Our Approach

We see community as the unit of change to create economic resilience, both locally and on a global scale.

There are many types of communities: communities of shared identity, communities formed from shared experience, and communities formed from geography.  Many of us are part of multiple communities.  At Shorefast, we focus on communities formed by place. As humans, we are bound to physical communities, and all their contradictions. Communities are where lives are lived and relationships play out between people and planet, nature and culture. It follows, then, that communities are the key to creating the foundation for a caring world.

the challenge

Our global economic systems are often inhospitable to people and places. The problems we face in both our communities and the environment are rooted in how these systems function.


How can we create an economy in service of nature and culture

—in service of place?

We believe part of the answer lies in grounding economies in the places where people live: local communities.

When we build equitable and regenerative community economies, we’re building the foundation for a global economy that serves the full ecosystem of life on our planet.

Our practice is founded on Asset-Based Community Development – activating and building on the natural and human assets of a place.

We look for what’s strong, rather than what’s wrong.

Our deep experience on the ground on Fogo Island is always complemented by connecting to the broader world: holding on and reaching out.

We understand that the answers are in the work, in the doing. We are first and foremost practitioners, while always linking the practice into thought leadership. The intent of our work is to contribute to developing architectures for the success of communities.


To unleash the power of place for local communities to thrive in the global economy.

“A small island is a good proxy for a small planet. And Fogo Island is a good proxy for any community that is trying to belong to the world. Replace ‘Fogo Island’ with the name of a community you care about; our work holds learnings for countless other places.”

— Zita Cobb, Founder & CEO

As a social enterprise that brings together world-class community businesses and programming, we are proudly many things. Meaningful change is only possible when we embrace the challenge of working in the whole.

Our Practice of Change

At Shorefast, we hold community as the critical unit of change.

When community is elevated to a unit of analysis and intentional design, we can find local solutions with potential to solve global challenges. 

We help enable communities to exercise agency over their economic fates and futures.

We invest in knowledge sets and structures that are meant to provide communities of all sizes access to: financial capital, economic data, professional skillsets, entrepreneurial mentorship, financial literacy toolsets, and best and promising community economic development practices.

We collaborate with the three pillars of society: community, government, business.

Shorefast is helping to promote new architectures for collaboration and coalition-building. With a ground-up, top-down approach we can develop an economy that cultivates a greater sense of connection to each other and to our planet.

We unleash the power of place so local communities can thrive in the global economy.

The global economy is the sum of its local parts. By strengthening community economies, Shorefast is helping to build the foundation for a global economic order that supports the full ecosystem of life.

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