SENSCOT MEMBER’S BULLETIN No. 294, FRIDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2005
(Going out weekly to over 2700)
Dear members and friends,
I am finding the pictures from New Orleans harrowing, but I try to watch some of it – a kind of duty. The dazed and demented landscape reminds me of Francis Ford Coppola`s `Apocalypse Now`. When the balance of our planet is terminally damaged I sense that this is how it will be. Not a slow unravelling – more like a collapse. These images have a chilling prophetic quality.
When I visited America in 1988 I was shocked by the demoralization of the black poor. I wrote at the time, ‘This is not like poverty in Scotland – it`s a different order. Perhaps through influences like Robert Burns, socialism and our health and welfare services – our poor cling to some dignity. These people are defeated. If you’ve no money here you’re nothing, if you’re ill you die. Poverty is feared. The poor are despised. The human spirit crushed.’ The neo-con vision of the world doesn’t include everyone. `Let the deil tak the hinmaist`.
Darryl Pinckney, author of High Cotton, wrote last week: ‘In the US, white people can’t imagine black people who are like them.’ But if we can`t `imagine the other`, nothing restrains our viciousness. If Pinckney is right, this is a major fracture – portent of a decadent and declining society. His piece finishes, ‘We are becoming like the countries we criticise and pity, places where the state and society have less and less to do with each other. We are on our own – but then black people have always known that.’
As we go about the country extolling social enterprise I often wonder how much of our `sector` is substance and how much is shadow. Since January, 403 new people have self-subscribed to this Bulletin. Here’s an indication of our newer readership. 185 (45%) are running or working for social enterprises. 143 (37%) work for intermediaries or in the public sector. 75 (18%) are private consultants or academics.
My take on this is that less than half of our network is substance – the rest (55%) is shadow. I would have to count Senscot as shadow – `cos we’re not building a sustainable business. Arguing about definitions of social enterprise is shadow. Debate about whether we’re in the enterprise or voluntary sector – is shadow. Awards for the best `so and so` of the year – is shadow. Substance is – ‘Can this business pay my wage if I go full-time?’ Substance is ‘I believe this model is replicable – how can I roll it out.’ Substance is what will be left operating when the fashionistas move on – viable businesses which build social capital – with the independence of profitability.
Senscot has commissioned Les Huckfield Research to carry out an appraisal of Scottish Enterprise services to social enterprises. This work is nearing completion and Senscot will publish our Report over the next couple of weeks. As part of the report, a survey has been carried out asking social enterprises for their views on existing provision and what support they would most value. We would like to thank those who have taken the time to participate. On the theme of support for social enterprises, Senscot has received an update from Dumfries and Galloway on the work of BASE (Business Assistance for Social Enterprise). BASE is pro-actively working with a number of social enterprises and also provides support to the Local Social Economy Partnership. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=3161
‘Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation of a man, a threat to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be ‘uneconomical’ you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper’ EF Schumacher (Small is Beautiful, 1973)
I`ve said above that `awards` are the `flim flam` of our sector and not the substance. Good article by Richard Mehmed which disagrees with me. The Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling project won the Enterprising Solutions Award in 2002 – he talks about how the award affected their business and how it has fared since. There is to be a seminar about setting up a wood recycling business on 27th September in Manchester. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_art.php?viewid=3160
YELLOW PAGES/EXCHANGE: Space constraints mean we can’t carry every notice sent but please any relevant items (before noon Thursday) to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post them on our site. This week:
JOBS: 73 vacancies, incl. posts with: Gorebridge Community Development Trust, Forth Sector, The Ripple Project, Enable (Glasgow Branch), Families Outside, Rocket Science UK Ltd, Birds of Paradise
CAN YOU HELP?: Beacon Fellowship Charitable Trust has launched its search for this year’s winners of the Beacon Prize and is asking the public to nominate people http://senscot.spl21.net/view_cyhelp.php?viewid=3150
EVENTS: CSV, ‘Make A Difference Day’, 29 Oct; SCVO, Scottish Rural Services Conference, 27 Sep; EDAS, Economic Development Course, 7 Dec; CRNS, CRNS AGM, Project Visit & Seminar, 19 Sep; Social Enterprise Academy – Creative Enterprise Learning Journey, 15-16 Sept
Last June the Welsh Assembly launched its Social Enterprise Strategy – their Regeneration Minister Huw Lewis made reference to it last week. ‘In the past, social enterprises have struggled to find support and funding to get started – and to keep going in the long term. Our Strategy aims to help make social enterprises better businesses, by providing specialist support, and advising them on how to secure funding. We believe successful social enterprises can make a genuine difference to the lives of people in disadvantaged areas.’ Scotland alone has no Social Enterprise Strategy – but we understand Communities Scotland are in the process of writing one. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=3158
The Charity Bank (offshoot of Charities Aid Foundation) has seen deposits in its Government backed Community Investment Tax Relief account rise to the extent that it has announced the availability of £25m for new loans. Malcolm Hayday CEO said ‘we are particularly looking to lend in more deprived areas – that’s where I want our field officers out and working. But we are keen to help any organisation that is financially excluded. http://senscot.spl21.net/view_news.php?viewid=3159
This week Colin and Pat attended a Social Enterprise Conference on ‘The Business of Financing Community Initiatives’ held in Acharacle in Argyll. Sponsored by HIE Community Land Unit, the conference was organised by Acharacle Community Company with the focus on how social enterprises can achieve the triple bottom line. Many local initiatives are looking to sustain and improve the local environment and see social enterprise as a way of doing so.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Aberdeen that is part of Turning Point Scotland’s Aberdeen Social Enterprises (ASE) initiative. TeePee Crafts is one of four social enterprises run by ASE. Others include Rosie`s Café and Picture This, both previously profiled in the bulletin. TeePee Crafts is a craft and design workshop located in Holburn Street in the city’s west end. It manufactures a distinctive range of quality hand made gifts, greeting cards, soft furnishings and novelty items which are all available for sale to the public through their shopfront. Open from Mondays to Thursdays, TeePee Crafts provides supported work experience in a low stress environment that can provide the stepping stone for people returning to the workplace. For further info`, see http://senscot.spl21.net/view_prof.php?viewid=3157
Some quotes from the American social philosopher and psychotherapist Erich Fromm.
‘Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.’ ~ ‘Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.’ ~ ‘Conditions for creativity are: to be puzzled; to let go of certainties; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.’ ~ ‘The psychic task which a person can and must set for himself is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.’ ~’One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.’
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.