Senscot Bulletin 29-10-2004



Dear members and friends,


My bedroom looks on to the Umbrian hill town of Spoleto, the Castle, the Duomo, the medieval towers, the rooftops. The morning sun burns off the haze – the café bar downstairs is packed – the buzz of voices. With smells of coffee and new bread the day gets underway.  This town is old – (the arch opposite: AD23) – and lovingly preserved in the detail of its architecture – its worn marble pavements. Even the traffic wardens are elegant – glam uniforms – full make up – they strut their stuff like catwalk divas.

            Spent yesterday in Assisi thinking about the life of Francis – for me the greatest person who ever lived.  He took the beatitudes of the gospel literally – heaven and earth seems to come together in this fierce, gentle wee man.  In his poverty of spirit, all nature sang to him – and he joyfully sang back.

            The Italians here seem thoughtful, hand working.  It seems unbelievable that they are governed by Silvio Berlusconi whom everyone agrees is a crook.  Imagine Tony Blair as a billionaire industrialist who owns all the TV stations – and Manchester United.  Berlusconi now challenges even the independence of the justiciary – talk of a politico-media regime in the heart of Europe – democracy under threat.  But one gets the feeling that Italy has seen all this before – great wealth, power, and corruption.  And heroic saints.  Both sin and repentance are real here.   “ The Silvio Berlusconi’s come and go” – they say “This is also the land of Francesco di Bernardone – from Assisi”



Over the years I’ve witnessed some fairly stupid regeneration strategies – but nothing as stupid as the proposals of the recently published Gambling Bill. There are to be around 30 new ‘super casinos’ – which the government calls ‘regeneration projects’ (Glasgow is earmarked for 5) . They are intended to bring prosperity to the derelict outskirts of our cities – nae chance.  As Polly Toynbee says in a recent piece – they are more likely to bring poverty and urban blight.  ‘Do we really want to be the offshore Las Vegas of Europe?  No other EU countries are letting them in.  Are we really that desperate?’



Still on the subject of regeneration strategies, it is an ongoing disappointment how little appreciation there is of the benefits of art and cultural activities in building sustainable communities. This debate is active again around the government’s consultation paper “Culture at the Heart of Regeneration” – and last week the leading regeneration association, BURA, gave its response: “Large scale projects, like the Angel of the North, are not wrong but they need to be balanced by smaller grass roots projects as well. Communities cannot be sustainable without ‘things to do!’.”  It’s the old problem. We don’t yet have the tools to measure the economic impact of culture in regeneration – or other social capital generators. Last week’s Regeneration mag has two items on this:;



Last week, the Fife Social Enterprise Network held their third meeting at FEAT Enterprises offices in Falkland. Not only is the social enterprise sector beginning to be well linked up, some of the network’s members are also participating in the local social economy partnership, ensuring a two way flow of information. Meanwhile, Aberdeen City Social Enterprise Network meets for the first time on 2nd November, at Instant Neighbour. Peter Walker at Maybole Resource Centre is hosting the Ayrshire Social Enterprise Network on 17th November. Anyone interested in attending any of these events or in developing their own local network, contact



The Scottish Executive has assembled a short term ‘reference group’ as a sounding board for the Futurebuilders stuff. It’s still their intention to publish the bumff before the end of the November – so that money can flow from Jan 2005. With only 15 months to spend £16m, it will be a temptation to steer the investment fund to Scotland’s ‘Top 20’ Social Enterprises. Let’s hope that there is the commitment to penetrate deeper into our sector.



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: 65 vacancies, incl. posts with: Social Enterprise Coalition, South Carrick LETS, Community Transport Association, The Web project,  SCVO, SACRO, Volunteer Centre Stirling Re-Union (chair)


EVENTS: RSA events, Glasgow – Moving Towards A Zero Waste Society (4 Nov), Developing A Capable Population (15 Nov) and Fostering Resilient Communities (18 Nov); Community transport – management sessions, Manchester, 9-11 Nov; BTCV courses, Nov, Dec; SCVO/STUC Partnership Forum & EQUAL good employment practice conf., Glasgow, 12 Nov; INCREASE programme launch events, 17 Nov; Purchasing Power – should charities intertrade? SEDI event, Edinburgh, 23 Nov; EDAS 5th annual conf., Edinburgh, 24 Nov; ‘Appreciative inquiry’, Resolution/Imagine Scotland event, Perth, 25 Nov; Social Enterprise Coalition, 1st UK conf. for social enterprise, 25 Jan, Manchester;


Continuing the Dialogue: cbal and Social Capital, Edinburgh 5 November at the Festival Theatre, organised by Scottish Adult Learning Partnership:



Last week’s piece on social capital generated a lot of interest with over 130 visits to Colin’s definition’s paper ( Dr Cathy Sharp of Real Research sent in a piece on the importance of bonding and bridging social capital for social enterprises. Alan Kay sent a summary of the 3 year CONCISE project that looked at how social enterprises develop social capital. Their documents can be read here:



The meeting called by Brian Tannerhill to discuss the development of a Scottish National Social Enterprise has received general support – the nucleus of a Board of Directors has been identified. We’ll keep you posted on developments.



Interesting piece by Jonathon Dawson in Resurgence magazine comparing the eco-villages of Findhorn in the North of Scotland and Damanhur in Northern Italy. With internal currency, trading and Banking etc, they are establishing a level of independence from the mainstream economy. Are these important pathfinders or merely tokenistic? (



This week the bulletin profiles Silver Birch (Scotland) Ltd. in Kirkintilloch, which produces recycled organic Mushroom Compost as soil feed and mulch in Kirkintilloch and runs a plant nursery at Milton of Campsie. Launched in 1996 following closure of Lennox Castle, Silver Birch found temporary premises in Donaldson Street, Kirkintilloch. In 2001, with a loan from their bank the company bought a new eleven-acre site at Lochmill, in Milton of Campsie. Silver Birch is soon to locate all activities at Lochmill in several phases of redevelopment, at a total cost of around £1,000,000. This will boost capacity to generate more income and manage a workforce of 18 full-time staff and 100 trainees with learning difficulties. For further info’, see   



Last word this week is part of the simple peace prayer of St. Francis – some of which was famously recited by warmonger Thatcher of the Falklands – it’s a wonder she didn’t choke.


“Lord, grant that I may seek to comfort rather than to be comforted / to understand, than to be understood / to love, than to be loved / For it is by self-forgetting that one finds / It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.”


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

Best wishes,



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