Dear members and friends,
Saw a TV biography of Ella Fitzgerald recently – she’s my all time favourite female singer – all those marvellous ballads from the great American song book. Hadn’t realised that she endured such a tragic childhood – which perhaps explains why no-one sings sadness better. From an interview near the end of her life, it’s clear that Ella had little appreciation that she was a truly great artist; there can be such a gap between the way we feel and the way others see us.
Reflecting on my own life, I recognise something which I believe the poet Philip Larkin understood. He likens it to a toad – squatting in his mind – mocking his efforts to win ‘‘the fame and the girl and the money’’. My own theory is that how we feel about ourselves – the portion of happiness we’re ‘allowed’ – is learned at our mother’s knee – that thereafter external circumstances have little influence. I suspect that from early childhood, Ella Fitzgerald felt loss more deeply than love – and that this shaped her life and art.
One of the better aspects of ageing is a fresh appreciation of the ordinary in life – the banal. Rather than great achievements, we come to value simplicity, kindness, humour. Another benefit (sometimes painful) is the tendency to look more honestly at our life – our relationships – at ourself. The challenge then becomes how we come to terms with it – how we face what we are – each in our own way. Sing it Ella – sing it.
Wow! All the indications are that the new coalition at Westminster is serious about its Big Society programme – to empower and mobilise communities. It’s a major task – but if they stick with it, this approach has the potential to radically change the relationship between the citizen and the state in England – to invigorate democracy. Any shift of power to communities will be resisted in Scotland by a Labour Party mindset stuck in the past – which prefers power stitched-up in institutions; nor has the SNP shown much enthusiasm for community empowerment. A few years ago, the social enterprise movement was strongly resisted by the Scottish establishment (including our civil service) – but eventually the momentum from England became unstoppable. I believe the same will happen with community empowerment. It’s just a pity we’re always lagging behind. Here’s the govt 3 pager. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9557
The Big Society programme was launched this week at a round table event in the Cabinet Room at No. 10. ‘Dave and Nick’ were present, with two other ministers – and 18 selected leaders and activists from ‘civil society’. I was curious to know who got invited – we came across this list, https://senscot.net/?viewid=9559 Most of these people are not the usual selection of grandees from the big battalions – in general these folk operate much nearer the frontline – which has to be a good sign. One of those present was Alastair Tibbit of Greener Leith who penned his account of proceedings. https://senscot.net/?viewid=9560
As part of our cross-border collaboration, Senscot is one of the founder members of UnLtd – the largest provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK. We still attend UnLtd board meetings in London – but Scotland now has its own bespoke agency, Firstport – to carry out this function. UnLtd London very cleverly got Philip Blond’s think tank Res Publica to review support services for start up social enterprises and make recommendations. The resulting report – The Venture Society – is worth a look.
Over time, as the dust settles, there will be many in depth appraisals of Gordon Brown’s legacy as a politician. But for me, Will Hutton nailed it in this week’s Observer piece: “ He used his past to position himself as a real socialist, committed to egalitarianism and intervention. His loyalists were duped into believing him. He was no such thing. In reality, he was a convert to neo-conservative economics. The duplicities and incoherence would ultimately bring him down and I think history will be unforgiving.” https://senscot.net/?viewid=9554
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: Social Firms Scotland, The Institute of Conservation, Foster Care Associates, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project, Arthritis Care Scotland, Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire, Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone, Sustainable Scotland Network, Volunteer Centre East Dunbartonshire
EVENTS: The Fruitful Gathering, 22 May; Creating a difference- introduction to cultural social enterprise, 26 May; Living Wage Conference, 27 May; Exploring Sustainable Living, 28 May; Greyfriars Recycling of Wood – Display of Works, 11 June:
NETWORKS 1st: Colin writes: Lately, we’ve been banging the drum about the Future Jobs Fund as an opportunity for the SENs. Guess what? The new UK Govt has put the brakes on it!! We`ll let you know the impact of this once we know more. Other news from London is the end of the term Third Sector – it`s going to be Civil Society now! Much of this won’t affect us directly but, as is often the case, what happens down south soon follows up here. If this applies to the delivery of public services by social enterprises, Scotland will be well placed on the back of the work already being done in the area of public sector procurement, the promotion of Community Benefit Clauses and opportunities for consortium building. All the more reason for SEN members to register for www.ReadyforBusiness.org. For more Networks News, see http://www.senscot.net/networks1st/showart.php?articleid=140
ReadyforBusiness (www.readyforbusiness.org) is attracting increasing interest from both social enterprises and public and private contractors. To date, over 160 social enterprises have registered on the site and over 300 tender opportunities have been posted. From next week, we’ll be running a list of new/current contracts as notices in a similar fashion to our Jobs/Events page. Here`s some of this week’s opportunities, http://www.senscot.net/networks1st/shownotice.php?articleid=198
Sandy Campbell (Working Rite) tells us that the UK Govt looks to be adopting the Working Rite model as part of their plan to support apprenticeships. They’re calling their model `Work Pairings`. See more, http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=9411
Social Firms Scotland (SFS) contacts us this week with an ad for a new chairperson. SFS is celebrating its 10th birthday this year as the national intermediary supporting the development of Social Firms across Scotland. They are looking for someone to assist in guiding the strategic and operational direction of SFS as well as act as an ambassador for both the organisation and the Social Firm sector in Scotland. See more,
I believe that the ‘community land trust’ (CLT) is a mechanism with considerable potential for the provision of social housing. CLTs take the value of the land off the market and so hold the cost of housing down. In England, a new independent support organisation is to be funded by govt. to support this activity. Scotland needs some equivalent provision. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=9561
DTA Scotland’s annual conference is one of the main events in the Scottish community sector calendar, attracting up to 200 delegates (13th/14th June in Aviemore). This year’s event will focus on the challenges facing local communities in the current economic climate and how these can be addressed. Place are still available. See programme and booking form, http://www.senscot.net/view_event.php?viewid=9508
This week’s bulletin profiles the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC) in Shetland that has recently purchased their local shop as a means of supporting its community activity. With the Initiative at the Edge coming to an end last year, NCDC has been developing a strategy towards financial independence. This is the first step on this journey. They’ll be sharing their experiences at the DTA Scotland conference next month in Aviemore. For more, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=9550
Watchable film on TV called ‘In Her Shoes’. Forgot how much I enjoy Shirley Maclaine (as a granny) and this beautiful love poem by E E Cummings ‘I carry your heart with me’. ‘‘I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) I am never without it – (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) – I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) – I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) – and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant – and whatever a sun will always sing is you – here is the deepest secret nobody knows – (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) – and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart – I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures
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