The following story was published Friday (Oct. 14th, 2011) on the VOCM website.
Born on Fogo Island, Zita Cobb says the two biggest threats to outport culture are what she describes as today's "big-box-franchise" mentality, and a cod fishery on the brink of extinction.
Cobb is behind one of the largest projects ever attempted to preserve even a small portion of rural Newfoundland.
With the help of family and locals on her home island of Fogo, Cobb is constructing a $25-million artist and hospitality escape.
She says this is a precarious time for the province because, if something isn't done now, Cobb believes we are going to become disconnected from our sense of community and past.
The most tragic thing that could happen, she says — and it's happening now — is for a son not to understand his father's life.
If that cultural and familial distancing continues, she says, we risk losing rural culture and mindsets that are so fundamental to this province's identity.
Cobb spoke at an international conference this morning in St. John's about culture and economic development.
Cobb's Shorefast Foundation purchased and restored old saltboxes and churches on Fogo, trying to keep rural Newfoundland tangible for generations to come.
She says Fogo still has a fishery. Without it, Cobb says, everything that her foundation is doing would have been for nothing.
She says Fogo Island is still a place of nature — berries, birds, fish and seals — which, she says, makes Fogo what it is today.
All of those things, Cobb says, are what Fogo's stories are about.