I love TV programmes about Scotland’s inhabited islands; I tend to idealise these small precarious communities – where the need for sharing and mutual protection inspires people to behave well: individuals
serving the collective. Our more ‘selfish’ lifestyle in the mainstream, has some positives; both for individuals and for evolutionary progress, care of the self is a primal motivation; but I’m wondering, if the mess we’ve got ourselves into, (climate crisis etc.) is bringing any discernible shift in behaviour.
It’s a staple Buddhist teaching, that the idea of a ‘permanent separate self’ is delusional – and neuroscience supports this position. When we experience thoughts or feelings – electromagnetic impulses travel between neuron brain cells, forming paths; at any given moment, this collection of paths is our concept of self; rather than a ‘state’ – identity is more an ‘activity’- constantly moulded by experience. Our physical bodies are dependent for survival, on trillions of ‘visiting’ cells – even more numerous than resident ones.
My favourite Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, coined the term ‘interbeing’ to signify that there are no solitary things; that our whole planet is one, giant, living, breathing cell – with all its working parts linked in symbiosis. The Australian forest fires and the plastic-polluted seas feel increasingly closer; is it possible, we are starting to think of ourselves, less as unconnected individuals, – more as components of one physical ecosystem. Unlike a collective identity such as nation, religion or political cause – for which masses of people have been willing to die – membership of an ecosystem has no outsiders.
In his important book, ‘What Money can’t Buy’, Michael Sandel writes: “Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life”; I’ve always felt that countries without a credible public broadcasting service – available to all – were at a significant disadvantage in this regard. The resignation of the BBC’s director general this week reminds us that the Corporation is preparing for the fight of its life – but it’s ours. In its treatment of the BBC – e.g. if it’s abandoned to free market forces – we’ll get an indicator of how right-wing Johnson’s Govt is; of how comprehensive will be the marketisation of the shared institutions which define and protect our life in common.
The 50th World Economic Forum at Davos closes today – many say this elite gathering is now only a symbol of the inequality and hypocrisy in the world. In this interview in the New York Times, founder Klaus Schwab tells why he believes the event still matters. Greta Thunberg’s Davos speech.
I wasn’t aware that the UK has a ‘Happiness Tsar’ called Richard Layard – with a new book called ‘Can We Be Happier’; but I enjoyed this (longish) edited extract in the Guardian. Layard believes we live in a culture of excessive individualism but is an optimist – foretells the emergence of a gentler, sharing culture.
I’m a great fan of the Aldi/Lidl no-frills product – cut price, top wages, local produce; they’re an example of how the commercial, for-profit, economy can be part of the social wellbeing of ordinary people and communities. Aldi/Lidl should anchor urban regeneration projects – an exemplar. See longer article.
GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the total monetary value of all goods and services produced by a country in a given period; it’s used as an indicator of national prosperity. But many of us believe that societal happiness depends on factors way beyond the economy; that GDP counts the wrong things – should be replaced by measuring ‘wellbeing’. This short piece from Planet Money; see SENs Weekly Review (below).
Dissatisfaction with the clumsiness of GDP has been around a long time. After he announced his candidacy for president in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy launched into this, now famous, diatribe.
“GDP counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts jails, napalm, nuclear warheads, and the loss of natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. Yet it does not pay attention to the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play… It measures everything in short—except that which makes life worthwhile.”
The shortcomings of using GDP (see above) as a measure of ‘success’ were central to the Wealth of Nations 2.0: Building the Conditions of Wellbeing Conference in Edinburgh this week. Over 140 delegates – from a broad spectrum of Scottish society – attended to explore how and what change is required to build a wellbeing economy in Scotland. Keynote speaker, Nicola Sturgeon highlighted the changes in approach from Scottish Govt that can contribute to building a wellbeing economy – citing the relevance of Scotland’s National Performance Framework; Scotland’s participation in the WEGo Partnership; and how wellbeing is now the overarching theme in deciding how Scottish Govt allocates resources. Another keynote speaker, Katherine Trebeck (Wellbeing Economy Alliance – The Economics of Arrival), had set the scene, first, in identifying the failings of the ‘relentless pursuit of economic growth’ and, second, in reminding the audience of the 5 pillars of a wellbeing economy – Fairness; Connection; Participation; Nature; and Dignity; pillars that could equally reflect the spirit and ethos of Scotland’s social enterprise community. See Herald Article.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website.
This week the Scottish Parliament passed legislation that will formally allow for the setting up the new Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) – aimed at ‘transforming our economy and tackling major societal challenges’ – with a £2bn investment from Scottish Govt. Common Weal charts the story of SNIB from its early days as one of their Big Ideas – to this week’s vote in the Scottish Parliament.
Our social enterprise community’s reputation across the globe is strong – and enhanced by around 400 SEs who are trading internationally. The International Social Enterprise Observatory (ISEO), launched this week, has been established to help grow this number; raising their profile; and, where needed, improving access to support. The ISEO is a partnership between Scottish Govt, the Enterprise Agencies, and a number of well-known social enterprises and support agencies. An ISEO quarterly bulletin will showcase innovation and impact both in Scotland and overseas as well as highlighting opportunities for trade and collaboration.
The first P4P blog post of 2020 is by Gillian Cameron, Supplier Development Programme (SDP) Manager. In it she discusses SDP’s face-to-face and webinar-based training available to SMEs (including social enterprise) to find, win and keep contracts. Check it out here.
A number of SEN members may be interested in Scottish Rural Action’s conference (26th/27th Feb) exploring challenges and opportunities facing rural Scotland – and to make its voice heard in government;
CEIS is doing some research to better understand the ‘event landscape’ in Scotland. If you are involved in running an event/s , they would very much appreciate if you could take 5 mins to fill in this short survey.
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise, based in Glasgow, that is focused on an innovative and responsible approach to reducing food waste. ImPerfect Foods, established in 2017, seeks to help businesses and organisations find smart ways to become more resource efficient and profitable. ImPerfect Foods partners with diverse stakeholders to raise awareness of food waste behaviours and to reduce food waste footprints. Through their range of food products, they put ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables – unwanted in supermarkets/restaurants etc – to good use and invest back into local communities. They are currently actively engaged across the hospitality; food retail; and public sector sectors.