One thing that makes life worth living is the Thirteen Tribe of community life – call them ‘The Militant Optimists’ - people who are committed to improvingsociety, prepared to organize and give it a go.Recession may invite pessimism. But if there’s a mission for prosperity,growth and confidence in hard times, it has to be to find ways and means bywhich these citizens can be mobilized and the multiplicity of their socialstruggles realized and grown.And if they can’t mobilize within the current system, new opportunities need tobe created to enable them to thrive and prosper - and convert ‘militantpessimists’ along the way.Two initiatives that I have supported have attempted, in a concerted way, tocreate opportunities for optimists to come together, make change and in turn,convert others by inspiration and word of mouth.I think that a clue to the effectiveness of these initiatives rests in theiremphasis upon re-using local facilities, their interactive, idiomatic design,dispersed entrepreneurship and commitment to becoming, in the words ofeconomist Muhammad Yunus,
" engines that never stop running and need no fuel from the outside."
The People’s Supermarket
In Spring 2010, a group of social entrepreneurs, commercial retailers andactivists committed to creating more sustainable urban economies opened anew supermarket in central London - a retail outlet determined to offer localpeople healthy food at affordable prices.The People’s Supermarket is co-operatively owned and managed. Inexchange for an annual membership fee and four hours volunteer time eachmonth, members win a discount on their shopping.You don’t have to be a member to shop in the supermarket but the aim is toconvert customers to members once they see the quality of the produce, itsprices and a corner shop that can be theirs.Rather than be over-righteous in its product offer, the supermarket sellsproducts that you’ll find in an ordinary mid-sized shop but also offers a simplechoice between a standard product and an healthy, locally sourcedalternative.The People’s Supermarket can hold down the price of the healthy optionthrough members giving their time to work in the store, expert sourcing fromindependent suppliers, equipping almost the entire operation with recycledfittings and capturing maximum value from waste generated.