Senscot Bulletin: 23-09-05


(Going out weekly to over 2700)

Dear members and friends,

Recently I’ve started reading stories in the Old Testament – no idea why.  It’s amazing the folk who down through the ages believed that God spoke to them.  Hustlers, murderers, drunkards – some real bams.  It’s the lust for power, for women, for life, that drives these stories – but just when it’s all going pear shaped – God pops up again.  So far, David is my favourite – real star quality.  Have you noticed that in Michelangelo’s statue, he looks like Elvis? Before he became the King, David had a really tough time – in exile he started writing songs.  My favourite psalms are his ones about discouragement – it’s as though he invented the Blues.  Bono of U2 says ‘when I hear the ‘open throat’ of Al Green and Stevie Wonder I reconnect to a part of me I have no explanation for ….my soul I guess.’
 I’ve lived alone in my remote cottage for over a year – still love it – but folk who live alone can go a bit wonky – why have I started reading the bible?  Friend Nando drove me home last night – in pitch dark. ‘Don’t know how you can stand it here yourself’ he said ‘If Maria’s away for a few days I hate it.’  Told me he’s been married 43 years.  ‘It works because we’ve adjusted – we both squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.’  This morning my stove has gone out – my kitchen is full of dirty dishes and washing – but I feel a winner.  Cos all this mess is mine alone – unadjusted.  Sometimes I want for company – but mostly I prefer solitude. However, if I start claiming that God is speaking to me, someone come and get me.

On 29th July, we posted a joint letter to the Herald from Malcolm Chisholm and Angiolina Foster which gave unqualified commitment that second stage housing transfers will go ahead in Glasgow. For the past 8 weeks, an average of 66 people have opened this document, and it’s difficult to understand why – unless this is a subject of enduring interest. In March 2003, Glasgow Council transferred control of its 80,000 houses to Glasgow Housing Association as the first stage of their transfer to community based housing associations. This new vision for social housing in Scotland – pioneered in places like Govanhill, Queenscross, Renton etc is great cause for optimism and our parliament should be praised – as long as it happens. Freed of historic debt, the GHA made £80m profit in its first year. Last year, it was £110m. This is now a serious ‘milk cow’ but there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for the next stage. Every bureaucrat I know is a centralist. My instinct is that they will resist dispersing this empire. We should keep the pressure on ministers.

Last week, we published our report on services provided by Business Gateway to Social Enterprises.  The main recommendation of the report was the establishment of a social enterprise office within Business Gateway that could provide a consistent and uniform service to social enterprises irrespective of which part of the country they were located. The report has attracted a lot of interest and comment with over 150 people downloading the report.  We’ve asked Les Huckfield to expand a little on his conclusions. We’d welcome your comments to our feedback page. .Also, see Report Summary

At our AGM this year, Andy Wightman told us that across Scotland there are hundreds of properties and bits of land that form part of the ‘Common Good’ of Scotland’s 260 or so former Burghs. They range from Town Halls and libraries to gap sites, offices, links and parks. He is in the process of writing up a report on the topic containing recommendations on the future of common good land – he’d like to hear from anyone with a story to tell. He also tells us about Mary McKenzie from Peebles who has submitted a petition to the parliament about common good assets. We also post the petition – I love it. Hope it runs and runs.

Martin Meteyard passes on Lesley Riddoch’s request for sponsorship for a final edition of Africawoman .

Last week we posted a letter from the Big Lottery Fund inviting me to contribute my ‘tuppence worth’ at a seminar about a new Programme they are considering. We received a phone call asking us to remove the letter as ‘it is not in the public domain’. We’ve complied – but I wonder what that’s about?

YELLOW PAGES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to and we’ll post them on our site. This week:

JOBS: 90 vacancies, incl. posts with: Big Issue Scotland, Fourwalls Co-operative Housing Association, Applied Care and Development, Forth Valley Advocacy, North Edinburgh Childcare, Dunedin Canmore

SPECIAL OFFERS: BioRegional Development Group is launching a buyers club for sustainable building products called One Product Products (OPP) and seeks suppliers of such products and materials for use in the residential construction and refurbishment industry. 

EVENTS: CVS Training Initiative, Teambuilding & Communication, 7 Oct; Scottish League of Credit Unions, Bert Mullen Lecture, 20 Oct; SUFI – Learning Uncovered for the voluntary sector, 10 Nov; Voluntary Arts Wales, Value – Include – Connect, 12 Nov ; Third Sector Training Courses, 15 Oct

The Development Trust Association held its UK wide conference in Glasgow this week with a record 360 delegates. Recent research shows that both the capital assets and the incomes of Trusts continue to rise. DTA Scotland now has over 60 full members with more in the pipeline. There are several signals from the Executive that they would like to encourage the acquisition of assets by community organisations and this, of course, is a central tenet of the Development Trust movement. DTA Scotland is on the up. 

Mentioned last week that an impressive bunch of folk calling themselves ‘the culture club’ met on Sept 12 to confer about the Cultural Commission report. Joyce McMillan has prepared a beautifully written note of their conference which I found most interesting.   Yesterday (22nd Sept.), the Scottish Parliament debated this issue altho’ we hear only 15 to 20 MSPs turned up. Many in the cultural sector will be disappointed to hear that a formal decision will now not take place until December. Sketch of the debate here:

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, set up by the Loft Youth Project (LYP), in the town of Keith in Moray. The Loft Project has been on the go since 2002. From its premises in a former hotel, it set up a popular youth project, providing a social venue as well as support workers for young people in Keith. Now it has gone a step further by buying a restaurant in the town’s main street. This will operate as a commercial venture with profits being gift aided back to Loft. With a £40k grant from the Community Land Unit and an additional mortgage, LYP has bought the Craighurst Restaurant in the town’s main street. In the first year of trading, they aim to employ four staff, providing training opportunities for a minimum of four more. With a commitment to ‘green’ sustainability practice, produce will be sourced locally where possible. For more info’, see

Norman MacCaig (1910 – 1996) could write in an unpretentious way about ordinary things and make them astonishing. He said that his mother, a Gaelic-speaker from Harris, used English with a freshness that opened up the potential of language to him. I’ve chosen this poem for the line, ‘Forgive the love I feel in only my way.’

‘Forgive me, unknown creators, forbears whose blood flickers and dwindles in me. Like you, I’m a leaf that hangs down helpless on the tree of my people. And like you I move in whatever wind blows from whatever spaces. Forgive the love I feel in only my way and the griefs I suffer in only my way of suffering. For Time’s microbes work ceaselessly, changing you and me and everything with no thought of forgivingness.’ – Like You, Like Everyone, from the collection Voice-Over.

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.

Best wishes,