Senscot Bulletin: 18-02-2005



(Going out weekly to over 2500; searchable archive of bulletins here)


Dear members and friends,


At my wee cottage in the country, spring is bursting out all over.  Locals say that birds, flowers – everything is a month ahead.  Tuesday in particular was startling beautiful day – walked in grounds of stately home up the road – daffodils in full bloom. This is part of the problem – global warming in Scotland – feels like a blessing.  But the climatologists who met in Exeter this month said that a further rise of 2 degrees would confront up to 3 billion people with drought – tens of millions of deaths.  If this is true – why aren’t we screaming about it.

            This collective denial is interesting – reminds me of an interview I saw in 1959 on TV with the legendary Carl Jung – when he was 84 (see below).  He says that the unconscious mind of old people – faced with the fact that life will soon end – simply disregards it. Jung says this is necessary – that if we stop looking forward, we petrify – die before our time.  Could it be that the ‘collective unconscious’ of humankind is in denial of the ‘end game’ of our species.

            The thought that we are all festering in our own waste is too depressing.  Must do something. Been researching wind and solar energy – and I’ve ordered my wood burning stove.  Post this morning brings – out of the blue – final demand for community tax – previous dwelling.  Spend outraged 15 minutes searching box of old accounts.  Who am I kidding – this bill is due – simply disregarded. Man on phone accepts four post dated cheques – crisis averted – stove postponed.

            Transcript of 1959 Jung interview – part of history:



The new Freedom of Information Act allows UK citizens to get information about the way government comes to decisions.  It applies across the board to public sector bodies – that’s more than 100,000 agencies.  The Act gives applicants two important rights: to be told whether the information is held – and to get it.  While there are many exceptions – there is now a presumption of disclosure. The body contacted must supply a very good reason for not supplying the information.

            For example – Senscot has, in the past, asked for information about which of the local enterprises companies (LECs) failed last year to meet their targets of engagement with social economy organisations.  But Scottish Enterprise National has so far refused to disclose individual performances – presumably to prevent embarrassing the delinquents.  Surely exposing shortcomings is the purpose of targets. A Social Enterprise in a particular area is entitled to know whether its local LEC has a track record of helping or ignoring The Social Economy.



The excellent Scottish Voluntary Sector Almanac published by SCVO tells us that a total of 44% of the Scottish Voluntary Sector’s income is from self-generated sources such as trading, rents and investments.  The figure for the UK as a whole is only 15% – so why is the sector in Scotland so much more independent.  Ruchir Shah who produces the Almanac says that the reason could be that our local authorities withdrew funding in the 1990s, alongside the recent mushrooming of social enterprise.  It’s still an astonishing difference.



‘In the late nineteenth century – the mutual societies, co-operators and trade unionists could have gone on to invent a welfare society in which more and more people governed themselves, employed their own doctors ran their own schools and created a commonwealth of a country.  But they went down the road of the welfare state – which came to do things ‘for’ and ‘to’ people – just like an empire.  We now know that this turned out to be a well intentioned but wrong choice.’ This is the radical thesis of Dick Atkinson in his new book ‘Civil Renewal: mending the hole in the social ozone layer’ which I have ordered.  His article in New Start magazine outlines a wonderfully hopeful vision of reinventing government in the UK from the bottom up.  Article highly recommended.



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: 59 vacancies, incl. posts with: Energy Action Scotland, The Action Group, Royston Youth action, Streetwork, Rosemoutn Lifelong Learning, Neighbourhood Networks, Re-Union.


EVENTS: ‘Reducing falls in older people’ event, Scottish Healthy Communities Collaborative, 23 Feb, Perth; ‘ID cards – in whose interests?’ Civic Forum event, 28 Feb, Edinburgh; ‘As If By Magic…Putting Communities at the Heart of Community Planning’ 11 March, Motherwell 15 March, The Social Economy in rural Scotland – leading the way? Making the case seminar, 17 March, Dumfries; ‘Making it happen – integrating Scotland’s new communities’, 24 March, Glasgow; BabyGROE annual conference weekend, 5-6th May, Kingscote Park, Gloucestershire.



Certain business activities seem to be ‘naturals’ for community based social enterprise.  Child care is one – managed workspace – and increasingly, recycling.  Certain recycling social enterprises are in the process of breaking through to the big time – none more so that ECT who won the integrated waste management contract with Ealing Borough Council.  Scoop for Iain Gulland of CRNS who has persuaded Andy Bond from ECT to speak at an event on March 1st at the Tollbooth in Stirling 10am – 3.30pm.  Theme will be procurement and financing the sector other than grants.



Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is usually on the side of the ‘good guys’ – worth taking note.  Recent work – done at Bristol University – found that a statutory cap on lending interest rates would make credit for poor people more difficult to find.  The research pinpoints a key role for non profit lenders ‘Moves towards larger, more professionally run credit unions and regional, community based loan schemes – run in partnership with banks – seem promising.’  



This week’s bulletin profiles Woodschool, a social enterprise based near Newton St Boswells in the Borders, formed in 1996. Woodschool uses local hardwoods (elm, oak, ash, alder and beech) and traditional design skills to produce high quality local products and is the trading arm of the Borders Forest Trust, which manages 1000 hectares of land, much of which is ancient woodland. The company has established buyDesign to market their products, which they hope, will become a leading brand across Scotland. For further info’, see



Restorative Justice’ seeks to confront offenders with the impact of their behaviour – on the victim, the community and on their family.  They could be required to apologise to the victim – or to make some form of reparation.  This process has proven to be particularly effective with minor offending by young people and last Friday the Scottish Executive announced that they were extending this provision throughout Scotland.  Social entrepreneur Keith Simpson of SACRO – who pioneered this approach in Scotland, said ‘SACRO has been advocating the use of restorative justice in dealing with young people for some time and we welcome today’s announcement.’ Keith is chair of Scotland UnLtd.



Arthur Miller, the great American idealist and intellectual, has died aged 90.  Playwright David Mamet wrote a tribute in last Sunday’s New York Times

”Death of a Salesman’ and ‘The Crucible’ are two great American tragedies.  We are freed, at the end of these two dramas, not because the playwright has arrived at a solution, but because he has reconciled us to the notion that there is no solution – that it is the human lot to try and fail, and that no one is immune from self-deception. For two hours we lay aside the delusion that we are powerful and wise – we engage with the problems, both universal and eternal, which are insoluble.  To find beauty in the sad – hope in the midst of loss – and dignity in failure – is great poetic art.  Arthur Millers work – and the example of a life lived with quiet dignity – are each an inspiration.


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


Best wishes,



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