You are invited to attend Steps Coalition's 2017 Annual Meeting!

This is a time for individual members, member organizations, and potential members to network and brainstorm on the status of healthcare in our communities, review Steps Coalition's current work and partner work, and to strengthen partnership between our member organizations. We would like for everyone on the Gulf Coast and in Mississippi to become more knowledgeable about our work and possible future partnerships and projects.

We will provide a light meal, live entertainment by Unfazed, and keynote speaker, MS House Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes. Also, we will hold a panel discussion on healthcare. More information on panelists and an agenda is coming soon!

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Steps Coalition Newsletter-July 2017

Steps Coalition Welcomes New Executive Director!
Steps Coalition would like to formally announce our new Executive Director, Mr. Gregory Brown! Mr. Brown comes to us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and brings with him a wealth of resources and knowledge in the area of nonprofit management. 

Mr. Brown has served nonprofits and disadvantaged communities domestically throughout the United States and overseas in Central America for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from American University and a Master's degree from George Washington University in Organizational Management, both located in Washington DC.

His most recent professional duties and responsibilities include serving as a Senior Managing Partner, Organizational Development/Management Consultant for Vertex Innovation in Costa Rica and as the Co-CEO and Founder of Organizational Bridges, LLC. He also serves as the Executive Director for Global Chamber® Kansas City Metropolitan Area. Mr. Brown has served in diverse roles and worn multiple hats throughout his career which include serving as a Nonprofit Executive Director, Fundraiser, Housing Counselor, Community Organizer and Nonprofit Board Executive Officer.

Mr. Brown has secured $16.6 million dollars in funding for nonprofits and government agencies in the USA for programs, projects and operating support and has provided consulting, technical assistance, and training throughout the USA to over 300 nonprofits, local and municipal government agencies, faith based organizations, social service, and community economic development programs and projects for clients domestically and internationally. Mr. Brown has also provided his services to educate and empower youth in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. He also served as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. Brown has worked with nationally recognized Washington, DC organizations committed to social changers and community empowerment such as the Center for Community Change, Neighbor-Works, Community Planning Development Office of HUD, Center for Technical Assistance and Training and Campaign for Human Development (US Catholic Conference). 

He is dedicated to developing leadership, increasing economic resources and empowering low-income residents, community groups--especially disadvantaged ethnic and cultural minority groups, constituencies and youth.
Steps Coalition Welcomes New Program Assistant and New Community Organizer!

Steps Coalition also welcomes its new Program Assistant, Crystal Hay, and its new Community Organizer, Brenna Landis. Their bios may be found at Steps' website here
Members of the Port Campaign Coalition
Update from Howard Page, Port Campaign Organizer
On June 22, 2017, the Port Campaign Coalitionheld a public meeting at the Good Deeds Community Center. An update on job creation revealed that the Port of Gulfport presently has less jobs than when the Port restoration started. The Port continues to struggle to meet the promised job creation goals. Of the 425 jobs claimed at the port, over 300 are hotel jobs in housekeeping, not maritime jobs as originally promised.

Numerous environmental actions that will affect residents of Gulfport need to go through a permitting process. SeaOne Gulfport, LLC, a gas export facility, needs permits for two new pipelines that will travel from I-10 to the Port. SeaOne has not held a public meeting to present a plan for the facility.   

The north Port property located at the intersection of 34th Avenue and 33rd Street is contaminated with lead and arsenic in the soil and groundwater. This property is a proposed site for warehouse facilities. The use of this contaminated site for Port activities raises concerns of spreading the soil and water contamination to nearby residents.

The 435-acre wetland fill proposed by the City of Gulfport and Ward Investments is stalled. The City of Gulfport and Ward Investments need to decide if they will proceed with a request for a permit to fill in 435-acres of wetlands in North Gulfport.  This wetland fill raises the risk of flooding and displacing residents.

There is a considerable amount of impact proposed in North Gulfport from gas pipelines to large wetland fills to the use of contaminated properties.  The Port Campaign Coalition (PCC), will monitor the permit processes and inform community members as soon as there is a chance for public participation.

The PCC is also working with their legal team to comment on the final EIS for the further expansion of the Port of Gulfport.

Attorney Robert Wiygul of Waltzer, Wiygul, & Garside Law Firm in Ocean Springs, filed a letter of intent to sue the city's contractor in Biloxi on behalf of the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). The Restore Biloxi Infrastructure Repair Program's North Contract project has gone on for years in East Biloxi with poor storm water management that fills local waterways with sediment and creates conditions in Biloxi that have harmed residents and caused businesses to close. GRN and their attorney will be working with the city's contractor, Oscar Renda Contracting, Inc., to resolve the problems and correct the harms created by this project.
Steps Coalition member, East Biloxi Community Collaborative (EBCC), is also working on a campaign to organize East Biloxi residents and business owners affected by the ongoing North Contract work. This campaign is called "East Biloxi In Motion." To view their Facebook page and updates on community meetings surrounding the road project in East Biloxi, please click here. 
To see a recent article in The Sun Herald on the Restore Biloxi North Contract suit, click here
GCRC members, Khai Nguyen & Mahdi Suluki, pause while on a tour of MQVN CDC's Veggie Co-op Operations in preparation for the Celebration of A-Bun Dance.
Update from Ya-Sin Shabazz, Gulf Coast Regional Collaborative Project Director
The Steps Coalition's Gulf Coast Regional Collaborative (GCRC) project is preparing to enter its second year of advancing language access, community and stakeholder organizing, and economic and workforce development with a number of new faces around the table. Gregory Brown and Crystal Hay, Steps Coalition's new Executive Director and Program Assistant respectively, are teaming with Ya-Sin Shabazz, GCRC's new Project Director, to continue the work of improving family 
economic security for displaced Vietnamese-American fishermen.

Shabazz, who transitioned from a representative of project partner Hijra House, to the Project Director position is replaced by Mahdi Suluki as the current Hijra House representative to the GCRC. Daniel Le of Biloxi-based Boat People SOS, Daniel and Khai Nguyen of New Orleans-based Mary Queen of Vietnam CDC, and John Jopling of the Mississippi Center for Justice add years of project knowledge, expertise, and success as the experienced members of the team. 

The goal of the GCRC is to advance racial equity and increase family economic security for Vietnamese-American Fisher-Folks by way of and educating and engaging Vietnamese-American residents, African-American residents, and other BP Oil-Spill impacted communities along the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast. 

An upcoming July 22nd event in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi aims to increase awareness, interest, and engagement in RESTORE Act processes by highlighting the New Orleans, LA East work of MQVN's Veggie Co-op for residents of Hancock and West Harrison County, Mississippi. Find out more about GCRC's collaborative Celebration of A-Bun-Dance here, and come out, meet some of our newest representatives and supporters, and enjoy the educational and fun celebration for restoration.


View of VT Halter Marine, Inc. operations from end of residential area in Cherokee Subdivision.
Update from Brenna Landis, Steps Coalition Community Organizer

Brenna began her role as community organizer at the end of June 2017 and has been volunteering with Steps Coalition since the spring of 2016. 
Brenna is now the Project Manager for Steps Coalition's role in the Mobilizing for Health project that works hand in hand with Boat People SOS to work to improve the quality of healthcare and language access for Vietnamese Americans in East Biloxi as well as multiple other community-based organizations helping Gulf Coast residents. The Mobilizing for Health project had a successful Cultural Competency Training session in April that was well attended by multiple MS Dept. of Health staff members as well as local community health organizations' staff members. This training focused on the history of the multiple waves of Vietnamese immigrants since the Vietnam War to the Gulf Coast and on educating the healthcare community on the culture of Vietnamese Americans and ways to better communicate and respect cultural differences. 
Brenna is also working under a newly secured grant for the "Solar Together" project to create a constituency on the MS Gulf Coast that is educated on the economic, environmental, and community empowerment cases for solar energy in Mississippi. Brenna is working with Mark Isaacs of Bay St. Louis with GS Research LLC to engage the public on the MS Gulf Coast surrounding the benefits under the new net metering laws which recently passed just last year. 

Brenna is also working with the Cherokee Concerned Citizens group of Pascagoula to engage with industry officials and local municipal and county officials to create better communication and to hold industry accountable for its impact on the community. 

In Pascagoula, Gulf Restoration Network and Cherokee Concerned Citizens have taken legal action against VT Halter Marine, Inc. Halter has allowed huge amounts of air pollution to leave their site polluting nearby waterways and harming local residents' health and property. Halter has been fined by the MS Dept. of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and is under order to clean up their air pollution.  However, Halter continues to spew air pollution, and MDEQ allows it to continue. The legal action will attempt to correct the problems Halter and MDEQ have created.
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    Tell OMB that AA and NHPI communities must be counted

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    Steps Coalition and Boat People SOS are working locally with state government agencies to make changes in the way data is collected on the Vietnamese American communities here on the coast.  You can help support our efforts at the national level by taking action today!   Tell the federal government you support Count and Disaggregate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Data.

    Federal agencies are not required to collect detailed data on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. This mean communities are misrepresented in major policy decisions and often are left our or underfunded as a result.  You have the power to change that!

    The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is asking for public comments on potential revisions to its 1997 standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data.  These standards apply to all federal agencies and provide data on everything from healthcare, education, housing, transportation, and civil rights.  Data should reflect our unique histories, cultures, resiliencies, and challenges that differently impact our health, housing, education, and economic experiences.

    The White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is asking for public comments on potential revisions to its 1997 standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data. These standards apply to all federal agencies and provide data on everything from healthcare, education, housing, transportation and civil rights. Data should reflect our unique histories, cultures, resiliencies, and challenges that differently impact our health, housing, education, and economic experiences. 

    Often, people assume that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs) are homogenous groups.  They are a huge extended "family" that is richly diverse in culture, languages, strengths, and resiliencies,  Yet, they also face different levels of injustices, disparities, and systemic challenges.  So each time a report falsely concludes that AAs and NHPIs are all healthy, wealthy, and educated and thereby perpetuates the myth of the model minority, it makes it even harder for all of us to bring attention, services and resources to those who need it most.

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    Our national partners are organizing a campaign until April 28th to solicit comment to the Office of MAnagement and Budget dat request to support more detailed data on AA and NHPI groups. Currently, federal agencies are not required to count detailed data for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities (e.g. Chines, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chamorro, Samoan, Tongan, etc.)

    This is the first opportunity in 20 years for us to change the standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data.  You can help make a difference in the way that services are provided to the communities that need them.  Will you add your name and tell OBM that AA and NHPI groups deserve to be counted?

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    More Drilling = More Oil Disasters

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    In the midst of the 7th year Memorial of the BP Oil Drilling Disaster, the Bureau Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is hosting public hearings in the five Gulf state for 2018 GOM Draft Supplemental EIS.  BOEM's 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposes to lease over 70 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico so that oil and gas companies can drill up to 9.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent over the next 70 years.  BOEM's proposal minimizes the environmental impact and costs associated with catastrophic spills and does not sufficiently justify the need for new leasing in the Gulf in light of emerging renewable energy markets and the seriousness of the climate change.

    Last year, concerned citizens across the five Gulf states joined the national Keep It In the Ground and No New Leases campaigns to halt new oil and gas extraction on our land and water.  As a result of national efforts, the Obama Administration removed the Atlantic and the Artic from the Oil and Gas Leasing Program leaving future oil and gas exploration to concentrate in the Gulf of Mexico.  This year BOEM is moving forward with the program and is getting ready to sell off our Gulf to the highest bidder.  But before they do, the public has one more chance to comment on the EIS

    The 2018 GOM Draft Supplemental EIS contains analyses of the potential environmental impacts that could result from a proposed region-wide lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, including preliminary results of new air quality modelling. The preliminary results have not yet been subject to review. BOEM is interested in comments regarding the modelling and analysis. The Supplemental EIS is expected to be used to inform decisions on proposed Lease Sales 250 and 251, as scheduled in the 2017‑2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing:  Proposed Final Program (Five-Year Program). The analyses may also be applied and supplemented as necessary to inform decisions for each of the remaining proposed lease sales scheduled in the Five-Year Program.  

    To learn more, citizens should attend the public hearing on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, Courtyard by Marriott, Gulfport Beachfront MS Hotel, 1600 East Beach Boulevard, Gulfport, Mississippi  39501.

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    Join Steps Coalition and partners outside the Marriot at 4:00 pm for a press conference.  For more details about the conference, contact Jennifer Crosslin at jcrosslin@stepscoalition.org.

     

     

     

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    Communities Have A Right To Know

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    Photograph taken by local resident

    Last June, a gas processing plant in Moss Point located within three miles of several neighborhoods exploded.  The gas processing plant is owned by BP Amoco and Enterprise Products, LLC.  It is one of the largest gas processing facilities in the nation with the capacity to process up to 1 billion cubic feet per day.  The Destin Pipeline (jointly owned by affiliates of Shell, Sonat, and BP Amoco) carries natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico directly to the plant, and then delivers the processed gas to five interstate pipelines.

    Fortunately, no one was seriously injured as a result of the explosion, but nearby residents were concerned about what they might be exposed to as a result of the explosion.  Though Jackson County Emergency Management did not notify or evacuate the surrounding neighborhoods, many were awaken in the middle of the night by the sound and sight of the explosion and decided to evacuate.

    Unlike oil and chemical plants, gas processing plants are not required to report the list and quantity of hazard pollutants they release to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.

    The TRI Program was created as part of a response to several events that raised public concern about local preparedness for chemical emergencies and the availability of information on hazardous substances.

    On December 4, 1984, a cloud of extremely toxic methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a Union Carbide Chemical plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands of people died that night and thousands more died later as a result of their exposure. Survivors continue to suffer with permanent disabilities. In 1985, a serious chemical release occurred at a similar plant in West Virginia.

    In 1986, Congress passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to support and promote emergency planning and to provide the public with information about releases of toxic chemicals in their community. Section 313 of EPCRA established the Toxics Release Inventory.

    The EPA is now considering a rule that adds natural gas processing plants to the TRI program.  Communities have until May 7, 2017 to submit their comments about the proposed rule.  The EPA provides the following recommendations for submitting a public comment:

    A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making.
     
    These tips are meant to help the public submit comments that have an impact and help agency policy makers improve federal regulations. 
     
    Read and understand the regulatory document you are commenting on 

    Feel free to reach out to the agency with questions 

    Be concise but support your claims   

    Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted 

    Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment 

    There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment 

    The comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters

    Click here to submit your comments.

    To learn more about the health impacts of gas production, check out these resources.

    Coming Clean Inc.

    Mom's Clean Air Force

    Environmental Integrity Project

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    LIZZ WRIGHT: PAINTED SKY

    Our partners at the Kellogg Foundation shared this incredible video Lizz Wright created of the song she wrote and performed for the National Day of Racial Healing. Hope you enjoy it!

     

     

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    Steps Coalition Convenes Disaster Mitigation Planning Meetings

    Resilient_Homes_Resilient_Communities.pngSteps Coalition is convening a series of planning meetings with stakeholders, including those most impacted, to develop a strategic action plan to prepare our coastal communities for future disasters and to ensure that all residents and communities have the resources they need to mitigate, adapt, and recover through stakeholder education and advocacy for non-structural mitigation programs and policies

    JOIN THE PLANNING TEAM

    Continue reading →
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    The People's Campaign For Solar

    emailtopsolarbigger.png100% Renewable Energy Economy in Mississippi is Possible!

    Mississippi has taken its first step toward a solar powered future with the passage of the net metering rule. Though it is a positive step in the right direction, there is much more we need to do to transition to 100% renewable energy (solar, wind and water). That is why Steps Coalition would like to invite you to be a part of a strategic planning initiative to build and advocate for a just transition in Mississippi.

    REGISTER HERE

    Continue reading →
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    Stand with Gulf Communities for Clean Energy Economy

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    People in the Gulf are standing together to say no to new oil and gas leasing in our Gulf and yes to clean energy jobs and future that begins with putting an end to the expansion of fossil fuels.  You can add your voice and sign-on to the Gulf regional letter to oppose new offshore drilling in our Gulf!

    Continue reading →
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    Gulf Communities Join the Global Actions to Break Free from Fossil Fuels

    greenpeace_fb_breakfree_dc_cj1b-400x300.pngMay 4th marked the first day of a two week series of global mass actions to keep oil, coal, and gas in the ground and accelerate the transition to clean energy economy.  With the threat of truly catastrophic climate crisis looming, across the globe, communities on the front lines of climate change and the fenceline of fossil fuel industries are standing together and calling on world leaders to live up to their promises made in Paris last year to stop global temperature from rising above 2 degrees. 

    Steps Coalition is thrilled to be part of this momentous effort to protect our communities and future on this planet.  As part of a Gulf delegation, we will be joining thousands of others across the nation for a Break Free action in Washington DC on May 15th.

    Continue reading →
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    The Call To End New Oil Drilling in the Gulf Continues

    No_New_Leases.jpgTwo weeks ago hundreds of citizens from across the Gulf rallied in New Orleans to call for an end to new oil drilling in the Gulf.  It was the first time the people of the Gulf stood together in a united front to demand an end to the destruction and sacrifice zone our Gulf has become in the pursuit of money and oil.  The fight continues.  Next week the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Dept of Interior) is currently working on the next five year plan for auctioning oil leases in the Gulf.  The current five year plan includes auctioning off two-thirds of the entire Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leases. 

    The latest research tells us that if we are going to prevent climate chaos, we will need to keep 80% of coal, oil, and gas in the ground.  It is thus, imperative that we stop the sale of new oil and gas leases.  It is time we stand together once again to demand a just transition to clean energy!

    Continue reading →
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    Biloxi Town Hall Meeting: Keeping our Children Safe at School

    students350350.jpgConcerned parents and advocates gathered together in Biloxi last Wednesday night, March 30th, for a town hall meeting to learn and discuss how state policies can protect children at schools from traumatizing, dehumanizing, and dangerous procedures, known as restraint and seclusion.  In partnership with Moore Community House, ACLU Advocacy Coordinator, Rene' Hardwick, facilitated a discussion about protections and safe alternatives to restraint and seclusion. 

    Continue reading →
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Steps Coalition
610 Water Street, Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 435-3113

Economic Justice | Environmental Justice | Affordable Housing | Preservation of Historical Communities | Human Rights