SENSCOT MEMBER’S BULLETIN No. 253, FRIDAY 5th NOVEMBER 2004
Dear members and friends,
Death on Monday of James Hanson the financial wheeler dealer – in his day the most feared corporate raider and asset stripper in Britain. When in 1986 he was caught trying to take £70m from the Courage Brewery Staff Pension Fund – The Times said, “ he showed the true lack of sentiment of the pure capitalist.” Thatcher thought he was great – once said she was trying to run the country the way he did business – a kind of ruthless unbridled capitalism. She made him a Lord.
Then on Wednesday we got Bush and his gang back for 4 more years. America moves further right – the Neo Liberal project advances – Britain is part of it – global terror moves up another notch – Not a good week.
More immediate than world affairs is the mortal fumbling of our daily lives. Dropped in to borrow power drill. My pal Ronnie is retired – lives alone – been a bit remote since Mary died. At the front door he seems distracted. “What’s wrong Ronnie?” “ I peed in the kitchen bin” he said “How do you mean?” He walks me to the kitchen – the pedal bin stands open – “I was nearly finished when I realised I was peeing in the bin instead of the toilet” – he looks frightened “I’m losing it”. What to say? – “Listen Ronnie – peeing in the bin is a near miss – peeing in the fridge – that would be losing it” – but he doesn’t smile back. Don’t know what else to say. Was it Bette Davis who observed, “Growing old is not for sissies.” Not a good week.
Community Planning Partnerships (CPP) are the new game in town – SIPs are being discontinued – and with them the Partnership Representatives’ Network (the PRN). An evaluation on behalf of Communities Scotland found that PRN was too narrow in its membership, and it will be replaced by a new arrangement called Community Voices Network – aimed at wider, more fluid consultation. All former members of the PRN has received a letter explaining the new arrangements, and at SURF’s successful conference on Monday – deputy minister for communities Johann Lamont announced £9m over three years for the Community Voices fund: http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=1392
Representative structures have the disadvantage that they can be dominated by a few strong personalities – we’ve all seen this. But focus group consultation also has disadvantages – it doesn’t develop grass roots leadership capacity – and it can’t challenge for change. If CPPs are failing to engage with local people – Community Voices need to be raised.
Senscot has been invited by the Scottish Executive to join a ‘Reference Group’ to ‘give advice’ on the application arrangements for the ‘Futurebuilders’ money. Mixed feelings – not comfortable with Senscot getting too close to where the dosh is handed out – not what we do. But we want to help – and its short term – we’ll see what happens. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=1402
Draft papers are still being worked on – so can’t be circulated. Hopefully they’ll be out by the end of the month. Meantime the Futurebuilders website is active (as part of the Communities Scotland site) – worth a look: www.communitiesscotland.gov.uk. The composition of the interim Reference Group is: http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=1403
This week, Senscot attended a Social Enterprise Network meeting in Aberdeen. Nine organisations attended and have all agreed to meet up again on 7 December for a further meeting. The first Ayrshire Social Enterprise Network meeting is on November 17. For more info’, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst social entrepreneurship continues to spread, it has never been subjected to rigorous academic analysis. Member Dave Keltie informs us that a Research Conference has been called for April next year in Barcelona and scholarly contributions to this field of knowledge are invited. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=1404)
YELLOW PAGES: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice you send. But please send in any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to email@example.com and we’ll post them on our site. This week:
JOBS: 78 vacancies, incl. posts with: Carmen Social Inclusion Centre, Glasgow Homelessness Network , Includem, Denny Community Support Group, Social Enterprise Coalition, South Carrick LETS.
EVENTS: INCREASE programme launch events, 17 Nov; Purchasing Power – should charities intertrade? (SEDI), Edinb., 23 Nov; EDAS 5th annual conf., Edinburgh, 24 Nov; ‘Appreciative inquiry’, Resolution/Imagine Scotland event, Perth, 25 Nov; Knowledge is Power, Scottish Civic Forum human rights event, Edinburgh, 27 Nov; Triodos Bank, Evening Celebrating Social Enterprise, Glasgow, 9 Dec.
The Social Enterprise Academy is running its first programme on 6th/7th December. ‘Closing the the Opportunity Gap’ is a learning journey looking at social firms in Edinburgh. The two day programmme will be hosted by Forth Sector. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_event.php?viewid=1349
The Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics website has had its quarterly update. It offers small area statistics on health, education, poverty, unemployment, housing, population, crime and social / community issues. The site is quite user-friendly, with impressive detailed information well presented. You can compare the performance of your area against overall national statistics. Comparing info on themes/trends in different parts of Scotland is, as yet, more fiddly. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=1346
Community Action for Energy (CAfE), the UK national network for community-based energy saving projects, is holding a training day in Dundee on 12th January 2005. This is a chance to find out about sustainable energy and how it can benefit your community. (http://senscot.spl21.net/view_event.php?viewid=1405)
This week’s bulletin profiles an Aberdeen-based organisation catering for the needs of the ethnic community and businesses in the north East of Scotland. Multi Ethnic Aberdeen Ltd (MeAL) is a recognised charity and company limited by guarantee that provides a wide range of products and services. The organisation evolved from the work of the Aberdeen Scotland Africa Link (ASAL) and is committed to promoting and raising the visibility of ethnic individuals, businesses and organisations in the North East. As well as a range of support services, MeAL has also developed a number of enterprises designed to generate further income for the organisation. These include Soul and Spice Café Bar, Echo Me newspaper and MeFM Radio. For further info’ on MeAL, see www.senscot.net (project profiles)
Last week was in Italy – in Spoleto, an Umbrian hill town the size of Perth. Struck by how proud the locals are of their town – and this includes their town council, which has been communist for years. I was shown a civic statue in memory ‘dei caduti sul lavoro’ (of those killed at work). On certain holidays they lay wreaths to the honour of ordinary working folk. Rabbie Burns would have approved.
Poet Charles Simic wrote “Of course poetry is irrelevant to the ‘real’ world of power and politics, but so is philosophy, painting, music and any other human activity where something genuine can be found.”
Poet Adrian Mitchell wrote “Sometimes a poem can change peoples lives, strengthen and focus peoples beliefs. And if people can change, that can change the world”. I share his view of the power of literature.
One of my favourite ‘dip in’ poetry anthologies is ‘Staying Alive’ by Neil Astley. He’s just published a sequel ‘Being Alive’ (Bloodaxe Books) – nearly 500 poems for £10.95). From it I’ve chosen one by Antonio Machado called ‘The Eyes’: http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=1407
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.
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