Dear members and friends,
I’m enjoying the new memoir by John Burnside – a marvellously garrulous man. He has shaped his remembering partly around the songs from his childhood and youth; which became ‘strands in the fabric’ of himself. Perhaps we underestimate the power of music to influence our lives. When he was a boy – his grown-up cousin played Nina Simone singing ‘I put a spell on you’. Burnside says it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard; he names this book after the song.
Burnside considers the normal social order to be irredeemably corrupt – where the poor are routinely cheated; he distinguishes between this fake ‘Authorised version’ – and the world of ‘real things’. His own version of reality is not necessarily comforting; it includes other worlds – other ways of being – glimpses of ghosts and angels. Ghosts are real enough for me – as unfinished psychological business; we are haunted not by the dead – but the gaps within us, left by repressed trauma; ruinous events that have not had a proper burial; too painful to mourn.
The longing for romantic love is a recurring theme for Burnside; maybe it is for us all. A song from his past – love fleetingly glimpsed and not possessed – can swoop him into his world of real things; he calls such incidents ‘grace events’. At the present moment ‘Islands in the Stream’ is playing on my radio – I turn it up. This song instantly conjures a person, place, time; a powerful ‘grace event’ – courtesy of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers – AH HA! See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17317
We still have copies of Laurence’s book ‘Kindness’; a selection of Bulletin intros from 2007 – 2012. See, http://www.senscot.net/musings.php
The French economist Thomas Piketty’s tome – Capitalism in the 21st Century – is turning into a publishing sensation; right wing economists have been rocked by his thesis – that spreading inequality is not only killing poor people – it’s killing capitalism. Piketty is not a Marxist – he’s a social democrat – who supports free markets; but he calls for a graduated wealth tax – and 80% income tax for those on huge salaries. The problem is that the 1% richest people in the world exercise such power – that national governments can’t get near them. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17316
It is impossible to contemplate a healthy democracy without free, rigorous journalistic enquiry; but in an essay – published last week by the Saltire Society – Iain MacWhirter warns that Scotland is in danger of losing our national media. Such has been the decline of newspaper sales – that multiple closures look inevitable; MacWhirter predicts what was once unthinkable – government support for titles deemed necessary for cultural diversity; Ian Jack discusses implications. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17312
In recent pieces – the political commentator Gerry Hassan has been reprising his optimistic theme about an emerging ‘third Scotland’: “…the potential of this can be seen in the flowering of the self-organising, self-generating ‘third Scotland’ and its DIY culture and very different take on politics. This is embodied in groups such as National Collective, Radical Independence Campaign and Jimmy Reid Foundation to name but a few. Something fascinating is going on here. It is an expression of a very different kind of power and authority from traditional norms.” See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17324
Senscot, with our SSE Alliance partners – Social Firms Scotland and Social Enterprise Scotland – has secured Scottish Govt support for a new post of Partnership and Procurement Officer. The postholder will help to deliver a dedicated programme – providing practical support to social enterprises and social firms in identifying and responding effectively to emerging tender opportunities, including facilitating social enterprise partnerships and consortia development. Closing date is Monday 26th May. See details,
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: Ettrick & Yarrow Community Development Company, The Lennox Partnership, RAMH, The Church of Scotland, Evolution Skatepark Ltd,
EVENTS: SURF Award Study Visits, 20 & 21 May; Spotlight on Digital R&D in the Arts, 21 May; BRICK Workshop 2, 22 May; Access to Sport & Culture, 6 June; Community is the Answer, 9 June;
TENDERS: Creative Industries Trade Networks, Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Provision of support with housing and personal care, Aberdeen City Council; http://readyforbusiness.org/?p=1213
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Following on from last week’s piece, Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) has now launched a new call for applications – with the aim of creating another 1,400 jobs with third sector employers for unemployed young people. This will include young people experiencing additional barriers, disabilities, care leavers and those currently in custody. Previous rounds of the CJS programme have seen 4,500 vacancies filled across Scotland’s third sector in Scotland – with many SEN members participating and providing opportunities for young people. Deadline for applications is 28th May but organisations are being encouraged to submit asap. See https://senscot.net/?viewid=17329
For more SENs News, see http://www.se-networks.net/showbull1.php?articleid=346
John Swinney launched the Social Growth Fund yesterday at Spartans Community Football Academy in Edinburgh. Applications are now invited for the new £16m fund – to be administered by Social Investment Scotland (SIS). SIS will distribute up to £10m as part of a new risk capital fund aimed at accelerating the growth of Scottish SEs through expansion, scaling and replication. The remainder will allow SIS to offer loans of up to £1m for the first time. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17332
A reader writes to inform us of the launch of a national Trades Union for artists in England; this follows 13/14 years after the establishment of the Scottish Artists Union (SAU). In spite of widespread skepticism at the time – SAU has over 1000 members and is sustained by member support – independent of grant funding.
See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17315 . Still on the subject of artists, Creative Scotland, this week, announced the latest round of awards from their Artists’ Bursary Programme – set up to provide artists and creative professionals with the time and resources to research and develop their work. Over £440k is being distributed to 39 recipients. See awardees, https://senscot.net/?viewid=17326
If we needed any further indication of how far the Co-op Group in the UK has drifted from its founding principles – it’s provided in the current arrangements for the sale of its farms. Its selling agents have been instructed to have no dealings with local initiatives attempting community buy outs – but to focus on international speculators – like hedge funds. The whole affair is nothing less than tragic.
The decision last week to end the Peterborough SIB took everyone by surprise; this was the original – the exemplar we were all told to watch ; does this dramatic reversal mean the end of the line for the SIB model? The Guardian asked some experts for their views on what now? Senscot wasn’t asked but our view is that social interventions should not be financed by private – profit seeking – investment.
This week’s bulletin profiles an Edinburgh-based social enterprise that has survived the disruption caused by the city’s tram works and , with the Trams due to start running this month, has re-named itself The Tram Stop. Previously known as Edinburgh Markets (and first profiled here in Nov 2011), The Tram Stop was launched in the summer of 2011 not only to organise its own regular markets but also to rent out stall equipment and lend their expertise to other events. As a social enterprise, The Tram Stop helps to incubate and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit – and, with profits, support projects that have an environmental focus or support local people. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=17334
John Burnside (b.1955) has published 16 books – 11 of poetry. He now lives in Fife with his wife and children. His intensely lyric poems occupy a borderland between two worlds. On the one hand the earthly experience of our bodies – and his love of nature – are rendered in richly sensuous language. On the other hand his poems continually break free of the bodily and merely personal: as he himself puts it “the lyrical impulse begins at the point of self-forgetting” (Strong Words, Bloodaxe, 2000). It is this blurred territory between the self and the other that Burnside has made particularly his own. His poems are fraught with glimpsed presences; ghosts, angels, ancestors, our own unlived lives.
That’s all for this week.
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