“The Coral Sings of Hope” by Katie Rose Gurkin
Administrator’s note: “Katie Rose” Gurkin (full name: Katherine Rose Maurine Victoria Gurkin) is our god child. She and her parents recently traveled with us to Misool Eco Resort (Feb. 2020). Katie lives life to the fullest. The following is her unique interpretation of that trip.
“Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world.”
Joanna Macy, Ph.D, Author and Teacher, Respected Voice for peace
The Coral Sings of Hope
“I believe there is no greater journey than the one we dare to live in the present… to bask under open skies and admire what has already been done.”
Katie Rose Gurkin, Visual Artist, Storyteller, Student, Teacher, Explorer
I was one of the lucky ones, where I was raised knowing the water was part of who I am. I grew up on Lakehurst Road, an eclectic home at the end of a cedar lined lane that rolled into the dammed belly of the Colorado River. It was there my family made peace over long boat rides to nowhere. It’s where I learned I could steer my life in the direction I desire, wild banshee blonde mane blowing in the wind from the captain’s seat. When I wasn’t ushering the wheel, I’d take the momentum’s breeze in from the bow of the boat, tear all the clothes off my 3-year-old body and joyfully wrap my arms around our standard poodle. Both of us with big wind-swept smiles, squinting into the horizon, naked as we came.
Two decades later, clothed, but still delightfully as tickled, I’d take in that same cool breeze from the other side of the world. Floating on the surface of one of the most biodiverse and naturally sanctioned oceanic pockets on the planet. Most nights at Misool I’d paddle away from the warm glow and laughter of the dinner table to our end of the island. Sending ripples through a black hallway of night, with just the starlight peeking through keyholes to other worlds. My board would sway with the gushing winds of the ocean’s breath lapping me. I’d ride like I was atop a brave gull soaring above the water with dozens of shades of dashing carnivores, curiously trafficking beneath me. An entire island dedicated solely to keeping these living shadows below as constant as the stars above. As I’d paddle around the bend, a group of Indonesian men would smile ‘good night’, with just their grinning string of pearls visible from the dock lookout. The dedicated guardians of a great and naturally prepared gift.
The best I’ve seen in humankind is in its stewards. Souls that tend to a nurturing mission with their whole heart, whether it be a small café filled with so much love and intentionality it becomes a womb for your creative thoughts over tea, or a homeless ministry that shows how fun it is to let full cups runneth over. Misool is one of these jewels in the crown of life. I have never met individuals as foolish, selfless and incredibly brave in their visionary action as the team behind Misool. One of the greatest leaders of this foundation, is a seven-year-old with blonde hair down to his hips named Sahul (Andy and Marit’s son), who is totally running the show. “How many people are in your family?” his teacher asked him, “135” Sahul smiled assuredly. He’s grown up alongside a band of brothers and sisters that look nothing like him. The western child of two dreamers, who bloomed where he was planted— smack in the exotic middle of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. And bloom he does, joyfully alongside all that is around him. If you’ve ever observed the way staff can be treated when people arrive with deep pockets and high expectations, you can’t help but wonder if everyone from the bottom up is getting the encouragement we all need. Sahul’s love for his team reminds me that it’s in our nature to see us all as family. I have faith in Marit and Andy and Sahul’s leadership to shine a way for business to do good for all of life on earth while doing well.
The Misool Foundation’s mission is self-evident through the continuous spring of their humanitarian gifts to those who lived in the land before them and in the unprecedented resurgence of biomass encompassing their resort funded coral restoration and no-take-zone. The gravitational pull of their impact has scholars and leaders in science and conservation around the world leaning in. In 2017 the foundation became a Mission Blue Hope Spot, which means that the benefit of their 300,000 acres of salty sanctioned marine preservation was so positive that it dramatically improved the fate of our oceans and all crawling critters, aka, us. “Misool represents one of the most pristine reef systems left on earth — one of only a handful of places in the universe where biodiversity is improving rather than declining.” – Dr. Mark Erdmann, marine biologist, coral reef ecologist, and Vice President of Conservation International’s Asia-Pacific marine programs”.