Dear members and friends,
Saw Charles Kennedy, the worse for drink, on Question Time last week; painful to watch this reminder of my own past inebriations. Not sure if I’m an alcoholic – but kept off it since September 2001; safer to assume I am – than drink to prove I’m not; just couldn’t handle it again. I have friends who drink more than I did – yet seem to manage their lives fine. Old Churchill, for instance, drank prodigious amounts of alcohol while he led the country. Kennedy though reminds me of myself – inner demons – a self-harming impulse.
The human faculty which causes all our problems is our consciousness; humankind alone is aware of ‘the gaze of the other’. We are the only species that can call ourselves to judgement – and feel shame; or that requires a purpose in life – and feels despair. Our history suggests that we have never been comfortable in our self-conscious skins; our ancestors learned early those activities and substances which desensitise that area of the brain; a bottle of red and a DVD will quieten the neo cortex for a couple of hours.
This universal human desire to get temporarily unconscious – moved Sigmund Freud to postulate that we all entertain an unacknowledged death wish. Although this theory is disputed – I believe it’s true. Milan Kundera puts it well: “Vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below, which tempts and lures us; it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves”.
This is the closest run general election I can recall – pollsters unable to predict even a coalition that would command a majority. If the SNP do achieve disproportionate influence at Westminster – Gus O’Donnell argues that this would trigger a change in our electoral system. It doesn’t have the power of the indyref – but I sense that May 7th holds our attention. I observe with more interest Scotland’s alternative political process – which is mostly ignored by our foreign owned media. A couple of meetings last weekend – promoting progressive agendas – attracted nearly a thousand activists (RIC and Women for Independence). As well as gatherings this is a movement of independent websites and social media; at this stage of its development, it is content to sit under the radar – as it grows and connects and converges. See more
In round figures, the UK average wage is £500 weekly or £2k monthly; if your household income is less than half of this you are deemed to be living in poverty. Figures issued by the government this week, inform that 500,000 Scots – one tenth of us – fall into this category – do not have enough money to buy the basic necessities of life. 100,000 of these are children. The danger is that we come to view a level of poverty as inevitable – but it’s not – it results from political choices. Politicians are assessing all the time how much inequality ‘the public’ will tolerate; how much will we? See more
It would be difficult for me to exaggerate the influence on my life of the singing of Frank Sinatra; and I’m grateful to Gerry Hassan for his piece on him in the March Scottish Review. From the late 1950s – when I was first spurned in love – Sinatra became the voice I would always return to – to share my sad rejections – he understood me. As Hassan’s piece points out: “As an artist, Sinatra had only one basic subject – loneliness”. That’s probably the attraction – melancholy is so seductive.
The Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), at its conference last week, has renewed calls for new legislation – a Community Finance Act – to compel the big 4 banks to assist the community finance sector. Senscot’s old friend and warrior, Andrew Robinson, was, not surprisingly, in the thick of it. He argues once again – that the equivalent of the USA Community Reinvestment Act – would provide the framework and motivation for the engagement of the big banks in the UK’s low income communities. See more
JOBS: Creative Carbon Scotland, WorkingRite, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Community Enterprise, Dundee SEN, Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd, Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer, Cyrenians
EVENTS: Business Planning Workshop, 25 Mar; Pre-Start Leadership, 26 Mar; Demystifying the Web, 31 Mar; Dragons’ Den, 23 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May;
TENDERS: Photography to support Zero Waste Scotland, Flow Country website development – RSPB, Helensburgh Skatepark Redevelopment – Argyll & Bute Council and more.
SENs News Update; Kim writes: Last week, Senscot held interviews for the post of SE and Health Co-ordinator – to replace Danielle Trudeau who has moved on the devote her time and efforts to develop her own venture, Tribe Porty. This post has been funded by Scottish Govt Third Sector Division and Health Directorate over the last couple of years. Today, the Health SEN has approximately 100 members. Its aims are to provide a collective voice for SEs; promote good practice; improve communication and relationships with health and social care boards and other statutory health providers; and encourage and support joint working where possible. We are very pleased to announce that Mary Sinclair will be taking up this post in the near future. Mary, currently working with SCVO, comes with a strong background in health and the third sector and we are sure she will prove a real asset both to Senscot itself as well as to Health SEN members.
Following up on last week’s piece about the first national mapping of SE in Scotland, this is due to get underway this month. This ‘census’ – to be updated every two years – will be carried out by Social Value Lab with the final report being made publicly available in September 2015 – see list of funders. Senscot and others will be promoting a survey over the coming weeks. There are some other UK wide surveys going on at present – but, in our view, this is the one that should take priority for SEs in Scotland. See more
Many folk around scene will know John Hughes from his work delivering business support at CEIS. What many folk may not know is that John has other strings to his bow – one of which is as an emerging playwright. John’s new play – ‘Touching Cloth’ – set in the Glasgow Shipyards in the 1980s – will be running at The Shed in Glasgow (14th -16th May) as part of the South Side Fringe. Get along if you can.
My main criticism of Scotland’s Community Empowerment Bill is its craven failure to address the main issue – our missing tier of local democracy. But a couple of amendments approved this week by Holyrood’s Local Govt Committee are pleasing. Communities have been granted a new right to appeal against certain decisions of their local authority: this is important and could bring a much needed shift in the balance of power between local communities and public bodies. See more
The other amendment, tabled by the Greens, and also endorsed the Local Government Committee, will see the Bill extended to include clubs’ membership shares – giving football fans the right to buy their clubs. Scottish club football is at a low ebb – but remains a vital part of the lives of so many folk and communities in Scotland – we have more professional clubs per capita than any other country in Europe. Building on the German model, this move could breathe new life into local communities across Scotland – including Govan. See more
This week’s bulletin profiles an all-female social enterprise, based in Govanhill in Glasgow. Soul Food Sisters comprises a group of migrant women – all living in Govanhill, one of Scotland’s most diverse communities – who have formed a female-led collective around their favourite subject – food. The women – from five different countries – first met at the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow and together they are looking to support migrant women in the local community to start their own businesses, encourage their abilities and increase confidence. They are bringing together women from all over the world, ending social isolation and empowering them to develop their talent in the kitchen and beyond – which includes the likes of teaching German, making wine, designing buildings or driving trains. See more
This quote is from David Marquand’s ‘Britain since 1918’ (2008)
“Not surprisingly, the number of people who said they were willing to attend a political meeting fell by around half between 1979 and 2000. In contrast, the proportion who said they would, if necessary, sign or collect a petition rose from 44% to 75% and the proportion prepared to go on a demonstration from 20% to 31%. Most commentators seem to think that falling party membership and low turn-out in elections are symptoms of sickness, but they can just as well be seen as evidence of health. They may show that ordinary citizens realise that managed populism is a travesty of democracy in any of its varied senses”.
That’s all for this week.
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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210