Senscot Bulletin: 15-07-2005


(Going out weekly to over 2600; searchable archive of bulletins at web-site,

Dear members and friends,

Marvellous weather this week for the garden – the enveloping heat – new perfumes – a thousand shades of green.  Everything, especially nettles, bursting out all over. ‘What is all this juice and all this joy?’ I’m slowly becoming intimate with the particular landscape around my cottage – the old stone walls – ancient yew trees – the changing weather, light, textures and all the wild creatures which share ‘our bit.’  It’s difficult to speak about how nature affects us without sounding pretentious or mystical.  The old mystics understood gardens as places of contemplation – nearer God.
 Out with the garden hose on Tuesday when a black 4 x 4 pulls up – obviously lost.  Great brutal gargoyle of a thing – symbolising all that’s bad for the environment.  Tinted window lowers – tense atmosphere – anger between husband and wife – two sullen teenagers in the back.  The man has the plastic smile of someone trying not to scream.
 Later their unhappiness stays with me – ponder the difference between wealth and wellbeing.  Since the 1970s the UK economy, measured by GDP, has doubled – but people’s satisfaction with life has hardly changed.  Perhaps we’re chasing/measuring the wrong things.  We teach our young people that efficiency in wealth creation is top priority – yet half of them have never walked in wild woodland.  Who will teach them that the fate of humankind and the fate of nature are inseparable? Hopkins phrase: ‘And all is seared with trade, bleared, smeared with toil; and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell; the soil is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod!!

Alistair Grimes sends us a discussion paper which we are happy to circulate as it raises some key issues for the development of social economy in Scotland.  He considers that Futurebuilders Scotland is bogged down in paperwork – too slow and cumbersome for the limited benefits it will distribute.  He also contends that FBS is a distraction from core issues about how and by whom the social economy should be driven forward.  He argues that part of the social economy – the social enterprise bit – which aspires to compete in markets – should be more clearly separate from the traditional voluntary sector at both policy and practical levels.  Trading social enterprises should be a distinct sector as in England with its Social Enterprise Coalition – and development support should be provided by the Enterprise part of the Executive – rather than the Housing and Regeneration bit.  None of these issues are new – but nor are they sorted.  Your feedback is invited:
So that readers can respond to bulletin items we have created a ‘feedback file’ on our website.  At the moment this is a single issue facility – this week the topic is Alistair Grimes’ piece. Take a look. Our Colin has posted a rant:

England benefits from a dedicated Social Enterprise Unit located within DTI small business service. The unit has just published new research which is the best gathered so far and provides good baseline information. (It’s worth scanning the report’s conclusions).  I get the general impression that our sector is larger than most people assumed – and growing fast.  In Scotland, though, there remains a credibility problem.  Neither our politicians nor our key government agencies (e.g. Scottish Enterprise) appreciate what we deliver to the economy – and more importantly – to the social cohesion of Scotland. I wish we could measure social capital – the value of civic friendship.  

Les Huckfield says that the Research Project he is doing for Senscot into Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway services for Social Enterprises is now getting very interesting.  He would still like to hear from more colleagues who have approached Scottish Enterprise or Business Gateway for support and about the response they received.  The best way to contact Les is by emailing him at

YELLOW PAGES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 60 vacancies, incl. posts with: Crafty Women, Langholm Initiative, Turning Point Scotland, The Initiative – Gorbals, CVS Hamilton/East Kilbride, The Lennox Partnership, Skoll Centre,

EVENTS: Edinburgh Green Drinks, July 29, Social Enterprise Academy information and ‘taster’ event, Kibble, 27 July; More Than Furniture Conference 2005, CRNS, Perth, 26 Aug; ‘Making Knowledge Work’, social capital conference, Stirling, 25-28 Oct.

The regulations allowing formation of, or conversion to, Community Interest Companies came in on 1st July. However, the new Regulator warns, ‘staff and systems in the Regulator’s Office will not be fully prepared and in a position to process applications until 25 July 2005. You should therefore anticipate some delay in receiving a response to your application if you submit it before that date.'(

Local Government and Communities Minister David Miliband said last weekend to the Local Government Association’s Annual Conference that local empowerment meant ‘more opportunities for communities to have influence and choice over how their local neighbourhood is run.’  What he proposes is genuinely radical – small communities bypassing the council and assuming ownership of assets and direct control over some local services. Quite properly local empowerment is a devolved matter – and we all know our municipalist labour administration is not minded to follow this example.  But local elections in 2007 may bring change – we need to be ready.

This week’s bulletin profiles an organisation providing a bespoke service for theatres and cultural enterprises in Scotland. S4T was formed in 1995 to promote and improve technical standards of staff working within the performing arts in Scotland. Since then it has grown to include the majority of theatres, touring companies and related venues where professional theatre technicians are regularly employed. S4T’s services now include Advocacy, Research, Consultancy as well as a series of events and training programmes. Since its inception, membership has grown to over 800 production and technical staff throughout Scotland. S4T plans to expand it work and continue to affect economic and cultural developments though their contribution to world class artistic products.

The Homeless World Cup 2005 runs in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens next week from 20-24 July.  Teams are expected from 35 countries and entry is free. Good article in Society Guardian this week which explains how for some of the participants the tournament is a catalyst which they can use to turn their lives around. The Social Entrepreneur behind this tournament is Mel Young – Senscot’s former founding Chair.    

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defined the concept of ‘flow’ to describe experiences where we are completely absorbed in what we are doing, and where time feels like it passes very quickly. He argues that we experience ‘flow’ when we are engaged in activities that are challenging but for which we have the skills to meet the challenge. Different people find ‘flow’ in different activities, but the state is the same whether it is derived through mountain biking, having a good conversation or playing cards? Csikszentmihalyi argues that work is one of the most important sources of ‘flow’ in our lives. His research suggests that around 15 per cent of people have never experienced  ‘flow’, whilst around 20 per cent say they feel it every day, with others somewhere in between. Find Flow, the psychology of engagement is life. (Perseus Books. New York 1997)

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

Best wishes,