Senscot Bulletin 29-06-2007

Dear members and friends,

Tenzin Gyatso said recently that being the 14th Dalai Lama is a role he plays – but that deep down he considers himself a simple Buddhist monk – even in his dreams. “That belongs to me, “ he said, “ no-one can change that.” This made a great impression on me, the notion of a core identity, unaffected by external change – been asking my friends if they have one – asking myself.
 Most folk seem to identify strongly with their family relationships – as child, sibling, parent, grandparent etc. As I mostly failed in these roles I don’t dwell on them much. Another strong sense of identity is as a partner. Again I’ve tried this several times – but it never worked out. I think I lack the essential quality of compromise – too self-absorbed. Then it’s surprising how many folk define themselves by their possessions. Houses – wealth – honours etc. In my experience this is the least interesting group. Apart from all the family and partner stuff, I believe my identity resides in a few good friends – and my work. But I would also like to be a simple Buddhist monk – just in case.
 It’s 9pm – in bed already – the evening overcast – the trees darkening outside my window. There’s advantage in growing old – a kind of calmness comes. How to keep this separate from deadness? It’s good in this wee room – listening to music – the old body – the old mind – tired. It occurs to me that whatever my identity – this is enough. To feel ‘enough’ – even sometimes – is a great blessing.

Senscot’s AGM went well – thanks to those who attended. Very impressed with John Swinney – the new minister for the Third Sector (and much else). He embodies the energy and optimism of the new administration – much better prepared for office than we dared hope. There is a freshness to parliamentary business – no longer programmatic – debates matter – can change decisions. But with so many other responsibilities, Swinney’s grasp of our wee sector is sketchy. He really needs a depute to drill down on detail. In the meantime, he’s over dependant on officials. No surprise then that he’s staying with what we already know. The SE Strategy, with £1.5m – reviewed in the context of the spending review. Interesting though that regeneration has gone to Nicola Sturgeon’s portfolio. The whole local empowerment agenda is less developed – more possibility of movement here. We shall see:
There was an inevitability about the Third Sector losing the leadership of Ed Miliband – a hard act to follow. From community development to social enterprise – he understands the whole thing – more than his officials. On 14th June, when he must have known he was leaving, he gave a speech called ‘Building a different kind of state’. We link to the bit on communities – but the whole thing is worth reading.

I attended a seminar hosted by the Executive last Friday about ‘Innovation in the Public Services’. Geoff Mulgan from the Young Foundation told us about research he’s doing on this subject in Scotland. Senscot is considering the possibility of facilitating peer support networks for ‘Intrapreneurs’ in the Public Sector. If this idea interests you, get in touch with We’ll host a seminar

The latest ‘celebrity’ convert to the cause of social enterprise is Robert Crawford. Here’s a piece he wrote in last Sunday’s Herald. Pity he didn’t ‘get it’ when he was head of Scottish Enterprise. The ‘tipping point’ could have come a lot quicker.

The 2nd Social Enterprise and Health Conference – ‘Fit for Purpose’- will be held in Glasgow at the Trades Hall on 12th September. Senscot will be hosting the event again in partnership with the Scottish Forum for Public Health and Communities Scotland. In a year when the Government announced a £73 million funding for social enterprise in the health and care sector in England and with a new Administration in Scotland, we expect it to be a popular event. A programme and booking form will be available next week. In the meantime, if you’d like to register early, contact

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: HISEZ CIC, Forth Sector, Community Woodlands Association, MYPAS, Childcare Works, CEiS, Edinburgh Cyrenians,  Alienenergy.

EVENTS: 10 events, incl. Earthship Fair, Fife, 7 July; Project Ability, short animations screening, 7 July, Glasgow; CRNS More then Furniture Conference, August 30, Glasgow;

For those people dedicated to social justice and environmental sustainability, the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) – in partnership with Strathclyde University – offers a pioneering MSc course that explores the foundations of our current global crises and pathways to a better future. If you’re interested, here’s a good ‘lowdown’ from last week’s Scotsman

Last week the Carnegie Trust published “a charter for rural Britain’, an assessment of the state of our countryside. Twenty commissioners have taken three years travelling the UK and commissioned £3m of research before proposing 41 recommendations for the improvement of rural communities. Carnegie’s big three ideas are: far more community ownership of rural assets; the strengthening of local democracy; and a new community right to raise taxes. This sounds similar to Scotland’s ‘Local People Leading’ campaign which Senscot is part of. Let us hope the Carnegie Charter is widely publicised:

This week’s bulletin profiles another social enterprise located within a High School in Scotland. Back in 2003, a group of pupils and adults from Inverness High School conceived the idea of REAL CIC Ltd – Real Education Active Lives. They wanted to use social enterprises as a means of transforming the life outcomes for future generations of pupils from Inverness’s more disadvantaged communities. In 2006, they formed their CIC and started developing 3 enterprises in Food Production, IT and, now in the development of a building – Real Place. They are now actively advertising a 10 week placement for someone to help them develop these enterprises further. For info’, see

I’m back reading my old pal Raymond Carver. This one, `The Prize`, asks the question about our true identity.
“He was never the same, they said, after that. And they were right. He left home, glad for his life. Fell under the spell of Italian opera. A gout stool was built into the front of his sedan chair. His family went on living in a hut without a chimney. One season very much like another for them. What did they know…?
When he died it was they who had to identify the body. It was terrible! His friends couldn’t remember him. Not even what he’d looked like the day before. His father spat and rode off to kill squirrels. His sister cradled his head in her arms. His mother wept and went through his pockets. Nothing had changed. He was back where he belonged. As though he’d never left. Easy enough to say he should have declined it. But would you?”

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: