Cauliflower Thinking

Fogo island is a small floret with big stories. Here, we share these stories to present varying views on life, work, and art on this island of the North Atlantic. But first, why a cauliflower?

Why a cauliflower? Shorefast Founder Zita Cobb first encountered a cauliflower after moving away from Fogo Island and it was just about the most exotic food she’d ever seen. Its structure fascinated her and it eventually became a symbol for Shorefast’s community economies theory.

The noble cauliflower is a fractal and its differently-sized florets make up a repeating pattern of beautiful clusters: some big, some small. The stem of the cauliflower directs nutrients to the individual florets. 

At Shorefast, we think about the planet and its individual places as a cauliflower. Communities are the florets, with small places like Fogo Island comprising the little florets, and big places like New York City comprising the larger ones. The stem of the cauliflower is representative of our economic systems, which, when they work as they should, hold us all together and channel nourishment to the florets to keep them thriving. When that stem becomes too self-serving, or prioritizes bigger florets over the little ones, the florets begin to suffer. 

Small places have been disappearing – in other words, small florets have been withering. When we practice business in a way that serves community and place, we ensure that the stem services the whole of the cauliflower. 

The stories told here remind us to think and act holistically and to consider the diverse lifestyles, viewpoints and experiences as making up the whole of our human experience.