Restore, Rebuild, Adapt
Friends of the Environment was established in Hope Town in 1988 by a group of forward thinking and caring citizens who saw a need to address island sustainability and responsible use of our natural resources. Through dedicated volunteer effort, the organization gained a strong foothold in the community and grew to fill a very important role in the development of Abaco. With national and international support and the cultivation of strong partnerships, FRIENDS grew beyond its volunteer capabilities and eventually hired staff and opened an office in Marsh Harbour in order to better serve the entire island. An education program was officially established in 2006 and has become the cornerstone of FRIENDS’ ongoing programs. The establishment of the Frank Kenyon Centre in 2015 further integrated science into education and made valuable connections between existing programs. The organization continues to work with the mission to preserve the environment of Abaco, The Bahamas through education, conservation, and research facilitation. Our vision is to be an island community that is living sustainably and proud to be stewards of our rich biodiversity.
On September 1, 2019 Abaco was hit by one of the worst hurricanes on record. Hurricane Dorian left massive devastation in its wake, severely impacting the island and its inhabitants. Sadly, the FRIENDS Campus was not spared. We are extremely grateful that the Kenyon Centre received minimal damage, however our offices, classroom, and the natural history museum were destroyed. Since day one, our staff have been on hand, either on the ground or remotely, to assist relief efforts and ensure that the organization stays on track. The time has now come to look towards the future and plan for the rebuild of FRIENDS so that we can continue to be part of sustainable re-development on Abaco, just as our founders would have wished.
The hurricane scattered our staff and Board in many different directions, however all have expressed their commitment to the organization moving forward. The majority of the staff are now back on island and are in the process of setting up a temporary office in a trailer at the FRIENDS Campus. FRIENDS is also working on a concept for a new Education Centre, to include offices, classroom and meeting spaces, and a museum/welcome centre. The land where our office sat was leased long term, so we are also in the process of drawing up a purchase agreement.
The damage from Hurricane Dorian was unprecedented; we will be working to ensure that we take climate change into account as we design the building while upholding our principles for sustainable development. We also see potential value in using the building as a hurricane shelter. We will be sharing our ideas with you for your feedback.
We are determined to move forward, positively, in a way that will benefit Abaco’s environment and people. We hope you will join us on our journey to restore, rebuild, and adapt.