Senscot Bulletin 16-07-2004



Dear members and friends,


I did the Ikea experience this week. What an amazing institution – the scale of it – acres of stuff for your house – ideas – colours – great value – happy folk measuring things – making lists. Self service – everything coded to its position in the warehouse – bigger stuff, they phone downstairs – it’s waiting for you. Gave the visa a good thrashing. By the time I got my bits collected, took 2½ hours – exhausting. Can’t imagine where else I’d endure so much hassle to shop. It’s very clever – they get you actively involved in your own project – like being a part of a co-operative – something more noble than mere trade – loading my car I felt chuffed – a hunter gatherer bringing home the bacon. Mr Ikea is a clever man.  

Spent most of last week alone pottering around my cottage – fixing things – settling in – slowed right down – didn’t even bathe much. I’ve always had a reclusive side, which this new isolation encourages. Sometimes, alone, I go back to a childhood place – to the sadness of loss – it can feel safe there – like I belong. But it’s a withdrawal – I’ll need to resist it, living here – people are the messiest part of life – but the most important.

            My neighbours are fine – keep to themselves – except for one – an intrusive gossip. Connie has tried everything to get past my front door – but no passera! She got her revenge: ‘This place has been empty for twenty six years,’ she tells me. ‘The tenant before you shot himself’ – ‘Thanks for telling me,’ I say.



Most people now accept that the SIP Programmes were mostly a disappointment – because they failed to engage the imagination and the energy of the residents of our poorer areas.  The announcement last week that money for Regeneration is to be streamlined into one fund called ‘Community Regeneration Fund’ is welcome.  So too is the news that it will be distributed according to need, as defined by the revised deprivation criteria.  But most welcome is the stated intention of the Executive to encourage local authorities to engage with local communities.  The trouble is that few local councils know how to do this.  (



Bruce Katz – a leading American thinker about Regeneration policy – gave a Joseph Rowntree Foundation Centenary Lecture in England last week.  ‘My thesis is simple: a true rebirth of distressed areas will only occur if we make these places ‘neighbourhoods of choice’ for individuals and families with a broad range of incomes and ‘neighbourhoods of connection’ that are linked to metropolitan opportunities.’  He is warning us not to repeat the mistakes of the past – great swathes of social housing – the schemes.  (



One of the most successful and well known social entrepreneurs in the UK is Liam Black – until recently of Liverpool’s renowned FRC Group.  He e-mails that he enjoys Senscot’s bulletin ‘Your weekly rant at the dying of the light and life’s complexity and surprises.’  He has consented to our publishing a recent ‘rant’ from himself – which betrays a disillusionment with the social enterprise ‘bubble’ in England.  I think he asks serious questions – about how much ‘real business’ is happening out there.  Liam doesn’t mince his words.  (



Our friend James Jones – Bishop of Liverpool – was at it again last week.  He told Regeneration professionals that he is ‘at his wits end’ over the ‘chasm’ between the professionals who hold the money and the people who live in communities.  He then lambasted the conference organisers for the lack of attendees and speakers from the community.  Wish he was a Scot.



‘Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person think every day.’



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


JOBS: 57 vacancies, incl: CRNS, The Nolly Barge, GCVS, macrobert, Govanhill Youth Project, West Dunbartonshire CVS, Falkirk Women’s Technology Centre, Cultenhove Opportunities Partnership.


EVENTS: Friends of the Earth Comedy Night, Edinburgh, 20 July; Redhall Walled Garden open Day, Edinburgh, 25 July; ‘Introduction to the Scottish Parliament and to Lobbying’, Edinburgh, 6 Aug; Annual Scottish Coaching conference, Glasgow, 9 Sept; new EQUAL e-bulletin:


MARKET PLACE: National Playbus Association Scotland, mobile project assistance


CAN YOU HELP? Glasgow Access Panel is expanding and seeks disabled people to bring experience of disability and access issues. Non-disabled people also wanted for involvement in advisory capacity.


Scottish Civic Forum elections – deadline 28 July.


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’ at:   



Senscot believes that it would be valuable to broker dialogue between social entrepreneurs and mainstream business entrepreneurs – that we could both learn from each other – so we wrote to the entrepreneur philanthropist Tom Hunter to test his interest.  (



Kurt Vonnegut is 81 – most people I meet are too young to have read his stuff (Slaughterhouse 5 etc) but he had a great influence on me – a humanitarian anarchist.  Tom Shields in the Sunday Herald has found an essay by Vonnegut in the obscure North Bay Bohemian.  Marvellous rant against the US government – a must for Vonnegut fans (



This week we profile the Tayside Foundation for the Conservation of Resources (TFCR) in Dundee. The foundation is a ‘more than profit’ organisation set up in April 1995 as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. TFCR survives by generating all its own income and reinvesting the surplus in services for reuse or recycling of materials and environmental education. It is currently working on a new website that has facilities for on-line sales and donations, an information service, an educational element and a forum for debate. Further info’: ‘Profiles’ at  



The debate about whether private schools should get charitable status without passing the ‘public benefit’ test is hotting up.  Independent schools raise strong feelings and this issue will need to be resolved.  The Charitable Commission is now floating the idea of refusing the first application from a private school – then letting the courts decide.  All the judges, of course, went to private schools.  (



Colin has found another good one – it’s an article on self-determination. Folk are more complex than the behavioural psychologists believe. At the deeper levels humans are more than rational – thankfully. ‘The recognition that rewards can have counter-productive effects is based on a variety of studies, which have come up with such findings as these: Young children who are rewarded for drawing are less likely to draw on their own than are children who draw just for the fun of it. Teenagers offered rewards for playing word games enjoy the games less and do not do as well as those who play with no rewards. Employees who are praised for meeting a manager’s expectations suffer a drop in motivation.’  This article cheered me up. (


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

Best wishes,



If you would like to receive this bulletin directly, e-mail

We now have a ‘pay page’ on our site. To give: