Award-winning author to kick off innovative strategy aimed at combatting dual crises of substance use disorders and suicide 

BANGOR — With two public health crises intensifying in Maine, the Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center is launching its monthly Creative Recovery Initiative Aug. 8 with a program featuring remarks and a reading by award-winning poet Arisa White, who will then present awards in our creative writing contest to people who are in recovery in Maine. 

“Maine’s suicide rate grew 48 percent from 2008-2017,” said Jacquie Wilks, program director of Together Place and Maine Mental Health Connections. “In one of the top 10 overdose states, a recent study said Penobscot and Washington Counties are hardest hit within Maine. Together Place, located in one of Maine’s highest overdose neighborhoods, is ready to meet this challenge.”

Together Place is leading the Creative Recovery Initiative which acts on studies, such as in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology, showing creative expression helps sustain long-term recovery. A participant in one of our pilot Creative Recovery groups: “I have participated in Together Place’s annual writing contest as well as mental health groups, including Creative Recovery groups. I have found that the outlet of creative writing, and having a place to get reactions to my ideas, has benefited my mental health, gathering people with similar interests facing similar situations.” 

The first monthly Creative Coffee House will be presented both online and with limited in-person seating (with advance reservation to ensure social distancing). 

Recently renovated, Together Place features murals depicting Maine artists, historical figures and athletes. Inside our “Stories of Maine” – Maine’s only museum of literature and humanities — displays nearly 70 images and stories of Maine books, writers, performers and artists.  

With much higher suicide and overdose rates than the nation, with overdoses increasing even more during the pandemic, Together Place is leading with three steps to community recovery:

  1. Creative Recovery groups will compensate writers, musicians and artists to facilitate creative expression by our members, while similarly compensating tradespeople such as electricians and carpenters to facilitate vocational groups; 
  2. A monthly Creative Coffee House Speakers Series will enhance Bangor as a City of writers and artists, hosted by our members, thus decrease stigma and increasing direct community involvement and interaction with our members.
  3. A newly renovated Together Place is hosting neighborhood improvement meetings in what is probably the highest overdose neighborhood in Maine. 

Together Place is creating a tradition in the humanities that enhances our city with a specific plan for significant positive impact on two of the most difficult issues Maine faces. 

Together Place groups are all free as are our one-on-one sessions, also moderated by Certified Intentional Peer Support Specialists (CIPSS) who have extra training to work with people in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. 

What: Launch of Creative Recovery Initiative

Where: Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center, 2 Second Street, Bangor

When: Saturday, Aug. 8 3 p.m.

Who: Guest speaker, Arisa White, five-time Pushcart Prize nominated poet, and nominee for the NAACP Image Award. Her most recent work was nominated for the LAMBDA Literary Award, the premier LGBTQ literary award. Arisa White will be introduced by a winner in last year’s creative writing contest. 

Sponsors: The Bangor Daily News is sponsoring the entire Creative Recovery Initiative for a year. Bangor Pride and Health Equity Alliance are sponsoring the August 8 event. 

Contact: Sean Faircloth: 207-307-9868