Senscot Bulletin: 30.11.12

Dear members and friends,

The calibre of debate in our Parliament – particularly with regard to the independence issue – is embarrassingly bad; increasingly folk are looking for alternative platforms – which have a breath of new life. Last Saturday, I took the train to Glasgow – to take a look at the Radical Independence Conference (RIC) – impressive. I’ve done enough organising in my time to appreciate that gathering 800 folk – to discuss politics – on a Xmas shopping weekend – is a major achievement; the young folk responsible for this beautifully organised event – know what they’re doing.
 I move between the stalls and the workshops – and while some of the left wing rhetoric is tediously familiar – the dominant vibe comes from a wider base; folk like myself – hoping for the emergence of a new popular democratic movement; I feel drawn into a shared effort – to articulate a vision of what radical independence might look like.
 On train back – sit with Archie – friend of many years – good guy – former organiser with Militant. We’re both old enough to agree to disagree about politics – chat instead about mutual friends (more interesting). As we approach Linlithgow (my stop), I ask what he made of the Conference. "Well, something has to happen" he says, "our MSPs are a pitiful bunch". Next day – the Sunday Herald leader says, "If MSPs can’t rise above the current level of debate – we must hope that the debate rises above them". Feedback on RIC from the organisers. See,

Only 2 weeks left for Xmas delivery of Laurence’s book. See,

The dimension of Radical Independent Scotland which most interests me – is full blooded localism; a new tier of elected democracy at community level – which engages the energy and creativity of local people to run their own towns and villages; managing community enterprises which generate green energy – provide a whole range of services. Neither SNP nor Labour are anywhere near this – Scotland needs a democratisation movement to make it happen. Increasingly, political activist/commentators are going about the country urging people to organise: Andy Wightman – Gerry Hassan – Lesley Riddoch. This piece by Lesley Riddoch is right on the button. See,

Through our ‘Voluntary Code of Practice’ – the Scottish SE community identifies an ‘asset lock’ as the defining characteristic of a social enterprise – see, . This is not complicated – nor any longer controversial; it’s a simple choice we all make – to position our business in either the private or third sector. The emergence – in 2005 – of CICs (Community Interest Companies) complicated things – because this regulated model allows payment of 35% of profits to the owners/investors. Now their regulator wants to look at increasing this to 49% – further blurring the boundaries between CICs and private businesses. NB: Dividend payments only apply to CICs which have shareholders – of which there are very few in Scotland. See,

The failure of the Work Programme – to make any progress with those furthest from work – is no surprise to us old hands. Successive Govts have squandered an effective infrastructure of community based employability agencies – which knew their people – often as not by name. In place of localism – we now have a handful of massive national contractors – profit driven – with multi-million pound contracts; but so remote from communities – that the personal relationships which make the process work – are no longer possible. This was predicted 12 months ago. See,

The New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny is not my kind of writer – too strident; but her piece this week nails, what I believe, is a valuable insight; that the whole social media thing – particularly Facebook – is driven by a pervasive conformity – the human fear of being lonely and left behind. She quotes Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. "Universality of the internet will merge global humanity into one giant grid of mass surveillance and mass control". See,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  This week:
JOBS: Caledonian Foundation, Grassmarket Community Project, Ochil Leisure Enterprises, Instant Neighbour, Tailor Ed Foundation, Winning Scotland Foundation, Glasgow Wood Recycling, Senscot
EVENTS: Portobello Market, 1 Dec; Advancing your Social Enterprise, 6 Dec; Puppet Lab presents Each Peach Pear Plum, 10 Dec; Engaging Communities on Energy and Climate Change, 31 Jan:

NETWORKS 1st: Kim writes: Ready for Business (RfB) website has been rebuilt and the RfB Partners are delighted to launch the new site – see, . The website holds information on the ‘Developing Markets’ contract which the RfB led consortium is currently delivering. Social enterprises can sign up to the ‘register’ which is a national list of social enterprises. It has been designed to provide a searchable single point of enquiry for public sector commissioners, private sector businesses and third sector organisations seeking social enterprise partners. The register provides contact details for each social enterprise, a summary of their services and the areas in which they operate. See,  For more Networks News, see

SE and Health Co-ordinator post: Senscot is now seeking a dedicated member of staff to co-ordinate the activities of the Health SEN and Roundtable. Closing date for applications is Monday 10th Dec. To apply, see

Earlier this year, we reported on the School for Social Entrepreneurs’ (SSE) partnership with Lloyds Banking Group – supporting 150 social entrepreneurs each year for the next five years – 15 per year in Scotland. This week, SSE announced that the Big Lottery in England is investing a further £6.9m into the programme – doubling the numbers benefitting from programme each year. It would be great if Big Lottery in Scotland could show similar support. See,

Firstport, this week, launched their new iCan initiative which is being piloted in West Dunbartonshire. iCan will offer 16-24 year olds a mix of workshop training and practical experience with successful social enterprises. The programme will run three times over the next twelve months across Scotland – with input from a number of established social enterprises including Impacts Arts, Spruce Carpets and Social Bite – with the first running from 26th Nov – 13th Dec. See,

Monday also saw the launch of Social Innovation Scotland – a partnership between CEiS, The Hunter Institute for Entrepreneurship and Social Value Lab. The partnership has been established to encourage, nurture and support social innovation in Scotland. See,

The Social Enterprise Academy and Glasgow Caley are hosting a debate next Thursday (6th Dec) on the topic – ‘Social Enterprise – an academic discussion or changing the way we do business’. Speakers include Alistair Grimes (Rocket Science); Jim Mullan (KibbleWorks); and Ewan Foreman (1Let ltd). Folk attending will also get the chance to hear more about the MSc in Social Enterprise run jointly by the Academy and Glasgow Caley. See details,

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Fife that specialises in craft and construction workshops – finding new uses for reclaimed, scrounged and found objects. Re:make Scotland, based in Crieff, has grown from a mobile workshop service to leasing new premises in the local Visitor Centre with the intention of developing a ‘Community Scrapstore’.  Scrapstores help divert potential landfill while providing high quality arts and crafts supplies for use by community groups, schools and individual members. See more,

I went to hear the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh in 2003 – wrote about it at the time – see, – been a fan ever since – the Real McCoy.

"Meditation is to be aware of what is going on in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Please do not think we must be solemn in order to meditate. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot." Thich Nhat Hanh.
That’s all for this week.

Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes,


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