Dear members and friends,
The weather has kept me close to home this week – reading again Graham Greene’s ‘Stamboul Train’; I’d forgotten how good he is – how much he influenced me as a young man – my view of the world. This is the novel (his fourth) which made his reputation. It concerns the struggle, within us all, between the realist and the romantic – remarkable insight into the human condition – hard to believe he wrote this when he was just 27. In the 1970s, I believe I saw Graham Greene in a café in Antibes; he had a half carafe of white wine and was reading a French newspaper. Awesome to see the great man but I remember feeling sorry for him – because he was so old. He would have been the age I am now.
It’s impossible of course for the young to realise that most old people are happier now than they’ve ever been – and would dread having to do it all again. A sort of calmness sets in (not to be confused with deadness) – a better ‘attunement’ to life. I have a strong sense that this, here, now, is enough – sufficient – and I feel grateful. My daily routine is unhurried, simple, repetitive – and I look forward to it being the same tomorrow – and for the next several years. Excitement is to be avoided. Graham Greene lived to 87 – though I expect folk live longer in Antibes than in West Lothian. (In today’s end piece Czeslaw Milosz reflects on some of the compensations of getting older)
The New South Wales Govt is introducing `for profit` investment in public programmes (social impact bonds); an Australian bulletin reader, Vern Hughes, has circulated a strong criticism of this policy. “The deep flaw in this thinking is the naïve assumption that social goals can be orchestrated by programmes and investors if the financial incentives are right.” He points out that social change occurs, if at all, in the kinds of close relationships which investment bankers know nothing about. He believes that the vested interests of large financial houses pushing these policies to Governments need to be scrutinised – but his own critique (attached) was censored from publication on the official Centre for Social Impact website. See,
Big Society Capital is not operational yet – but it continues to move away from the social enterprise sector which I understand. In this interview, Nick O`Donohoe, its CEO says emphatically, “We are not interested in grants and soft loans; we are an investment institution”. He uses terms like “quasi equity investments” and “ social impact bonds” – but then says he’s not clear how they will work. The overarching assumption seems to be that social outcomes are measurable and that successful projects should deliver a profit to investors. I think this strategy is both inoperable and objectionable; They are clearly making it up as they go along. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11489
Toby Blume of the English `Urban Forum` has written an interesting essay called, “The future of localism must be economic”. Community empowerment is usually discussed in social or political terms – but Blume argues that true empowerment involves wealth creation and retention in the local economy. He`s right of course. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11488
Community Land Scotland is the representative organisation of Scotland’s community land owners – who manage 500,000 acres – building more sustainable and resilient communities. Their holdings include substantial stretches of coastline – and in the context of the current debate about the future of the Crown Estates – they have ambition for the sustainable utilisation of marine assets adjoining their land. Here is their policy briefing. https://senscot.net/?viewid=11486
If I was responsible for drafting Scotland’s new Regeneration strategy – I would make sure that training local organisers becomes a priority. I’m not talking about the Councils` CLD professionals – I’m talking about local people – already active – being upskilled and then employed directly by the local community where they live. Let’s have a bit of turbulence.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php This week:
JOBS: Nourish Scotland; Cupar Old Parish Church; Edinburgh Young Carers Project; Life Link; Refugee Survival Trust; Cumnock & Doon Valley Credit Union; Broxburn United Sports Club (BUSC)
EVENTS: Glasgow in the Making: Women’s West End Walk and Talk, 16 Sep; Measuring Social Impact, 21 Sep; Facilitation Training, 22 Sep; A Fife Showcase for Community Growing Projects, 23 Sep
TENDERS: Sensory Garden, Jean Mackie Centre; Catering Services at Palace Theatre/Grand Hall Complex and Dean Castle Visitor Centre; Right to Repair Alternative Contractor Scheme; Waste Management & Recycling Services; Provision of a Childcare Voucher Scheme
NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: We’re delighted to say that there’s been a great response for this year’s Ceilidh – almost half of the places have been allocated already! If you want to reserve your place, book now on at, http://www.se-networks.net/ceilidh11booking.php . We’re also opening applications for this year’s Dragons’ Den. To apply, see http://www.senscot.net/docs/dragonsdenentryform.doc Last year, we introduced ‘crowdsourcing’ for the first time and were bowled over with a contribution exceeding £800. This year, we’re taking it a step further with the help of Borders SEN member, SoLoCo – the UK`s first crowd-funding website for the third sector (www.soloco.co.uk). SoLoCo will be inviting donations towards the Dragons Den in the run up to the Ceilidh and will continue to call for donations for this year’s winner until Xmas. For more Networks News, see http://www.se-networks.net/showbull.php?articleid=208
A reminder that Senscot`s 12th AGM will take place following our Seminar on 30th September at the Royal College of Physicians in Queen St, Edinburgh. The AGM, itself, will run between 3pm and 4pm.
The Senscot Seminar is fully booked up although we are keeping open the reserve list. See, http://www.senscot.net/seminar.php . All confirmed attendees will be receiving further details over the next day or so. Once again, if you’re not able to attend, please let us know, and we can re-allocate your place.
One of the biggest gaps in the social enterprise sector is an accurate picture of its size and scale in Scotland. Figures bandied about tend to be `guesstimates` or extrapolations of UK or wider third sector stats. Therefore, it is good to hear that Highland and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is carrying out such a study over the coming months. A key output of the study will be a comprehensive database containing up to date information on the scale and nature of the social enterprise sector in the HIE area. Senscot, in partnership with Social Firms Scotland and our Coalition, would like do something along similar lines for the rest of the country. See HIE`s proposal, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11484
Firstport awardee, Vicky McDonald`s plans for a new Sunday market in Edinburgh (outside St Mary`s RC Cathedral, Leith Walk) was covered in the Scotsman this week. She is awaiting planning permission for the new Sunday market – offering food, crafts and clothing – being sold by charities and community organisations. Her idea is a response to the effect of funding cuts on many of the city’s charities. If successful, Vicky hopes to run several markets across the city – all operating as social enterprises. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=11483
This was posted on 6th Sept on the Bella Caledonia website: Radical Media Forum. “An open meeting for practitioners, groups and individuals involved in independent/radical/critical/activist/oppositional media, to discuss the development of a broader support network, archiving, collaborations, future events, and encourage debate on current directions of ‘media from below’ in the UK. 1pm – 5pm, Sat 29 Oct, Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall Street, Glasgow, G42 1BA”. See, www.bellacaledonia.org.uk
This week’s bulletin profiles an emerging social enterprise, based in Edinburgh, which uses creative activities to help young people challenge the way they think about themselves and their futures. One of their programmes, Identity Works is a handy man programme in which a no skill / low skill young person is paired with a seasoned professional to get hands-on experience of a real job. For more, see
From ‘A Poetic State’ by Czeslaw Milosz.
“Things once difficult are easy but I feel no strong need to communicate them in writing. Now I am in good health, where before I was sick because time galloped and I was tortured by fear of what would happen next. Every minute the spectacle of the world astonishes me: it is so comic that I cannot understand how literature could expect to cope with it. Sensing every minute, in my flesh, by my touch, I tame misfortune and do not ask God to avert it, for why should he avert it from me if he does not avert it from others?… I was impatient and easily irritated by time lost on trifles among which I ranked cleaning and cooking. Now, attentively, I cut onions, squeeze lemons, and prepare various kinds of sauces.”
That’s all for this week.
Good luck with your adventures
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