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Fogo Island Inn: a dream worth dreaming


Dear Editor, I have been reading the propaganda and criticisms of Zita Cobb's Fogo Island Inn project. More than a few have expressed a pessimistic view on its prospects for success and perhaps a little cynicism as well. The cynicism arises from this particular use of government money and the rather exclusive clientele who can afford to stay there. I must admit those were my initial thoughts. But perhaps I was too quick to judgment, because I'm not so certain anymore.

In order to understand the Baroness of Fogo (no sarcasm intended, just my pet name for her), I think we are obliged to take her at her word and that all of this is a sincere effort to do something for her native island and the province. As she says, "to do nothing is a risk." More than that, to do nothing is downright shameful.

As I understand it, she has (1) put a substantial amount of her own money into the project without any expectations of a personal return on investment. (2) There are no shareholders expecting a dividend or financial reward. (3) Should the project be profitable, all the surplus goes to a trust fund to improve the prospects of Fogo Island. (4) The project has created employment opportunities, however, I have no idea of how potential losses, should they occur, are to be sustained.

If this is all true, I believe we are all obliged to support this project in any way we can. This lady is a dreamer and I was always a sucker for dreamers, for utopias, for places that don't exist.

Dreaming, which arises from the imagination, is a fundamental element of art in general and of who we are as human beings. It's part of a process whereby horizons are constantly challenged, constantly tested. It is quite possible that in developing her "impossible dream" the Baroness has managed to amalgamate this kind of thinking in, of all things, the often cold and sometimes petty world of business.

It's a fascinating prospect when you really think of it. But if she fails it will be an embarrassment of "cucumber" proportions. All the more reason to admire and support the effort.

I remain disappointed that there is no room at the inn for most of us. The Baroness should have found a way to make the place more inclusive, difficult though that may be given her business plan.

For myself, I would consider a cup of tea at Wallace Rowe's kitchen table in Seldom of inestimable more value than any hotel. This lady may or may not be misguided from a practical perspective, but I do think she is sincere and I wish her all the best of good luck.

I come from Gasker Allan and Julia Annie of Seldom-Come-By, and I know a little of this place.

Robert Rowe

St. John's

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