Senscot Bulletin 18-06-2004



Dear members and friends,


My mum died before I started primary school so when I was wee I moved between grannies – two formidable women – born in the 1890s.  In 1953 I visited the valley in Southern Italy which they left in 1920.  Houses were still without electricity or plumbing – dirt floors – wood fires.  They survived from harvest to harvest – some even shared living space with their bits of livestock.  My people were ‘contadini’ – farmers.  They were proud to farm their own land – but I sense they also knew hunger.

            Life with both my ‘nonni’ involved lots of visits to/from sturdy matrons dressed in black.  These visits followed a pattern.  A period of weeping for the dead (I was frequently wept on for being motherless).  A period of gossip.  And then endless passionate talk about – food.  They would take turns to recount memorable meals – renowned recipes.  ‘No one made ‘lasagne’ like Zia Carmela.’  Looking back I have great respect for these women – tough enough to transplant their families from hardship to a new country.  I’m proud of my roots.

            Friends returning from holiday sometimes ask – don’t you wish your grandparents had stayed in Italy.  The weather – food – their football team.  Having crap weather and a crap football team is, for me, part of being a Scot.  We are a stoical people.  What I find harder though is the crap food.  Those ‘contadini’ women were carriers of an oral tradition centuries old – of respect for food as the celebration of life.  Buon’ appetito.



The Labour party in the UK is in the middle of an intense and constructive debate on how far to spread power down from local councils to neighbourhood bodies – as a way of invigorating citizenship and local democracy.  In a DEMOS lecture Alan Milburn floated the idea of allowing local groups limited revenue raising powers as part of the New Localism Agenda.  Other MPs like Nick Raynsford and Yvette Cooper advocate that local groups should take on some council powers like local parks, the street scene, local safety and regeneration.  Opponents of these proposals argue that empowered communities can justify the worst kind of nimbyism.  (  



68 people for the AGM – usual animated gathering – many thanks to James Cornford our guest speaker for coming up from Norfolk.  Thanks also to those of you who came and for the many messages of goodwill.  The special resolution was passed unanimously – we are to become a limited company.  Here is a link to Laurence’s short speech.  (  



The Scotsman – our so called national newspaper – continues to deteriorate. Hysterical and dishonest piece in Scotland on Sunday alleging £100 million missing charity funds. Are they becoming a tabloid?  (   SCVO, who castigated The Scotsman, have also called for a clearer definition of what public benefit means in the new Scottish Charities Bill.  Should posh schools get charitable status?  Two good articles on this.  (‘Call for ‘public benefit’ definition’;  What is charity?  



If your organisation is reaching the stage where you are considering the possibility of a nice wee council contract you should consider going up to Inverness next Wednesday where you can spend the day with other like minded social enterprises.  It’s the official launch of the Procurement Guide but the programme is designed to give a feel to the whole process.  (  If you would like to be sent a copy of the guide fill in this form. (  



Our new website goes live today – you can visit it at the same address (  At this stage it has three main uses.  Background stuff about Senscot – hundreds of archived documents – and our yellow pages, jobs, events etc which anyone in our sector is welcome to use free.  Next week we are interviewing for the post of Senscot Exchange Manager.  When that person comes into post new bits will be added to our website to help social enterprises find the practical assistance they need.



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: 52 vacancies, incl: International Association for Community Development, Pathhead Youth Project, Girvan Horizons, LCIL, Enable, The Bike Station, Rural & Urban Training Scheme Ltd.


EVENTS: Centre for Human Ecology, Masked Celildh, Edinburgh, 19 June. World Refugee Day – Free summer Festival, Queen’s Park, Glasgow, 20 June; Midsummer Festival, Craigencault Ecology Centre, Kinghorn, Fife, 20 June; CESEL networking event , St Boswells, 21 June; ‘Imagine The Clyde’ Imagine Scotland Event, Glasgow, 22 June; ‘A new deal for disadvantaged people’ event, Edinburgh, 29 June.


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



‘A happy marriage? Corporate responsibility and social enterprise’ is a free supplement from the latest New Statesman magazine. Click here:



England has a Land Restoration Trust and the Welsh National Assembly are in the process of creating theirs.  Why can’t Scotland have one of these?  LRT will acquire derelict land that is not suitable for redevelopment and work with local organisations to create new ‘green amenities’ – providing benefits both for people and for nature.  Good article explaining the concept in New Start Magazine.  (  Senscot spoke with LRT and if there is interest in Scotland they would offer support.



This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow based workers co-operative supplying Scotland with over 3000 vegetarian/vegan, organic/non-organic, GM free wholefoods.  GreenCity was set up in 1978 in answer to the need for a warehousing co-operative to supply existing wholefood outlets across Scotland.  Four founder members started the co-op but this soon grew to eight workers, while deliveries expanded from eight to over fifty outlets.  During the 1980s, the business had to expand to meet the demands of a growing list of 200 customers spread throughout Scotland and Northern England.  Over the years, GreenCity has continued to grow, expanding up to twenty five members and increasing it’s turnover to £2.25 million.  For further info’, see  (project profiles)



Last week we mentioned how the Church of Scotland is focussing its community development work on the 54 poorest parishes in Scotland.  Senscot trustee Liz Gardiner offers the cultural perspective.  ‘There is a noticeable shift within the Church of Scotland away from assuming that parishioners will flock to a building once a week to receive spiritual enrichment.  More and more, ministers of all faiths are embracing the role of socially engaged cultural projects to generate community cohesion, raise hope and aspiration.  One example is the reverend Russell McLarty whose parish in the north of Glasgow includes Blackhill, Provanmill, Royston and Germiston.  For the story of the Royston Road Project (of which, Russell is the chair person and inspirational leader) see’  



It’s natural for us to assume that consciousness is a function of our intellect – but all spiritual traditions teach that true consciousness is only possible when mental activity is stilled.  This is the core message of the sutras of Patanjali – the oldest and most important text ever written on yoga.  The opening sutras contain Patanjalis entire message in a nutshell.  ‘Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence – only when the mind is silent can we realise our own true nature – the effortless being of self.  Our essential nature is usually overshadowed b the activity of the mind.’


That’s all for this week.  Wishing us all some stillness.

Best wishes,



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