Senscot Bulletin No. 532, Friday 2nd July 2010

Dear members and friends,

Some years ago, I adopted the word ‘mindfulness’ – to refer to being aware of the present moment.  Whether washing dishes, making coffee, pottering outside – to be simply conscious of ‘now’ – helps me slow my life – savour it more.  ‘Normal’ culture regards mindfulness as ‘that vague insipid Buddhist stuff’ – so I was surprised to find the term included in a recent NHS Contract to promote community resilience in Glasgow’s East End.  It seems that research emerging from fields such as neuroscience and psychology is convincing health professionals of the benefits of ancient Buddhist practices.  Teachers of meditation report that fewer and fewer students identify as Buddhist.  A new phenomenon of ‘secular mindfulness’ is evolving.  The source of much unhappiness is that we tend to think, feel and behave as though we are single, separate and solid – but apparently we are not.  The science shows how deeply social our brains are – that we are profoundly influenced by those around us – and prey to emotions we only partly understand.  It seems the practise of mindfulness helps us see a truer picture – of how fluid and interdependent everything is.
 I’m just back from a week in Spain – I found the light and the heat vitalizing (life-giving).  My strongest impulse this trip was to walk the seashore – one day for 5 hours – tramp – tramp – tramp. It wasn’t rational – not as if I was trying to get anywhere; but I felt I had to keep going – until I became the world in which I walked.  Alas I wasn’t mindful enough of my feet.  Terrible blisters.

This week the Scottish Parliament approved the Dormant Bank Account Order (2010) – and will now consult on how the money will be allocated.  Over time the sum available will be circa £30m and the general purpose – to promote resilient communities.  One of the options to be considered (the one Senscot has been punting) is to endow a Trust – which can assist our poorer communities for years to come.  Instead of the usual stocks and shares, the Trust could invest the £30m in community owned windpower generation.  If this investment achieved 10% – this would provide our 30 poorest communities with an annuity of £100k – to kickstart their own Development Trust – get local community enterprise underway.  This is a once in a generation opportunity to endow something permanent. See more

Senscot long term readers will be fully aware of our view that Scotland’s 32 Councils are too large and too remote from our communities – and that we suffer from a missing layer of decision making at local level. Local Democracy get virtually no coverage in our shrinking national press and it was great to see Lesley Riddoch’s piece in Monday’s Scotsman. She’s no stranger to the cause, having played a key role in the achievement of independence of different Scottish islands – so it’s no surprise that she nails the issues – bang on. I share her view – that if this issue is not now resolved by our parliament – it will be resolved from bottom up. Is there a better way? A response to Lesley’s piece from Ian Cooke (Director, DTA Scotland) was published in Thursday’s edition. See both,
Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), has written a pamphlet calling for a 21st century Enlightenment – a bold and brave text which asserts that we need to live very differently – which means thinking very differently. I find it, overall, an optimistic essay – particularly his faith in widening human empathy. If you can’t face the 35 pages – Madeline Bunting wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian. See more,
The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek says he’s a communist but nothing like the old style communism. Lots of his ideas are above my head but I like his take on ‘the enclosure of the commons’: “Marx was talking about the common land where people grazed their sheep, but today, intellectual property and information is our commons –  with people having to pay rent to monopolists like Bill Gates”.  The BBC is also part of our commons and Sky represents Das Kapital – which is why Murdoch loathes the BBC – and some of us loathe his empire of darkness.  See more,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See . This week: 
JOBS: Elite Linguists C.I.C, Turning Point Scotland, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dean and Cauvin Trust, REAP, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust, Community Woodlands Association
EVENTS: Improve and Account, 8 Jul; More Than Furniture 2010, 24 Jul; Realising Potential – next steps for social enterprise in Scotland, 2 Sep; Understanding Social Enterprise, 9 Sep; The Facilitative Manager, 17 Sep, Tender writing training, 30th Jan
TENDERS: UK-Glasgow: refuse recycling services, Print Services, UK-Kilmarnock: Supply & Delivery of Meals at Home Service, Proposed Tender for the Supply, Delivery and Installation of Office Furniture, Affordable Housing at Oldcroft Place, Aberdeen

NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Things tend to slow down a bit at this time of year due to holidays etc. However, we’re glad to report there is still a bit of activity going on with the SENs. Today, Kim is down in Dumfries and Galloway on the interview panel for DGSEN’s new Support Officer post that will support the development of both social enterprise and DGSEN itself over the next 12 months. We’ve also been in Ayrshire, meeting with social enterprises that are keen to establish a new Network. A follow up meeting has been scheduled for 17th August. Any Ayrshire social enterprises interested in joining up, contact  For more Networks News,

Aidan was up in Inverness last week meeting with HIE’s Strengthening Communities Team and giving Senscot’s perspective on how things stand within the social enterprise community at the moment and what, we think, may lie ahead. One of the themes of the session was HIE’s longstanding commitment to supporting social enterprise in the Highlands and Islands. This week, HIE has sent us news of a new post (Key Account Manager – Social Enterprise) that has been created to continue this support. See more

A new UK-wide social entrepreneurship programme – ‘Bring it to Life’ – sponsored by Guinness is now open for applications. The Scottish end will be led by Firstport. The fund is targeted at people aged between 25- 35 (in Glasgow or Edinburgh) who are looking to create new social ventures.  Two ‘development’ awards up to £15,000 and four ‘catalyst’ awards up to £2,200 each are up for grabs. Deadline for entries is 23rd July. See more,

Following last week’s piece on the Social Investment Fund, Alastair Davis (Investment Director, Social Investment Scotland) has kindly provided us with an updated list of awardees. See more,

This week saw the re-opening of the BIG Lottery’s Investing in Communities programme. The programme will have around £400m to allocate through three strands – Growing Community Assets (GCA); Life Transitions; and Supporting 21st Century Life. Our understanding is that GCA will have tighter criteria than before – with a greater emphasis on demonstrating community need and that applicants are able to make a strong business/development case as opposed to merely purchasing an asset.
See more:

This week’s bulletin re-visits a social enterprise in Midlothian that has gone through a revamp and has been given a new lease of life. Green Banana originally grew out of a local Youth Project (Y2K) that used commercial video production to support an ongoing support programme for the young people. The organisation has now changed its focus and now specialises in film production and new media training.
By equipping young adults with film production skills, Green Banana can provide them with professional opportunities, an outlet of creativity and a chance to voice their perspective. For more see

From ”The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh.  ”People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.  Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes.  All is a miracle.”

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

Best wishes,


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