Dear members and friends,
On Saturday, I’m watching an impressive Welsh rugby team in Argentina (STV); during advert break, I take a quick look at Germaine Bloody Greer (BBC) – and stay with it. I’m partly attracted by Greer’s refreshing candour and honesty – but I’m also struck by how old she looks – 79 to my 78 – both of us ‘waiting for the last bus’. People our age, are reflecting on their life – I’m interested how satisfied she is with the ‘hand she was dealt’ – how she’s played it.
While the Female Eunuch (1970) was a landmark feminist tract, it’s interesting that Germaine Greer never really joined the women’s liberation movement. Formidably individualistic, it’s as if she stays free to contradict anyone, anytime, including herself; her opinions a mix of rare insight and disruptive outbursts – uncontained. She evinces an exaggerated version of the freedom she champions for all women – a maverick spirit with an attractive ‘truthfulness’ about her.
It seems that in 1984 Greer bought ‘the Mills’, a Georgian farmhouse on three acres in Essex. At the end of Saturday’s programme, the house is up for sale and she’s unsentimentally clearing it out – including her library to a charity shop. She invites no sadness to this stage in her life – and my sense is that she has mostly made peace with past events – including those which diminished her. She had no clear idea, and appears unbothered, about where she will now live: without stairs, she says, and preferably near a beach where she can walk. Winding down.
The economist and former MP, George Kerevan, writes a ‘rewarding’ Monday column in the National; his latest – ‘May is smarter than you think’ – correctly predicts that she would: ‘muddle through as ever’ this week’s Commons Brexit showdown. Kerevan traces May’s successful political apprenticeship in the ‘dog eat dog’ worlds of Westminster and the Tory party; he concludes that she is playing a very clever game – to achieve the softest possible Brexit – through the guile of ‘masterful inaction’: defer all confrontation/ decisions. Hard Brexiteers can see the way its drifting – but have no leader. My sense is that EU negotiators also ‘know the score’ – and will play along.
The fundamental flaw in community development programmes hasn’t shifted much in the fifty years I’ve been around: put simply, their reluctance to shift power to local leadership means they don’t last. Although Scotland is patchy, one senses increasing international awareness, that externally imposed ‘development’ is no longer acceptable. The concept of ‘community philanthropy’ has, in recent years, been gathering momentum across the world; Barry Knight, of the seminal Rethinking Poverty project, explains how this ‘gamechanger’ achieves buy-in from local communities. And here’s a new report you can download, which explains ‘How Community Philanthropy Shifts Power’.
The general flavour of The Female Eunuch can be discerned from browsing these 70 quotes, gathered on the Goodreads website; this quote is from a foreword Greer added to the 21st anniversary printing:
“The freedom I pleaded for twenty years ago was freedom to be a person, with the dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart. Freedom to know and love the earth and all that swims, lies, and crawls upon it…most of the women in the world are still afraid, still hungry, still mute and loaded by religion with all kinds of fetters, masked, muzzled, mutilated and beaten.“
Following the positive response and feedback to our series of Briefings during 2017/18, a further six will be produced this year. Our first is Social Enterprise in the Year of Young People. The SE Strategy and its supporting SE Action Plan prioritises a number of measures that seek to engage young people in social enterprise – including SE learning in schools; Introducing entrepreneurial learning to educational settings; Building careers in social enterprise; and Developing Scotland’s young workforce. The Briefing includes case studies on the work with young people by The Ecology Centre; Callander Youth Project; and Tower Digital Arts Centre. Further Briefings will cover the work of SEN members on issues such as: Adventure Tourism (July 18); Mental Health and Wellbeing (Sept 18); Sport, Mentoring and Volunteering (Nov 18); Improving health through social and community activity (Jan 19); and SE and Heritage (March 19).
Keep up to date with the latest jobs, events and funding opportunities in the social enterprise sector.
In advance of our future Briefing on Mental Health and Wellbeing, Senscot hosts a joint thematic session on this topic – next Thursday 21st June (11am -1pm) in our Edinburgh office (21 Walker St). Open to any SEN member involved in or interested in this work, the meeting will consider current SE activity; the contribution of SE in achieving local outcomes; opportunities for partnership working; as well as support needs of SEs, allowing them to engage better both locally and nationally. If you’d like to join us – see booking form.
With the SE World Forum coming to Scotland in September, two recent papers (by Gillian Murray – Yunus Centre at Glasgow Caley), give our current SE movement in Scotland some helpful and important historical context. The first – Community Business in Scotland: An Alternative Vision of ‘Enterprise Culture’,1979–97 – charts its evolution from the community business movement of the ‘70s through to the present day. The second paper – a historical perspective on social enterprise as a public health initiative – considers historical connections between SE, health and wellbeing. While much has changed – many of the motivations, approaches and challenges remain the same. There will no doubt be many other sources of historical records charting this story over the last 30/40 years in communities across Scotland. The SE Collection at Glasgow Caley would be delighted to hear from you.
Date for your Diary: The Electoral Reform Society Scotland is holding a large-scale event on Sat. 23rd June at the Marriot in Glasgow. Let’s Build a Democracy Fit for the 21st Century is part of Our Democracy’s ‘Act As If You Own The Place’ Campaign. Paul Mason leads an impressive list of speakers.
One of the contributors to our Pockets and Prospects Programme and Health SEN member, Lingo Flamingo, was profiled in Glasgow Live last week. Lingo Flamingo seeks to tackle the growing issue of dementia through language learning. Their work is based on research from the University of Edinburgh and already they are providing language learning to over 600 elderly people in care home throughout the country. Founder, Robbie Norval, will be sharing their story at this year’s SE World Forum in Edinburgh.
This week’s bulletin profiles one of CFINE’s stable of subsidiaries – Cook in the ‘Nook – which operates a new training kitchen in Aberdeen offering professionally-led cookery courses. Each class is run by a trained chef/food enthusiast who will guide participants in the art of cooking in a number of disciplines from Indian to Italian cuisine – as well, of course, as modern Scottish cooking – whilst sharing their skills and experience in a hands-on environment. Cook in the ‘Nook, like CFINE’s other subsidiaries, sees any profits generated being used to support vulnerable individuals and groups in both Aberdeen City and across Aberdeenshire.