Dear members and friends,
I learn from Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins that Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on exactly the same day – Feb 12th 1809. Which of them achieved more, I wonder, – is science or politics more important for human progress? Science advances steadily – rationally; ideas emerge – are tested – proved – applied. From the cringing lives of cavemen, our forbears – through scientific rigour – ‘‘raised rocks to soaring cathedrals – wove silk from worms – forged symphonies from base metal – voyaged to the moon – controlled or eliminated disease.’’ Each generation’s achievement is taken forward – built upon. Politics however seems immune to such linear progress – no rational advance – each generation seeming to repeat the blunders of previous regimes. John Adams (Abe Lincoln’s forerunner as president) remarked gloomily ‘‘while all other sciences have advanced, government is at a stand: little better practised now than three or four thousand years ago.’’
As a community worker I considered politics as a career – but was put off by how nasty it is. Power – greed – factions – vendettas – too feral for me – chose to remain aloof. Barak Obama’s experience of community work in Chicago led to the opposite conclusion – he wanted to be in the ruck of it. Looking back I think he’s right – more folk need to get stuck in. WH Auden once said that poetry hadn’t saved one Jew from the gas chambers. Whether we like it or not – with all its shabbiness and cynicism – politics is where the action is.
The main umbrella body for the Third Sector in England (NCVO) wants to recast the Third Sector as `Civil Society`. This means in effect getting alongside `not the usual suspects` – like the Trade Unions – universities – Housing and Environmental organisations etc to form a 50 member Civil Society Assembly. This plan was set out by NCVO Chief Executive Stuart Etherington exactly a year ago and arrangements for the Assembly are well advanced. The drivers of change in civil society have shifted – Scotland also needs a review of how civil society is organised – to define a more organic and inclusive federal structure – a counter balance to the power of the state. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7881
It was way back in October 2006 when Senscot first hosted a meeting about what should happen to the unclaimed assets in dormant bank accounts. As the release of this money draws nearer, the debate in England seems to be swinging toward the option of capitalising a new social investment bank http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7880 Scotland could do worse than follow this lead because with a few tweaks, SIS (Social Investment Scotland) is a ready made vehicle which could land running. My preferred option though would be the proposal of the Local People Leading campaign – that Scotland’s 20 poorest communities receive a permanent endowment of £2m each to capitalise their own development trusts. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7455
Senscot`s work brokering relationships between statutory health providers and social enterprises is most encouraging. Social enterprises are typically embedded in the communities they serve – with unrivalled access to customers. They can appear ‘rickety’ to big commissioning quangos but there is growing appreciation of their value as delivery partners. The ‘Fit for Purpose’ conference on 3rd March is full (delegate list http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7878). It’s likely that this connecting of national programmes with local delivery partners is applicable to other themes like sport – culture etc.
John Fellows (Head of Marketing and Communications at BIG) writes to remind people that there’s still time to contribute to the Lottery’s Big thinking Consultation. Closing date is next Friday, 27th February. See more, http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7885
Artur Steinerowski – a lad from Poland – doing a PhD on social entrepreneurship in the Highlands of Scotland – has won a prestigious international award for his work. https://senscot.net/?viewid=7877
One of the attractions of having a UK wide social enterprise mark (SEM) would be to help familiarise the general public with the term – it would also help to deter the inevitable ‘chancers’ who will try to join the caravan. Senscot will host a discussion on March 18th to explore the pros and cons of promoting the mark in Scotland. We’re aiming at around 30 folk – so everyone can be heard. If you’d like attend, contact firstname.lastname@example.org We don’t want to spend time promoting the mark unless Scotland’s social enterprise community wants us to. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=7879
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: incl. posts with Social Enterprise Academy, Wasps Artists’ Studios, Theatre Ecole, Gigha Renewable Energy Limited, Sustainable Communities Initatives, Ayrshire Initiatives
EVENTS: Social Marketing Workshops, Atlas Communications& Media, 26-27 Feb; HISEZ Annual Conference 2009, HISEZ, 5 Mar; CRNS 4TH Annual Conference & Awards, CRNS, 10 Mar; Stress Awareness at Work, Fife Employment Access Trust, 13 Mar; Financial Management, Social Enterprise Academy, Several in March; Art Show at Theatre, The Accessible Art Company, 1 Apr;
NETWORKS 1st News: Colin writes: Fife SEN member Recycle Fife has been shortlisted for `Member of the Year` at the CRNS 4th Annual Awards bash in Perth on 10th March. This caps a great year for Recycle Fife that has seen them move to new premises in Lochgelly as well as creating 21 additional jobs. For more Networks News, see http://www.senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=73
There are 8 days left of Senscot`s annual fundraising appeal. The attachment gives all the details. See http://www.senscot.net/members.php This week, we welcome our new member of staff – Richard Brunjes Richard joins us from East Dunbartonshire CVS and will be working with Colin and Anna to support the Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs).
The 6th Annual Edinburgh International Festival of Middle Eastern Spirituality and peace runs from 28th Feb – 15th March. I’ve agreed to take part in a forum on Global values. See more, http://www.senscot.net/view_event.php?viewid=7868
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise run by Dundee Cyrenians to support their work with homeless people in the city. Transform Furniture Project opened its doors in late 2006 and provides quality reusable furniture and electrical household items to disadvantaged local groups which they sell from their showroom in the city’s Guthrie Street. Transform also offers training and employment opportunities for local people. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=7875
In Dreams from my Father – Barak Obama, the community worker, describes how a delegation – a few inarticulate and dispirited tenants – made the housing department jump – and their sense of elation of the way back on the bus. Obama `gets` community empowerment.
‘‘I changed as a result of that bus trip, in a fundamental way. It was the sort of change that’s important not because it alters your concrete circumstances in some way (wealth, security, fame) but because it hints at what might be possible and therefore spurs you on, beyond the immediate exhilaration, beyond any subsequent disappointments, to retrieve that thing you once, ever so briefly, held in your hand. That bus ride kept me going, I think. Maybe it still does.’’
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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