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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

The Tipping Point – Your handy local eco-shop

A place where eco coffee mornings coincide with direct action training.

Written by Amelia Wells

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Tipping Point is an info-eco-swap shop on Gillingham High Street, visit this which at first entrance resembles your Gran’s front room…if she’d taken a sudden interest in Climate change and decorated accordingly. We settled down on the squishy sofas and had a chat with Paul, one of the current proprietors brave enough to take themselves out of regular employment and set up shop. While I flicked through Paul’s ‘zine – ‘Holidarity’; an illustrated account of his time hanging out in activist camps drinking whisky and preventing deforestation – a local man came in asking about alternative power solutions for his recently acquired hunting lodge, saying “We need to get this renewable energy sorted out or we’re all going to be in a lot of trouble.” Took the words right out of our mouths, mate.

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Tipping Point’s name is a dual reference to the need to tackle CO2 emissions before global warming reaches a point of no return and also a sociological term for the momentum when a social movement becomes unstoppable. The presence of the info-shop in Gillingham is in direct response to the plans for Kingsnorth, a potential new coal-fired power station in the area whose C02 out-put will exceed that of the country of Ghana. Just what we need. According to Tipping Point’s latest newsletter: “Building a new coal fired power station would have major ramifications not only in terms of local employment and health but also affect the future of the world. It would open the floodgates to a whole new generation of coal power across Britain and the rest of the world won’t be prepared to give up coal if we don’t. There is simply no hope of avoiding runaway global warming if we don’t move on from coal.”

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Their aim is to raise local awareness about this rather important issue and inform the community about actions which can be taken in order to prevent the station ever being built. One of the wall displays is dedicated to dispelling myths told about the Kingsnorth plans and there is a plethora of leaflets outlining ways to contest the station. Direct action training began last Sunday where attendees were educated about the whys and wherefores of protests and demonstrations. D-locks and arm tubes provided. Dress warm.

While the shop does have a specific aim in targeting Kingsnorth, there is just as much information about climate change in general. On the opposite walls hangs a 6 Degrees display, illustrating the effects of global warming. DIY ‘zines nestle next to vegan leaflets behind the window display which contains cut-outs of local people stood beneath floating speech bubbles of their thoughts on Climate Change. As well as direct action training and campaign letter writing workshops, Tipping Point runs Eco-parent coffee mornings, endangered animal sock puppet making, dance classes, bike repair shops and recently had a lot of fun making paper windmills in their KidSpace. They hope to create a sense of eco-community in Gillingham, making the space into one where people can come to hang out, have fun and learn. Unfortunately the rent, paid for by Lush, is up in February, so it’s important that they leave behind a community wherein people believe that change can be made.

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Although it’s difficult to quantify the impact of a project like Tipping Point in these early stages – it’s been there about a month so far – Paul told us that people do regularly drop in for information – or just to find out what the place is! – and often return to tell them about climate conscious changes they’ve made, such as cooking a tasty vegan meal and how it went down with their family.

Tipping Point is not a project to be read about and lauded. It’s a hands-on situation which affects us all, and which we can all get involved in. Check out their website, write to the Kingsnorth construction firms, cycle down to Gillingham and make a sock puppet. Little or large, your contribution to this cause might just be the tipping point needed to make the change.

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