Laura Jamison is someone who makes things happen
BERLIN - Laura Jamison is not one of those people who sits and waits to see what happens; she's one of those people who roll up their sleeves and make things happen.
A big promoter of locally grown food, she tried several years ago to get the city to change ordinances that limit the raising of small livestock, like chickens, within the city compact. Though she was successful in 2010 in working with all the players - the Berlin Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works and Health Departments - in getting the Local Works Farmers' Market in Berlin up and running, she was unable to convince the city officials they should change any ordinances regarding bees or chickens.
In just two years, the late-afternoon Thursday farmers' market has drawn enough vendors and shoppers to move to a larger spot last year - from a side street to an entire city block in downtown Berlin. The city blocks off Route 16S/Pleasant Street from 3 to 7 p.m. while residents line up to buy carrots and squash from local farmers, bread from local bakers, and more; and Jamison is there in the thick of it.
The market might not have happened without her. "I met Marilinne Cooper, the executive director of WREN, several years ago at the Coos County Symposium hosted by the Tillotson Fund," said the 37-year-old community activist. "I approached her and stated that WREN and Local Works would be a great fit in Berlin. Years later she interviewed me for a grant for a feasibility study which led into the Berlin Farmers Market. Later, she approached me and asked me to organize and start the market. As a small business owner, I appreciate and support the mission of WREN .... How could I say no?"
The self-described Navy brat migrated to Berlin with her young son, immediately getting involved, serving on the Berlin Planning Board and working with the board on the city's master plan.
"As an adult, I chose New England to live. It held the best childhood memories for me in Maine, then I moved to Boston where I became a co-owner and operator of a family breakfast restaurant. Later, New Hampshire called me as a safe place, with good schools and access to nature. Berlin is a beautiful and a culturally diverse community. In a way, I am glad that others have not discovered the uniqueness of what is happening up here. We can afford to live, work and pursue passions here in a relaxed, beautiful environment."
Now she's the owner of L. Jamison GAL LLC, and she's working toward a mediator certificate, which includes alternative dispute resolution with interpersonal disputes, family and divorce issues, and family estate issues.
"As a private guardian ad litem representing children, I understand the complex issues of having four great parents and bouncing between them," she said.
She continues to work with WREN, most recently on the nonprofit organization's move from downtown Berlin to the former Congregational church on upper Main Street.
"Personally and professionally, I have a desire to serve. I love to make things happen, and being part of a larger group," she said. About five years ago she started attending full time at White Mountain Community College, and continued to attend Granite State College, and will get her B.A. this spring. She plans to go on to graduate school through Plymouth State University. "I genuinely love learning, it makes my brain happy."
In October you can find her coordinating the ghouls, zombies, witches and ghosts at Berlin's RiverFire, where Theatre North takes over Northern Forest Heritage Park's logging camp for HorrorFest.
That's on top of serving on the boards of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, the Medallion Opera House, NH GALA and HEAL NH, and spending time with her son, 12-year-old Bobby, and partner, state Rep. Gary Coulombe, a Berlin Fire Department captain.
As to her personal venture raising livestock, she said, "We are beekeepers, for the sake of the bees, not for the honey. We keep what is known as top bar hives, which is a more natural way."