Who We Are
The Steps Coalition (STEPS) is a grass roots, locally governed coalition of 45 non-profit, community, and civic organizations and leaders whose mission is to build a democratic movement to create a healthy, just, and equitable Mississippi Gulf Coast. Steps advances its mission by developing local leadership, supporting communities to advocate for their needs and by facilitating communication, coordination, and collaboration among our membership.
Our vision for the Mississippi Gulf Coast is to create communities worth calling home. Creating livable communities for all residents along the coast hinges on a commitment to five essential values: affordable housing, economic justice, environmental justice, preservation of historical communities, and human rights.
The Impact of our Work ( let’s highlight accomplishments from past campaigns) Steps was formed in 2006 to ensure that the rebirth of the Mississippi coast was accomplished with a priority toward rebuilding just and equitable communities. Mississippi has traditionally topped the nation’s list for the worst indicators including low educational attainment, low environmental quality, high poverty, and poor health outcomes. The growth and building business opportunities in Mississippi Coastal Counties bring both opportunities to improve outcomes for people in Mississippi and also threats to the quality of life if the community does not stay engaged and aware of proposed developments and projects.
Solar Together Campaign
Steps Allies have gathered enough support for a Restore Act Project to use BP oil spill Settlement money coming to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, to put solar panels on public buildings across the Coast, decreasing the cost of utilities for all taxpayers, saving
already strained public sector budgets, & seeding much needed local jobs in a 21st century growth industry. Such cost savings & jobs are particularly significant on the Gulf Coast, where a Gulf Coast Business Council study showed how the Gulf Coast economy, overly dependent on casino tourism.
Steps Coalition, Cherokee Concerned Citizens and Gulf Restoration Network, joined forces to file a lawsuit against Halter Marine under the Clean Air Act for the continued violation of its permit requirements. The lawsuit has resulted in Halter Marine being required to build a sandblast and paint building to help keep emissions out of nearby neighborhoods. The building has a budget of $7.5 million. Our advocacy and coalition building also resulted in the approval of a $500,000 Restore Act project to plan and build an Industrial Buffer between Cherokee Concerned Citizens and industry in the in Bayou Casotte industrial park. The Governors Office of Restoration announced the project.
Protecting Wetlands in North Gulfport (Butch Ward Development Project) - since 2011, Steps has led a campaign against the Port Expansion project that diverted $600 million from housing recovery money to expand the port with a promise to create thousands of jobs that have yet to be created. As part of this work, the Port Campaign Coalition has also effectively stopped development projects that threaten the flood protection of historically African American communities in North Gulfport. Also, as a result of the Port Campaign Coalition’s efforts, the Port of Gulfport agreed to participate in the Green Marine program.
Net Metering Campaign- In 2015, Steps joined an effort to ensure net metering policy was approved by the Public Service Commission. Steps convened our partners and developed a plan to collect public comments in support of the rule and helped organized a busload of local residents to attend and give public comment at the hearing. The rule successfully passed.
Moss Point Campaign for A Safe and Healthy Community (2012) - Steps successfully stopped the application to build the Leucadia Corporation Petroleum Coke Gasification Plant by providing organizing and technical support to the community. Winning tactics included community meetings, organizing a forum of experts to discuss the environmental impact and helping the community understand the reality of job creation vs. environmental impacts.
Mobilizing for Health (2016 - 2017) - Steps Coalition collaborated with Boat People SOS to form a coalition to address Language Access Barriers to Healthcare for Vietnamese children ages 0 to 8. The coalition was a success and brought 12 new members from MS Department of Health, Non- Government Community Organizations, and Vietnamese Parents. Through this coalition, we were able to engage 29 community members in focus groups to conduct a Policy, Systems Environmental Scan. We also engaged over 89 people in regular educational training related to healthcare. Finally, the coalition organized a Moon Festival which attracted over 400 community participants, during this event, 100 Vietnamese Community members received free vaccinations. Through this program healthcare providers and MS Department of Health representatives identified translation and interpretation needs.
ARTFUL ACTIVISM - In 2012 Steps organized a five-day training program for youth raising awareness on the "school to prison" pipeline through skits and a community march to the juvenile detention center. Through this campaign, Steps also organized Expungement Clinics by partnering with pro-bono attorneys and other community organizations.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For many, the storm surge took with it their homes and businesses and left behind nothing but the steps to what were once their front doors. The steps left behind in the destruction of Katrina became a symbol for all that was lost and the hope for a recovered and more resilient Mississippi Gulf Coast. As we struggled to put back together what was taken from us, it became clear that responding to the challenges that lie ahead would require better coordination and collaboration. Though the storm did not discriminate in its path of destruction, the recovery efforts that followed brought to the surface and amplified the structural inequalities facing low income, underserved, and minority communities along the coast.
In June of 2006, a group of community leaders and social justice advocates formed the Steps Coalition with the purpose of identifying ways to enhance and amplify their work toward an equitable recovery in the new postKatrina landscape. Katrina unleashed a wave of setbacks that was made worse with the impact of the Great Recession and the BP Oil Spill Disaster, setting in motion an unforgiving series of obstacles for many individuals, families, and communities along the coast. Steps Coalition and our many partners continue to address the ongoing recovery needs while envisioning and advocating for the just and equitable systems necessary to create the communities worth calling home for ALL residents living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Our Five Pillars
We must ensure affordable housing for all residents if we are to have a healthy, diverse community and robust economy.
Prosperity is the key to a community’s health and sustainability. We must invest in all communities to support working families and the overall health of the residents of South Mississippi
As we share the benefits of our progress, we must also distribute the burdens. We must maintain a healthy balance between development, communities, and natural resources.
PRESERVATION OF HISTORICAL COMMUNITIES
Every community has the right to secure its cultural history, diversity, and quality of life. We must choose rebuilding solutions that promote diverse, family friendly neighborhoods that reflect the fullness of our history and heritage.
Fairness and equity are fundamental. We must insist that fairness and equity guide how we rebuild our housing and our communities, structure our economic and political systems, and as we work to create the healthy and sustainable communities worth calling home.