Senscot Bulletin: 21.06.13

Dear members and friends,

 The internet, as a limitless source of information, is changing human life; inevitably the world’s two dominant ideologies compete to control it; those who would monopolise it for private gain – versus those who strive to keep it free and open for all.  Leading the monopolists – is of course – big business; those giant Corporations which influence the behaviour of our media – our economies – our very governments.
 Fascinating paper by Roberto Verzola – which invokes Isaac Asimov’s first law for Robots: "A Robot may not injure a human being – or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm".  Verzola says that Corporations are a man-made species of business automata – which have exceeded Science Fiction’s worst nightmares – about runaway created systems.  When we granted legal personhood to Corporations – we endowed them with the single purpose of maximising profit; like the giant prehistoric predators – they now roam the world – devouring all they encounter.
 Verzola argues that Corporations are now the dominant species on earth – out of control – trashing human society and the natural world with impunity.  They now occupy the top of the food chain – have become the greatest threat to human wellbeing – the very survival of many species.  He calls on us to re-establish control over Corporations – by subjecting them to Asimov’s law for automata; and by hunting down the disobedient ones – disbanding, bankrupting and otherwise eliminating them.

The attraction, for me, of an independent Scotland – would be the opportunity to shape a fairer society; the long run-up to the vote – allows time to examine different versions of the ‘good society’. Apart from the Greens, the political parties have nothing radical to propose – too feart; so we look to civil society groupings – for a bolder vision – that might capture the public imagination. So Say Scotland, Radical Scotland, A Just Scotland, Compass in Scotland etc. are all active in this area. I try to follow these initiatives – looking for signs of combustion into a popular movement. The Jimmy Reid Foundation’s ‘Common Weal’ – which has found favour with the Herald – has got the best chance so far – but the trick will be to keep it in a neutral space; not collide with any of the obsolete hulks which clutter Scotland’s political shallows.  See,

Many people I speak with express surprise – and I think disappointment – that the naked greed and corruption of bankers and politicians – has not resulted in more public anger and protest. Must say I wonder myself what it would take to get me on a protest march again (last one was Feb 2003 – against Iraq War). I enjoyed this piece by Kevin McKenna, asking why Britain has never had a Revolution. See,

In the USA they call ‘payment by results’ – ‘payment for success’ and this piece tells how Harvard University is assisting six states to progress SIBs.  I don’t believe the third sector has been clear enough about how damaging this model of procurement could be for the quality of services.  See,  Andrea Westall, of the Third Sector Research Centre, says in this paper that the current trend of measuring outcomes fails to capture the ‘process benefits’ of third sector delivery.  Why are academics so vague? See,

Those of us who work in third sector are proud to speak of its ethos of being ‘value based’; but could we articulate what the values are which we assume we share? Came across this list – signed off by the Board of NAVCA in 2007; 8 values and principles which cover much of the territory – (I would have something there about equality). Does anyone know of any more recent work on third sector values – perhaps Scottish?

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Glasgow Bike Station, Turning Point Scotland, Routes to Work South, The Melting Pot, Social Firms Scotland, Fife Employment Access Trust, West Lothian Social Enterprise Network
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Arts Market, 22 Jun; Wiff Waff Wednesday, 26 Jun; Illuminated Letters Workshops, 28 Jun; Sleepless ’til Seattle – illustrated adventure talk, 30 Aug
TENDERS: Provision of Occupational Health and Welfare Services – Argyll and Bute Council, Provision of a Childcare Voucher Scheme – Inverclyde Council and Dumfries & Galloway LEADER Evaluation. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: The Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network (ESEN) on behalf of Edinburgh City Council has recently completed research into social enterprise in Edinburgh. Key findings in the report include: the social enterprise sector in Edinburgh is conservatively estimated at120 organisations; over 4,400 people are involved in the running of social enterprises; over 3,000 volunteers; the sector generates £44m per annum; an impressive 74% of the sector’s income is generated from trading; with almost two thirds of organisations generating at least 50% of their income through trading. See press release including full report,  For more Networks 1st, see

Social Firms Scotland, one of our partners in the Supporting Social Enterprise (SSE) Alliance, is on the lookout for a Communication Officer. To apply, see

If you work with children, who have been variously failed by our care system (as I did) – Scot Jenni Fagan’s stunning debut novel, The Panopticon, is a must read.  Narrated by the unforgettable Anais – a smart, fierce, funny 15 year old – with 147 convictions – I found it courageous, uncompromising and moving.  I’m left with an awareness of the burden we place on children – by asking them to participate obediently in a sadly inadequate system.  Stuart Kelly in the Scotsman was also impressed – Fagan is a serious talent.  See,

Mary Duffy, author of the recent ‘Shining Armour or Sheep’s Clothing’ Report on Social Investment in the UK, is carrying out some further research for The Big Lottery (Scotland) exploring the extent of social investment finance available to social enterprises in Scotland – from sources within and outwith Scotland. It’d be a big help if you could take 5 mins to complete Mary’s short survey – deadline is Friday 28th June. See,

The Scottish Govt’s new Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) contract has recently been awarded to a consortium led by the UK Energy Saving Trust. This has come as a surprise to many as Community Energy Scotland (CES), who have delivered this contract since April 2009, had built up a reputation for offering high quality support to the numerous communities across Scotland trying to harness the potential of renewable energy for the benefit of their respective communities. CES has issued a statement on the back of losing out on this contract, setting out their plans for the future. For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that champions the cause for self-employment for people with long-term conditions. Work4ME was set up in June 2012 following research commissioned by The ALLIANCE (then LCTAS) into the experiences of people living with ME-CFS and the challenges they face with employment and managing their condition. Its members comprise professional people who have come together to find a solution to their work/life balance – offering a range of services that include: Marketing; Personal Development; Training; Project Management; Research; and Transcription. For more, see

This is a quote from ‘The Sun, My Heart’ by the Buddhist monk and peace campaigner, Thich Nhat Hanh.

"Each of us needs to ‘belong to’ a place, such as a retreat centre or a monastery, where each feature of the landscape, the sounds of the bell, and even the buildings are designed to remind us to return to awareness. It is helpful to go there from time to time for several days or several weeks to renew ourselves. Even when we cannot actually go there, we only need to think of it, and we can feel ourselves smile and become peaceful and happy. Each of us must find a spiritual homeland where we can retreat from time to time, much as we ran to our mothers for refuge when we were young."

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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