Victory tastes sweetest when shared. This past year, countless organizations across our country worked to elect pro-environment leaders to public office. From helping people register to vote to sharing crucial vote-by-mail resources, first-time volunteers put in hours of hard work to advance voter engagement. And today, a week after President Biden’s inauguration, our work has paid off.
More people voted in this year’s election than ever before. Floridians from many different organizations volunteered in droves to deliver victories for pro-environment city and county commissioners, state legislators, and ultimately, a pro-environment president. Together, Florida Conservation Voters’ volunteers worked to pass local conservation initiatives and elect Miami-Dade County’s first woman mayor, among other climate champions. As FCV’s Digital Organizer, my focus was not only to remind people how to vote, but to remind them that our land, water, and democracy rights are on their ballots in the form of local ordinances, ballot amendments, and in the candidates they choose.
When challenges arose, I stayed steady with a focus on our cause and remained inspired by the selflessness of our volunteers, many of whom have never formally worked in politics before. Together, we worked to build a movement. Our volunteers were excited to unseat bad leaders, engage disenfranchised and disinterested voters, and uplift the water, energy, climate, and equity issues that harm us and our communities. Besides the importance of voting, we were motivated by a deep love for natural Florida and a passion to save it at the ballot box.
With the election of a new administration at the federal level, some may think our fight is over, but we know the work to advance our communities is never done.
What’s next? We continue to build momentum. We continue to put communities first. We continue to show up and show out in the name of Florida’s environment. Voter engagement is a 365-day job, not just something to focus on around election season. The excitement and urgency in elections give us momentum, but winning at the ballot box is only one part of a non-stop cycle to hold elected officials accountable. The Conservation Voter Movement is just that – it keeps moving. While we all deserve a moment to recharge and celebrate the fruits of our hard work, I am excited to continue to educate voters on the connections between conservation, climate justice issues, and community outreach.
You can be a part of this ever-moving, ever-adapting community-centered change – not just to gain votes for pro-environment leaders, but to gain justice for those disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change impacts. Holding elected officials accountable to those they serve is forever work, and no leader gets a free pass.
Volunteering isn’t just good for those that it benefits, it’s also fulfilling and enriching. As the mantra goes: do good, feel good. And in the days of COVID-19, we all need more reasons to emotionally connect with others. FCV volunteers are united in our love for Florida’s land and water, our needs for climate action at every level of government, and our deep-rooted values of democracy and equality. From our respective posts across the state, we join together as Conservation Voters to not only advocate for our environment but to help bridge our divides and heal our collective wounds.
Inauguration Day has passed and the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris Administration have begun. To act on climate and address racial inequities, we must make up for lost time. We have a chance to make real change – to push for clean energy, abundant parks, fair elections – and we need all hands on deck to get us back on track to tackle the greatest challenges ahead. And while the work will undoubtedly be hard, it is worth it, if only we work together.
There’s so much left to be done in the making of our perfect union. I am confident that every resident and voter has something to contribute to this quest. How will you help steer the country on the course of equality and justice? Volunteer today!