We build political power to protect our environment, protect our democracy, and create a healthy and sustainable future for everyone.
We do this by educating and organizing people to take action, holding elected officials accountable, winning elections, and advancing just environmental policies.
Our vision for Florida’s future is one where every community enjoys clean air, clean water, parks, protected wildlands, and the security of a healthy and vibrant planet sustaining us today and for future generations.
We envision a democracy that is accessible so that all people, especially those historically and presently excluded from public decision-making processes, can participate in choosing who will represent them. It’s a future in which elected representatives at every level of government honor the people’s will to protect our living planet, overcome the climate crisis, and create healthy, sustainable communities for everyone.
We envision FCV as helping to build a powerful environmental movement in which leadership and power are shared, especially with Black, Latine, low-wealth, and other communities most harmed by pollution, extraction, and destruction of our planet.
We are inclusive.
Each of us values the perspectives, experiences, and strengths of others because we know our differences contribute to our collective wisdom and create a more effective, strategic, and authentic organization. We actively listen with humility. We seek to understand each other, our members, our partners, and community members while always challenging each other to learn, especially when necessary to dismantle racism and other forms of oppression. We are committed to understanding the culture and struggle of people who are different from ourselves, whether we are different because of race, class, sexual orientation, or other identities. We step back and refrain from taking space when we, as individuals or as an organization, are not the authentic, credible messenger or voice. We “meet people where they’re at,” and we share information in a way that is usable by community members.
We are collaborative.
We lift each other up by fostering and encouraging a caring and supportive environment where each person can learn, create their best work, and achieve their potential. We value each person’s strengths, talents, and contributions. We invest in and support one another, we share leadership, and we seek input from others before jumping into action because how we get things done is as important as what we achieve. We are more effective when we take the time for thoughtful preparation and planning and intentionally establish our shared goals as well as our individual roles. We follow through on the commitments we make, and we respect each others’ work, time, and energy. When we align around our individual roles towards achieving collective goals, we all contribute to and are accountable for our success or failure.
We are transparent.
We are open, clear, direct, and honest in our communications. We build trust by sharing how and why we make decisions, naming and respecting personal and professional boundaries, and erring on the side of sharing information and resources with each other and with our partners. We are open about the outcomes we are seeking. We nurture trust with Black, Latino, low-wealth, and other communities disproportionately harmed by pollution and the disruption of natural systems by respecting and trusting their leadership.
Why racial and economic justice are central to our mission:
Florida Conservation Voters and FCV Education Fund build power to protect our environment, protect our democracy, and create a healthy and sustainable future for everyone. We focus on the environment because the natural world is our home, and we as humans can only be our best selves when our home is safe and secure. We recognize that the historical norm for the environmental non-profit sector, like that of most institutions in the United States, has been rooted in structures dominated by white men. We also recognize that the same oppressive, extractive, and racist structures harming Black, Latino, and other communities of color are also destroying our planet. We believe that an environmental organization that is not inclusive, racially diverse, and committed to becoming anti-racist can never understand the full range of environmental problems and impacts faced by humanity, or identify the most effective policy solutions.
This rationale lays out in more detail both the reasons why racial and economic justice are central to our environmental mission and how that shapes the commitments that we make to each other, our partners, and the public. Together with our mission, vision, and values, we use this rationale to guide decisions about who we hire, how we work and allocate resources, and what strategies we use to win strong environmental protections and build healthy communities for everyone.
This rationale also provides a brief history of our organization, creates a shared vocabulary of racial and economic justice principles, and most importantly establishes an accountability tool we will use to continue our work to become a more anti-racist organization.
Florida Conservation Voters formed in 2015 after the passage of the Florida Water and Land Conservation ballot initiative (Amendment 1). In our early years, our board, membership, and coalition partners were mostly white, over the age of 50, and strongly self-identified as “environmentalists.” Our volunteer base was largely sourced from partner organizations, such as Audubon Florida, Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters, and more than 400 local and statewide environmental and civic groups.
In our earliest years, with a staff of three, we focused fairly narrowly on working within that coalition to hold lawmakers accountable to Amendment 1, calling on them to fund conservation land acquisition. Beginning in 2016, we expanded our work to address climate and clean energy, and by 2018 we formalized four core issue areas (our “pillars”) that underlie our work: public lands and parks, clean water, a just transition to clean and affordable energy, and a fair and accessible democracy.
As we expanded our work to hold lawmakers accountable on all of these issues, our core purpose came into clear focus. FCV exists to protect our living planet and make our communities more sustainable, thriving, and healthy. Defining our core purpose helped us see that we had been operating within an echo chamber of white voices and perspectives. When we asked ourselves what we meant by “our” living planet and communities, it was obvious that we lacked the experience and therefore the perspectives of people directly harmed by pollution, extraction, and destruction of our living planet. At the time, few of FCV’s members and none of its staff were Black or Latino, the two largest non-white constituencies in Florida. Without representation of Black and Latino communities, FCV sorely lacked the wisdom, knowledge, talent, and perspective that can only come from a broad coalition of people with diverse lived experiences and cultures.
We decided to deepen our understanding of how racism operates in our democracy to shape policies that cause generational harm to people and communities of color. We resolved to build relationships with social justice organizations that work tirelessly, too often without support from white-dominated institutions and organizations, to build a more just, anti-racist, pro-democracy society.
Since then, FCV’s staff has become more racially diverse, expanding from an all-white staff of 3 in 2016 to a majority Black and Latino staff of 20 in 2022. However, we have work to do when it comes to expanding our membership base, which continues to be comprised mostly of white individuals who have historically identified as “environmentalists” or “conservationists.” As we invest more deeply in community-based organizing through our Chispa Florida and Democracy for All Florida programs, and as we engage more deeply on the issues and needs that Black and Latino communities identify as priorities, our membership base is becoming more racially diverse.
We are committed to working in community with our members, partners, and local community leaders who share our values and vision for Florida’s future. We are committed to understanding the culture and struggle of people who are different from ourselves, whether those differences are race, class, sexual orientation, or other identities. We honor and respect the distinct experiences and perspectives people bring to the environmental movement knowing and ultimately building collective power to ensure a livable planet and inclusive democracy for all people.
Environmental degradation disproportionately harms Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The same oppressive and extractive dynamics that keep racist and patriarchal structures in place are also destroying our planet. The issues of climate gentrification, fair wages, affordable housing and energy, access to healthcare, and a robust public education and union presence in Florida are all interconnected. We cannot achieve environmental justice without social and economic justice, and in order to do so, we must dismantle the systemic barriers in place that prevent people from participating in our democracy.
FCV’s commitment to racial and economic justice is crucial for building both the short-term and long-term social, economic, and political power necessary to protect our land, water, and climate from further degradation and to ensure that all people–in particular, communities of color who bear the brunt of the impact–have access to the political process by which these critical decisions are made.
We live in an infinitely complex world where racial, social, and economic justice are inextricably connected to issues of conservation, to the environmental movement, and to democracy. Therefore, we are not a single issue organization. We recognize that the intersectionality of Florida’s (and the world’s) problems requires comprehensive solutions. We recognize and embrace that these solutions may steer us beyond what people may believe to be “typical” environmental or conservation spaces in order to advance racial and economic justice. As an organization dedicated to protecting a healthy and thriving environment, we commit to promoting racial, social, and economic justice, and to eradicating all forms of oppression that serve as barriers to them.
As an organization, we are committed to becoming anti-racist, to fostering racial and economic justice, and to eliminating interlocking forms of oppression in everything we do. This involves an active process of:
- Building power with Black, Latino, and other communities disproportionately harmed by environmental pollution, climate change, disruption of natural systems, and exclusion from democratic processes;
- Ensuring that our leadership, staff, board members, endorsed candidates, volunteers, members, and supporters reflect the communities with whom we are building power; and
- Holding ourselves, partners, lawmakers, and other individuals and groups accountable to the communities we work with.
Together our values and our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization govern how we act and who we are. They guide every aspect of our work: who we align ourselves with; what policies we prioritize and fight for (or against); who we endorse as candidates; which campaigns or coalitions we engage with; how we recruit and hire staff; who serves on our boards; how we fundraise; and how we treat each other within the organization.