Senscot Bulletin: 25-05-2007

Dear members and friends,

The highlands of Southern Spain, around Ronda, are at once savage and romantic – mountains and forests – spectacular white villages with Moorish names. But this unique landscape is under threat, from a powerful coalition of developers and politicians who want to exploit the area commercially. The environmentalists are ranged against – it’s getting ugly.
 Not far from this furore, my pals Tom and Liz have settled with their three kids in a tranquil village of two hundred souls. Noon Wednesday – ten of us in the village bar – pre-lunch drinks – good banter – my friends an accepted part of the community. “We are accepted to some extent, Tom says in English, “but village life is complicated. For instance, the local builder has alleged that our dog Scotty killed two of his chickens – that’s very serious, so now we have a situation.” Tom spots someone entering – tenses and stands. “Paco, can I speak with you?” The room quietens – like a scene in a western – “I don’t believe my Scotty killed your chickens, but I don’t want bad feelings between us – I will be happy to pay what compensation you think reasonable.” This gesture seems to ease things – smiles and chatter resume – but will Paco push for the death penalty?
 Four in the afternoon – the village snoozing in the sunshine – I wander steep alleyways, checking out derelict houses. The internet makes it feasible for incomers to live and work here without disturbing the rural way of life. But in the next valley – in defiance of court interdicts – the earth-moving machines rumble on. The roads – golf courses – apartment blocks – on their relentless march.

Gordon Brown is routinely referred to as the most centralising and controlling politician of modern times. Now he is calling for a national consensus on constitutional reform aiming to “tackle alienation over centralised control”. Does he mean it? And what about Scotland? Will SNP be any less centralist than municipalist Labour was – time will tell? In the meantime, I’ll continue to invest my energy in extra-parliamentary activities. The radical networks campaigning around health, waste, poverty, transport etc. New networks of community groups and social enterprises developing practical alternatives to municipalism and privatisation. A new ‘citizen politics’ is on the move.

England’s Office of the Third Sector has just appointed its new tier of Deputy Directors, clarifying the ‘shape’ of OTS thinking. I can never work out whither Cabinet Office functions apply to Scotland or not – but have found that if it’s anything good – best to assume it doesn’t. Scotland’s money for the current Futurebuilders programme, for instance, seems to have evaporated at the border. Good piece in current R & R outlines the re-allocation of regeneration responsibilities in Scotland:

30% of the Scottish population live in small towns (under 20,000) yet the bulk of the Scottish regeneration debate, policy and resource allocation focuses on the cities and their suburbs. Last year, Scottish Borders Council and CoSLA produced a report calling for dedicated policy and resource support for Scotland’s small towns. SURF convened the ‘No Small Matter’ seminar last week that welcomed the recommendations of the report and heard proposals for a new fund is proposed to support small town regeneration – and ensuring a bottom up approach. Here’s an extract from its findings.

The London based consultancy DEMOS, which is led in Scotland by Gerry Hassan, has published a report critical of Glasgow City’s Regeneration efforts. It argues, quite correctly in my view, that physical regeneration with posh architects and iconic buildings is only part of the picture; true regeneration needs to engage the energy and imagination of citizens. Judging by the furious reactions of Glasgow Council Officials they’ve hit a raw spot. Why has there not been more Scottish criticism of our ‘citizen excluded’ regeneration strategy. The community sector needs a voice.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 

JOBS: 35 vacancies, incl. posts with: Silver Birch (Scotland), Fascadagh Ltd, Turning Point Scotland, Smart Move, Edinburgh Cyrenians, CHAP, media co-op, Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition

EVENTS: 10 events, incl. Fly Right Dance Company, Midsummer Madness Family Ball, Haddington 23 June; Community Recycling Network Scotland – SME Collections Seminar, Stirling, 27 June;

In 2004, when Spruce Carpets applied to Scotland UnLtd for a Level 1 award, I remember saying it would never work. Wrong again. The company has gone from strength to strength, winning awards, and now the model is to be replicated by Tees Valley Regeneration Agency.

Senscot will be repeating the Health and Social Enterprise Conference this year in partnership with the Scottish Forum for Public Health. The event will be held on 12th September in the Trades Hall in Glasgow. One outcome will be the launch of a new thematic Health and social enterprise Network.  Also, here’s a list of up-and-coming Network events for May and June.

In reference to the book The Culture of the New Capitalism by Richard Sennet, Osbert Lancaster draws on an interesting comparison between a craftsman and a consultant – “Where the craftsman ‘digs deep into an activity to get it just right’, the consultant ‘swoops in but never nests’.” Osbert, who is director for the Centre for Human Ecology, was announcing the launch of its new consultancy service – which will endeavour to adopt the craft ethic.

Despite the opening last year of a Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) agency within Scottish Enterprise, I can’t help feeling that the Co-operative movement in Scotland fails to punch its weight. If anything the tide is going out – towards de-mutualisation. The attached interview with Iain MacDonald, who recently joined CDS’s board, presents the co-operative movement in a global context – which is very impressive. 

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise, based in Glasgow, set up to build confidence, creativity and enterprise in young people and to prompt new thinking in business. Space Unlimited is a pioneering initiative that allows young people to work on real problems and dilemmas that are facing both public and private sector companies. Amongst companies who have used their services are BBC Scotland, Stagecoach, GE Plastics and the Fire Service. For more info’ see  

Don’t know the source of this piece – but worth sharing:
“I asked for knowledge – power to control things; I was granted understanding, to learn to love persons. I asked for strength, to be a great man; I was made weak, to become a better man. I asked for wealth, to make friends; I became poor, to keep friends. I asked for all things, to enjoy life; I was granted all life, to enjoy things. I cried for pity; I was offered sympathy. I craved for healing of my own disorders; I received insight into another’s suffering. I prayed to God for safety- to tread the trodden path; I was granted danger, to lose track and find the Way. I got nothing that I prayed for; I am, among all men, richly blessed.”

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

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: