Preserving the Good Life
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Along the way, inspired in part by Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth," Lamprey Brothers sponsored an event, emceed by Lamprey herself, that was designed, she says, to "begin where Al Gore's documentary left off." Panelists included Richard Trethewey, host of "This Old House"; Tom Kelly, UNH's chief sustainability officer; and Cameron Wake '93G, a UNH associate research professor who leads programs to assess the impact of climate change in New England and to reconstruct historic climate change from glacial ice cores. The 2007 event, called "This Old Planet Needs a Friend," was the start of Lamprey's engagement with the university, and in particular, with the Sustainability Institute, the oldest endowed program of its kind in the country.

Bruce Cramer
CHANGING TIDE: Kaci and Kile take Jo Lamprey for a walk on North Hampton beach.

"I was deeply touched by what I learned from Tom and Cam," says Lamprey, who last summer established the Josephine A. Lamprey Fellowship in Climate and Sustainability. "The more we talked, the more I felt we had to contribute something." Lamprey's gift, which supports a five-year fellowship currently held by Wake, is designed to promote more focus on the climate and energy issues she believes are directly related to biodiversity and ecosystems, food systems and culture. Wake is most excited about helping the institute focus more on developing solutions by working with external partners who can have an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "Jo's gift gets to the real heart of what we need to do next," Kelly says.

Lamprey's hope is that her gift will take the nationally recognized work UNH is doing beyond incubation. "We need to begin modeling solutions on a scale where people can see a difference—not to simply sustain the good life we have, but to dig deeper—to protect and preserve the good life." But she knows a single gift is not enough. "We need robust endowments," says Lamprey, who has reached out to like-minded friends and colleagues. Her efforts have resulted in additional gifts to the Sustainability Institute.

It's not just the expansive views of the salt marshes near her home that have inspired Lamprey to take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The outlines of her environmental passion can be found in early Lamprey Brothers company records, meticulously recorded since the 1870s, and in her own childhood memories of harvesting blocks of ice—18 inches thick—on a nearby pond. Some winters, she recalls, ice could be harvested twice. Today, she notes, the pond barely freezes over.

Lamprey thinks it's not too much to hope for that one day her nieces' and nephews' children may experience an old-fashioned New Hampshire winter and be able to skate on the pond, as she once did long ago. "Supporting work that UNH does in the area of climate change and sustainability," she says, "is our best hope."

Watch a video featuring Jo and others at "This Old Planet Needs a Friend," a lively interactive event on solutions to our multiple energy problems, lead by Richard Trethewey from "This Old House."

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