Dear members and friends,
Alongside religious instruction (which I took seriously) – films and comics about cowboys had a major influence on my childhood. My world divided comfortably into ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ – who behaved in predictable ways; when I was 12, Gary Cooper made High Noon with a simple message: if the goodies face up to the baddies with courage – we will triumph. “When I was a child – I understood as a child – but when I became a man – I put away the things of childhood”.
Thomas Hardy wrote: “all things merge into one another – good into evil – generosity into justice – religion into politics…” He is describing moral ambiguity – ‘the dangerous edge of things’: the honest thief – the tender murderer – the superstitious atheist. The adult world does not divide easily into good and bad people; we are all a complex of good and bad impulses – which emerge in different situations – can be difficult to separate.
This piece was prompted by my decision to abandon the boxed set of Breaking Bad – midway through the second season. Watching the moral disintegration of what was once a good man became distressing – what sympathy I had for Walter White evaporated. I understand (and agree with) Breaking Bad’s core message – that in the real world, there are few people of authentic virtue. But it feels wrong to me that there is such universal assent for the nihilism of this world view. I’ve moved on from the 12 year old watching High Noon – but not to this pessimism.
As expected, Scotland’s Community Empowerment Bill passed into law this week – making it easier for communities, with sufficient confidence, to take control of buildings and land. The significance of Scotland’s ‘right to buy’ legislation should not be minimized – measures to simplify and extend these powers are most welcome. But the main barrier to the empowerment of our communities, is not the occasional land or property deal, it’s the structural remoteness of our elected representatives – and I can’t agree with the Govt’s Marco Biagi that this Bill is "a momentous step forward". Compared to all the countries of Europe, we have a missing tier of local democracy – which prevents our cities, towns and villages from being represented by the folk who live there. For reasons that I don’t understand – the SNP administration refuses to discuss this issue; but next year – when we get the Holyrood elections out the way – I have a sense that an empowered civil society will take us in this direction.
At 200 pages, Pope Francis’ much anticipated encyclical will take time to absorb– but it seems to have hit the mark – and I’m already enjoying the flow of journalistic commentaries. George Monbiot’s piece this week endorses Francis’ assertion – that not only the physical survival of the poor – but the spiritual welfare of all humankind depends on the protection of the natural world. A large body of research suggests that contact with the living world is essential for our well-being. Monbiot believes that this letter will be a significant boost for environmentalists and there is already evidence of this. See extract.
More than anywhere else in the world – the Basque Region in the north of Spain has evolved the workers’ co-operative business model; Mondragon is a federation of 103 worker-owned businesses – with a collective turnover in 2013 of 11 billion euros. This is an interesting interview with Jose Ugarte, President of Mondragon International, which illustrates how the co-operative culture balance social and economic considerations.
Health Secretary Shona Robison want public debate – so Scottish citizens and health service practitioners can share realistic expectations of our future NHS. At Holyrood last week – Jenny Marra – Labour spokesperson on Health – agreed to support this initiative and made a rare admission for a politician. “I am sure we can all think of examples where populism or political opportunity has overridden the desire to do what we know is best for our NHS, and we all should take some collective responsibility for that”. Well done, Jenny Marra – we need more of such candour. Any Govt needs vigorous opposition – but not to the detriment of services.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
JOBS: Instant Neighbour, The Village Storytelling Centre, The Action Group, Huntly and District Development Trust, Working Rite, Action for Children, Church of Scotland
EVENTS: Citizen Wellbeing Assembly Scotland, 25th Jun; EU Funding Masterclass, 26th Jun; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24th Sep.
TENDERS: Film and Animation Services Framework Agreement – Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (Care Inspectorate); Community Hub Business Plan Brief – Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust; Receipt and Processing of Dry Recyclable Materials from Kerbside and Communal Collections – City of Edinburgh Council; Provision of Respite Service to Children with Disabilities – Aberdeen City Council; and more.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot – in partnership with Social Firms Scotland, DTA Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance – will be hosting an information session on the new round of EU Funding next Friday, 26th June at the Teachers Building, St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow (10am -12noon). This ‘EU Masterclass’ – the first in a series – will be hosted by Les Huckfield. Les kindly put together an initial Note – on a need-to-know basis last week. He has been able to update this with further relevant information . Already, there has been a considerable level of interest in the event – over 40 folk have signed up so far. If you’d like to come along, book here.
The new round of Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) was launched this week – with the closing date to register as an employer being Monday 29th June. Now in its 5th phase, this round of CJS introduces a couple of new/additional elements: a) the employer processes are moving to an online system; b) the possibility of 3 or 6 month contract extensions will now be considered – on a case-by-case basis – for organisations can provide evidence that an individual would benefit from a longer period in the job; and c) additional funding is available to living wage employers that are committed to paying their CJS employees at least the living wage. See more.
One of the goals of the SE Vision 2025 is to “work with our education system to inspire a new generation of young people to engage with social enterprise”. This work is already underway with the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA) delivering its SE in Education Programme since 2008. The programme was set up to improve entrepreneurial and employability skills of pupils and support teachers in delivering Curriculum for Excellence. Since it began, SEA has worked with 732 schools, reaching over 30,000 young people and presenting SE School awards to around 200 schools. See most recent awardees.
Last week’s Social Enterprise Summit in Inverness had an international flavour – with guests from Canada and Australia. David Le Page (SE Council of Canada) gave examples of social enterprise amongst the indigenous communities in Canada; and, from Australia, David Brookes (Social Traders) gave an insight into the important role of social enterprise in the more remote parts of Australia. David Brookes shares his observations on the SE Summit and our ‘Scottish Model’.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in south west Edinburgh that provides a range of canal-based outdoor activities. Bridge 8 Hub offers outdoor experiences for groups including youth and community groups, charities, schools and colleges, corporate teams and even Hen or Stag parties. Their team of instructors brings a wealth of experience in delivering packages to all types of groups and individuals – aligning the experience with your desired outcomes, whether they are educational, team-building, developmental, or just for fun. Activities vary from more conventional kayaking and raft-building to ‘fatyaking’ and ‘akwakating’!
Today’s ‘intro’ is about moral ambiguity – this passage is on the same theme. It’s from ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan – which is set in the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Burma death railway. Not cheerful.
“Dorrigo Evans hated virtue, hated virtue being admired, hated people who pretended he had virtue or pretended to virtue themselves. And the more he was accused of virtue as he grew older, the more he hated it. He did not believe in virtue. Virtue was vanity dressed up and waiting for applause. He had had enough of nobility and worthiness, and it was in Lynette Maison’s failings that he found her most admirably human. It was in her unfaithful arms that he found fidelity to some strange truth of the passing nature of everything”.
That’s all for this week.
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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210