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A Year of Hope and Healing

Salvation South came to life one year ago, and now we need your help to keep it alive.

I’ll never forget the day, one year ago, when we announced our plans to launch this weekly online magazine of Southern storytelling. It was a gigantic leap of faith. All we could offer you was a statement of our intentions — and, in return, we asked for the financial support we needed to launch the site. 

And you came through — even in the middle of a pandemic. Thank you.

More than 400 of you contributed to our launch campaign and gave us almost $45,000. Three weeks later, on November 22, we kicked off Salvation South with a beautiful essay called “But I Have Hope” by Russell Worth Parker of Wilmington, North Carolina. 

“It takes work to seek refuge in the small details and quiet voices,” Worth wrote in that essay. “It’s far safer to withdraw into our camps, staring suspiciously out through the blinds, and counting the ways our neighbors have wounded us. But I hope extending grace to one another can yet save us from another foregone conclusion. I hope you’re willing to do the work. I’d be lying if I said I have what it takes every day. But I have hope.”

To my partner (and dear wife) Stacy and me, Worth’s words were a letter-perfect expression of Salvation South’s purpose. When we first asked for your help to get this site off the ground, we told you this: “Salvation South is inspired by hope and healing and — most importantly — the desire to create a place on the web and a community of people where civil conversation can happen.”

Every week for the past year, we’ve brought you stories that offer doses of hope and healing. We want to keep those stories coming to you, and we need your help to do that as we go into year two.

Our initial launch campaign last November asked y’all for one-time contributions. Today, we’re asking you to make an ongoing pledge to support Salvation South, by subscribing to one of our recurring plans. You can do that for as little as $5 a month, with other options going all the way up to $250 per year. For your subscription, you’ll get anywhere from a 10 percent to 20 percent discount in the Salvation South Store — a little corner of our world that’s full of positive Southern goodness that you can wear on your body or spread throughout your home. You'll also get our undying gratitude.

Our publication survives thanks to the support of folks like you — good Southern people who still, despite all the current difficulties, hold high hopes for the future of our region.

But perhaps the most important thing you’ll get in return is the knowledge that you are supporting a young publishing organization that wants to give its readers a place to take a deep breath and contemplate — a spot on the web that is not filled with hateful mudslinging. Instead, we offer you a stream of stories that bring you some knowledge and some hope that we can work together to move beyond the misunderstandings and strife that plague our nation and our region.

Over the past year, our stories have run the gamut, thanks to the host of Southern writers who’ve brought their work to us — and to you, dear reader. We’ve been privileged to feature the work of standout novelists like Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Susan Rebecca White and Charles McNair. Influential journalists like Cynthia Tucker, Holly Gleason, Jordan Blumetti, Frye Gaillard, Don Schanche and Richard Murff. And tremendous essayists like Janisse Ray, Kathleen Purvis, Sybil Rosen and Shelley Johansson. Rob Rushin-Knopf, our “culture warrior,” took you on a three-part tour through Knoxville’s groundbreaking Big Ears Festival. He also turned you on to music you’ve never heard from talented artists like Willi Carlisle, Yasmin Williams, Jake Blount, the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys and many others. We even had musicians like Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor step up to the plate with provocative prose. 

At the bottom of this story, you’ll find a display linking to some of our favorite pieces from our first year. If you missed any, we hope you’ll find the time to catch up. 

Salvation South has also become a home to some delightful Southern poetry and fiction. To date, we’ve published the work of 18 Southern poets and the work of five short-story writers.

Back in April, we were delighted to curate the Salvation South Stage at the Word of South Festival in Tallahassee, Florida. Imagine your favorite music and literary festivals mashed up together, and you have Word of South.  In 2023 — on April 22 and 23 — we’ll fill our Saturday with a partnership with the Music Maker Foundation of Hillsborough, North Carolina. With Music Maker’s help, we’ll feature the amazing North Carolina gospel group the Dedicated Men of Zion, led by Amp Daniels, along with his father Johnny Ray Daniels and their cousins Faith & Harmony for a hard-grooving “sacred soul” extravaganza. And on Sunday, we'll partner up with the great indie label Single Lock Records out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Our Sunday headliner will be the great John Paul White, and we’ll have two other Single Lock artists — the Prescriptions and Duquette Johnston.

Y’all come to Tallahassee in April and join us for a wonderful weekend of music, Salvation South-style.

We’ve also ventured into the world of audio programming. Back in the summer, Georgia Public Broadcasting invited me to appear every Friday to share a short commentary about the South with their listeners. Those commentaries are catching people’s ears. They air every Friday on all 17 GPB radio stations — at 7:45 a.m. during “Morning Edition” and at 4:44 p.m. during “All Things Considered.” You can listen to every commentary I’ve done right here on Salvation South’s “Listen” page. 

And we’re in the middle of exploring some bigger opportunities for audio programming with GPB. Stay tuned for news about that.

Finally, we’re also exploring a content partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to help us find new ways of covering issues of faith — because you can’t cover a region like the South and ignore such matters.

If you decide to join the Salvation South Family during this first-anniversary membership drive, you’ll have the knowledge that you are creating a place where such great work can be published and heard. Our publication survives thanks to the support of folks like you — good Southern people who still, despite all the current difficulties, hold high hopes for the future of our region. And we like to think that the stories we publish and the conversations we start will help to bring that better future to life.

Please help us. Tell your friends about Salvation South and ask them to pitch in. And always remember, we love you — and there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it. 

Story Highlights From the First Year of Salvation South

"But I Have Hope" by Russell Worth Parker

"Reconciliation Road" by Maurice Carlos Ruffin and Tad Bartlett

"Hope Is a Place" by Marianne Leek

"The Elephant in the Room" by Charles McNair

"Silas House Speaks the Truth" by Holly Gleason

"Sewing Lessons" by Shelley Johansson

"The Big Red F.U." by Ketch Secor

"A Recalcitrant Mule" by Janisse Ray

"Paradise" by Sybil Rosen

"The Casserole Mindset" by Amanda Dobbs

"Repeatedly Almost Famous" by Don Schanche

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