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Reflections on The Second Annual Gathering of the Pearl

Live Performance by the Pearl Psychedelic Institute's House Band
Live Performance by the Pearl Psychedelic Institute's House Band

I knew the annual fundraiser for the Pearl Psychedelic Institute would be bigger than last year, by virtue of the venue. But, having put on my fair share of nonprofit events, turnout is never guaranteed.

Case in point: I was coming from another fundraiser, 40th Anniversary party at one of Asheville’s premiere music venues. Turnout was acceptable and lots of money was raised.

But, when I got to Highland Brewing, the line was out the door. I was shocked. I couldn’t get in. I sat outside and chatted up some friends.

People charting & eating at a Pearl event

I was also impressed by the “scene.” The attendees could easily be mistaken for those at a pregame event for a more mature and refined rock n roll show in town. But this was a nonprofit fundraiser for an organization pioneering PTSD treatments. There was a buffet and a silent auction, and a rather tiny Admission fee.

Every table was filled and folks lined the walls.

tables filled with happy people

A special energy moved through the event hall as well. People want an answer to mental health that is more than a Band-Aid. And they’re willing to invest their time and money into new horizons of healthcare. We all deserve more. Everyone in that room knows that mental health and psychotherapy is no different than physical therapy. Negative mental health stigma has lasted far too long and caused damage beyond measure.

Every speaker was given the respect of an attentive and invested audience at rapt attention.

Ehren Cruz holding a microphone
Ehren Cruz, Event M.C.

We now have data to support the use of revolutionary treatments that could dramatically reduce the harmful incidence and proliferation of trauma and PTSD. As someone who has been in human service for many years, we’re always looking to interrupt the problem at the root. If someone is hungry, we give them food. But we also want to know why they’re hungry so that we can address that need in an ongoing sense.

Teach a man to fish, if you will…

Now we have hope. Just like last year’s fundraiser where I was first exposed to these practices and

associated data, I was energized. I was hopeful and I remain ever more hopeful at how the verve

people listening to a presenter at the Pearl's gathering

for change is rapidly spreading. The more people we can get to invest time, money, and attention, the more likely we are to ensure more than just compassionate use cases in clinical trials. If we keep packing rooms like this, we can help the Pearl become a training center for more therapists to take these treatments back to their own communities. Exponential growth is the key. As one speaker eloquently pointed out, trauma is invisible. People with PTSD, complex PTSD, or trauma influenced conditions can be helped. We can expand these treatments and help to interrupt destructive and dangerous cycles. In doing so, we allow people to have an improved quality of life and go back to being better parents, siblings, coworkers, and leaders - or even just staying alive.

Live Performance by Free Planet Radio
Live Performance by Free Planet Radio

2022 to 2023 at the Pearl Psychedelic Institute has been one of growth and expansion of resources and awareness.

People sitting at tables at Highland Brewing

I remain hopeful that people who deserve a quality of life that these treatments provide will have easier and more available access in the not too distant future. For now we remain grateful for where we are - and where we are headed.


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