Shorefast Foundation is a registered Canadian charity established in 2003. We use a new model for economic and cultural resilience that may hold learnings for small communities everywhere. Our model is based on social engagement, strategic investment in community capital, and inclusive local economies.
Fogo Island, Newfoundland – one of Canada’s oldest communities – is the current focus of our work. We believe it is possible to move toward a globalized network of intensely local places.
Shorefast operates as a social enterprise, meaning we use business minded ways to achieve social ends. The Shorefast model of social entrepreneurship is based on the following principles:
- There is inherent, irreplaceable value in place itself and that the key to sustainability lies in nurturing the specificity of place; in the intellectual heritage and cultural wisdom, talent, knowledge and abundance that exists naturally in each place;
- That with an initial investment, viable enterprises and businesses can be developed so that the surpluses from these businesses (social enterprises) contribute to the resilience and economic wellbeing of the community;
- That art is a way of knowing, of belonging, of questioning, of innovating. It is a way of participating in a global conversation and a way of making sense of the world. As such, it has the potential to contribute to positive social change.
On Fogo Island, the Shorefast Foundation approach to community revitalization has been to focus on three distinct elements:
- Fogo Island Arts, a not-for-profit organization that facilitates artistic practice that is contemporary, local in context and global in scope;
- The development of a geotourism industry, with the construction of the Fogo Island Inn and the creation of a guest experience that is recognized among the best in the world;
- The development of a micro‐lending program where entrepreneurs can establish and grow their own small businesses on Fogo Island.
The significant success achieved by Shorefast to date illustrates that reviving rural communities is possible; that the inherent value of rural places can be reclaimed and made relevant for the 21st century; that losing our rural communities and the human ways of knowing they contain is neither inevitable or necessary.
Shorefast is engaged in developing tools and resources for other small communities to use. We believe that our approach and processes can translate well to other places. The 11 communities on Fogo Island are good proxies for other small communities and a small island is a good proxy for a small planet.
We are excited by what small communities and big communities can learn from and contribute to each other.
A shorefast is the line and mooring used to attach a cod trap to the shore. It is a strong symbol of the cod fishing heritage of the islands and a metaphor for being bound to place and community. We chose this name because it symbolizes our belief in the importance of community and culture, and in the power of authentic connections between individuals and their communities, to culture and natural place.