Dear members and friends,
We all love stories where the underdog wins – like David and Goliath; humble communities, organising to turn the tables on remote and arrogant power; such tales seem to touch something in the historical memory of our race – they always will.
The small Andalucian town of Marinaleda (2700 souls) has an important story to tell. Around 30 years ago, these landless farmers started occupying the unused land in the surrounding countryside – owned by some absent duke. When they got arrested – they simply went back – again and again; eventually after 12 years of bitter struggle – an exasperated Andalucian government gifted them 3,000 acres. This is now the town’s collective farm, el Humoso and the bedrock of the local co-operative economy. There is now work for all; any co-op member who wants to build a house gets free land – free help – but can’t profit from the sale (housing is a basic human right – not a business). They’ve built a school – a factory – impressive recreational facilities etc. The co-operative makes policy at weekly open meetings. This remarkable achievement has been steered from the outset by Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo – the charismatic local mayor (see end piece).
I’m heading to the Costa in November – intend to visit Marinaleda – take a look. There will be flaws of course; perhaps disharmony – factions at each other’s throats – or perhaps Gordillo is an egotistical despot… Marinaleda has a metal arch with the slogan ‘otro mundo es posible’ another world is possible. Deep down, that’s what we want to believe – and be part of. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16207
We still have copies of Kindness – Laurence’s latest collection of musings. £10 plus £2 postage; or 2 for £20 – postage paid. Christmas pressies? See, http://www.senscot.net/musings.php
You may have noticed from the delivery email today – that this is our 700th bulletin; 50 each year – so that’s 14 years of Senscot. The fact that we’ve never missed a deadline – if nothing else – is testimony to robust good health (touch wood). Senscot coincided with the arrival of the Scots Parliament – and with the arrival of Social Enterprise; while we had little to do with the former – we have played our part in nurturing Scotland’s fledgling SE Community. As with much else in the UK – those in the London bubble have the loudest voices; but social enterprise in Scotland has evolved with its own distinct culture; closer to its third sector roots; less hype; less impressed with corporate swagger; clearer about the values and behaviours by which we recognise each other. See, http://www.se-code.net/VoluntaryCodeofPractice.pdf
I live just along the Forth from Grangemouth – can testify to the enormous tension in the community at this time. There’s a big difference between growing tomatoes and refining petrol – but I believe the story of Marinaleda is relevant. Why should the future of Scotland’s most important industrial plant – be the call of one person – a Swiss resident who controls 50 such plants globally. What does independence mean in this context? See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16223
Today’s intro and end piece are really about the feudal land tenure which has stunted the rural economies of both Andalucía and Scotland. Scottish Land and Estates – the representative body of landlords – recently commissioned a ‘promo’ which the Scottish Agricultural College was foolish enough to present as objective research. This is a ‘stoater’ of a letter to the Scotsman absolutely slating their report. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16208
Community owned energy generation has great potential for community empowerment in Scotland – but our govt. has not yet joined up these dots; for some of us this calls into question the commitment behind the forthcoming empowerment bill. The Jimmy Reid Foundation has called for more state control of energy assets – saying it would advance community ownership; but Community Energy Scotland’s (CES) Nicolas Gubbins warns that state control and community control and quite different – requiring different levers. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16205 The annual conference of CES is in two weeks – in Partick Burgh Halls. Good price for community groups. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16209
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See http://www.senscot.net/jobsevents.php this week:
JOBS: SCORE Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Mental Health Foundation, RAMH, Big Lottery Fund, Turning Point Scotland, Firstport, Community Catalysts CIC, The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)
EVENTS: An Introduction to Tendering, 29 Oct; Scotland’s alternative festival of ideas, culture and politics, 1 Nov; Portobello Market, 2 Nov; Innovation in Community Energy, 5 Nov;
TENDERS: Help to Live at Home Services for Adults – East Lothian Council and Landscape Maintenance 2014-2017 – Thistle Housing Association Ltd. http://readyforbusiness.org/?p=809
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: Three weeks to go till this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh (14th/15th Nov at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld). Dragons’ Den application closed last Friday – with 14 applications. 5 will be selected to present on the day. Numbers are now over the 150 mark. We can still accommodate 5 people overnight. If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.TheConference programme was circulated to all attendees this week – see, http://www.senscot.net/docs/CeilidhFinalProg13.pdf For more SENs News, see http://www.se-networks.net/showbull1.php?articleid=319
Yesterday, Thursday, Senscot attended the Social Enterprise Northern Ireland (SENI) Conference in Derry. This event was the first of its kind in the North of Ireland and takes a similar form to our own SE Conference and Ceilidh – addressing the issues pertinent to their social enterprise community – while allowing some time for socialising. Over 160 folk attended an event that included representation from all 4 nations within the UK. Many of the hot issues are not very different to our own – what is the right kind of social investment?; how to engage better with local Govt. The day ended with their own SE awards – some stern competition for our guys in London in November. See, http://socialenterpriseni.org/
A Scottish Enterprise document ‘Background on Grants and Eligibility’- continues to attract serious hits on the Senscot website – which must mean that people find it useful – refer it to others; check it out. See, https://senscot.net/?viewid=116 Scottish Government’s direct support for social enterprises is available through the services of Just Enterprise http://www.justenterprise.org/. But what is perhaps less known is that SEs can access the services of Business Gateway, HIE and Scottish Enterprise – just as mainstream businesses do. For more information see, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16206
Last week saw Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) host the 2013 Scottish SE Awards at RBS’ Gogarburn HQ. Six awards were handed out. See winners, https://senscot.net/?viewid=16211 Winners go forward to UK finals at end of November. Congratulations and good luck in next round. Also, this week, some of you might have seen a number of SEN members being short-listed for the STV series ‘Finding Real Heroes’. Included in the short-listing were Darling’s Café (Arbroath); Sikh Sanjog (Edinburgh); and De’ils on Wheels (Glasgow). For full list of those short-listed, see
This week’s bulletin profiles one of those short-listed for STV’s Real Heroes series (see above) in the Environmental Project of the Year category. De’ils on Wheels is a new enterprise set up by the Dumbarton Road Corridor Environment Trust (DRCET). Recently signed up as Glasgow SEN member, De’ils On Wheels is a community cycle workshop based in the Scotstoun area of the city which provides a range of services for the benefit of local people and the local community. To find out more and what’s in the name, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=16213.
From today’s intro – you may wonder how the people of Marinaleda persuaded the regional government to gift them 3000 acres of land. Their leader Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo explains.
“We saw that the Duke of Infantal had the most lands – 17000 hectares between Andalucía and Extremadura. So we fought the Duke for 12 years! We occupied his land, we cut off roads, and at the same time we pressured the government. We went to Malaga and Sevilla airports and shut them down: we broke the airport fence and went into the landing strip. The police threw us out, and we’d do it again. We went to the Andalucian government in Sevilla, to the national government in Madrid, we did demonstrations on foot; all of this struggle was meant to pressure the Duke and pressure the government, so those lands would be given to us”. From the ‘Village against the world’ by Dan Hancox.
That’s all for this week.
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