Senscot Bulletin: 15.05.20


Even for predictability, the garden is an important part of my life these days: spring unfurling into summer.  I sowed sweet peas and cornflowers under glass – now planting them out; tending our plants, we are also gardening our inner space; whatever the biological mechanism, being close to nature makes us healthier and happier.  Carl Jung believed that technological life had alienated us from the “dark, maternal, earthy ground of our being.”  He grew his own vegetables and argued that “every human should have a plot of land, so that their instincts can come to life again.”  Jung was explicit about this grave danger: that science and technology carry the delusion that humans are superior to nature – that we ‘own’ nature – can do with it as we wish.
The historian and philosopher, Yuval Noah Harari, posted an essay in the Guardian recently which Carl Jung would have hated.  Harari says that for most of human history, humans weakly submitted to death – but the modern world has been shaped by the belief that humans can outsmart and defeat death.  Over the last two centuries, average life expectancy has jumped from 40 to 72, across the entire world; he even says “perhaps in a century or two, science will extend human life indefinitely” (which I think is nonsense)  We can certainly anticipate, that through technology, humanity will become ever more powerful; Jung’s point is, that alienation from nature, both around us and within ourselves, means that we have lost our way: even destroying the planet we live on.

At Davos last year, someone went viral for comparing it to “a firefighters conference where no one’s allowed to speak about water”; the reference was to tax evasion and the speaker was 32-year-old Rutger Bregman – who has a new book called Humankind.  It deserves our attention, because it is a sweeping survey of human existence which argues, that despite all our obvious flaws, most people are basically good.  This core orientation/outlook underpins all we do in life; like anything indispensable it merits continuous nourishment; so, looking for some cheer, I’ll be reading Humankind.  Jonathan Freedland’s review excites.

I enjoy Simon Kuper’s column these days (FT weekend mag).  He lives in Paris, and this week captures that great city in lockdown; the nature of enforced changes, for better and worse – the places and habits which may be lost forever.  He thinks new patterns of work and transport will now evolve.

Recently, almost unnoticed, a further provision of the 2016 Land Reform Act was implemented – communities now have ‘compulsory purchase’ rights: Land Commissioner Meghan MacInnes explains.  But land reform will remain glacially slow until Scotland trains and deploys a cadre of ‘community dealmakers’ – working directly for local anchor organisations – to implant a new proactive culture.

Jon Chamberlain has been researching the influence of social network platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp etc) on the way we communicate during the pandemic. He says it’s faster, more seamless and with greater reach than anything that’s come before. Are social media ‘agnostics’ like myself in denial?

The Guardian has been clever enough to get economist Thomas Piketty on zoom to discuss the effects of the pandemic on economies, societies and globalisation. His answers have a gravitas of depth of learning; it helps that I agree with his politics – his wealth tax response to inequality.

These closing lines from George Eliot’s Middlemarch put me in mind of thousands of anonymous medics and carers quietly looking after people.

“Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like a river, spent itself in channels which has no great name on the earth.  But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive:  for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts: and that things  are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life …..”.

The response to Social Enterprise Reset Week has surpassed all expectations – so much so that half a dozen sessions will be run again at the start of next week. So far, 19 ‘virtual’ sessions have taken place with community-based social enterprises and others from the wider sector – to determine support and funding requirements over the medium to longer-term. Once completed, these sessions will have attracted more than 800 bookings from over 300 organisations from across the country – as well as triggering interest from colleagues in Australia (see below). The intention is that these discussions will form the starting point for a wider recovery plan for the sector – as indicated in last week’s joint letter to the Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell. Findings and key themes will be collated into a SE Reset Report – and will be shared with all participants as well as being made widely available across the sector and to Scottish Govt.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.

News this week that the £10k Small Business Grant Scheme has now been extended to charities. Many in the sector have been lobbying on this point over recent weeks. Michael Cook (CRNS) submitted this letter to Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes. Although there remain some points for clarification, it seems Govt was listening. Also – to remind folk – current round of the Wellbeing Fund remains open until 22nd May 2020.
————————————SE Reset Week caught the attention of colleagues in Australia. Further to connections made in recent years, we were delighted to hear of the progress being made in establishing social enterprise networks (SENs) in Australia – with SENs formed or forming in every state. These networks have now come together as the Alliance of Social Enterprise Networks Australia (ASENA) – with whom we look forward to forging closer ties with. Couple of their more prominent members include SENVIC (Victoria) and QSEC (Queensland).
————————————Jura Community Business Ltd (JDB) is the latest social enterprise to take advantage of the SEN Bridging Loan – allowing them to cover the cost over-runs during the building of their new Enterprise Units. Although fully rented, COVID 19 has meant the units have had to close. JDB has, in response, agreed to suspend all payment to support their existing tenants. With the expected collapse of the tourist season also hitting their petrol station – a short term bridging loan will help see them through until the recovery. The terms and conditions offered by SCF Ltd were those most suited to their current circumstances.

Frontline News: “Collaboration and Procurement in a Post-Covid19 Future” is the latest blog from P4P -and looks the future landscape for our sector and what models may present the best opportunities:
DTA Scotland is reminding members  that this year’s annual Conference – originally scheduled for 6th/7th Sept –  is now being re-scheduled for 8th/9th November 2020 – at the Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld:
Successful applicants to Scottish Govt’s Supporting Communities Fund have been announced. Around 250 community anchor organisations are being helped to support to support local responses to the pandemic:
The Social Enterprise Academy has announced a new round of online modules as part of the Just Enterprise Programme. Modules include Managing Change; Leading Remotely; and Rebuilding Income Streams.


Continuing on our theme of spotlighting how our sector is responding to the Covid 19 crisis in their local communities, this week’s bulletin profiles the work of the community sector in Easterhouse in Glasgow with strong relationships already established in the area, local organisations were able to form the Easterhouse Covid-19 Response Partnership before the lockdown. The Partnership includes FARE Scotland, Connect Community Trust as well as a number of local housing associations and local schools. Already they have ensure that over 250,000 meals have been distributed across Easterhouse and the East End; 800 families have been able to access energy tops; 300 people are contacted weekly for a ‘community hello’; and over 400 activity packs have been delivered to local children.