Senscot Bulletin 27-08-2003




Dear members and friends,


E-mails last week complaining that my musings are too gloomy – reminded of great film years ago. Van Gogh (Kirk Douglas) and Gauguin (Anthony Quinn) living and painting together in sparkling Arles sunlight. Vincent complains that Gauguin’s colours are too flat – not vibrant enough – Gauguin replies, ‘That’s how I see it.’

            More gloom this week – from George Monbiot (see end piece) – says that global oil production has peaked – that as world supplies run down the gloves will come off – that we’re lurching towards a fuel famine.  George’s piece is about a small community which has for the past ten years been living the simple life – an economy independent of fossil fuels – showing how it’s possible.  My mind has been drifting that way for some time – to live more simply – less consumption – less clutter – more time just to ‘be’  Thoughts of a new project around some kind of eco-village where we all have less, but enjoy more – share more. Wish I liked people more. 

Lunch with Pat last week – did good work together in the ’80’s. Talk about my eco-village idea – seems unconvinced, ‘You should be planning to take it easier’, he says. ‘Do you think we’re past our prime Pat?’ ‘I’m only 52 – but you at 64 – yes – you’re past your prime.’ Sees my huffy look – says sincerely, ‘It was a good prime, Lor – you stood up to them.’  Not sure who he meant but I’m not ready for the knackers yard yet.



Futurebuilders Scotland – thank goodness it’s out at last. The inevitable remarks about so long for so short – also specific moans about vagueness – lack of vision – contradictions – inconsistencies – omissions etc etc. There are certainly unanswered questions (future bulletins will ask them) but this is a good document which gives our sector a clear political mandate to go forth and multiply into new markets – and £16 million investment into frontline social enterprises. It also gives us a new Social Economy Unit embedded within Communities Scotland which will drive and manage the Futurebuilders package along with other related stuff. This new unit is pivotal (probably 7/8 staff). So much will depend on its ability to ‘get motoring’ quickly. For many complex reasons ‘Communities Scotland’ had a ‘deprived childhood’. Now the ‘adolescent’ needs a bit of support and encouragement – and luck!  This is ‘our’ social economy unit – ‘our’ new opportunity.  At Senscot we’ll do our best to help make it work.




Chat last week with Dave Coulter – Head of Inclusion, Skills and Learning at Scottish Enterprise.  We talked about SE’s role in social inclusion and I asked him to pen a paragraph for the bulletin. 

‘Language is important here…..our role is in support of economic inclusion by focussing on those people nearest to the labour market and who want to work. There is a large number (+300,000) people in Scotland who are economically inactive. Many have complex social barriers which prevent them from working. Not only are these numbers far beyond Scottish Enterprise’s ability to resource but we also don’t have a social remit. It is therefore the responsibility of other organisations to tackle these barriers. Partnership in this area is vital so that our training interventions based on business needs contributes to the inclusion process by getting people into work. It is in our interest to see the social inclusion role performed effectively. Our business development support for social enterprises, many of whom are involved in the removal of barriers to employment, is one way of doing this. Our focussed approach to social enterprise support has been developed over the last two years and has been endorsed by our Chief Executive.’ 

Dave’s position statement begs the question: which ‘other organisations’ have the responsibility to tackle the complex social barriers to employment of +300,000 economically inactive citizens?  I asked him and he said ‘I would include local authorities, the health authorities, Communities Scotland etc and of course the voluntary sector. The challenge is joining up provision in a way that meets the needs of the individual and gets them to a point where those that want to work can take advantage of the employment opportunities available.’



 ‘The place to improve the world is first in one’s own world and head and hands, and then work outward from there.’ – Robert Persig.



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


JOBS: 56 vacancies, incl: Royston Youth Action, LEEP, Children 1st, ELCAP, Stepping Stones, Clyde Valley Housing Associations, West Dunbartonshire Healthy Living Initiative, Common Wheel.


EVENTS: ‘Once Were Free’ extra dates. Edinburgh; Greenspace…The Common Denominator, Greenspace Scotland Conference, LETS Help Social Enterprise, Forres, 17th-19th Sept.; Voluntary Arts Scotland’s Mapping the Future Planning Series, 18th Sept.-22nd Jan; Edinburgh, 22 Sept; EQUAL ‘Making the Case’ seminars, Sept (Hamilton) and Nov (Glenrothes); Strategic Campaigning, Edinburgh, 12-13 Oct; Wilderness Ecotherapy Course, Knoydart, 10-16 Oct.


For details on these and more, visit ‘Yellow pages’



A new report ‘Capitalism with a human face?’ by environmentalist Nadia Johanisova uses 71 face-to-face interviews in Britain and Czech Republic to looks at ideals, problems, strategies of rural social enterprises in hard economic environments: (;



I’ve not seen Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 but I intend to after reading John Berger, ‘The film proposes that the Whitehouse and Pentagon were taken over in the first year of the Millennium by a gang of thugs so that US power should henceforth serve the global interests of corporations… what makes this film an event is the fact that it is an effective and independent intervention into immediate world politics.  Today it is rare for an artist to succeed in making such an intervention, and in interrupting the prepared prevaricating statements of politicians.’  (



Scotland’s 32 Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) will get money by bidding into a new £104 million Community Renewal Fund.  Guidance released last week by the Executive says that CPPs must provide detailed evidence of genuine community involvement as a condition of awards. 

 ‘Effective and genuine community engagement is at the heart of community planning and there must be evidence of this in [applications].  We are looking for CPPs to excel at engaging effectively with the disadvantaged communities they serve.’  Councils which already work closely with their communities will have no problem with this condition – but those which don’t – won’t know what to do.  This account of successful community empowerment in South Kilburn may provide inspiration:  (  



This week we profile Gorebridge Health and Regeneration Project (GHRP), established in 1997, to encourage awareness and stimulate action on health. Following several public meetings a steering group was formed and the health project became a registered charity. GHRP runs a number of projects such as The Food Train and The Brown Building Breakfast Club as well as organising events like the recent celebration of International Women’s Day. Initial funding for the first member of staff (now risen to total of 12) came from NHS Lothian and Midlothian Council. Further info: Profiles at



George Monbiot wrote in Tuesday’s Guardian that the all time global production of oil has peaked – and will now gradually decline.  Unless an alternative cheap energy source is developed there will be a gradual decline in our ability to generate the growth required to keep the debt based financial system from collapsing.  ‘If this is true the Age of Growth is over and Age of Entropy has begun.  If we are to retain any hope of a reasonable quality of life without destroying other peoples, then our infrastructure – our settlements – our industries and our lives require total reconstruction.  Given that our governments balk even at raising fuel taxes – it is rational to seek to pursue our own solutions: to redevelop economic systems which do not depend on fossil fuels.’  Monbiot’s piece is about a small community in Somerset – ‘Tinker’s Bubble’ – which for the past ten years has been pioneering such a lifestyle. (


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

Best wishes,



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