Dear members and friends,
My cottage overlooks a very old graveyard – some Pictish remains. Saint Ninian visited this spot when it was a monastery in the fifth century. Visitors remark that our hamlet enjoys a peaceful ambience – benign vibrations. Recently a group of boys camped in the next field – they were on a John Muir conservation course. These were street-wise lads from Glasgow schemes, but there was no nonsense – good fun, with courtesy and respect for their surroundings. I showed some of them the graveyard – the old graves with proud trade emblems: the mason’s hammer; the baker’s loaf; the blacksmith’s anvil. Several graves carried a skull and cross bones, and someone remarked, impressed, ‘There’s lots of pirates buried here.’ ‘No’, I smiled, ‘ that’s not a Jolly Roger – it means they died of the plague.’ He looked disappointed.
Sometimes on a clear gusty winter’s night I’ll wrap up, sit on a churchyard bench, watch the moon over the ancient yew trees. Bleak, ghostly, eternal – but so beautiful. Churches are disappearing but there’s a part of human experience that seeks ‘a serious house on serious earth.’ Philip Larkin, a non-believer, understood this: ‘and that much never can be obsolete, since someone will forever be surprising a hunger in himself to be more serious, and gravitating with it to this ground, which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, if only that so many dead lie round.’
It’s only a matter of time now till Gordon Brown takes over as PM, and we pundits are looking out for signs of what his big idea will be. Prior to his conference speech on Monday we were primed to look out for this: ‘Just as in the last century governments had to take power from vested interests in the interests of communities, in the new century people and communities should now take power from the state, and that means… I want a radical shift of power from the centre.’
But what does it mean? Brown certainly has no reputation as a decentraliser – quite the opposite – but there have been so many prompts in this direction that he may have some dramatic constitutional move up his sleeve; I hope and believe that he does. In Scotland, where the community sector has been virtually extinguished by municipal politicians, we’ll be starting from further back. But if this is the new ‘Big Idea’ and with PR elections in May – this may be ‘fight back’ time.
We mentioned last week that Ed Miliband is adopting a more ‘considered’ approach to public service delivery by social enterprises. This ‘realism’ is welcomed by Annie Kelly in this piece: https://senscot.net/?viewid=5246.
Our Colin sadly missed out on the recent Initiative at the Edge (IATE) Conference in Shetland. He wasn’t alone as a number of delegates fell victim to fog at Sumburgh. In spite of these difficulties, the three day conference was an outstanding success, reviewing the activities and progress in the 18 IATE communities since the programme started in 1998. The message was that programmes such as IATE need continuity in order for remote communities in Scotland to survive and thrive. See http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=5238.
You may be aware that Scotland has a Social Economy Advisory Group to advise the minister about our sector. The remit of the group is not clear – but the membership is attached: https://senscot.net/?viewid=4267. We understand that they are having an overnight policy session on 2nd/3rd October. When it becomes clearer, perhaps this group will inform us all of its purpose and aims.
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/index.php?W21ID=86&W21SUBID=0. This week:
JOBS: 21 vacancies, incl. posts with: Gorebridge Community Development Trust, CHAP, Midlothian Council, Scottish Executive, Penumbra, Bethany Christian Trust, Broomhouse Centre.
EVENTS: 27 events, incl. Community Initiatives and Village Associations – ‘Their role in sustaining rural communities’, Langholm, 14 Oct; Creating an Entrepreneurial Scotland: how & why does entrepreneurship matter?, Edinburgh, 21 Oct; Social Audit Masterclass, Inverness, 26 Oct; ‘Your Improvement Journey…’, Edinburgh, 8 Nov; Thematic Forum: ‘Personal Finance and Enterprise’, London, 9 Nov;
Today sees the launch of another new social enterprise in Fife – PACE Recruitment. It’s being launched by Gordon Brown at BRAG Enterprises at Crosshill. We wish it every success. See press release. http://www.senscot.net/view_news.php?viewid=5261
CHE is running a course on Ethical Enterprise: How can values-led trading organisations maximise their contribution to ecological sustainability and social justice? http://www.senscot.net/view_event.php?viewid=5064.
Compass is a pressure group which has been working over the past year to set down the guiding principles for a post Blair society which is more socially just and environmentally sustainable. Here’s an extract from their first book, ‘The Good Society’: https://senscot.net/?viewid=5244.
The social enterprise unit in London, which is now with Ed Miliband’s Office of the Third Sector, is looking to recruit a secondee for 6 or 12 months. The awaited Social Enterprise Action Plan will be launched on 16th November (Social Enterprise Day) and the new recruit will be helping to kick start the ‘Action’: http://www.senscot.net/view_job.php?viewid=5260
This week’s bulletin profiles a social enterprise in Glasgow that delivers quality and sustainable training in healthy eating and lifestyles. Food for Thought Glasgow has been on the go for around 3 years and has a Training Kitchen in Argyle Street. There, they train small groups of students from the refugee and asylum seeker communities as well as disadvantaged young Scots. The training is free and covers all aspects of catering. It also covers customer service and developing life-skills to enable students to access further learning and employment in the hospitality sector and in other industries. To generate an independent income stream, Food for Thought Scotland runs a well-regarded outside catering service. For further info’, see http://www.senscot.net/view_prof.php?viewid=5248.
Always worth keeping an eye how the mainstream press regards social enterprise – how it evolves. Here’s an interesting piece from the Times. https://senscot.net/?viewid=5237.
Reading old bulletins for ‘the book’, struck again by the power of this from Vaclav Havel, the poet and former President of the Czech Republic:
‘Either we have hope within us or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not dependent on some observation of the world. Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is Hope, above all, which gives the strength to live and continually try new things.’
That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures.
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