A Conversation with Zita Cobb

In Retelling: A Conversation with Zita Cobb, you encounter a gifted storyteller sharing her craft. The conversation was filmed at Innovation Works in London, Ontario in March 2017 as an extension of the Public Matters Speaker Series hosted at Museum London in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Western University. Topics covered include: (1) life on Fogo Island from past to present; (2) the continued impact of the Fogo Process, a participatory filmmaking project; and (3) the groundbreaking work of Shorefast, a registered Canadian charity.

Watch Zita Cobb tell her story


Who is Zita Cobb?

Zita Cobb is Founder and CEO of Shorefast and Innkeeper of the Fogo Island Inn. A registered Canadian charity, Shorefast uses business-minded means to help secure economic and cultural resilience for Fogo Island, Newfoundland: one of Canada’s oldest settlements. Following a successful career in high-tech, Zita returned to her home of Fogo Island to help grow another leg on the economy of this singular rural place. Shorefast’s notable achievements to date comprise a holistic set of charitable initiatives, including the world-class artist-in-residence program Fogo Island Arts (fogoislandarts.ca), and three innovative social businesses whose operating surpluses are returned to Shorefast for reinvestment in further community development work. Specifically, Shorefast is behind the award-winning, 29-suite Fogo Island Inn (fogoislandinn.ca), the Fogo Island Shop (fogoislandshop.ca), and Fogo Island Fish. Shorefast has pioneered the innovative practice economic nutrition labelling for its social businesses, transparently demonstrating “where the money goes.”

For more on Shorefast →


“And so when we started these projects under Shorefast, we definitely tried to work with stories and tell stories in contemporary ways as well.”

— Zita Cobb



The Fogo Process begins as a collaborative film and social development project between the National Film Board of Canada and Memorial University of Newfoundland with the people of Fogo Island.


Zita, Alan, and Anthony Cobb form Shorefast as a registered Canadian charity dedicated to continuing the legacy of the Fogo Process and building cultural and economic resilience on Fogo Island. 


Zita Cobb travels across the nation to discuss the Fogo Process and the role of arts in developing the place-based economics practiced by Shorefast to the benefit of Fogo Island. 


About the Creators

Joel R. Burton

A PhD Candidate in English at Western University. Maintains lifelong connection to the people and traditions of Atlantic Canada. Supports diverse forms of knowledge and public engagement in the arts with an emphasis on storytelling. Committed to continuing to find ways to use narrative and conversation as methods of learning and research in the humanities and beyond. Founding member of the Public Humanities at Western and Volunteer Coordinator at Words Literary and Creative Arts Festival in London, Ontario.

Adam Helmers

A photographer, filmmaker, designer, and writer. Graduate of the inaugural class of the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts & Humanities (SASAH) at Western University. Has a passion for telling stories through music, cinema, and words. Dreams of working to make a difference for others through community organizations, specifically those who are a part of his local. Believes in the value of the humanities for all and embraces learning and development through real and authentic relationships.


A Note on the Production

Adam Helmers, Filmmaker

Because of production limitations; one week to prepare, one available camera, and no ideal environment, it first made sense to produce only an audio experience of this conversation. Then, we sat down to begin post production and the creative thought of combining storytelling, the Fogo Process, and Zita Cobb herself led to an experimental drive to present research in a new way. This inspired the decision to craft a story contained both in the audio and visuals of the conversation.