Dear members and friends,
From the moment Shirley recognises me in the café I’m planning my escape; not seen her for 20 years – a shrill, angry woman with a tongue on her. But I quickly sense that this is not the Shirley I remember – gone is the tight, combative manner – this person has a deep almost spiritual peacefulness; I get caught up in her story… she talks of a nervous breakdown – which required hospitalisation, medication etc. then, from 2 years psychotherapy she found a new understanding and acceptance of herself – a new calm. Unquestionably, Shirley has had a life changing experience, wanting to know more I enquire about relationships, job, religion – but she explains quietly that her change was more fundamental: “I came to see myself differently”.
Shirley’s story sets me wondering again about the idea of a ‘self’ – where is it? Is it in the way we present ourselves to the world – a kind of social performance; perhaps it’s that bit of our consciousness which can stay separate – mindful of all that’s going on. There are many explanations but it is interesting that neuroscience doesn’t offer one. Buddhists would say that our preoccupation with a steady state ‘self’ is an illusion – that there is only a dynamic state of ‘becoming’; I tend to agree. This mysterious, inescapable process of making and remaking ourselves – is at once deeply personal but common to us all. Whilst it is frightening, it is also full of promise for those who can go with the flow: “I came to see myself differently”.
When I heard on the news last night that Nelson Mandela had died – it felt like the loss of a personal friend – he had that kind of innate humility; but at the same time he was a giant for human rights. Barak Obama said: “He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages – a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.”
My favourite column about the white paper on ‘Scotland’s Future’ – was by Neal Ascherson in Saturday’s Guardian. "What is so exhilarating”, he says,” is the flock of many-coloured hopes gathering behind this project – like seabirds in the wake of a working trawler”. I’m a seagull. Ascherson believes that many people – who don’t support the SNP – will vote ‘yes’ to save the NHS and the welfare state in Scotland. These are typical, fair-minded Scots: “appalled at the way the British state is heading under Tory or Labour; the downward plunge into the barbarianism of neo-liberal politics – the contempt for public services – the almost monthly advance of privatisation”. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16381
This Tuesday, Panorama is expected to screen an investigation into trends in the behaviour of large third sector organisations – including Comic Relief and Save the Children. When we give our money – the public expects the third sector to conduct its affairs according to a set of values very different from those in the City of London. Looking particularly at salary levels and investment policies – the programme makes some worrying allegations. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16376
Woefully incompetent governance has led to the demutualisation of the Co-op bank – so demoralising for those of us trying to promote the core principles of social banking; that services can be both democratic and efficient. Those responsible for the wider UK Co-op movement have known for years that its archaic structures are unfit for purpose. We’re all wondering now if this institution can sort itself out – or if we need to start again.See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16383
In Scotland, particularly around food, we’re seeing strong evidence of co-operative community activity; the Dunbar bakery – Whitmuir Farm, West Linton – and now Dig In, Bruntsfield are three examples of an emerging grassroots movement. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16380. At Senscot, Danielle supports a growing Community Food SEN that now has over 40 members. If you’re interested in signing up, contact Danielle@senscot.net or see http://www.se-networks.net/communityfoodsen.php
If this doesn’t make you smile – you must have clinical depression – imagine the main square of a Spanish town – musicians with instruments arrive in dribs and drabs – playing Beethoven’s Ninth – the piece ends with a choral rendition of Schiller’s Ode to Joy – to a packed square – 5 mins 40 seconds. Enjoy! See, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgiPaanDnuk
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php this week:
JOBS: Engage Renfrewshire, Food Train, Covesea Lighthouse Community Company Limited, Borders Environmental Educations Services (BEES), Evolutions Skate Park Scotland Limited
EVENTS: Wiff Waff Wednesday, 11 Dec; Drama Queens: Play Reading for Pleasure, 12 Dec; Workshop got new WikiVOIS website, 13 Dec; Out of the Blue Xmas Market and Bruncheon, 14 Dec;
TENDERS: Delivery of an Outreach Patient Engagement Programme to improve reach and uptake of health services – NHSGGC, Development of 2 sites for Social Housing – Stirling Council and The Scottish National Gallery Project – National Galleries of Scotland. http://readyforbusiness.org/?p=905
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot and Social Firms Scotland are, this week, participating in the EU SEN’s Best Practice Conference in Malmo. Each of the 12 members (including Scotland) is providing case studies on examples of best practice in their respective countries. Of particular interest to us was the Italian case study (Lombardy Region –around Milan etc). They presented on ‘The experience of consortia supporting growing enterprises in Italy’ – with a focus on the ability of social enterprises to work together and create specific collaborative structures (i.e. consortia, networks etc.). There are a number of elements in their approach that, in view of the current situation, could be well worth considering in Scotland. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16382
For more on The SENs, see, http://www.se-networks.net/showbull1.php?articleid=325
Senscot has a couple of offices available for rent at Manor Place, Edinburgh. Could accommodate 4 comfortably in each office. Rent circa £6k per annum. If you’re interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Community organisations in Scotland have until 31 January to apply to a new Scottish Govt allocation of £1m specifically for the purchase of new minibuses. The fund – jointly managed by SCVO and Community Transport Association – will consider applications up to £50k.
The Scottish Community Alliance’s fortnightly ‘Briefings’ brings to our attention the startling fact that Scotland’s Housing Regulator appears to be ‘dead set against the whole culture and tradition of community controlled housing’. With Scottish Govt in the process of introducing a Community Empowerment Bill and Ministers doing the rounds extolling the need to ‘build services around people and communities’, the community sector seems to be getting a contradictory message. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16379
Latest round of Firstport awards were announced this week with another batch of aspiring social entrepreneurs receiving around £40k between them to kick start a range of initiatives across the country. Since 2009, Firstport has distributed around £3m to over 400 individuals.
This week’s bulletin follows a similar line to last week’s in that it profiles a social enterprise that provides a range of services that aim to make a practical difference to people living in fuel poverty. SCARF, based in Aberdeen, but active across the North East of Scotland provides services that focus on fuel poverty; energy efficiency; sustainable living; and green space maintenance. Over the last three years, it has also included the services of Green Tracks – an initiative providing garden maintenance, landscaping and design services that can make a positive impact in the lives of disadvantaged individuals in Aberdeen. For more, see
Without fully knowing what I mean – I sometimes describe myself as a religious person, but without god. The philosopher Ronald Dworkin, who died this year, called his last book Religion without God.
“Dworkin believed that in all this there is something of the religious attitude to life, even though in his own life – and, he says in Einstein’s too – there was no belief in what he called “a Sistine God”, no place for worship, creed or redemption. He went further. Our recognition of objective value, Dworkin argued, must be prior to anything we say about God. It is certainly prior to any role that divine command or example can play in ethics. He would have agreed with Immanuel Kant: “Even the Holy One of the Gospel must first be compared with our ideas of moral perfection before he is recognised as such.” If a religious attitude lies at the foundation of ethics, it must be religion without God.”
See book review here, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16369
That’s all for this week.
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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210