Senscot Bulletin: 21.09.12

Dear members and friends,

Older people can fall into rigid patterns – lose the appetite for curiosity, risk, exploration.  I was comfy last week on the Costa – shuffling between my familiar haunts – but for unclear reasons, this week finds me in ‘tourist mode’ – in Barcelona!  As a tentative tourist – I opt for a hotel 3 metro stops outside the city.  Arriving late Friday – I head out to find a local restaurant – only to discover that my hotel is located in a vast peripheral industrial estate.  Trudging those darkening, deserted streets – I will never again be so relieved to happen upon – an IKEA!  For over an hour I sit happily among Catalan families – mostly young with children – really enjoying the vibe.  But my first meal in Barcelona is those dreadful Swedish meatballs.
 Tuesday – writing this in my favourite tapas bar – in the old town, in the shadow of the Cathedral; I have already fallen headlong for this great city and its people.  Part of my infatuation is the passion of recent history – the civil war, Orwell, Dali, Miro, Gaudi etc; but it’s the visual vitality of contemporary Barca which grabs – its extraordinary architecture and design.  Then another vitality registers – a blend of enthusiasm and confidence – from citizens who believe, that, like their football team – their capital is simply the best.  Not clear what I was expecting here – but the experience has been like a jolt from jump leads – firing an old engine.  For me, all the hype is justified – I’ll certainly be back.  Visca Catalunya!

Big Society Capital (BSC) – made an announcement this week about how its money is to be invested;
it amounts to a confirmation that certain ‘for profit’ businesses will be eligible. Regular readers will know that many of us anticipated this move. See, BSC aspires to become a sustainable bank – more than anything it needs lots of businesses paying market rates for money – the volume required was never going to come from the third sector – it is the wrong business model – someone’s ego trip. BSC had a problem – its investment capital is conditional on it going to the third sector – everyone knows that the third sector (by definition) excludes for profit businesses; so what do they do -they invent a new category called ‘social sector’ – which they can define as anything they want. If the Treasury let them away with this – it’s going to really blur the boundaries; as Julia Roberts, the hooker, said in Pretty Woman, "I can be anything you want, honey". I’ve expanded further on this theme. See,

See Big Society Capital`s latest list of investments. See,

Scottish Govt is currently going through its consultation process for the proposed Community Empowerment Bill. Attached is the response from the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS), which represents approx 200 community-led organisations. Their response is underpinned by three key principles by which they understand community empowerment: self-determination; local people leading; and subsidiarity. See

On this theme, the Edinburgh Green Party is hosting an open meeting looking at how Edinburgh can benefit from a major community empowerment bill. The event takes place at Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, 8pm on Thurs. 27th Sept. Speakers include land reform expert, Andy Wightman.
I believe it is important for people who do our work to hold certain core beliefs; for instance – I’ve always assumed, what we call ‘subsidiarity’, to be a philosophical truth; that the raison d’etre of a higher level or central institution is to support and serve the interests of lower level institutions. I believe that Scottish Govt’s consultation process for the proposed Community Empowerment Bill to be deficient – without any such philosophical frame of reference. Without this, the process will lack both substance and conviction.    Here’s an excellent piece defending ‘subsidiarity’ by George MacDonald Ross – ‘In Defence of Subsidiarity’. See,

Good piece in last week`s Scottish Community Alliance ‘Briefings’ on Orkney-based social enterprise, the Hostel Hub, and the extraordinary offer they are making to explore the untapped potential of community owned and run hostels, bunk houses and campsites in a local community in Scotland. See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: REAP, Townhead Village Hall, Edinburgh University Students Association, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, East Renfrewshire Women’s Aid, Workingrite, Lifelink,
EVENTS: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, 22 Sep; Hidden Gems of Garnethill, 23 Sep; Nourishing a Global Community, 23 Sep; Seminar: Children Missing from Care; 2 Oct;
TENDERS: ITQ for Independent Occupational Health Services, Design of Zero Waste Scotland House, Marketing the Great Highland Railway Journey and Home Furnishing Service in Stirling. For more details, see

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Earlier in the year the ReadyforBusiness Consortium hosted a series of ‘local events’ as part of the ‘Developing New Markets’ Programme – see, . The events were designed to create a shared understanding between public sector commissioners and procurement teams and the third sector at a local level. A new round of local events has now been scheduled over the autumn months. Details have yet to be finalised but the areas being considered are Tayside; Forth Valley; the Lothians; Fife; East/West Dunbartonshire; and Argyll and Bute. For info’, contact . For more Networks News, see

This year’s Senscot Seminar and AGM is being be held on Friday 5th Oct at City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow (10am – 2pm). See Agenda, . Our topic for this year’s Seminar will be ‘A Scottish Community Bank’ – with guest speaker Malcolm Hayday (CEO, Charity Bank). The event is free to full company members (individuals) with £20 charge for all others (i.e. Associates, non-members etc). We still have around 10 places available. If you’d like to come along, see

Community Enterprise has been supporting community businesses and local people for 25 years. To celebrate this milestone, they are hosting a Ceilidh on 11th October (from 7pm) at Oran Mor in Glasgow’s west end. The staff and Board of Community Enterprise is keen to share their celebration with social enterprises and their supporters. Though pretty near capacity, there are some places left and an invitation is being extended to all social enterprises to come and celebrate with them.  Their birthday bash will be an informal affair with live music, good food, good company as well as providing a chance to catch up with old friends in the social enterprise community. The Ceilidh is free to attend. If you’d like to join them, contact

The 4th Cross Party Group on Social Enterprise meets next Tuesday (25th Sept) at 1.15pm in the Scottish Parliament. The main subject for discussion will be the new Procurement Reform Bill. Attendance is free. You can book your place here,

This week’s bulletin profiles a café in Inverness that offers opportunities to disadvantaged young people to train alongside professionals from the hospitality business. Café Artysans is a joint venture between the Calman Trust and Albyn Housing Association. The Café opened last year and, soon after, won the Highland and Islands Food and Drink Award for Innovation. The Café is centrally located and also provides an outside catering service. See more,

Can’t get Guardian or Observer in Spain anymore- don’t know why- got weekend FT instead – enjoyed piece by Simon Schama called ‘Why I write’ – championing the essay as a form; his own style’s a bit pompous for me.
 "Writing has always seemed to me a fight against loss – an instinct for replay; a resistance to the attrition of memory; an attempt to translate lived experience into a pattern of words that preserves its vitality.  The best essay writing is where this re-animation of experience is shaped by the purposeful urgencies of thought – it is not the thoughtless recycling of experience for its own sake – the fetishising of impulses – which these days is what mostly passes as ‘blog’ – a word well suited to its swampy suck of self indulgence." See,
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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