Senscot Bulletin: 28-09-2007

Dear members and friends,

A myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world – a story that gives significance to our existence. Whether meaning is only what we put into life by our own fortitude (Sartre) – or whether there is an inherent meaning we need to discover (Kierkegaard) – the result is the same: myths are our own way of finding it.
A recurring story I tell myself involves a decrepit old house which I bring back to life (powerful symbol) as a gathering point for folk who are working to improve society (the good guys). It has many rooms and outbuildings and lots of fields and wild woodland. It`s set in one of those coves in Argyll which catches the Gulf Stream – where palm trees grow. The house and farm are run as a therapeutic community offering short term sanctuary to folk who are struggling. The hospitality is renowned – not lavish, but warm. The main ethos of the place is as a venue where gatherings are hosted by leaders in fields like; ecology; creativity; spirituality; community empowerment etc. The overarching theme is the realignment of Scottish culture away from consumerism towards human values – a fairer sharing of resources. In this myth, I`m a kind of community elder – with a simple bedsit facing the sea and a beach where the sun sets. To dismiss our myths as falsehood is a profound mistake. Seems I could end up an old hippie.

As predicted, the SNP has transferred business support and local economic development from Scottish Enterprise to local Councils. This, of course, will include social enterprise support, so we can anticipate that Scotland will have social enterprise free zones wherever Councils see our sector as a threat to their own expansion plans. It might be an idea to create a Social Enterprise Monitor which awards Councils an annual rating of stars – 1 to 5 – according to their support or hostility to social enterprise.

The Glasgow Housing Association mess was not of SNP`s making but I`ve got a sneaking dread that they`re going to weaken the commitment on second stage transfers. Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday that because of the inadequacy of the original transfer – the large number of small scale secondary transfers that were promised, may not be feasible in the near future. The SNP should not underestimate the seething anger which this issue has caused. The correspondence in this week`s Herald makes it clear that it won`t just go away. This is a power struggle between centralist officials protecting their jobs and thousands of Glasgow citizens who were promised local ownership of their homes.
For info, see

Senscot believes that the spread of community anchor organisations will play an increasing role in the empowering of our communities. The English Community Alliance has produced a book of case studies showing how successful anchors can become the voice of local people and provide a platform for community activity. Copies available free from Meanwhile in Scotland the Government has instructed a consultation to investigate the best ways of enhancing community empowerment up here. When we get hold of the consultation document we’ll circulate The `Local People Leading` website is being upgrade to promote Scotland’s empowerment debate – but the existing site is still available if you want to register support.

Social entrepreneurs are not only found in the third sector, creating social enterprises – there are also pioneers working in our public services who are trying to innovate. Senscot is hosting a meeting this Thursday (4th Oct.) to explore the appetite for a support network for such individuals. Still space for a few more. E-mail 

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: 18 vacancies, incl. posts with: the Social Enterprise Development Programme, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Forth Sector, Assist Social Capital , Fife Social Economy Partnership
EVENTS: 18 events, incl Arts Market, 29th Sep, Edinburgh; Encouraging Social Enterprise: Raising Awareness and Building Capabilities, 24 Oct, Westminster; Support for Study in Workplace Health, 29th Oct, Edinburgh; Social Capital & Financial Inclusion’ International Conference, 9th Nov, Edinburgh; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26th Nov, Edinburgh

Our pal, Diane Henderson, e-mails from the Borders; ‘ Pot Lid Catering is now officially up and running as a new social enterprise. Passed Health & Safety yesterday, Bistro open, had over 50 people through the doors already, money coming in, everyone making positive remarks about us. Bit panicky behind the scenes, late nights and early mornings, but hey we’re trading.’ All the big government reports have their purpose – but this is what it`s all about.  See,

Youth work, adult learning and community development are separate professions in the UK – except in Scotland where they are brought together as `community learning and development` (CLD). The Government Inspectorate (HMIE) has just published a 5 year appraisal of this service which Phil Denning introduces here. See

Important report from the Northern Rock Foundation that has found that community based organisations are more effective than public sector ones at supporting socially excluded people. See executive summary

Also, new report from SSEC and Triodos on the environmental practices of social enterprises across Scotland. The message is that not only are social enterprises already working to a high standard in terms
of environmental sustainability, but that they are fully aware of and committed to the need to
do more. It makes for interesting reading. See

This week`s bulletin profiles a recycling project based in Golspie in East Sutherland. The Golspie Recycling and Environmental Action Network (GREAN) was set up in 2002 in response to a feeling that nothing was being done educationally or practically to initiate recycling in the area. GREAN now has five staff and operates a kerbside collection, dry recyclate bring site and composting bring site, and has achieved in the region of 30% diversion of Golspie’s waste from landfill. Now all GREAN`s income comes from payment for each tonne of waste diverted from landfill. For info`,

Rollo May (1909 – 1994) was an American existential psychologist who wrote of the role of myths as the ` guiding narratives` of our lives. ‘Our thesis is that symbols and myths are an expression of our unique self-consciousness, our capacity to transcend the immediate concrete situation and see life in terms of `the possible`. Symbols are specific acts or figures, while myths develop and elaborate these symbols into a story which contains characters and several episodes. The myth is thus more inclusive. But both symbol and myth have the same function psychologically; they are our way of expressing the quintessence of our experience – our way of seeing life, our self-image and our relations to the world of others and of nature.’

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

Best wishes.

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