Senscot Bulletin: 24-06-2004



Dear members and friends,


I’m fascinated by the influence of genes on behaviour and personality – like the piece I did recently about the gene which predisposes us to look for God/spiritual meaning. Article in Tuesday’s New York Times (Thanks, Mike) about research which has found that our instinctive emotional reaction to certain issues is genetically influenced – that our genes prime us to respond – openly or cautiously (progressively or conservatively) to social and political issues. Our left or right wing preferences have genetic roots. Each of us is not only differently programmed – but we’re actually ‘hard wired’ differently. This helps me understand why so many people drive me daft. (

On a different issue – folk say that Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant at Gleneagles is one of the best in Scotland and my cousin went there recently on her anniversary.The four of them were invited by the head waiter to have pink champagne before dining – as though that’s what one does there. The four glasses cost £80 (£20 each). My question is – why has this ‘palazzo’ for the super-rich been chosen as the venue for world leaders to discuss our planet’s problems – including poverty. Is my anger genetic?

            On a different issue – a friend has just asked me to chum him to Malaga this weekend to appraise a small hotel for sale in the hills near Ronda. He insists that it is a ‘consultancy’ with all expenses paid. Obviously I can’t disappoint a friend – might as well stay the week? Next bulletin from the mountains of Andalucia – ya beauty! Some folk have told me, to my face, that my harping on about trips to Spain is most irritating. Arf arf.



Brian Tannerhill and several other readers strongly disagree with my ‘negativity’ last week about private sector influence. Just to clarify – I wasn’t referring to a trading social enterprise – but a charity that distributes awards. I should have made that clear. Nevertheless, Brian makes a good case. He says, ‘I look forward to the day when we all accept profit as a social word.’

Alistair Grimes criticism of the Futurebuilders investment portfolio was picked up in a Regeneration magazine piece which summarises the issues (   This is a useful debate which we can all join in.  I’m becoming optimistic that the infrastructure of our sector is steadying.  Malcolm Chisholm, though not a demonstrative chap, seems to care about social justice.  His depute Johanne Lamont is also getting into her stride.  In Paul Gray and Angeliona Foster, we’ve landed two excellent public servants who can think – manage and get on with their ministers.  Nearer the ground, the Social Economy Unit is enthusiastic and learning fast.  As all this continues to gel – gain in confidence – so it will become more relaxed and open and dare I say – bold.



The word on the street is that the setting up of the Social Economy Advisory Group is stalled over the makeup of the group.  The problem it seems is not so much finding experienced practitioners – but rather how to also accommodate those who traditionally represent the sector. The debate about Futurebuilders 2 – a crucial long term driver of social enterprise – needs to start now.  What better task for the new advisory group – to incorporate all the present learning into a dynamic ‘mark 2’



Last Friday was probably the best AGM we’ve had – not sure why.  Sometimes these things just ‘click’ – a new factor X enters the room – connects people.  Wish someone knew how to replicate this but it can’t be predicted – how a group of 50 somehow becomes ‘tuned’. Senscot in general seems to be ‘jumping’ – this is reflected in the amount of activity at the network’s cutting edge – the deal flow.  The trick is not to get choked up – to pass everything (information, contacts, opportunities) back out there.  Add value – pass it on.  ‘What goes around comes around.’  My remarks to the AGM are on the website:  



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: 49 vacancies, incl. posts with: Soil Association, Gorebridge Health & Regeneration Project, North Ayrshire CAB, Scottish Consumer council, Dance Base, Forestry Commission, Advocacy Project


EVENTS: ‘Research on Social Enterprise’ conf, Milton Keynes, 1-2 July; ‘New Consumer’ FairTrade Concert, Edinburgh, 1 July; Business in the Parliament Conference 2005, Edinburgh, Sept 8-9; Proposals call for: Practical Connections event for community and participatory arts practitioners, Edinburgh, 8-10 Sept.


In response to the publication of the Scottish Executive’s Cultural Review yesterday, SURF is holding an Open Forum in Edinburgh on Friday 1st July:



RESEARCH: Anyone in Dumfries area interested in linking up for local social research projects?


Forward Scotland’s initiative ‘Environment Jobs Scotland’ recently completed research into ‘maximising the job potential of a greener economy’. Details:


CBS Network wishes to donate archive material accumulated over the last 20 years. This includes information on community business, community co-operatives and community enterprises in Scotland over the last 2 decades. More info:



On Wednesday night Senscot attended the launch of SEDI’s Social Enterprise Business Planning Guide at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. The guide is for organisations looking to start a social enterprise or generate significant income from trading. It focuses on key issues and offers support through the main processes involved in developing a business plan for your social enterprise. It has been developed primarily with organisations in mind, but the principles are the same for individuals or groups of social entrepreneurs developing new ventures. SEDI has kindly offered 100 free copies to Senscot members – if you’re interested, contact (a PDF version is also available; for info, contact



This week’s bulletin profiles May-Tag Ltd, based in Maybole but working throughout South Ayrshire. May-Tag Ltd as a company operates 3 separate projects – Groundforces – Maybole Resource Centre – Maybole Access Point. The Company is currently expanding its activities into a wider social enterprise in partnership with private enterprise. Currently, they are seeking to develop a local heritage centre which will include a visitor attraction, tourist information and family history research service. These new initiatives will be based locally in a 15th century castle. May-Tag and Maybole itself were bolstered recently with their chair, David Keltie, receiving the MBE for services to the community. For further info’, see (project profiles)



For youse young ones, Albert Camus was a French writer philosopher (1913 – 1960) – a leader of the ‘existentialist’ movement of the 1940s/50s.  Camus held that philosophy’s central question is whether, in the face of human tragedy, life is worth living.  ‘There is only one truly serious philosophical question; suicide.’  Martha Gellhorn, the frontline war correspondent (one time wife of Hemingway) wrote that after seeing Dachau with the liberating troops, she lost any sense of the perfectibility of man.  ‘I do not really hope now – not really – I only feel that one can never give up.’

            Some folk argue that suicide can be a reasonable response to life’s absurdity – but Camus attacked ‘renouncing the struggle.’  Choosing annihilation, he said, was treating life with contempt.  The heroic solution is to take up willingly the ‘noble burden’ of life. He wrote: ‘In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.’


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


Best wishes,