“In the fall, the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore” – Hemingway’s great line evokes our brief festive respite from Brexit and Trump. Now that hostilities have fully resumed, I wonder if there’s comfort from this insight of Carl Jung: “In all chaos”, he said “there is a cosmos – in all disorder, a secret order”. Cosmos was originally a Greek word meaning both ‘order’ and ‘world’ – because the ancient Greeks considered that the world was perfectly put in order. Jung seems to suggest that the dislocations of our time are part of a necessary re-ordering of cosmic harmony – an inevitable, periodic re-balancing.
While we can only guess at what’s being played out in the public arena, our individual lives are pleasingly pedestrian. On the coldest day of the festive break (24th Dec) I park in Edinburgh’s west end – to discover that I’ve forgotten my coat. I arrive, shivering, into the nearest charity shop, where a coat (£11.99) fits me so well that it could have been made for me – we were meant to find each other. This ‘serendipity’ raises my spirits, and my sensitivity to other fortunate coincidences; I don’t really go for this ‘mystical’ stuff – but for a couple of days, everything is strangely harmonious; several chance encounters and random connections – which seem ‘intended’. I now wonder if there’s a way to bring this ‘synchronicity’ closer to our lives. Even if we can’t ‘cause’ it – can we become more ‘open’ to it? If we are sufficiently ‘attentive’ – will Jung’s ‘secret order’ reveal itself?
On Tuesday, I watched ‘Brexit: The Uncivil War’ – anchored by the impressive Benedict Cumberbatch; there are a dozen different reviews online – thisis the Guardian’s Lucy Mangan – who didn’t like it. Personally, I was struck by the malign ugliness of the workings of our democracy; as one reviewer puts it: ‘a raging nation, governed by charlatans and manipulated by algorithms’. Late in the drama, the leaders of Leave and Remain (Cumberbatch and Kinnear) share a quiet pint and some self-reproach, at how cruel and savage the campaign has become. I thought of the Greek poet Aeschylus’s famous appeal to “Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world”. That was 2500 years ago.
Another solid article from the Social Europe site – in which Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz explains why we need to look beyond measuring GDP. He says that what we measure affects what we do – and GDP is too “materialistic” to be a good ‘measure of wellbeing’; too focused on the production of goods rather than health, education and the environment. The article outlines some better ways to measure wellbeing – and some important current initiatives. How’s this for a direct quote: “Spurred on by Scotland, a small group of countries has now formed the Wellbeing Economy Alliance”. Must learn more about this.
This exclusive article on the ‘Fast Company’ website tells how Tim Berners-Lee is working on a plan to decentralise the web and take back power from Facebook, Google, Amazon etc – who have profited from its centralisation. His mission is to turbo-charge a broader movement among developers which will enable individuals to control their own data in a free, open internet. Much of the techno jargon here is beyond me – but I have the highest respect for Berners-Lee. He not only invented the web – but his gift of it to ‘the commons’ – meant that we can trust him – to put the public good before corporate profit.
Sister Wendy Beckett died on Boxing day, aged 88 (Guardian obit). I was one of the millions of viewers, captivated by her 1990s Arts programmes; brilliantly ‘human’ interpretation. I also greatly respect her ‘contemplative’ insight; this from her wee book: ‘Meditations on Silence’.
“To know what matters and what does not is the lesson that we long to be taught. Mondrian’s ‘Still Life with Ginger Pot II’ shows a geometrical tangle of incoherent lines, which might or might not have a meaning. But at the centre of all this, pure, rounded and still, gleams the pot, the one satisfying certainty amid the existential chaos. It is only when we are still, when we open up to our inner reality that the things in our life fall into coherence for us. We do not necessarily have to think this out: silence makes the order plain. But instead we quieten our restless minds, and then rise to find that we see now, the essential”.
Our last bulletin of 2018 shared this infographic capturing some of the highlights of Senscot’s work during the year, as well as those of the SENs and the wider SE community. In a similar vein, our first bulletin of 2019 outlines some of our objectives, activities and milestones for the year ahead. At the heart of this will be our ongoing work seeking to represent, as best we can, the interests of the 16 Local and 7 thematic SENs who together represent over 1300 SEs – with particular emphasis on making progress in achieving a more consistent level of support available to SENs at a local level. We will continue to work closely with partners across the sector on specific initiatives. These will include – amongst others – another Pockets & Prospects Programme; Aim2Flourish; co-hosting SE Reference Sub-Groups; Senscot Briefings on SEN members contributions in specific policy areas; more Community Learning Exchanges. This year will also see Senscot reach two significant milestones – our 20th anniversary; and the 1000th edition of this weekly bulletin.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Next Thursday (17th Jan), Senscot will host a Sport SEN meeting at our offices in George Sq, Glasgow. The meeting will be looking at how social and community activity contributes to improving health and well-being – and will be the focus on our next Senscot Briefing (February). The meeting will include an update from sportscotland on their ‘Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity Programme’. Sportscotland has, this week, published research ‘Changing Lives’ which highlights the life-changing effects of participation in sport. The report, which considered responses from over 3,000 sport club members and around 15,000 school pupils, shows that participation levels on national programmes in Scotland are at a record high. Sport SEN members wishing to attend next Thursday’s meeting – can sign up here.
This year is likely to see the establishment of a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency – joining Scottish Enterprise and Highland and Island Enterprise (HIE). The Govt’s consultation process closed this week. A distinct Agency for the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway – with their particular needs – has been a long time coming. The contribution of HIE in recent decades in breathing new life into the Highlands and Islands gives a flavour of what can be achieved. One clear example would be in replicating HIE’s Community Asset Team. Scottish Govt figures state that over 500,000 acres of land in the Highland and Islands are in community ownership. In the South of Scotland, it is less than 800.
Last autumn, the Big Lottery launched its new UK wide ‘Digital Fund‘ – a £15m programme to support charities and community organisations – in using digital tools and approaches to support people and communities to thrive. It appears they received over 1200 applications – with a potential value of £600m. With the funds up to £500k available, it has prompted some debate around the myths and realities of ‘scaling up’. See latest blog from David Floyd (Beanbags and Bullsh1t). Some of the ‘comments’ also worth a read.
OSCR – set up back in 2005 – acts as the independent regulator and registrar for over 24,000 Scottish charities including community groups, religious charities, schools, universities, grant-giving charities and major care providers. Scottish Govt has now launched a consultation – open till 1st April 2019 – with a view to introducing reforms that would ‘maintain and increase public trust’ in the charity sector.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise in Glasgow that will be delivering house clearances for housing associations and other social landlords across the city. Total Homes Co-op is a collaboration between ReConnect Glasgow and 2nd Opportunities and is supported by Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Accelerator Programme. The Co-op, set up November 2018, secured its first contract in December with East Renfrewshire Council. Total Homes Co-op saves items from house clearances which would otherwise end up in landfill – recovering and repairing them to be re-used to support people being re-homed or simply providing an affordable way to refurnish their home.