In 2014, at the age of 94, Fred Ritchie had become increasingly concerned about human caused global warming. He was deeply concerned not just for his grandchildren, but for all peoples around the world. A resident and orchardist in Naramata, British Columbia since the early 1950s, Fred convened a meeting with five other concerned Okanagan residents who agreed action needed to be taken. This led to a larger group from Osoyoos to Penticton meeting monthly to discuss climate issues and to ask themselves what they could do to play some role in turning away from carbon dependency. As small group discussions continued so also did outreach to the larger community. Public meetings were held in libraries, churches and homes. The group chose the name “First Things First”, which later became “First Things First Okanagan” (FTFO) and in 2015, FTFO was registered under the BC Societies Act as a not for profit society.
In 2016 and 2017 FTFO presented two well attended alternate energy symposia, “A Solar Fair” “and “Energy: Our Present, Our Future”. As part of those two initiatives and other events, more than thirty speakers have presented to the Okanagan public. The executive and members of FTFO have met with local elected and non-elected leaders to encourage the movement to towards a sustainable economy. Through petitions and public booths FTFO has supported and advocated for community solar power projects.
In 2018, the Board will focus on strategic initiatives identified at a planning meeting held in the fall of 2017 to determine the way forward for FTFO. In the works are public displays in community buildings, lecture series, greater outreach to local government, building membership and increased use of social media.