Local performers Maya Robbie and Travis Weir are featured performers for a weekend of environmentally active music and humour sponsored by First Things First Okanagan. Submitted photo

Local performers Maya Robbie and Travis Weir are featured performers for a weekend of environmentally active music and humour sponsored by First Things First Okanagan. Submitted photo

First Things First evoking the power of song and play

Environmental group educating through entertainment

First Things First Okanagan has hosted a couple of events in the last three months taking a serious look at climate change, but now they’re lightening the tone with a weekend of entertainment.

On Jan. 26, First Things First is offering a daytime workshop, followed by an evening of music with Travis Weir and Maya Robbie, along with special guest Raven Wood. Then on Sunday, Jan. 27, it’s laughs with award-winning improv team Hip.Bang!, along with special guests Peach Gravy and singer Madeleine Terbasket.

Previously, First Things First hosted talks, one by climate change expert Kirsten Zickfeld and another by Rob Gray, a forestry fire science analyst, who spoke on climate change and wildfires.

“Those were very serious adult-oriented events that that draw a particular crowd,” said Jerry Flaman, one of the organizers. “Bringing renowned speakers in to speak on specific troubling subjects of climate change are very good because we get a very good turnout but that turnout is always 75 per cent grey hair.”

Related: First Things First Okanagan speaker explores climate change and B.C. wildfires

Flaman added there are a lot of younger people who are aware of the climate situation, but they hadn’t had any events they could participate in and show their support.

“And so this was one way we thought we could bring a lighter note into the discussion and bring music in, bring play in, then use play to reinforce the aspect of adverse climate change on our lives,” said Flaman. “By doing that, we thought we could attract more young people and get them to participate more actively in the climate change discussion.”

Jim Beattie, another First Things First director, said incorporating entertainment in the message is a good way to reach out to people, explaining that the Hip.BangImprov troupe are also bringing an important message about listening and reacting, along with having some fun while shedding light on climate change issues.

Flaman said it’s important to bring the younger demographic into the discussion as much as possible.

“I won’t be around to see the ramifications from some of the decisions that are being made today,” said Flaman, age 74, whose personal view is that he would like to see elder folks back away and let younger people into the decision-making process.

“Too often too often we see decisions made in our communities by the older folks, which have the demographic majority to continue to do things the way they did them, rather than allowing younger people in to make decisions that are appropriate for them,” said Flaman.

Related: First Things First grows annual symposium

First Things First has two more events planned, including an electric vehicle and solar power show being held at Burrowing Owl Winery.

“Then we are going to have an event seeking wisdom from our children, and that’s going to be in May, hosted at the Penticton Art Gallery said Flaman. “And what we see there is even younger folk giving us their views in the form of art about climate change.”

The weekend begins with a songwriting workshop on Jan. 26 — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Shatford Galleria — where Robbie and Weir will lead a creative exploration of environmental and climate issues through the lens of song-writing and poetry. Participants will learn some basics as well as have the opportunity to start a piece or have an existing work mentored. This workshop is for ages 14 to 25, and there is a $15 fee.

The evening performance is titled The Planet Can Save Itself, with performances by Robbie, Weir and special guests. That starts at 7:30 p.m., also in the Shatford Centre.

Starting at 1 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Shatford Galleria, Hip.Bang’s Tom Hill and Devin Mackenzie, experienced improv instructors, comedy writers and actors, delve into climate issues with a humorous twist.

They’re back in the evening for It is Us we are Worried About an evening of improv theatre along with Peach Gravy and musical guests.

Tickets for each evening are $20 for adults, $10 for students or $30 for both Saturday and Sunday music and improv performances.

Tickets are available for online through First Things First Okanagan – Promoting Awareness of Climate Change. or in Penticton at the Shatford Centre, Book Shop and Dragon’s Den and in Summerland at James on Kelly. Tickets will be available at the door for the evening performances.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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