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Continued: Building a new old-fashioned lifestyle

  • Article by: SUSAN E. PETERSON , Star Tribune Staff Writer
  • Last update: June 18, 2004 - 11:00 PM

All adult members of the community are board members, and new residents of the co-op units in the main house must be approved by a unanimous vote. Although there are no restrictions on who can buy the townhouses, new residents must be approved by the community before they can join the board.

One of the community's biggest problems was with one of the townhouses, which had a prospective owner back out before completion in 1996 and ended up being occupied mostly by renters until earlier this year.

The renters weren't interested in being part of the community, and didn't interact much with the members, Stumpf said. "We need the participation of the whole group," she said. "It's very uncomfortable to have somebody in your midst who doesn't participate."

Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that all the members have to be raging extroverts who thrive on group activities.

"My husband and I are the most introverted," said Julie Rasmussen, one of the early members, who said they can always sign up for solitary chores - cooking dinner alone, for instance, or tackling a solo cleanup project. "I find it much more satisfying to not always be meeting someone new," she said, as they would in a traditional neighborhood with more frequent turnover of neighbors.

Robie said in the early years, when the project was being developed, the townhouses were being built and major renovations to the main house were underway, "our whole lives were involved with this place. ... Now we don't necessarily see as much of each other as when we were in constant crisis mode, and that's healthy."

One big attraction for many of the members is the multigenerational aspect of the community. When Joan and Kevin Cahill were looking to downsize from their Bloomington home, "We looked at a couple senior places, but everybody was old," Joan said. "We've got lots of nieces and nephews, but they're in places like California and Milwaukee. ... We can get our kid fix here."

Her husband, Kevin, likes sports, and he attends many of the teenagers' soccer games or takes them to Twins games.

"We do it because we love it," Kevin Cahill said. "The young people give this place energy -- they give me energy."

The younger community members said there's usually a row of Monterey residents at school plays and concerts, and that it's fun having lots of surrogate grandparents and aunts and uncles around.

Laura Powers and Elana Bulman, both 14, said they also like having lots of space for sleep-overs and parties with their friends. "It's so easy, because Elana is accessible," Laura said. "Yeah, in the winter we can go through the tunnel," Elana added.

Bessie Bulman, 8, the youngest member of the community, said she wishes there were more kids her age to play with, but that she likes having lots of people around. "Joan and Kevin are like grandparents," she said. "All my friends are jealous."

Susan E. Peterson is at sepeterson@startribune.com.

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  • From left, Karen VanAukem, Cameron McRostie, Ari O’Sullivan and his mom, Denise Tennen, shared a meal and lively conversation in the community dining room.

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