Dear members and friends,
In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero reflects on his retirement: ‘where every third thought shall be my grave’. While I don’t count the frequency – I too think of death every day – but not only in terror; sometimes there’s an intuition that accepting mortality would enrich my life. People are so uncomfortable with this subject that I’ve learned to restrain my ‘end of life’ reflections – but I notice a growing readership for such personal memoirs. Robert McCrum has written one called ‘Every Third Thought: on life, death, and the end game’.
From years of his weekly synopses in the Observer (200 best fiction and non-fiction books of all time), I already consider McCrum the best-read person of all time. His new volume is short – which I like – an extended essay; his style is meandering – almost jaunty – but thoughtful; there are several interviews – and the expected copious quotations from his favourite writers – but it’s his personal stuff I like most – the insights from his own journey.
‘Learning how to die’, ultimately requires ‘acceptance’ of our transience; don’t think anyone can help us with this. But for the closing period, ‘the remains of the day’, McCrum offers some thoughts: Celebrate ‘nowness’, he says; be glad you are old; pass on to your loved ones a positive delight in the world. I remember a lovely poem by Elaine Feinstein: “We all approach the edge of the same blackness which, for me, is silent. Knowing as much, sharpens my delight in January freesia, hot coffee, winter sunlight.”
The movement for land reform in Scotland recognises that so much of the big estates was stolen from ‘common land’ (the poor had no lawyers); this practice is epitomised by the violent clearances in Sutherland two hundred years ago – a shameful legacy. This is what makes the recent community buy-out of 3000 acres from the Sutherland estate so significant; descendants of the ‘cleared’ families regarding it as a ‘buy back’ of their heritage – hugely symbolic. The Scottish Land Commission only got underway in April – still bedding in; but the SNP administration, which I regularly accuse of timidity, must be commended for the calibre of our commissioners – their credentials provide much cause for optimism.
On Wednesday, the writer Andrew O’Hagan delivered a keynote lecture at the Edinburgh Book Festival – a moving evocation of what it means to be Scottish in 2017. Having read it (almost 7000 words), I can understand its enthusiastic reception – a tour de force.
If they can keep him from firing a nuclear missile, I believed, Trump’s term will soon implode without trace: ‘all sound and fury signifying nothing’. But his reluctance to condemn far right hatred in Charlottesville – crosses a line for me in his behaviour – different from slapstick posturing like the Mexican wall. The penny dropped this week that this man’s core position is racist – with the potential to damage not only his own country but others. It now becomes important – for the ‘soul’ of the US – that they reject this presidency – as alien to the founding principles of their nation. See New York Times piece.
As a community development worker (my trade), it is very difficult for me to imagine how any given community (geographic or thematic) could progress without, at least, its own newsletter: for focus, leadership, a voice; in a sense, this bulletin is ‘local press’ for a ‘community’ fostering a more ‘mutual’ Scottish society with an increasingly ‘social’ economy. This piece by David Hencke looks at the total collapse of local reporting in the context of the Grenfell Tower tragedy – and its consequences. The loss of our local press has unquestionably weakened local democracy – the ingenuities of social media have not yet devised a substitute.
One of the most telling barometers of deep deprivation in Scotland is the fluctuating population of drug addicts; stats released this week – of deaths from drug abuse – confirm that we are the worst in Europe at 867 – more than double our 2006 total of 421. Helping drug addicts is a highly complex challenge – which Scotland is clearly not getting right; has the time not come to get bolder – to decriminalise users – get alongside their reality. Meantime, these deaths – these cries of anguish – remind us that this is ‘the best wee country in the world’ – only for some of us.
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: Grampian Employment Opportunities, CVS Inverclyde, Helmsdale & District Development Trust, Govanhill Community Development Trust, Govan Community Project, The Tannahill Centre, The Ridge
EVENTS: Stirling Highland Games 2017, 19 Aug; Impact Festival, 28 Aug; Costing for Tenders, 31 Aug; Fife Soup 1, 1 Sept; Friday Night is Bistro Night 1st Sept; DTAS Annual Conf & AGM, 3rd/4th Sept;
TENDERS: Positive Emotional Wellbeing Support Service – Scottish Borders Council; Poverty & Social Inclusion – Community Outreach-Dumfries at Dumfries and Galloway Council; Rural Scotland Food Waste Roadshow – Zero Waste Ltd and more. Join Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update: One of the early interventions from the SE Action Plan includes a series of Social Innovation Masterclasses delivered by Scottish Enterprise. Senscot is working with Scottish Enterprise on themes for these Masterclasses – with the first one (on Tourism) due to be delivered in Glasgow in late September. The aim of this first Innovation Masterclass is to help social enterprises capitalise on opportunities created in the city as a result of increased visitor traffic – and to be able to contribute to enhancing the economic, environmental, social, and cultural life of Glasgow. The Masterclass will be delivered with contributions from Visit Scotland, GSEN and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau. Booking info’ available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, for further info’, contact Sarah@senscot.net
Firstport is now on the look-out for a new CEO with news this week that Karen McGregor is moving on after eight years in post. During this time, Karen has played a pivotal role in establishing Firstport as Scotland’s leading development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. As well as overseeing the Social Entrepreneurs Fund (with over 800 beneficiaries since 2009), she also introduced a series of innovative programmes such as LaunchMe and Ditto. Karen moves on to an exciting new position with the publicly-owned CalMac Ferries. We wish her well. Firstport will be holding interviews in mid-September.
A humble apology for last week’s story on social care co-operatives in England and Wales. We clearly overlooked the sterling work already being carried out by numerous social care SEs in Scotland. Here are some examples of innovative approaches to social care in Scotland: Perth Health and Wellbeing Co- op; Highland Home Carers; Stewartry Care; Lifecare (Edinburgh); and Cornerstone – a feature on Cornerstone’s Edel Harris from last Saturday’s Scotsman.
The Ferret is a co-operative media project which specialises in independent investigative journalism; Senscot is a member (£96 per annum) receiving regular email alerts of breaking stories. Particularly since the launch, in Spring 2017, of the Ferret Fact Service – we see the growing confidence of a media platform – not afraid to get up the trouser leg of the establishment. The Ferret is hosting ‘Symposium by the Sea’ in Anstruther in Fife on 9th Sept; the friendly tone of their flyer speaks of an organisation reflecting the best of the co-operative movement. Senscot wishes the Ferret every success – Scotland needs you.
Reminder of two big events coming up over next few weeks: DTA Scotland Conference – 2nd/3rd Sept at the Westerwood. Theme this year is ‘It’s All About People’. See Programme and booking details. Same week – at SVS 200 in Glasgow – on 6th Sept is the CEIS SE Policy and Practice Conference which, amongst other things, will see the launch of the 2017 SE Census. Again, see Programme and booking details.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Glasgow aiming to make a difference to people’s health and well-being by using leisure activities. Weekday Wow Factor (WWF) promotes physical and mental health through adventurous and fun local leisure occupations for adults in local communities. Working with a series of leisure venues across the city, WWF is offering activities that include the likes of daytime discos, trampolining, canoeing etc – and pole-dancing!! WWF is currently being set up as a CIC.
This is the short poem referenced in today’s intro: ‘Getting Older’ by Elaine Feinstein. I also love her even shorter one: Urban Lyric.
‘Getting Older’ by Elaine Feinstein
“The first surprise: I like it. Whatever happens now, some things that used to terrify have not: I didn’t die young, for instance. Or lose my only love. My three children never had to run away from anyone. Don’t tell me this gratitude is complacent. We all approach the edge of the same blackness which for me is silent. Knowing as much sharpens my delight in January freesia, hot coffee, winter sunlight. So we say as we lie close on some gentle occasion: every day won from such darkness is a celebration.”
That’s all for this week.
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