Dear members and friends,
Someone forwards a magazine article about La Ciociaria (pronounced cho cha ree a) – the remote area of Italy – between Rome and Naples – where my family originated. Promoting tourism – the piece enthuses (accurately) about the local scenery and produce; features an upmarket selection of places to eat and sleep; some being invested by the returning descendants of migrants; it all sounds lovely.
My grandparents left La Ciociaria after the Great War; economic migrants with no money – but with bits of family in Scotland who would help them get a foothold. Passing through our valley, in 1919 – the writer, D.H.Lawrence describes it as ‘staggeringly primitive’. From their own stories (muted) and from research – I am aware that my people knew hunger – and the quiet desperation of peasant life.
Both families spoke Italian at home – but my dad’s generation – all my uncles and aunts – were totally bilingual. With each generation came greater assimilation – until now you can find the descendants of Italian Scots throughout society; business – the professions – the arts – politics. With La Ciociaria now being promoted as a gourmet tourist trail – soon no-one will remember the desperate poverty that scattered its population across the world. It will be no loss that such misery can be forgotten – because we advance towards a Community where European citizens are free to work and settle in the country of their choice. But I will always choose to remember where and what my grandparents came from – a source of pride to me.
Interesting piece by Paul Krugman – a political commentator for the New York Times. He claims that the present British fixation with budget deficits and austerity – is not a narrative based on fact – but is an invention of media organisations (we all know who owns the media). He points out that few British academics (as opposed to economists employed by the financial industry) accept the proposition that austerity has been vindicated. But the public discourse presents as fact, propositions that are contentious – or just plain wrong. Krugman says that this same media orthodoxy became entrenched for a while in the USA – but that they have mostly got past it. This piece exposes our politicians’ obsession with the ‘austerity’ agenda.
Although there have been recent encouraging signs – it’s difficult to gauge how much priority the Scottish government gives to land reform – how serious are they? There can be no clearer embodiment of elite privilege than the vast private estates that blight out countryside; the new Scotland has no place for a ‘landed class’. The First Minister celebrated this week that every month since 2012 – another community has been assisted by the Scottish Land Fund. Fine as this is – the process needs to accelerate. See more.
I’ve never felt any impulse to move to London – too hectic, and in human terms, too remote. But I enjoy the stimulus of an occasional visit – and will spend this afternoon (Friday) at the launch of the report of the Alternative Commission on Social Investment. So called ‘social’ investment is driven by commercial moneylenders with the support of the UK government. Hopefully this report will tell the story from the viewpoint of the third sector.
Browsing the late John Pearce’s important book – Social Enterprise in Anytown – I’m reminded that he cites 9 definitions of social and community enterprise – which illustrate how the term has evolved since the 1970s. The present Scottish Code – which John helped draft – continues this evolution. John argued for the more social (co-operative) ownership bias favoured in Europe; that community-owned social enterprise is the natural model.
The SCRT monthly Bulletin (No.2) is out this week – including latest stories and comment on social investment; Social Impact Bonds (SIBs); and Crowdfunding. You can support SCRT by signing up here
JOBS: Venture Trust, Reeltime Music, RAMH, The Salvation Army, Community Enterprise, Lorn & Oban Healthy Options Ltd, Dundee SEN, Re-Union Canal Boats Ltd, Bruntsfield Community Greengrocer,
EVENTS: Out of the Blue Flea Market, 28 Mar; Demystifying the Web, 31 Mar; Social Impact Measurement, 16 Apr; Dragons’ Den, 23 Apr; Community Shares Scotland – Edinburgh Roadshow, 1 May;
TENDERS: Provision of an Adult Disability Advice Service – NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Supply and Distribution of Fresh Fruit, Vegetables & Prepared Products – Argyll and Bute Council; Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: The Ready for Business Consortium which delivers the Scottish Gov’s Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers Programme is now entering its third year. Yesterday, Ready for Business partners hosted a Stakeholder Engagement Event in Edinburgh, which attracted around 80 delegates (see list) – mostly public sector procurement and commissioning staff. The event included two impressive presentations on the progress of Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) at Low Moss Prison and at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. These were followed by a ringing endorsement from Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neil – not only on the value and importance of these PSPs but also on the role and contribution our third sector has to make both to the wider economy and, particularly, in addressing inequalities in our society.
The Social Enterprise Census Scotland 2015 is now underway. This is first survey of its kind – seeking to capture the size, scale and reach of SE in Scotland. Social Value Lab will be carrying out the work – and, all being well, the full report will be publically available in September 2015. This is an important milestone for SE in Scotland – so it is in all our interests if you could take 15/20 mins to fill the survey – and, if you can, share it with others. Prizes will be on offer to early respondents. For more, see background
Monday 6th April isInternational Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) and Sport SEN members will be taking over Senscot’s social media outlets (twitter and facebook). Sport SEN members will be engaging media outlets across Scotland, the UK, and the world in order to draw attention to the SE and Sport sector and promoting their work in communities across Scotland – engaging with thousands of people of all ages. Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world” (see full quote). To join in, see #sport4betterworld – or to contribute, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. See more
DTA Scotland spun off from DTA England – which then changed its name to Locality. This week, Locality launched its campaign ‘Keep it Local’ which basically makes the case against the delivery of public services by giant private contractors like Serco, Capita etc. The campaign argues for a better way – community focused services – delivered at a local level – better for the individual, the community and the taxpayer.
The UN refugee agency has placed an order for 10,000 flat-pack refugee shelters designed by a non-profit social enterprise arm of furniture giant IKEA. Each shelter is designed for a family of 5 or 6 and costs 1,150 dollars. If IKEA can provide this (see article and photo) for less than £1k – just imagine the flat pack pod they could design for £10k; and think what that could do to our disgraceful shortage of starter homes.
This week’s bulletin profiles a new Edinburgh-based social enterprise that is providing a service to disabled people across the UK. Euan’s Guide is a listings and review website set up to help disabled people and their families know which venues are truly accessible. The aim of Euan’s Guide is to empower disabled people by providing information that will give confidence and choices for getting out and about. As well as tourism and entertainment venues such as hotels, restaurants, bars, theatres & visitor attractions, Euan’s Guide features disabled access reviews of any place that is visited as part of everyday life such as post offices, railway stations, supermarkets and many others. See more.
Norman MacCaig (1910 – 1996) could write in an unpretentious way about ordinary things and make them astonishing. He said that his mother, a Gaelic-speaker from Harris, used English with a freshness that opened up the potential of language to him. I’ve remembered this poem in the context of today’s intro – a sense of continuity with my forbears from a remote valley.
"Forgive me, unknown creators, forbears whose blood flickers and dwindles in me. Like you, I’m a leaf that hangs down helpless on the tree of my people. And like you I move in whatever wind blows from whatever spaces. Forgive the love I feel in only my way and the griefs I suffer in only my way of suffering. For Time’s microbes work ceaselessly, changing you and me and everything with no thought of forgivingness”.
‘Like You, Like Everyone’ from the collection Voice-Over.
That’s all for this week.
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