Senscot Bulletin: 21.04.11

Dear members and friends,

The two large trees in front of my cottage are in full bloom – our gardener/ philosopher/postman says they’re Geans (hard G) – a type of wild cherry from Eurasia – spectacular clusters of white flowers – 40 feet high. Sunday is warm – spend hours in the garden, in sunlight – pace myself well – returning to awareness time and again. First butterfly of the year – crimson brown; the goldfinches are back (I wonder where they go) ; big, lethargic bees among the pansies. Prepare a bed with compost – string out some canes – get the sweetpeas in; like a child at play – engrossed in another world.
 After lunch, our wee clachan fills up with cars; – the church folk are doing `daffodil teas` in the hall, 2-4; the sun has brought out the punters. My neighbour Kylie drops by looking troubled – she’s nearly 5. “Sandy called my flowers weeds”. (She’s clutching three drooping dandelions). “Yes, Kylie, most people call dandelions weeds – but you don’t have to agree. See these thistles – most people call them weeds but I put them here because I like them.” She thinks about this – leaves looking defiant.
 Around 4pm someone reverses into my Panda – paint not broken – but a dent. Guy can’t get over how not bothered I am. Wants to exchange particulars but I tell him to forget it. “They call me mellow yellow”.

From the outset, Senscot’s statement of values has included this – “we embrace the spirit of the ‘open source’ IT community – whereby our network makes information openly accessible, to foster collaboration”.  Over the years, I have become even more convinced that this free exchange of information is one of the defining characteristics of the social enterprise movement – a different way to organise society.  The private business model of ‘franchising’, for instance, is alien to our counter culture.  If any social enterprise wishes to copy something Senscot does – we’ll help – without ties.  The campaign to place ‘open source’ values at the heart of SE philosophy, is ably championed by social entrepreneur Geof Cox; he will be speaking on this subject at the amazing Future Everything Festival in Manchester 11th – 14th May.

The transfer of land and assets from local authorities to community groups, has made significant progress in Scotland over recent years. Our Development Trust Association (DTA Scotland) has been operating a bespoke service since 2003 – and the decision by our Lottery to make ownership a condition of funding from its Growing Community Assets programme – was highly influential. The adoption by Moray Council of the attached `asset transfer strategy` continues this momentum – the best example of such a document Senscot has seen. Its author says that Councillors have asked for tweaks – that it remains work in progress. See,

None of the pundits can decide whether Labour or SNP will win the election on May 5th – it`s going to be close.  My hope is that whoever forms the next Govt. will need the 8 votes which the Greens are going to win – with my help.  Our compilation of manifesto references to the third sector – by all parties – is proving popular.

What do you make of this alternative vote debate – not sure I fully understand it.  I tend to look at the individuals for and against – decide who I trust more.  In general, I think our politics is too static – vested interests resisting change.  I tend to vote to shake things up.  This BBC document explains things.

I read somewhere recently, that the contract being issued by the UK Govt. to its new third sector `Strategic Partners` – requires them to `support Govt. policy`.  It depends what they mean by that, of course, but if you take for example the Locality contract to train community organisers – there are innate contradictions ( an organiser`s reference point needs to be the community not the Govt).  Jess Steele, who is managing the programme at Locality, addressed this issue directly in a recent talk.  “We say that the Govt. is backing us to do our work – not the other way round.  This is a crucial point.”  Very interesting. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS:  Social Investment Scotland, Geeza Break, Inclusion Scotland, Museums Galleries Scotland, Show Racism the Red Card, The Salvation Army, Spruce Carpets, Fyne Futures, Zero Tolerance, Venture Trust
EVENTS: Leading Edge, 28 Apr, Bottled Tears: The Stow-Away War Bride, 5 May, Employment Law: The basics, 11 May, Using creative approaches to evaluate your project, 12 May
TENDERS: Supply of Electrical Equipment and Consumables; UK-Kilmarnock: Provision of Special Needs School Transport Service; Provision of Occupational Health Services to The Highland Council;

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Interest in thematic SENs is continuing to grow. With Health, Sport and Creative SENs already active to varying degrees, there is growing interest in new thematic areas. Over the last year, these have included the areas of Youth and Community Food. And this month, we have been asked to explore opportunities for greater engagement between SENs and the housing community.  The model we use for thematic SENs involves establishing a Network of social enterprises (Scotland-wide) involved in a particular theme. In addition, we will set up a strategically placed partnership (Roundtable) that involves key public and third sector bodies and social enterprises (on a revolving basis). Meeting quarterly, the Roundtable seeks to deliver the change required to overcome barriers faced by social enterprises in terms of delivering their services and to unlock the potential added value they can bring.  Over the coming months, we will feature a regular Roundtable Round-up to keep you informed of the progress being made in these thematic areas. For more Networks News, see

The first Social Enterprise and Sport National Conference takes place on 1st June 2011 at the Stirling Management Centre. If you’re interested in attending, see Online Booking Form, The programme and flyer are also available – with a couple of speakers still to be confirmed. See,

The 6th S2S took place at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh yesterday. This premier event in Scotland’s social enterprise calendar has been growing year on year. Over 700 delegates attended this year with over 100 exhibitors – a great buzz about the place. Two stalls that seemed particularly popular were Hebridean Chocolates and The Wooden Spoon Catering Company (see below). Social entrepreneurs obviously like their scoff! See more,

Big bash in Dundee tonight (Thursday) when local SEN member, The Wooden Spoon Catering Company, hosts a dinner for over 200 guests at the Bonar Hall in the city. The event – `Jam, Jute and Jalfrezie` – will pay tribute to the historical jam and jute industries but also marks the launch of The Wooden Spoon’s new booking and payment website ( The company has gone from strength to strength since it first started its `Friday Night Curry Night` service late last year, now employing 15 women (7 full-time). If you fancy a curry, Dundee is looking like the place to be. See

Last week’s bulletin profiled the success of Social Firms Scotland member, Erskine Garden Centre. This week, we profile another successful social firm – LAMH Recycling Ltd. Over the last month, LAMH Recycling Ltd has picked up the Community Resource Network Scotland Member of the Year 2011 award as well as scooping the Best Performing Social Enterprise 2011 at the Lanarkshire Business Excellence Awards. Set up in 1999, and based in Motherwell, they provide a supportive work environment for people (currently 130 people), experiencing mental ill health and other disadvantaged groups. See more,

From Tony Judt’s book ‘Ill Fares the Land’.  “Until the late 1980s, it was quite uncommon to encounter promising students with an interest in attending business school.  In 1971 almost everyone was – or wanted to be thought – some sort of Marxist.  By the year 2000, few students had any idea what that even meant – much less why it was once so appealing.  But are my students since the 1990s truly more selfish?  They see around them no examples to follow – no arguments to engage – no goals to pursue.  The purpose of life, pursued by everyone they see, is to succeed in business.  As we know from Tolstoy, ‘there are no conditions of life to which a person cannot get accustomed – especially if they are accepted by everyone around’.”

That’s all for this week.

May the sun shine on your Easter holiday

Good luck with your adventures

Happy Easter,


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