Dear members and friends,
I’ve been in this cottage for 10 years now – the decade from age 65 to 75; I share this final part of my life with two amiable companions: a love of solitude and a love of the natural world. The solitude I enjoy is no monastic regime – it’s just the enjoyment of being alone – the headspace to get to know myself better. In Song for Myself – Walt Whitman wrote: ‘I loaf and invite my soul – I lean and loaf at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass’. I try to be aimless.
Through a million years of evolution from hunter gatherers – human genes contain an innate bond with the natural world; as a city dweller, I had mostly lost touch with the power of this. Not suggesting I’m now a country person – never will be – but I live on the edge of wild woodland; ‘when I’m among the trees – they give off such hints of gladness’; and among the trees my unconscious stirs memories far older than my own wee life.
My family gene-bank suggests that I’ll live a few more years; health ok – still interested in stuff – not in any hurry. Comments from her close friends suggest that – prior to her accidental death in Spain – Cilla Black was fed up with it all – had had enough; common amongst old people who outlive a lifelong partner. For some, life is full of purpose and meaning; for others it can seem pointless-even absurd. Most of us juggle between these emotions.
In his Observer column this week, Kevin McKenna’s frustration at the timidity of the Scottish Govt overflows: “Nicola, he says, you are at the head of a government that has been in office for eight years and will remain so for at least another decade. You and your government are untouchable, yet your solutions to Scotland’s big problems are timid and fearful”. The particular issue the article discusses is the shameful gap in educational attainment between poor and rich children in our country – but, in my opinion, this aversion to risk is becoming the settled style of our Govt. When you have swept the country – as the SNP has – the only way left is down – and the danger is that ‘risk free’ becomes the default position.
Tomorrow Saturday, around 1000 people are expected in Glasgow’s Marriot hotel for the launch of Scotland’s new left wing electoral alliance – to be called RISE (good name). Background talks have been going on for months to reach this point – and if the new alliance can achieve some stability – there will be support in Scotland for an electoral option left of the SNP. Mike Small one of the supporters writes about RISE in Bella Caledonia.
Everyone agrees that the Council Tax is unfair and outdated – and that ‘the freeze’ has damaged local democracy in Scotland. While the Gov’t seems stuck, there are new calls for a Scandic type system – giving local authorities complete control over local taxation via a raft of alternatives like land value tax, sales and other property tax. Someone needs to make a decision.
The Ferret is a Scottish investigative journalism platform – which is focusing initially on the issue of fracking. They’ve published a story this week about the prosecution of an Australian company – engaged in the type of underground coal gasifications proposed for Firths of Forth and Solway. Welcome news this has now been indefinitely postponed.
The Al Jazeera website has announcedthat it will no longer use the word ‘migrant’ to refer to the people trying to cross the Mediterranean. The UN says that the majority of those trying to reach Europe are escaping from war and persecution in their home countries – and should be recognized as valid candidates for asylum. Some of the photos of refugees – particularly children – can you make you weep.
NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events, tenders available on website. This week:
JOBS: New Caledonian Woodlands, Unity Enterprise, Crossreach, Rocket Science, Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust, Remade in Edinburgh, Wild things!, Trellis, Cyrenians.
EVENTS: DTA Scotland Annual Conference & AGM, 31 Aug; Autism and Employment, 1 Sept; Project Management – Achieving Goals, 22 Sept; SE Work and Wellbeing Conference and Exhibition, 24 Sept;
TENDERS: Adult Community Treatment Services – The City of Edinburgh Council; West Lothian Council -Independent Advocacy for Adults with a Learning Difficulty; Broomhill Landscape Architect – River Clyde Homes and more. Join the Ready for Business Linked-In group and follow on Twitter.
The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: At Beith Community Development Trust this week, Alex Neil (Minister for Social Justice and Communities), announced £1.7m of funding to help revitalise and regenerate town centres across Scotland. The Town Centre Communities Capital Fund is available to support enterprising, community-led projects which help to deliver town centre regeneration priorities in a local area. Community organisations are invited to bid for pots of between £20k and £150k capital funding to support projects which are in line with the key themes set out in Scotland’s Town Centre Action Plan. Scottish Govt is keen to see communities step forward with their ideas. Deadline for applications is 29 September. Full details here.
The annual SE Policy and Practice Event organised by CEIS and partners takes place this Wed – 2nd Sept – at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow. The conference highlight will be the launch of the ‘Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015” where the scale of the sector, its economic features, employment data and characteristics will be revealed by members of the steering group who led the research. The significance of the Census will be the focus of an address by Gary Gillespie – Chief Economic Advisor to Scottish Govt, linking social enterprise with the national economic strategy and its increasing significance to Scotland’s economy. See full programme. CEIS has kindly offered 10 additional bursary places (£50+VAT) – contact Tariq to book a place.
The 11th SE Conference and Ceilidh is now open for bookings – again at the Westerwood Hotel, near Cumbernauld – draft programme available over the next couple of weeks. The focus, as always, will be on SENs and their members – and how they can maximise their opportunities and contributions in some of the following areas: Employability opportunities; the new round of EU Funding; the Community Empowerment Bill; working better with Intermediaries; and improved linkages between local and thematic SENs. The event will also include regular favourites such as the Dragons Den and ‘speed networking’. We have been encouraged by the early response from across the SENs.
The Vital Spark programme is a new initiative involving Firstport and InspirAlba. The programme is based in Argyll and the islands and will look to encourage and support local people to develop social enterprise ideas as solutions to some of the challenges faced with their communities. Vital Spark will operate hubs in three areas – Rothesay; Dunoon; and Campbelltown.
On Monday of this week, John Swinney officially opened the Merk Hydro Scheme in Cairndow, Argyll. One of the partners in this initiative is Here We Are (ABSEN member and past winner of our Dragons’ Den) and this sees the culmination of nine years of strenuous effort on the part of the local community come to fruition. In spite of a number of setbacks over the years, Here We Are kept plugging away and have finally got their reward. When fully up and running, the Hydro Scheme will be able produce enough power for up to 800 homes each year. Congratulations to all those involved.
This week’s bulletin profiles a venture that promotes the social, economic, cultural and health benefits of making bread using slow fermentation and home-grown grains. Bread Matters, located in Lamancha in the Scottish Borders, runs a range of activities that, as well as baking bread, include an online shop; running bread-making courses; training for community-supported bakeries; and supporting an organic food campaign with the intention of influencing food policy in Scotland. In addition to all this, Bread Matters has also been involved in developing Agroforestry – is a system that combines trees and arable crops in order to boost productivity and biodiversity.
This is a famous and wise quote from ‘the Teachings of Don Juan’ by Carlos Castenada:
“Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush or into the bush…In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”
That’s all for this week.
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