Senscot Bulletin: 24.07.15

Dear members and friends,


The Open golf Championship is staged at the St. Andrews every 5 or 6 years – the town, the history, the Old course itself, make it my favourite venue; I’ve been a visitor since Jack Nicklaus won in 1978. ’84 was the year Seve nicked it from Tom Watson – high drama; ’90 was Nick Faldo – boring; ’95 John Daly surprised everyone; 2000 and 2005 Tiger Tiger burning bright; in 2010, Louis Oosthuizen took the Claret Jug – and was my choice again this week – the sweetest swing you ever saw.


            I’m glad my friend and I drove up last Friday – the arena formed by the first and last fairways is unique in all the world – a joy; but the outrageous price of everything cast a shadow over our visit. Entry £80 – parking £15; to use the stands at 17 and 18 – £50 extra per day; hospitality packages from £250 per day. I don’t know who makes these decisions – but to price such events beyond the reach of ordinary citizens is disrespectful and diminishes everyone. In Scotland this feels alien.


            At lunch time we reject the overpriced shoddiness of the tented villages – head into town to an old haunt. Ziggy’s is a locally owned Tex-Mex restaurant which I’ve known for many years; it’s 1960’s music themed – photos and authentic memorabilia of rock idols – great vibe. So we spend the afternoon in Ziggy’s – watching the Open on TV – swapping craic with the locals and visitors; secure from the weather and predatory traders. I’m still glad we went up though – an element of pilgrimage about it – continuity.
As humanity shifts to new stages of consciousness – so we invent more productive organisational models; in his important book – Reinventing Organisations – Frederick Laloux suggests that we are at just such a critical juncture today; he offers impressive stories from real life case examples. On a similar theme, journalist Paul Mason has written a book called Postcapitalism which suggests, that without noticing it, we are entering a post capitalist era. One of his reasons is the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. In my view, both these books are a tad optimistic – but hey – what’s wrong with that. Mason’s summary essay in the Guardian.
We each have to find the journalists we trust – I find Neal Ascherson sound; he has penned a thoughtful pieceabout Greece and the future of the EU. His ability to set current events in the sweep of European history places him above most commentators. The downside is that Ascherson sees the military security of Europe – and after the Greece blunder – its economic security – to be increasingly dependent on the USA (or the IMF – which is the same thing).
35 member organisations – including some of Scotland’s largest housing associations – have formed Our Power Community Benefit Society. Its subsidiary, Our Power Energy, will, by the end of the year, be the first independent and fully licenced energy supply company – registered as a member-owned, non-profit distributing, social enterprise. This initiative aims to combat fuel poverty – with an anticipated 10% saving for customers. An investment package of £3.5m has been agreed with the Govt. and the SIS Social Growth Fund.
The provenance of Scotch Whisky has enormous potential value for the Scottish economy – yet we find that around 83% of the industry is owned outside Scotland and around 98% of raw materials are sourced outwith our borders. Prof. John Kay (Oxford economist) estimates that only 2% of global revenues stay in Scotland. If these figures are accurate – they are appalling. A group of SNP activists is tabling a motion for this year’s party conference – calling on our Govt. to take action to ensure that the whisky industry brings more benefit to Scotland.
Real food advocates may be aware that community bakeries are quietly spreading – I understand there’s one at Low Moss Prison called Freedom Bakery. Around 90% of Scottish bread is supplied by industrial bakeries (factories) – whereas in Greece that figure is around 3% – small scale artisan bakers still dominate. As part of the present ‘bail out’ deal – the EU is requiring that Greece opens up the bakery market to ‘competition’ – so that real bread can be replaced by mock bread.
 NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: NHS Health Scotland, Stepping Stones for Families, Balerno Village Trust, The Church of Scotland, Unity Enterprise, Blake Stevenson Ltd, Newmains Community Trust
EVENTS: Aberdeen EU Funds Masterclass, 31 Jul; Portobello Market, 1 Aug; Social Enterprise Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 29 Aug; Art of Participatory Leadership, 02 Oct;
TENDERS: Provision of an Advocacy Support Service – Aberdeen City Council, Design, development, delivery and optimisation of a website for the Patrick Geddes Centre – SHBT, Competitive Grant Offer – Equalities Challenge Fund – SDS and more
 The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: This week we’ve added some further dates to our EU Masterclass Seminars – these seminars are designed to share some of the core information before much of the EU programmes are “open for business”. There is a level of detail about various ‘strategic packages’ which we consider important as: a) this is how ESF and ERDF Programmes will be delivered; and b) potential applications will need to fit into these packages to have a chance of securing funding. The next session is in Aberdeen on 31st July followed by Inverness on 12th August and finally Edinburgh on 21st August – just click on the links to book your place. In the meantime, see most recent update.
Another political commentator whose thoughts I tend to check out is George Monbiot; David Cameron’s claim that confronting Islamic extremism is ‘the struggle of our generation’ – Monbiot believes is grossly inflated nonsense. The PM said it cannot be right that people can grow up and go to school and hardly even come into contact with people from different backgrounds and faiths. This is true – but some of us believe it applies as much to Oxford’s Bullingdon Club as faith schools in Birmingham. 
Jim Sillars has written a piece in the National – calling the proposed Trades Union Bill the worst legislation the Tories intend to implement. In a free society, he says, the right to sell, or not, one’s labour is a fundamental human right. As the organisations representing working people are weakened – we resign ourselves to a low wage economy – unequal and unfair.
 The inaugural meeting for a potential employability SEN is now full – with 35 notes of interest; there is a pleasing majority of smaller organisations – which would benefit from a stronger collective voice.
 When Pope Francis invited Naomi Klein to speak at a Vatican symposium about his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ – it ruffled feathers; she is not a Catholic – but a secular Jewish feminist. Klein went to Rome and penned this account of her visit for New Yorker mag; it’s a hopeful piece – allowing that even tradition-bound institutions are capable of profound change.
 This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise that is one of 13 horticultural enterprises operated by the Shaw Trust. Westbank Enterprise is a joint venture between The Shaw Trust and Perth and Kinross Council with the objective of giving local people work experience in a horticultural environment, which can be used as a stepping stone back into employment. The Westbank site, in Perth, has been used as site for growing plants for a number of years and the contract with Westbank Enterprises will be to provide the Council with planting schemes for its parks and other community areas. As part of the contract, The Shaw Trust will provide supported work placements and volunteering opportunities in horticulture and grounds maintenance.
 At a time when the Labour Party, both in Scotland and the UK, is searching for a statement of why it exists – I would commend to them a quote from their onetime leader, Michael Foot:

"We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer ‘To hell with them.’ The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.” 


That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,




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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210