buddhist psychiatrist, Paul Fleischman, affords it due respect. (read full quote)
“Our sense of self is a creation, an essential skill of our mind. Our minds collect the information contained in our body sensations to fabricate an integrated and continuous identity. This gives us greater memory, consistency and flexibility – you could say “character” – than we would have if we were limited to immediate reactivity… Our sense of self is an integrative, psychological system that we must have to live a focused, directed and self-consistent life. In the psychological sense, the Buddha had a powerful sense of self that gave him continuity and consistency across a lifetime of teaching and leadership”.
As Edinburgh plays host to a global gathering of social entrepreneurs – Glasgow got in on the act with the launch of the Glasgow SE Strategy 2018-28 on Monday. Our largest city has followed the lead of Scottish Govt with its own ten-year Strategy. Glasgow’s Strategy has been co-produced by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow SEN. The Strategy itself will be being overseen by a Board of 15 reps – nominated by the Council, Glasgow SEN and other statutory agencies and academic institutions (see Appendix 1). Work has already begun on a ‘bank of proposals’ – with further consultation taking place over the coming months – and an action plan and targets to deliver on the strategy due at the end of the year (See Appendix 2). This work adds to a growing list of local SE Strategies including Edinburgh, North Ayrshire and, in the near future, Angus.
Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.
The main part of the SE World Forum comes to an end today – with 1400 delegates (from over 40 countries) returning to their day jobs – hopefully, having been inspired by what they heard – who they met – and the connections made. The event itself has been a huge credit to the organisers (CEiS etc) and again, no doubt, will have enhanced Scotland’s global reputation in social enterprise. Our supportive environment in Scotland was clearly the envy of many of delegates. Whilst being mindful and appreciative of this environment, neither should we, in Scotland, become complacent. There is still much work to be done to ensure that the benefits of this ‘environment’ genuinely filter down to a local level in the real sense – benefitting the many, not the few. Next stop for the SE World Forum is Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in 2019.
Last week, the Social Enterprise Academy hosted its ‘Global Gathering’ at New Lanark in advance of the SE World Forum. The event involved around 70 folk representing the Academy’s 12 ‘Hubs’ from across the globe – from Malawi to Pakistan – Australia to Canada. Since its founding in 2004, the Academy’s journey has been impressive. See their recent Impact Review – and some reflections from co-founder, Jim Bennett.
The new ISM is a weekly podcast – set up by Mel Young – where Mel interviews fellow ‘social innovators’. This week’s podcast is with Laurence – looking back at their work together over the last 30 years.
Earlier this year, Scottish Community Finance Ltd launched a Community Bond Offer for SENs. Whilst not quite managing to reach its intended target (£75k) – over 70 investors bought bonds – with 98% agreeing to use their bonds to support a new SEN Bridging Loan Fund – launching this month – available to SEN members looking for short-term bridging finance. If interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s bulletin profiles a venture in West Lothian that operates two emerging social enterprises. 1st Step Linlithgow initially opened its 1st Step Café to provide a safe meeting place for people suffering from addiction-based difficulties. Shortly afterwards, they set up their second social enterprise – 1st Step Bikes – that involves the refurbishment and sale of bicycles by those frequenting the Café. 1st Steps Bikes originally operated from workspace provided free of charge by Police Scotland – but, over the summer, moved into new, improved premises at the Linlithgow Recycling Centre. In 2017, they won the Community Group of the Year award from Cycling UK.