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The ideas, thoughts and dreams for The Surviving Spirit

The Surviving Spirit had its origins a long time ago in the mid-nineties. As a musician I had many unique opportunities to perform in different venues that would have a fair amount of folks in attendance who were dealing with the concerns of trauma, abuse, or mental health [mental illness]. These performances took place in peer support centers, psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, conferences, workshops, outdoor events, festivals, fairs, rallies, fundraising events and so much more. I was always blown away by the amount of people who not only shared parts of their difficult lives with me, but who also had these incredible gifts and creative talents — whether as an artist, musician, author, crafts person, photographer, author, writer, sculptor, poet, etc. Their listing of talents covers all styles and genres. Many others would also contact me through my website and send me information on their respective creative abilities.

I also got to see this same amount of incredible talent as an advocate involved in several efforts to help those affected by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns.

This got me to thinking on all of this creativity out there and how could their talents be displayed, marketed and sold to the general public. I became aware of some places that would feature the creative works of people affected by trauma, abuse, and mental health, but sadly, many of these places wouldn't last, or they lacked the business skills to take it to the next level. These retail galleries had the talent, the desire and the passion, but for many, the business acumen was missing.

While contemplating and thinking of how could an organization be effective in helping to promote, market and sell the creative works of these talented individuals, I was also mindful of how their unique talents showed that they transcended their illness and their health concerns. Sadly, so many of these wonderful people had been marginalized in life and yet their creativity and skills showed the exact opposite. To showcase the creative works of these folks could also do so much in helping to dispel some myths, fears, and misperceptions of those dealing with trauma and abuse and the label of mental illness. To be able to also address the concerns of stigma and discrimination and offering Hope, Healing, & Help in this endeavor became the dream of The Surviving Spirit.

The first step taken to help fulfill this dream was the creation of a newsletter many years ago titled "Survivor Friends & Friends of Survivors" in which websites, books, music, art, events, and so much more was shared with a mailing list of several hundred people. That list has grown to several thousand and many others in turn pass it on to their respective e-mail lists and now the newsletter is aptly titled "The Surviving Spirit — Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts." The newsletter now reaches people all over the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, many parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Switzerland, Israel, Kenya, Jamaica, South Africa and parts of South America.

The second step to this endeavor was the formation of a nonprofit, The Surviving Spirit with a dedicated, caring and passionate group of people who believe in the mission and the vision to help this effort succeed on all levels. The creation of this website is part of that step. We have many more to climb in our efforts and obstacles to overcome, but as a group we truly believe we will accomplish the goals and the dreams of being able to effectively promote, market and sell the creative works of people impacted by trauma, abuse, and mental health concerns via a website, newsletter, retail gallery, and Speakers Bureau. We hope you join us in this effort.

Thank you & take care, Michael Skinner