Dear members and friends,
‘‘The Tree of the Wooden Clogs’’ is a beautiful film – a moving portrait of peasant life in turn of the century Italy. A viewing this week has me once again researching my family tree – old books, photos etc. Once again I feel that sense of continuity – of our lives reaching far into the past – into the future.
My grandparents were all born in the same village – Picinisco – in the last decade of the 19th century. The 1914 war awakened our valley from centuries of slumber (the returning soldiers wanted more). The exodus accelerated – from the land, to the cities of Europe and the Americas – our tribe to Scotland. My mum and dad, along with dozens of cousins, were the transitional generation – two languages/two nationalities. My generation, and those which follow, are the beneficiaries – first a financial emancipation; in our wee shops – but increasingly you’ll find us in all walks of life – part of the Scottish Blend.
I’m a fan of the TV series ‘‘Lark Rise to Candleford’’ which I often equate with ‘‘Picinisco to Scotland’’ – because it portrays that same turn of the century peasant life. The programme style is like the old Morality Plays – timeless allegories of the struggle between light and darkness – each character the personification of moral attributes. It shows that for all the advances of science and education – when it comes to the basic questions of life and love – our understanding is no greater than our forbears – perhaps less. (see end)
As citizens become more aware of the power of ethical purchasing – canny businesses will increasingly seek to ‘greenwash’ their products. We see more examples of local authorities floating subsidiary companies to run services, like leisure. To call either of these examples social enterprises is bogus. The purpose of a Social Enterprise Mark is to assure customers that a given business trades for social purposes and stands for certain values. Entry criteria need to be sufficiently rigorous so that only genuine social enterprises feel comfortable in our tent. Senscot has asked the SEM Company if Scotland can stick with the CIC dividend cap of 35%. We await their response. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9180
I’m sometimes challenged, even by Senscot colleagues, for being too negative about the idea of social enterprises collaborating with the private sector. Mike Finlayson of Forth Sector has penned strong views on this subject. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9175 It’s true that I feel strongly about, what I call, the right wingers on the margins of our community who don’t appear to grasp what make us different. For me, social enterprise offers a potentially different way of running the world – a counter culture. We use market mechanism when appropriate – but our behaviour challenges the very core of the business ethic – the drive for personal wealth. It doesn’t bother me that we are a tiny minority. We need to define our space – and hold it. People will follow. (Comments welcome).
There is a growing awareness that Scotland has a real opportunity to become a world leader in the generation of energy from renewable sources; less folk realise that there is a simultaneous opportunity to endow our communities with a sustainable source of income. One agency which understands this is the charity, Community Energy Scotland which reports that over 600 community renewable energy projects are currently being developed across Scotland. Locally owned energy generation is community empowerment in all senses. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9181
Legally, Senscot is a membership company with charitable status. We define our accountability to the constituency we serve through our board of directors – elected annually by company members. Each year around 100 supporters take company membership (£25) – so far this year we’re only up to 36 – please consider joining. If the date suits we ask members to attend an AGM to monitor Senscot governance. This is the only expectation. http://www.senscot.net/members.php
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php. This week:
JOBS: Fairbridge in Scotland, The Scottish Government, Open Door Accommodation Project, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project, Portobello Transition Town, Oxfam Scotland, Turning Point Scotland
EVENTS: HISEZ Annual Conference, 26 Feb; Introduction to business planning and strategy & measuring social impact, 10 Mar; Community Recycling Network Scotland 5th Annual Conference, 17 Mar;
NETWORKS NEWS: Colin writes: from the outset – most of the 12 geographic SENS have operated without formal structure – simply informal peer support groups. But some Networks are now becoming involved in local developments which call for a more formal structure. Over the last couple of years, we’ve discussed with Network Reps the idea of commissioning a bespoke legal structure to act as a formal ‘wrapper’ for Networks which feel the need. With the support of Cooperative Development Scotland (CDS), Senscot has taken on the task of producing our own legal model acceptable to both OSCR and the Financial Services Agency. (RARE). We’ll soon be in a position to offer this option to LSENs at a fraction of its true cost. For more Networks News, see https://senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=128
There have been several unfortunate delays in Scottish Govts processing of applications for the third sector Enterprise and Resiliance funds. Word on the street is that announcements are close – even very close.
My sense is that our UK Govt. lacks the bottle to take the radical steps necessary to solve some of the major crises in the world – like global warming and world banking. It may increasingly fall to civil society to lead on the big issues – which is why Senscot supports the Civil Society Summit this Thursday – as a first step to a civil society coalition in Scotland. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9088
‘‘In democratic, equal, fair and inclusive Scotland, not enough of us find it strange that a cartel of elite schools exists solely for those privileged children born into wealth and power – and the few dozen proles they deign to admit for the purpose of preserving their wretched charitable status’’. I enjoy Kevin McKenna’s forthright column in the Observer – this is a quote from a recent one on that bastion of inequality – the private education system. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9178
Aidan is in New Zealand for 10 days – speaking engagements – spreading the word. Says he’s seen some great social enterprises – but infrastructure and govt. support way behind Scotland. We’ll get his craic next week.
The new Scottish online newspaper, Caledonian Mercury, carries a feature on Garry Fraser – a guy from Muirhouse in Edinburgh who has turned his life around; from drugs and prison to up and coming film maker. Inspiring. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=9179
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Pitlochry, the first tourism CIC in Scotland. Pitlochry Area Community Interest Company (PACIC) plans to use The Enchanted Forest as the main event to develop a bigger festival – The Highland Perthshire Festival – to run annually during the autumn months. This will bring many economic benefits to the area with the boost in tourism but will also create training and job opportunities for local young people. http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=9177
In ‘‘Lark Rise to Candleford’’ the character Queenie represents an archetypal figure which we all instinctively recognise and understand. She is the earth mother – wise, nurturing, a healer, a storyteller; versed not only in the properties of plants and natural substances – but also in the myth and mystery of spiritual forces. In previous times Queenie would have been a shaman/druid/witch. Carl Jung warned against the dominance of ‘Rationalism’ and the easy dismissal of incomprehensible things. He wrote: ‘‘We are very far from having finished completely with the Middle Ages, classical antiquity, and primitivity, as our modern psyches pretend… But it is precisely the loss of connection with the past, our uprootedness, which has given rise to the ‘discontents’ of civilization. Unfortunately, the mythic side of humankind is given short shrift nowadays. We can no longer create fables. As a result, a great deal escapes us; for it is important and salutary to speak also of incomprehensible things. The more critical reason dominates, the more impoverished life becomes; but the more of the unconscious, the more of myth we are capable of making conscious, the more of life we intergrate’’.
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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