We humans have two brains, which co-exist uneasily – often in tension. From the seven million years we spent as animals, we have an ‘old brain’; the hypothalamus houses neurological systems totally attuned to survival – which neuroscientists have called the four Fs – feeding, fighting, feeling and……reproduction. Over the millennia, humans also evolved a ‘new brain’, the neo-cortex, home of the reasoning powers that enable us to ‘stand back’ from – to moderate our instinctive, primitive passions. At different times, either of these brains will dominate – both in our individual lives and in human history.
For instance, from about 900-200 BCE, there occurred a religious revolution, pivotal to the spiritual development of humanity (sometimes called the Axial age). This was the period of the Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Isiah, Socrates, Aeschylus etc. Although there were later ‘flowerings’ – humanity never surpassed the insights of this period. The key element in each of these religious movements, is to tame the savage instincts of the ‘old brain’ – to bring kindness and compassion to human life.
Barak Obama was (mostly) ‘new brain’ dominant – leadership which could imagine beyond personal interest, to a better, gentler world. Donald Trump is mostly ‘old brain’ dominant; interested (like our reptilian ancestry) in status, power, control, territory, sex, personal gain and survival. Living by a progressive philosophy, during the reign of a regressive ‘monarch’, we need to keep faith with the importance of kindness and compassion. Our job is to keep the dream alive – because if people can imagine something – there’ll come a time when they’ll achieve it.
With so many policy areas at a standstill: child poverty, land reform, local democracy, housing, transport, energy etc – the SNP now personifies a cautious centrist politics. Both Gerry Hassan (Sunday National) and Robert McAlpine (Common Space) have written articles saying that the wreckage of Scottish Labour has left a gap in Scotland’s electoral politics. There is a significant constituency in Scotland for a more robust social democracy – to the left of the SNP’s mainstream managerialism – but Scotland’s left is without leadership. Too many parties who want to change Scotland – but only after the destruction of their opponents. Bitter tribal hatreds are our ugliest and most damaging indulgence – they need to grow up.
Robin McAlpine’s article (above) says: “The SNP has been so centralised, that it is incredibly tightly controlled by a tiny number of people”. The recent announcement by Aileen Campbell, about a ‘stalled’ Democracy Matters initiative was no surprise; the SNP has never shown any intention of empowering a community tier of democracy. I’m enthusiastic about the idea of Citizens’ Assemblies – that 100 randomly chosen citizens will produce sound consensus about the best way forward for constitutional change. Also, former MEP David Martin is a brilliant choice of co-convener (woman co-convener awaited). Will assemblies become a ‘constant’ of future Scottish governance? Hope so.
According to a voice recording, leaked to the Washington Post – the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, told an audience of Jewish leaders, that the US Govt would intervene to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister:” It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened”. I find it staggering that the US Govt is actually tampering with our democracy – but they’ve done it everywhere else – it’s what they do. Trump wants the UK to crash out of Europe – become a partner in American global dominance; I can think of no better reason to reinforce our ties with Europe.
In ‘The Golden Notebook’ (1962), Doris Lessing reflects on the tortuous dynamics of human progress.
“It seems to me something like this – every so often, perhaps once in a century, there’s a sort of – act of faith. A well of faith fills up, and there’s an enormous heave forward in one country or another, and that’s a forward movement for the whole world. Because it’s an act of imagination – of what is possible for the whole world. Then the cruelty and the ugliness get too strong and the well runs dry. Then the well slowly fills again. And then there’s another painful lurch forward…because every time, the dream gets stronger. If people can imagine something, there’ll come a time when they’ll achieve it”
Back in March, Inspiralba hosted a Rural Social Enterprise Focus Group in Oban – with the purpose of identifying shared objectives, synergies, potential for collaborative working and building a network of support with a focus on rural social enterprise. The Focus Group agreed to explore the level of interest in setting up a new thematic Rural SEN. Together, Inspiralba and Senscot have put together this discussion paper, inviting interest from rurally-based social enterprises interested in participating. Around 30 SEs have already registered interest and, on the back of this, an exploratory meeting will take place in Glasgow on Monday 24th June (with virtual access) to look at formally establishing a Rural SEN. If agreed, the number of thematic SENs will grow to seven – that currently include Health; Sport; Employability; Culture; Community Food; and Tourism – with around 500 SEs engaged with one or more thematic SEN. If you are interested in hearing more about the Rural SEN or any of the others, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
Interesting blog from Josiah Lockhart on the back of Firstport’s new strategy. One of their core ambitions is to be able to make more ‘data-driven’ decisions – on what is funded; who gets the funding; and where they come from. Some of the data emerging from their recent analyses is worth reflecting on. For example – Why are women more attracted to setting up social enterprises now than in 2009? Why are men receiving higher amounts of funding if they get more applications from women? And why are traditionally rural communities more successful at getting seed funding? This ‘data/evidence driven’ approach, in many respects, makes obvious sense and, no doubt, this approach will become more and more evident in the years ahead.
Aberdeen is joining a growing band of local authority areas looking to develop their own SE Strategies. In a similar vein to other areas, it will be ‘co-produced’ by the Council – and the local SE community – ensuring that its voice is heard in shaping the Strategy to meet the needs of the local sector. On Tuesday 18th June, ACVO and Aberdeen SEN are beginning this process with an Aberdeen SE Strategy and Networking event. Immediately prior to this event, in the morning, Senscot is hosting an event looking at the role community cafés play within social enterprise – exploring issues around sustainability and different business models. If you’re interested in attending either or both meetings, see links for booking details.
Date for the Diary: P4P is running an interactive workshop with GSEN on 27th June in Glasgow. ‘Quick Quotes, Quick Wins’ is aimed at third sector orgs and SEs with limited or no experience in tendering and procurement or awareness and knowledge of the Public Contracts Scotland website. See full details.
Next week – both again on Tuesday 18th – sees a couple of other events taking place that will be of particular interest to those involved in social enterprise. In Edinburgh, the University is hosting Futureproofing Social Enterprise – looking at whether the needs of the sector are being met – and, in Stirling, the Role of Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland sees contributions from SEN members Projekt42 and Morton in the Community. If you’d like to go along to either, see links for details.
This week’s bulletin profiles a Glasgow-based social enterprise – and GSEN member – that offer innovative and reliable solutions to support people to obtain real employer-led skills, Information, advice and guidance, job opportunities and vocational training. Unlock Employment provides a series of products and services to help jobseekers and employers with employment and training. These include matching jobseekers to employers and vice versa, creating a positive partnership and an effective employment solution. In addition to their core services, Unlock Employment also offers an in-work support service as well as a range of employability workshops.