I believe that leaving the EU today is a monumental act of folly; tearing up our economic model, without knowing what will replace it – except another period of arrogant right-wing rule. I can’t remember ever feeling so politically powerless/alienated; let those who voted for Brexit/Boris get on with it – I’ve removed myself from the fray.
Powerlessness is stressful – I distract myself with practical, finite tasks within my control – this week I removed a tree stump from my garden. Kneeling, with a trowel, I slowly remove two barrowloads of soil from around the bowl – snipping or sawing exposed roots; my absorption feels obsessive – some kind of ‘substitute’ behaviour. After two hours, the stump begins to wobble – powerful feelings of triumph. An old guy, my age, stops to speak; he has a lovely gentle face and manner – like a ‘holy’ man. I expect his reproach: that I’m too old to wrestle a tree stump – but he speaks only words of admiration; I have a theory that egoless people acquire an ‘aura’.
I’m a ‘driven’ person – expressed in a lifetime of dramatic projects – dozens of them; good energy, but impulsive. If I had my life again, I’d prioritise domestic life before heroic ‘causes’. This can be expressed as a choice – between ‘well known’ and ‘known well’: ‘Well known’ implies a reputation among strangers – i.e. being famous. ‘Known well’ implies quality relationships with your own people – i.e. being loved. But ‘driven’ people are, by definition, ‘damaged’ – perhaps we have less choice.
I love Raymond Carver’s wee poem: Late Fragment.
In spite of reduced heart disease and cancer, life-expectancy for poor people in Scotland is dropping; this is linked to increased alcohol, drug abuse and suicide deaths. In his search for why Scotland majors in ‘deaths of despair’, Harry Burns cites alienation/powerlessness: “That a sense of being in control of one’s life is critical to well-being”. Certainly, the impact of Tory austerity (poverty) is the major cause of social disfunction – but the single most ‘culpable’ failure of Scotland’s Govt is the missing tier of devolved power at community level; the deliberate distancing of citizens from engagement; there’s no excuse.
The Guardian announced this week that it has become a B Corps (companies that value purpose as much as profit); we also got the usual sermons from Davos about business raising the moral bar. It’s important not to become too cynical about capitalism improving its behaviour – it does happen; but as Anand Giridharadas put so well – the elite promote a charade about changing the world. This is an interesting (longer) piece from Maria Hengeveld, called ‘Big Business has a new scam: The Purpose Paradigm’. Mostly, she says, it’s to deflect attention away from ‘profit before anything else’. The same elite charade.
If Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and even London voted to Remain – who is the “suppressed nation rising up to free itself from the heavy yolk of the EU”. Fintan O’Toole in the Observer writes of the illusion – that a fragile multinational state can play with the fire of nationalism without getting burned.
Economist Katherine Trebeck was a keynote speaker at last week’s Wellbeing Alliance Scotland Conference in Edinburgh; in this 15 minute TED Talk, she sets out why – rather than simply growth – the goal of economic policy should be collective wellbeing. Also, the Herald’s Catriona Stewart asks how serious the Scottish Govt is about this policy – gimmick or serious commitment.
“Even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last — the power to refuse our consent.”
Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz
A couple of weeks ago, in response to an increasing level of interest amongst SEN members in community-run cafes, we produced two information sheets based on direct experience of other SEN members. Scenario 1 looked at using an external provider; whilst Scenario 2 focused on providing employability opportunities. This week, we feature the third in our series – Scenario 3 – where organisations may have space available within their premises and the issues they may need to take into consideration if they wish to convert it into their own community café. The information sheet identifies some of the common challenges; existing resources that may be of help; as well as a series of ‘top tips’. The three information sheets produced to date follow on from our Social Enterprise and Community Café Briefing last year – and are informed through contributions from SEN members with direct experience of running community cafés. They are designed to facilitate peer-to-peer learning across the SENs and to provide invaluable, hands-on advice.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
The Rural SE Hub, launched in Oct 2019, is hosting a Community Learning Exchange (CLE) to Oban and Mull on 16th and 17th March 2020 – and will include visits to social enterprises such as The Rockfield Centre, Hope Kitchen and Mull and Iona Community Trust. The CLE provide an opportunity to consider approaches, opportunities and challenges in community-led social enterprise. There will also be input from JECCDO Ethiopia following connections made at last year’s SE World Forum. Travel and accommodation costs can be covered. If you’d like to participate in the CLE, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2017, the School for Social Entrepreneurs introduced a new model of grant funding – Match Trading – where the grants provided to smaller social enterprises would match pound-for-pound the increase in trading income. Recent research carried on the programme highlights the success of this particular model – with participants showing, on average, an increase of over 60% in their trading incomes. The Programme – branded as Trade Up in Scotland – will be recruiting its next cohort in March/April 2020. More info soon.
There are currently seven thematic SENs with over 600 social enterprises actively engaged. Each thematic SEN produces its own newsletter on a 4-6 weekly cycle. If you’d like to keep up with news and info pertaining to specific thematic SENs, see January’s Newsletter offerings: Employability; Culture and Tourism; Health and Wellbeing; and Sport.
Frontline News: GSEN member The Project Café has sadly announced that it will cease trading at the end of Feb. However, on a positive note, fellow GSEN member, Locavore – a close collaborator/partner with The Project Café over the years – will be taking over the running of the premises in Glasgow’s Renfrew St:
Social Investment Scotland is again opening its Growth and Replication Challenge Fund – offering applicants up to £10k’s worth of support towards growing their enterprise. Closing date is Friday 13th Feb:
Senscot is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Sports SEN Co-ordinator. Judith (Jude) Reid will be joining us on Monday 24th February. You can contact Jude at email@example.com – from 24th onwards.
This week’s bulletin profiles a development trust, based in Kilmarnock, that started out life as Take A Bow Musical Theatre and Dance Company – with the aim of introducing local children to musical theatre through singing, dancing and acting classes (including full scale productions each year). When their premises were threatened with closure by East Ayrshire Council, Take A Bow then expressed an interest in taking over the facility – and, with the help of Senscot Legal, restructured into Take A Bow Development Trust. They have now agreed a 25-year lease with EA Council – with a view to a full asset transfer during 2020 – of the Take A Bow Opportunity Centre – and have plans in the pipeline for a £1m capital development programme.