Senscot Bulletin: 16.09.16

Dear members and friends,

My favourite Sunday treat is to drive an hour into the countryside – to lunch somewhere special; in sunshine, this week we venture a bit further – the Monachyle Mhor Hotel overlooks Loch Voil, among the Braes of Balquhidder, four miles up a wooded single track road; remote and beautiful.  Almost there, we’re stopped by an oncoming car – which courteously reverses into the side – straight into a ditch – wheels spinning, stuck fast; Danish tourists in a hired car.  We squeeze past and head off for help shouting ‘we’ll be back’.
            A mile further on is a cottage – we recruit the help of Alistair – a cheerful young local with a rope and a Land Rover.  But then we can’t attach the rope, and queues build on either side of us – mostly working Land Rovers; everyone’s out blethering – much happy bantering among the locals; eventually, by force of numbers, the stranded car is simply man handled out of the ditch – and everyone drives away; the incident put me in a good mood.
            This bulletin’s archive reminds me that I enjoyed lunch in the Monachyle Mhor restaurant in 2009; on his website, chef proprietor Tom Lewis tells how since 2010 he has been working with chef Marysia Paszkowska; our meal was quite superb; if anything she’s better than him.  But I’ll remember Sunday for that simple demonstration of public goodwill – the togetherness of it; I wonder if city life smothers this. There’s an African proverb. “If you want to go fast – go alone; but if you want to go far – go together”.


What if Hillary Clinton’s health collapses –or even if the Republican media can pretend it has – that would be enough; I’m beginning to imagine the nightmare of Donald Trump becoming the most powerful man in the world.  From his behaviour and wild inflammatory utterances, it is clear that this person lacks the judgement to be the principal custodian of world peace; many doubt that he even wants the job.  It must not be allowed to happen; the Democratic Party should be warming up Bernie Saunders from the bench. A Telegraph article speculates on what would happen if Hillary pulls out – explains the Democratic Party rules.


Last year, when Marco Biagi was community empowerment minister – he visited participatory budgeting (PB) initiatives in England; he was impressed enough to establish PB Scotland – with a working group and govt. funding.  I’ve tended to be too dismissive of PB (as tokenistic) but we’re now hearing good stories from the front line.  PB Scotland is hosting a free, two day conference on 20-21 October in Edinburgh; you may want to check out for yourself how relevant it is.


Unease has surfaced again about the deep links between the upper reaches of the SNP and a lobbying firm called Charlotte Street Partners (CSP); a petition has been launched here against the appointment of Andrew Wilson (a CSP founding partner) as chair of the SNPs Growth Commission.  This Herald piece quotes Steve Goodrich of Transparency International: “Appointing secretive lobbyists to oversee the development of economic policy raises significant questions about whose interests are being represented” … and Scotland’s new ‘establishment’ takes shape.


Community Land Scotland is holding its annual conference next Friday 23rd Sept. in Edinburgh – with so much going on in this sector it’s expected to be a lively one.  If you would like an intelligent overview of recent Land Reform legislation – the forthcoming Scottish Land Commission etc – this is a useful article by Malcolm Combe, a lecturer at Aberdeen Yooni.  Meantime the villagers of Wanlockhead are pursuing a community buyout of the land around their village – from the UK’s largest private landlord – the duke of Buccleuch; watch this space…..

It’s a no brainer that humankind should be generating green energy, rather than burning oil and gas; I’ve always been in awe of the latent power generated by the movement of the world’s oceans.  It is fitting therefore to mark, this week, the launch of the world’s first, large scale, tidal energy farm – which will be set in the Pentland Firth between Caithness and Orkney.  To our credit, Scotland now leads this technology – and there will be many around the world watching to see how effective it is.


NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: Development Trusts Association Scotland, Baldy Bane Theatre Company, Impact Arts (Projects) Ltd, Resonate Together, Atlantis Leisure, Community Transport Glasgow
EVENTS: Financial Innovation Today: Towards Economic Resilience, 22 Sep; The Scottish Land Reform Conference 2016 – What Next for Land Reform? 23 Sep; Scottish Rural Parliament 2016, 8 Oct;
TENDERS: Recycling and Waste Uplift Contract – Scottish Canals, Glencanisp Nature Trial – The Assynt Foundation, Flexible Homelessness Outreach Support Services – Glasgow City Council, Home Support Services – North Lanarkshire Council and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: Kim writes:  For the last 11 years, Senscot has hosted a SE Conference and Ceilidh in November of each year. The primary objective of the Conference and Ceilidh has always been to bring together grassroots social enterprises to make connections with each other and share their respective stories – and, importantly, include a strong social element. This year we are jointly hosting an event in collaboration with others – Community Enterprise; Social Firms Scotland; and the Scottish Community Alliance. The event is taking place on Wednesday 23rd November at The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh – more details soon.


Education secretary John Swinney’s package of proposals to shake up our education system are genuinely radical – and I’m wondering why I’m not more excited; the government’s presumption “that decisions will be taken at the school level” is exactly right.  The problem is that this administration has no history of promoting subsidiarity – its instinct is rather to centralise everything; I’ll wait and see what happens.


Reminder: The 2nd John Pearce Lecture takes place on Monday 3rd October at the Deeprose Lecture Theatre on Glasgow Caley Campus. Pauline Graham (CEO of Social Firms Scotland) will give her reflections and perspective on past and current issues affecting the social enterprise sector in Scotland. With the impending SE Strategy for Scotland – due for publication in the autumn – the role and contribution of social enterprise to communities across Scotland has never been more topical. The event is free – see registration form – and it would great to see a strong turnout from across the sector.


In my opinion, the SEs which deliver the most far reaching social impact are the community owned ones; when folk in a rural area – starved of amenities – form a co-op. to own and operate the local shop, pub – it could be anything.  The Plunkett Foundation is trying to find and celebrate the best examples of this kind of activity.


In the spirit of ‘Lets get the band back together again’ – Elaine C Smith is hosting a social event this Sunday at St Lukes, The Calton, Glasgow.  The event is for all interested Indy groups – to launch the next phase… Great line up of speakers and entertainers – Alex Salmond, Eddi Reader etc etc.


Every now and then, this bulletin re-visits a profile from the past – giving an update on the progress made by a social enterprise over the years. This week’s bulletin re-visits Galgael – first profiled in May 2003. 13 years down the line, Galgael still holds fast to its community roots – going back to its founding in the mid-1990s. Over the years, Galgael has become a well-known landmark on the Govan landscape. It has built a growing reputation for making a significant and tangible difference to people who may struggle with some of the challenges of today’s society. One of the ways in which they have achieved this is through involving the community in traditional boat building and restoration – helping people find skills, purpose and inspiration.


The fabric of society is not held together by the govt. the economy or even the welfare state – but ultimately by the informal exchanges of support among families, friends, neighbours, communities strangers etc.  This beautiful poem describes the gathering of friends around a bereavement.  The Unprofessionals by U. A. Fanthorpe. (Ursula Askham Fanthorpe 1929-2009)


“When the worst thing happens, that uproots the future – that you must live for every hour of your future – they come – unorganised, inarticulate, unprofessional; they come sheepishly, sit with you, holding hands – from tea to tea, from Anadin to Valium – sleeping on put-you-ups, answering the phone – coming in shifts, spontaneously – talking sometimes, about wallflowers, and fishing, and why – dealing with Kleenex and kettles – doing the washing up and the shopping – like civilians in a shelter, under bombardment, holding hands and sitting it out – through the immortality of all the seconds, until the blunting of time”.


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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