SpokenCoast Mission Statement
To foster support and hope to those struggling through a major life challenge, who may not be receiving the support they need in their communities.
Who is Marissa, The Founder of The SpokenCoast Project?
Marissa Krupa is a 30-something Chicago native, and graduate of Colorado College. She rode the hi-tech gravy train in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, then was transformed by the courageous battle her mother and brother fought with cancer. In a bold move, she left her office job to build a community of hope based on the transformation of others who have faced a life challenge. She likes rock climbing, riding motorcycles, telemark skiing, reading & creative writing. Marissa is passionate about spending time with family & friends, and making sure her lifestyle leaves plenty of space for that. Marissa believes in living simply and only purchasing what you need, which helps keep a check on her high-heel shoe addiction. She is deeply grateful to her parents for getting her in the outdoors at an early age; her greatest triumphs over her deepest fears have occurred in nature.
What is The SpokenCoast project?
Have you ever gone through a major life challenge and not felt supported? Have you ever wondered how some people seem to thrive during these hardships, while others suffer?
We can’t always know what life will bring us next. Life’s surprises come when we least expect it; a gift one day, a disaster the next. It’s the challenges and unexpected crises that knock us off balance. They make us feel small, unprepared, unequipped, alone and scared.
At one time or another we all struggle with tragedy. The Spoken Coast Project was created to gather these personal stories of overcoming major challenges in order to create an empowering resource for the rest of us. Marissa Krupa will travel along the coastline from Alaska to Chile capturing stories of positive transformation through personal hardship, inspiring her to climb 6 mountain peaks for her own transformational journey.
The Spoken Coast Project is an exploration and experience in the transformational power of facing life’s unexpected challenges head on. Similar to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better”, The Spoken Coast Project is a support system to anyone who feels they can’t overcome. Now anyone who feels alone in facing a major life tragedy can look to The Spoken Coast Project and become part of this community.
While on this quest, Marissa Krupa – the project’s creator and interviewer, will summit several significant peaks to honor her mountaineer brother who was recently lost to cancer. A memorial will be left at the top of each peak. In this way, Marissa hopes to transform her loss into something that can benefit others, via the documentary film of the journey.
Why is Marissa making this journey?
In February 2011, I lost my brother to cancer. He was 42 years old. In January 2012, I lost my mother to cancer, at age 66. They both had brain tumors, but my brother’s tumor appeared on his spinal cord. Despite operations, radiation and chemo, doctors said he would slowly succumb to quadripilegia, which he did. Sadly, my mom also lost her battle, after an additional year of fighting with chemo round after chemo round. Parkinson’s had developed also, adding to her complications.
My brother Mickey Krupa was a gifted outdoor athlete and educator. He taught telemark skiing at Beaver Creek, CO for almost 20 years. He touched almost everyone he met. Mickey and his wife had two beautiful sons. They adored their dad. He was an excellent care-giver, and extremely handy with all things mechanical, like cars, and building projects like remodeling his living room. He had a zest for life & being in the moment that is quite rare. He left a legacy of laughter & smiles.
My mom Margarita Krupa was an intellectual mastermind. She had a voracious appetite for knowledge, and read up about all sorts of things. Often she would visit her cancer doctors, and tell them more than they knew about the latest cancer research! She loved to travel, and graciously passed this gift on to me. My mom was also an incredible cook, and fed us kids well, no matter what was happening in her world. She survived many challenges in life, and always found a way to crack a joke, usually a pun or some other form of wit.
Needless to say, this is an awful lot for one person to handle. Before my mom & brother’s death, upon returning to Oakland, CA after visiting them, my brain & my heart were both disoriented and stunned. Re-entry into my stressful corporate job became more & more difficult each time. I saw the futility of my daily world: mountains of emails piled up, meetings double & triple booked on my calendar, building reports at the last minute, etc., etc.
I needed help to just cope with it all. When I searched for that help, I only found one cancer support group at a time during the day when I couldn’t attend, and one grief group that only allowed entry if you actually lost a loved one.
I began to wonder, how do other people navigate a gauntlet of obstacles like this? How do some people seem smiling, cheerful, & happy in the face of such large challenges? My desire to find out resulted in the concept for this community.
The confusing doctor’s visits, the times I had to pick my brother up from the floor because his legs gave out, the times I shuttled my mom to the radiation clinic, all those times, everything, taught me patience and letting go. These experiences collectively inspired me to live a life I’ve always wanted, away from a desk job, into the outdoors. Coming out the other side, I now feel a sense of peace. Loss, fear, pain, and anger are there, too. But, there is a distinct sense of peace all around me now.
Even so, I’m unsure how I made it through. Many days seemed bleak, and my attitude wallowed in anger, fear, resentment and pain, especially when I sought support, and didn’t get that need met. I figured there must be others out in the world like me, who are struggling to get support, or who need additional support, for a life crisis, just as there are others who came out the other side of an intense dilemma and have now found calm.
This journey is not simply about me and my personal tragedy. This journey is about the human experience of suffering, and how people find a way to move through suffering to reach peace. To help me transform my own story of loss, I want to give something back to the world. I don’t want my story to be about selfishness, and wallowing in grief. I want my story to be one of bringing people together based on their experiences, to offer hope & strength to those that are struggling. I want my story to be about transformation, about how change is ok if you let it be, and about the resilience of the human spirit. The world is rapidly changing all around us. Cultivating these qualities in our communities will be essential to make the world livable and humane in the next 25 years.
What are the components of this journey?
- Conducting interviews of local people that live along the Pacific Coast, for their personal stories of triumph over challenging times.
- Climbing several peaks along the way, leaving a memorial for Mickey Krupa (the brother of the project creator) at the top of each peak.
Why the Pacific Coast?
The coast of a continent symbolizes many things. It is a jumping-off point; it is a place where two kinds of material, land & water, intersect; it is a representation of the mental state of surrender to a void; it is the beginning of a life under the surface, hidden from visual view.
The coast is a physical representation of the mental process of transformation. Often in the English-speaking world, people use phrases like, “I was on the edge…”, “Leap of faith…”, and “Pushed me over the edge…” to describe a mental state of strain that lead to rapid movement. Therefore, it’s a fitting place to learn how people have successfully transformed a tragic life situation into joy.
Additionally, the interviews will reveal if the coast, the ocean, and the coastal flora/fauna has any impact on the psyche of the interviewees. The stories will tell us how this specific type of nature plays a role in the lives of those who live “on the edge of the world”, along the Pacific Coast.
And, the project creator, Marissa Krupa, had never been to South America before. This route gives her that opportunity.
How can I help Marissa on her journey?
That’s great! Your support is appreciated. Thank you in advance.
There are many ways to participate. Just check out our donation page for all the ways you can support The Spoken Coast Project.