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Philanthropist Zita Cobb To Speak In Sag Harbor About The Revitalization Of Fogo Island

Olivia Rutigliano

The Fogo Island Inn, designed by architect Todd Saunders. (Photo: Courtesy of Fogo Island Inn)

The extraordinary Zita Cobb will speak at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor on Saturday, June 2 about her critical role in building another economic leg on Fogo Island during an event sponsored by The Sag Harbor Partnership and artist Eric Fischl.

The small island that lies off the coast of the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Canada was home to Cobb who grew up with no plumbing or electricity. She eventually left the island, became a powerhouse pioneer in fiber optics, made a fortune and then retired back home to Fogo Island. At the time of her return, the economy had severely declined as a result of the collapse of the cod fishing industry and was in such despair that the government had considered moving residents to other parts of Canada.

Cobb spearheaded an initiative to access the global economy through film, art, and the talents of Fogo residents. One result was the Fogo Island Inn, an architectural wonder and a social business that graciously gives all surpluses to Shorefast, a charity that Cobb founded with her brothers Tony and Alan Cobb. The charity then reinvests funds back into the community via other charitable programs such as Fogo Island Arts and Geology at the Edge as well as continually expanding other initiatives.

Fischl will interview Cobb after the talk. "I was lucky enough to hear her speak last year," he explained. "She brilliantly shows how a community can reinvent itself, something Sag Harbor has done many times in its own history since the 1800s. She's also an example of how one philanthropic person working deeply within a community can have tremendous impact."

April Gornik, Fischl's wife and Vice President of the Sag Harbor Partnership, adds, "Zita provides a paradigm of what a community interacting with its place in the world could be."

Cobb plans to show the remarkable landscape, people and architecture of Fogo and discuss her economic philosophy, placing a heavy emphasis on the sustainability, social business, and the vitality that film and art can bring to a community.

"Shorefast and Fogo Island Inn continue to believe that art and film have key roles in telling our stories and preserving traditional knowledge and culture," Cobb explained.

The event is free, but reservations are necessary. The conversation will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Pierson High School is located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor. For more information and to reserve tickets, visit sagharborpartnership.org.




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