Senscot Bulletin: 16.11.12

Dear members and friends,

Last season, a dejected Hibs team hovered in the relegation zone; they now sit top of the league – what changed? During the Olympics, we saw Andy Murray move, from No 4, to the belief that he’s as good as anyone in the world – what changed? On Sunday, we marvelled at the All Blacks Murrayfield masterclass; how can a nation of only 3 million become so good?
Joseph Campbell – who wrote about the power of myth – famously said: "If you want to change the world – change the metaphor". He meant – change the story you tell yourself – because that’s what defines your destiny; and maybe it’s as simple as that – positive thinking – Fergie convincing Man Utd that they’re the best. How about the Maori Haka as a metaphor for conquest – awesome.
 As the years pass – the stories I tell myself are less heroic – less about conquest; a phrase to sum up my present outlook would be, "things are what they are and whatever will be , will be". But my new metaphor is not some poor pit pony’s docile acceptance of abuse – until it becomes blind to sunlight; without anger we are nothing – there is stuff I will defend with all my strength. But life has taught me that we are mostly powerless to control the behaviour of others – particularly those we love; and this realisation is for the best – brings a new peace. Que sera sera..

Four weeks left for Xmas orders of Laurence’s book, see

Scotland urgently needs to decentralise power – but given the vested interests – this is a radical policy – with roots in political philosophy, economic theory – natural justice etc. This is why I have no confidence that our proposed community empowerment and renewal bill has any real resolve – because there is no discussion of the philosophical assumptions which underpin it. There would need to have been some critique of the disadvantages and injustices of overcentralisation – setting out the benefits of subsidiarity. This bill has no political champions – with thought-through convictions. It will tinker at the edges. Gerry Hassan tries to point  the way; it’s a bit ‘scattergun’ – but at least he’s trying. See,

Big Society Capital (BSC) has stated its intention to ‘change the paradigm’ of social investment in the UK – from public and private grants, to debt finance; creating a new ‘asset class’ – attractive to the money markets.  Some of us – like Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company – believe that this will result in the ‘homogenising’ of our sector – towards predictable results – away from innovation and risk.  Camila urges trustees to be brave – defend their independence – say no to the current hype.  See,

The lineup has been published for the Radical Independence Conference – on Sat. 24 Nov – at the Radisson Blu, Glasgow.  I’ll be there.  The independent Scotland I imagine, will be more equal and fair; with strong local democracy; an elected head of state; a green and mutual social enterprise economy.  This will take a centre-left grassroots movement – bolder than partisan interests.  This is what Jean Urquhart MSP says,

Last week, we wrote, "Price Waterhouse Cooper is one of a number of giant outsourcing companies – currently pitching to replace our public sector in service provision. Their values and behaviours bear no resemblance to social enterprise; and their attempts to improve image by branding alongside our sector are disingenuous and damaging to our reputation. If you wish to express a contrary view, we’ll print it". Martin Stepek – CEO of the Scottish Family Business Association – takes a different view. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Routes to Work South, Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Gorbals Recycles Project, Scottish Government, Free Wheel North, Caledonian Foundation, Lifelink, Loganle Pitstop
EVENTS: Advancing your Social Enterprise, 21 Nov; Govan Community Cafe; 23 Nov; Klezmer Fundraising Ceilidh and Workshops, 24 Nov; Space for Song: 16 Days of Activism, 1 Dec;
TENDERS: Creative Scotland Film Sector Review, Moffat Community Nature Reserve, Forgewood Community Centre Feasibility Study and New Build Housing at Victoria Park, Dunoon.  For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Yesterday’s Ceilidh was a great success. Over 100 people gathered in New Lanark for the 8th year of the event. This year we also had the pleasure of the company of 14 delegates from Northern Ireland. The event allowed plenty of open discussion on issues relevant to grassroots social enterprises including: SE and the Interfaces; Social Investment; the existing SE support ‘pipeline’; and Senscot’s relationship with the SENs. Other highlights saw Clydesdale Community Initiative and Stepwell  win the Dragons’ Den and Audience Prizes respectively. We’ll have a full report within the next couple of weeks. For more Networks News, see

Big turnout for Social Enterprise Scotland’s (SES) Parliamentary Reception on Tuesday – over 200 folk – to see presentations of the Scottish SE Awards 2012. See, Also, news of success for Scotland at the UK SE Awards held the evening before in London. See,  Still on SES, they will also be hosting the SE Exchange again in March 2013 at the SECC in Glasgow. If you’re keen to go and want to get the best price – early bird places (from £50) are currently available. See,

At last month’s Senscot Seminar on a Scottish Community Bank, there was mention of other financial ‘models’ which may merit consideration. One of these was ‘peer-to-peer lending’. The industry leader in the UK is Zopa which has lent more than £200m since it started in 2005. This week, Lancashire County Council announced it will be the UK’s first Council to use this model to stimulate growth amongst small local businesses. Worth a look. See,

Mainstream political commentators like Gerry Hassan and Lesley Riddoch etc. are increasingly writing of the relevance of third sector activity in building a new Scotland. I’ve got a copy of Alf Young’s great wee book – The New Road – recounting a journey he made, with his son Ewan, around a number of our leading social enterprises and initiatives. This kind of ‘normalisation’ by top journalists helps our movement. See,

The decision to publish my latest collection of musings – was only taken after advanced sales of 250 copies – ‘crowd-funded’. There are lessons to be learned from two playgrounds in London – currently on this journey.
This week’s bulletin profiles Run Native – a new online market place – created by social enterprise for social enterprise. Run Native, set up by Community Enterprise and being launched this month, aims to support social enterprises create great brands, product offers and online marketing skills to seize the potential that e-commerce can offer small producers. The idea is to collectively market social enterprise products from across the UK – allowing small social enterprises to reach a much broader, national audience. Products on offer range from high fashion to upcycled furniture to stationary to chocolate. For more, see

"So let us solve the great problem of our time, the disease of excessive size and uncontrollable proportions, by going back to the alternative to both right and left – that is, to a small-scale social environment with all its potential for global pluralistic co-operation and largely unaffiliated self-sufficiency, by extending not centralising control but by decontrolling locally centred and nourished communities, each with its own institutional nucleus and a limited but strong and independent gravitational field." – Leopold Kohr (Austrian Economist)
"I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible, loving, human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride." – William James (American Psychologist and Philosopher).
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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