Dear members and friends,
In 1937, Scott Fitzgerald wrote “the natural state of the sentient adult is a qualified unhappiness”; while I would not choose Scott’s words – I agree with his general point – but I mean it as a positive, ‘later life’ condition. In earlier, turbulent years – I was possessed by sweeping enthusiasms, or waves of gloom; from manic activity to shutdown. Content now, plying calmer inshore waters- out of the swing of the sea. A state of ‘qualified sadness’ feels about right for me now – like an achievement.
But there are occasional darker days of course – days once softened with cognac; couple of bleak ones this week. I always look for reasons why I’m down – without expecting to find any; never been easily in touch with how I feel – or why. At its worst – the darkness for me is feeling abandoned – doors inside me swinging back and forth in the wind.
Buy an Aldi gizmo, to tidy away the garden hose – a wheeled cart, requiring self-assembly. When I see all the bits – read the (inadequate) instructions – a confidence wobble; but soon drawn into a world of tubes and wheels and cranks and nuts and bolts; get totally absorbed – ‘in the flow’. By the time I step back to admire my engineering – two hours have passed – my head feels ‘sorted’. There’s a mysterious connection in me – between performing some simple manual task – and mental wellbeing; as though physical order gets internalised. Do you ever get the feeling that life is only allegory – that the real story is not here. (for another day perhaps.)
For we Scots, there are in effect two election campaigns running – and if you feel remote from the London one – they are even more remote from ours. The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore writes of how “the English political class and their embedded hacks” have failed to grasp the significance of what’s happening outside London. “How dare the Scots be so damn influential”. If Ed Miliband becomes PM – he has promised a constitutional convention – but I wonder if he understands the level of modernisation that will be required to enable the survival of the present British state: serious fiscal devolution, a written constitution, end the House of Lords etc. if London is simply unable to discern the mood of the wider nation – it may already be too late.
Thanks to the readers who sent links to updates of the ‘Global Village of 100’ stats. It seems there are two versions on the go, slightly different – a longer and a shorter. The general picture over the past decade has been one of progress for the human race: instead of 50 malnourished and 70 illiterate villagers – both these groups are well under 20; 7 instead of 1 go to yooni; 22 instead of 1 now use computers. But at the top end there is less change: 6 villagers still own half the wealth – and we can assume are in control of things. 1 villager has HIV/AIDS (this equates to 70 million people on earth).
Norway has 428 local councils – each serving an average of 12,000 people. The average Scottish council serves 178,000 citizens. Not surprisingly, their election turnout is roughly double ours at 64%. In recent times the Scots have shown an amazing enthusiasm to engage with politics; many of us wonder whether this will transfer to a call for effective local democracy. Nordic Horizons is hosting an event to explore these possibilities on May 27 in Edinburgh.
With a public benefit role in society – it’s important that third sector organisations operate as responsible and considerate employers; yet there has been a worrying trickle of disputes over pay and conditions at certain big charities. The CEO of loss making SERCO recently told shareholders of his disaffection with big government contracts; the CEO of the Children’s Society is among the charities becoming increasingly selective about service delivery. Let’s aim at a Living Wage for everyone who goes to work – that’s the only just starting point.
JOBS: The Voluntary Action Fund (VAF), Penumbra, WorkingRite, Scottish Community Safety Network, Blake Stevenson Ltd, The Caravan Project, Beith Community Development Trust
EVENTS: Wellness: The Experience of Canadian Health Co-ops, 21 Apr; Dragons’ Den (Coalfields Regeneration Trust and SEAM), 23 Apr; Northern Streams 2015 – Festival of music, song & dance from Scandinavia & Scotland, 25 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May
TENDERS: East Ayrshire Works Employability Pipeline Framework, Research Project to identify the needs of BME communities in Scotland – PKAVS, Provision of an Employee Counselling Service – South Lanarkshire Council, Provision of an Occupational Health Services Framework – APUC Limited and Community Meals – Scotland Excel.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Senscot, Social Firms Scotland and more recently DTA Scotland and the Scottish Community Alliance have been collaborating to identify opportunities for our respective members in the new European Social Fund Operational Programme 2014 – 2020. Scottish Gov’t have been in touch this week in relation to the ‘Promoting Social Inclusion, combating poverty and any discrimination’ Thematic Objective. The Scottish Gov’t, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Big Lottery Fund Scotland and Local Authorities (LAs) are working together with wider stakeholders to explore opportunities that will contribute to the delivery of the new programmes starting in Scotland this year. We’ll be attending a session next week to hear the overall strategic approach, progress to date, process, time-table and proposed next steps to securing ESF.
Reminder: The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is underway. This census is seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland – for the first time. This is an important milestone for SE in Scotland and it would be very much appreciated if you could take 15/20 mins to register information. See background
Last call for Village SOS mentors. Direct involvement in a successful community project is typically empowering for individuals; afterwards many activists feel motivated to share new confidence and skills with other communities on the brink of similar adventures. This is the basis of the Village SOS programme – recruiting training and supporting volunteer mentors to share their experience with others. This is the recruitment form for one day training courses: Glasgow 29 April – Inverness 30 April.
The voluntary sector, the third sector, the social economy – whatever term we use, we mean the same: the realm of the citizen, independent of both state and private commerce. But in modern times – driven mainly by merchant bankers – there is a campaign to establish a ‘social sector’, which, we are told, can be a mixture of private profit and vague social purpose. The term ‘greenwash’ comes to mind. The latest of the ‘hybrids’ – once again from the USA – is called B corporation; can’t see it making much headway in Scotland.
According to the BBC, 34 people were arrested during a blockade of Faslane nuclear base this week; around 200/250 had assembled. I admire and support these peace protestors who work for the end of nuclear submarines in the UK. The SNP appears resolute in its determination to rid Scotland of these weapons – but I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I should be doing a bit more.
You know those videos where a flashmob arrives and plays wonderful music and makes everyone happy – this one is in a Parisian shopping mall – lasts three and a half mins.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise set up by the charity Venture Trust. Venture Mor comprises an outdoor activity company providing adventure holidays across the Highlands. It is a large hub located at Hartfield House hostel in Applecross, and pledges to provide a springboard into the world of work for disadvantaged young adults. Their aim is to create adventure holidays throughout the Highlands, ranging from a taster of the outdoors, to expedition planning. Their staff have a wealth of experience in providing adventurous activity through Venture Trust and this is a great platform on which to move Venture Mòr into the adventure tourism market.
The Scots poet Kathleen Jamie is an exciting new discovery for me; this short poem ‘Lochan’ was my introduction; she says it’s simply about being very tired. The current London Review of Books has a beautiful prose piece by Jamie – about Lochmill reservoir – near where she lives in Fife; she writes movingly about the natural world.
“When all this is over I mean to travel north, by the high drove roads and cart tracks probably in June, with the gentle dog-roses flourishing beside me. I mean to find among the thousands scattered in that land a certain quiet lochan, where water lilies rise like small fat moons, and tied among the reeds, underneath a rowan, a white boat waits.”
That’s all for this week.
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