FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS IN SCOTLAND
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23 June, 2017
A reader sent me a 12 minute TED talk by USA psychiatrist Robert Waldinger; he's talking about his role as the fourth director of the longest study of adult life ever done – 724 men tracked bi-annually for 75 years – to explore what keeps people happy and healthy.  The lesson from thousands of pages of surveys is not about wealth or fame or hard work – it’s simply that people who are more socially connected to family, friends and community – are happier, healthier and live longer; it seems happiness is mostly about our relationships.             I also enjoyed this interview with a successful New Zealand social entrepreneur called Roy Avery.  He points out, that early in the evolution of our species – everything was a social enterprise; the earliest 'villages' were formed by people working together to survive – developing facilities to be used by everyone – the commons.  Working for the common good was the norm – until 'scale' distorted everything; now money is deployed more for private than community benefit.             A film on BBC Alba this week showed how on Barra - life is still lived according to community values; we see the eleven hundred islanders – living small and slow enough to deeply feel their community.  Watching the film, I imagined that, if I were young again, I would choose this 'shared' way of life…  But, of course, most young people leave the islands - in pursuit of imagined wealth or fame; it takes the wisdom of later life to appreciate what really matters. Perhaps it has always been thus – always will. - Read full bulletin

16 June, 2017
This week I must have read fifty political commentaries – enough already; I declare myself well satisfied with developing events.  May exposed as a phony – eject; Corbyn, exposed as the ‘real deal’ leader of a growing social movement, has got them all scared.  The hard Brexiteers now back in their box; the Labour manifesto bringing politics back into familiar territory: that the strong will always oppress and exploit the weak if society doesn’t stop them.  It’s a straight left/right choice again – which everyone understands. (One I particularly liked was Fintan O'Toole's column in the New York Review.)             In Scotland, the indy cause has been diminished by over-association with the SNP; it deserves more ‘gravitas’ than party politics allows.  Indy support runs constant around 45% - the SNP now around 37%; it’s time for the leadership to pass to a cross party – cross civil society – properly resourced, Scottish Independence Convention (good piece from Robin McAlpine).  The SNP has been a broad church, trying to accommodate everyone – but Corbyn’s manifesto redraws the map; some ‘repositioning’ become necessary – the SNPs compromises will define them.             One of my favourite uptown Edinburgh restaurants; awaiting my lunch companion, I count thirty two diners – half of them fiddling with devices - compulsive.  Neal Ascherson has the theory that the internet and social media, ‘winking, bleeping knowledge in their palms’ gives this generation the impression of control over a virtual world; and with this comes increased confidence to challenge real power structures.  I wonder if this connects to the increasing volatility of world-wide electorates – evidence of a new generation of political engagement – I hope so. - Read full bulletin

09 June, 2017
  Writing this the day before the General Election – you’re reading it the day after – so you know more than me; regardless of the result, I want to pay tribute to the way Jeremy Corbyn conducted his campaign - its ongoing significance. Corbyn tells it straight – honest rhetoric without rancour or personal insult; he passionately champions the policies of his dreams – his obvious enjoyment is attractive. I am minded of Jose Mujica (Uruguayan President 2010 -2015) and of Pope Francis: two other counterculture guys who, improbably, found themselves in the mainstream; I refer to their casual indifference to the trappings of power and privilege; their conviction that, apart from our circumstances, we are none of us much different. I rate Corbyn very highly; not saying I anticipated his current surge – but less surprised than most.             Whilst campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the USA – Bernie Saunders warned his supporters that – even as President – the scale of resistance they would face from the ‘billionaire class’ could make it all but impossible for them to implement their goals. I think Corbyn understands this – that only a broad and active social movement could potentially confront the spivs who have captured all the money – so this is where he campaigns. Such a movement needs first to find a leader who has ‘got past’ the distraction of personal wealth; I think we can now assume they’ve found someone. Blair and Brown Associates basically ‘sold the jerseys’ – rewarded with sweetheart City directorships – not even embarrassed. We can imagine their amused condescension at Corbyn’s fondness for his allotment. - Read full bulletin

02 June, 2017
Do you know what ‘millennials’ are?  I had to Google it.  Seemingly it applies to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century – so, born years earlier.  Various studies, notably from Pew Research Centre, have created a profile of millennials - which I find impressive. Firstly and unsurprisingly, the new generation is adept with electronics – but with a near addiction to mobiles; also internet savvy - socially networked.  Millennials are more tolerant than my generation – of racial, sexual and religious diversity; less likely to have fixed political or religious affiliations.  They have a better work/life balance; job satisfaction means more – they’ll ‘job-hop’ in a new ‘gig economy’; altogether a better informed, more emancipated generation.             On Sunday – on BBC 4 – by accident – I watched (for about three minutes) a band, Kings of Leon, performing somewhere – totally incomprehensible.  The resident CD in my car just now is Dean Martin singing Italian love songs from the 50s and 60s; many tracks have particular memories for me – collectively they evoke a soundtrack of my youth.  Since the beginning of recorded history – I can’t see that human nature has changed much – but I marvel at how each generation grapples anew with the same eternal challenges. I don't think old folk like me are irrelevant - history is important - but we should definitely get out the way - let the next lot have a go. I have no interest in Kings of Leon - happy with Dino singing Neapolitan love songs; time for the millennials. - Read full bulletin

26 May, 2017
At Xmas in TK Maxx – on impulse I purchased a double mirror – true image on one side, 10x magnification on the reverse; don’t get one! – it exaggerates every blemish on your face – I look grotesque.  In a similar manner, there’s a prism in my mind which activates without warning – and which accentuates all the negatives in my world; it’s like falling down a trapdoor into a dark place.  I habitually used alcohol to lift these moods – now I just stay down; they seldom last more than a few days.             Over the years I’ve come to realise that the only light which enters the dark place comes from love; either a memory – or some gracious loving behaviour in the present; those moments when we touch each other – the most powerful we’ll ever know.  The only real regret I have is that I so often failed my friends – allowed other ‘big things’ to edge them out; if only, at the time, I’d been more aware how much I cared about certain people – been able to tell them.             The last time I saw my dad alive was in 1988 in Italy; he was the age I am now though much diminished by a stroke; died within 18 months. He didn’t have much religion; instead a keen sense – and stoic acceptance – of life’s inherent absurdity; his self-effacing smile conveyed sardonic humour.  As we were parting he got a bit upset – then quickly his trademark smile – determined, courageous; and I remember, at that moment, I nearly said I loved him. - Read full bulletin


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