Member Spotlight: Joanne Bunnell

Joanne has a passion for learning new skills and living a life of novelty. Her love for learning started with her studies at Idaho State University for nutrition. Once she earned her degree, she married her husband, Roy, and together they moved to Kennewick, WA. There, she discovered her love of fabrics and fashions and took a job in ladies tailoring, adding another skill to her list. After a while, she went back to school for interior design, with a focus on kitchen design. Using her expertise, she had her own kitchen remodeled from one of her own designs. After that, she picked up something new again, deciding to help Roy at his material science lab in Richland High, before retiring with him in 2008. Since then, Joanne has enjoyed going on Road Scholar trips. She’s traveled the world with her husband attending these lecture tours, combining her love for adventure and learning.

When she’s at home, Joanne likes to landscape, design flower beds, and care for her flowers. She also likes to spend time out on her patio reading and enjoying being outside in the heat. While moving to Bozeman is going to be a bit of a change, she’s ready for the new adventure. She says, “When the pandemic hit, my life wasn’t the same anymore, so it’s a good time to change.”

While she is going to miss the wineries and fresh fruit of Kennewick, Joanne is excited to move to Bozeman and meet new people. She and her husband didn’t really want to live in a retirement home, surrounded by the same type of people. They wanted to be around people who were different from them and hear about their new ideas. Joanne was a part of a young women’s club and spent a lot of time with her fellow members and their families doing potlucks and picnics, and playing volleyball together. She laments that they only know one of their neighbors currently, living in an otherwise unfriendly neighborhood. She is excited to move into a neighborhood designed to create a community of friendly and social neighbors. She’s also excited to have a new place to decorate and hopes she can help decorate some of the common spaces around the community. 

The growing concern about energy and conservation makes Joanne hopeful for the future. It was encouraging when she found out the members of Bozeman Cohousing were working on clean energy options and clean living. Joanne became really energetic when started talking about the ways Bozeman Cohousing was being conscious of their energy use. The idea of sharing “tools and toys” really excited her, saying it was a waste for everyone to have their own lawnmower, for example. To share a couple in the community was better for the economy and was a part of the clean living life adventure she was eager to start. She also was happy to hear that more people are becoming concerned with establishing community instead of picking a place to live and hoping you get friendly neighborhoods. She commented that people usually think she’s moving into a hippie community or transitioning to some sort of radical lifestyle when she first starts talking about Bozeman Cohousing, but as she describes it and they begin to learn more about it, they find it interesting. 

Joanne was like a kid on Christmas when talking about the idea of her new place in Bozeman, a new adventure. She talked about how she could hardly wait for their place to be finished so she could move in. In the end though, she commented “If you have to wait for something, it means more.”

Member Spotlight: Roy Bunnell

Roy is passionate about his work and loves to problem-solve. Roy graduated from the University of Utah as a ceramic engineer and put his skills to use working for Battelle at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Kennewick, WA, where he lives with his wife, Joanne. During his 30th year with Battelle, he had the chance to help develop a high school class on material science. He fell in love with the course and decided to quit his job at Battelle and start teaching at Richland High. It was such a successful course that when the time came to build a new school, Southridge High, they built a lab specifically for the class. The class ended up being so popular that he started teaching other educators all over the country so they could offer the class in their own schools. Roy stated that his only regret was that he didn’t do it sooner. 

Roy’s passion for the program he built is clear. He is lively and his face lights up as he talks about his students and the class. He is proud of the program and boasts that several of his students went on to pursue material science after leaving high school. 

Since his retirement in 2008, Roy has enjoyed going on Road Scholar trips. He’s traveled the world with his wife attending these lecture tours, noting that his favorite tours were the small cruise tours. He’s also traveled the country training other teachers, showing them the program he’s worked so hard on, hoping that they’ll take it back to their schools with them.

Roy is excited to move to Bozeman and get out of the desert heat he lives in now. He likes to ski, and is excited to be close to the mountains and fishing. He’s ready to do a lot of fly-fishing, and hoping to get back into long walks and hikes. He commented that he’s really gotten used to the retirement lifestyle, sleeping in until 9am and having the ability to work on his projects on his own time, turning his profession into a hobby. 

The lifestyle changes Bozeman Cohousing is offering makes Roy hopeful for the future. The neighborhood he lives in now is made up of strangers and it seems as though people have moved away from the friendly, community-based neighborhoods that he remembers. Cohousing communities are becoming increasingly popular around the world, which he believes is a push in the right direction.

In one word, Roy describes himself as funny. He enjoys jokes and likes to tell them and pass them on. With a laugh, he says “I’m better at remembering jokes than who I told them to.” Roy is lively, talkative, friendly, and eager to share his stories, and is looking forward to facing the new challenges of living within a community created completely by the people who live there. He hopes with this new experience, comes new problems to solve.

Member Spotlight: Erika Share

Erika has lived a unique life of adventure, and, in one word, Erika describes herself as thoughtful. She thinks she’s a good leader and likes to bring people together and have fun. At the end of the day, she just wants everyone to be happy. Even if she doesn’t always make good decisions or makes a mistake, she’ll always try to create a good environment for everyone. 

Her life of adventure started early, moving around a lot before settling down in Bozeman. She’s lived in New York, St. Louis, Chicago, India, Detroit, and Alaska and still does a lot of traveling. However, Bozeman was the first place she knew that she really wanted to build a home. Bozeman is her favorite place she’s ever lived because it was easy to make friends quickly, the work she does is fun and fulfilling, Bozeman is where she met her husband, and everything she does for fun around the area feels like a vacation. She loves mountain biking, skiing, and spending time doing anything deep in the mountains. 

Erika works in the film industry as a camera operator and producer. She primarily works on television shows and documentary films. Right now, she’s working on a NBC pilot series for a documentary survival skills show. She usually is working on things where she ends up outside all day.  Because of the work she does as a filmmaker, she describes her days as physically uncomfortable, yet exciting. The show she’s currently working on takes her all over the world in crazy places and in crazy situations. She likes to work hard and play hard, and at the end of the day coming home is like heaven. No matter how crazy it gets, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else and hopes the projects keep getting cooler. She commented that if life in Bozeman plateaued for her right now, she’d be happy.

Erika’s thoughtfulness exists in her passion for social justice, and it’s something she works with a lot in film. There is a fire in her eyes as she talked about creating a world where everyone has a chance to exist as themselves, and believes that everyone who comes from privilege should take interest in social justice issues. 

She also likes science fiction, cooking, and foraging for food. She believes there is nothing more fun than finding something edible outside. 

She’s excited to live in Bozeman Cohousing and create a unique space for her family. The idea of living in minimalist fashion, sharing amenities, and being aware of your waste and what you want vs. what you need is an interesting aspect of cohousing. Erika is excited to be in close proximity to people who are like-minded and living in an area where you can get to know your neighbors and call upon each other when you need to. When she gets settled into her place in Bozeman Cohousing, she hopes to take a few months off to just sit and enjoy the space and be present during all the excitement of move-in. She’s ready to work in the garden and get to know everyone. 

Younger and future generations make Erika hopeful for the future. Generally, she believes that young people are smarter, nicer, and cooler than she was at that age, and believes it’s a move in the right direction. She hopes that we get to a place where everyone feels heard and safe.

Member Spotlight: Chad Welborn

In one word, Chad describes himself as thoughtful. He tries to consider other positions and how his decisions will affect others. Though he admits that sometimes he’s thoughtful to a fault and begins over-thinking things, it is a principle he tries to live by. He likes to spend his time serving others and helping clear barriers others face, even if it’s something small like getting something started or doing menial tasks to help someone get through their day.

As I was talking with Chad, it was clear that this word suited him. Growing up, he lived in a ranching community in Lima, Montana. It was a small and tight knit community where people were there for their neighbors when they needed it. This community bred a sense of thoughtfulness in its residents because the community depended on it. Even as Chad left Lima and moved to Bozeman for college, he brought his thoughtfulness with him.  

Chad’s professional life as a construction engineer reaches from Montana’s highways to the classroom. He is primarily  a project manager for the Montana State Department of Transportation. He also manages a cooperative internship program and teaches a senior capstone class on construction estimation for the Montana State University Civil Engineering department. 

Chad was most excited to talk about his work with the cooperative internship program. Cooperative programs involve mutual aid in achieving a goal. This program helps students studying civil and construction engineering gain field experience, while giving the MDT a chance to train potential future employees. Chad works with the interns, focusing on helping them learn the process that’s used to see a project through to completion. As we discussed the internship, it’s clear that he loves working with these students. He talks about this program with pride in his eyes and a smile on his face and it was apparent that helping these students get some vital experience working in the field, and encouraging them to continue studying engineering was a very fulfilling part of his life. He talked about it with undisguised energy and enthusiasm. 

Children make Chad hopeful for the future because he feels like they embody the thoughtfulness he centers his life around. He feels like children are learning to care for others more and how to be more mindful of how their actions impact others. This along with this access to knowledge and information gives the future generations a lot of potential. 

Chad’s desire to help others is just one of his passions along with reading and exploring new topics. His passions are what brought him to cohousing. He first discovered cohousing when reading a book called “Happy City.” This book sparked his interest and he started learning about how cities are built and about people’s behaviors and how they interact with each other. When he discovered Bozeman Cohousing  a year later, he was interested in joining. He is excited about the idea of a “custom neighborhood” which is influenced by its future residents and intentionally designed to promote interaction between neighbors. 

Now Chad is excited about the environment he’s helped create in  this new community. He has a six-year-old daughter and is happy that there will be a group of kids for her to play with in the community. He relaxed as he talked about the opportunities she’ll have growing up in Bozeman Cohousing.  She’ll have access to friends right outside their door in an environment created to be safe and engaging for them. This will be one of the biggest changes to their lives, as it will be easier for her to go out and play without needing to rely on the adults as much for planning and transportation.

Member Spotlight: Steve Allison-Bunnell

What’s your hometown & current location?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon and went to college at the University of Oregon in Eugene. In my last year, I got to live in one of the cooperative houses there, and was introduced to large-scale vegetarian cooking and consensus-based decision-making.
I spent the first four years of grad school at Cornell living in one of the long-time co-ops, Stewart Little. I honed my group cooking skills and deeply appreciated the sense of community, but also experienced the pain of poor group dynamics and interpersonal conflict. Living in community can be messy!

Jodi and I met when both of us were in Washington, DC, completing our graduate programs. DC was exciting, but we could feel ourselves turning into Yuppies. When she got offered the job of University Archivist at UM in Missoula, we eagerly came back west. Missoula’s vibrant arts and community service culture kept us there. Twenty-three years later, we came to Bozeman in the summer of 2020 for Jodi to take the same position at MSU. We live less than a mile from the cohousing property on Enterprise Blvd.

I’m excited to live in a place that has been deliberately designed, both physically and institutionally, to nurture people and relationships in place.

— Steve Allison-Bunnell

What are you doing in your life now?
Settling in here in Bozeman and joining co-housing has been a full-time job! I’m currently the house-spouse, taxi driver, and assistant cat coddler. I’m also rebuilding my educational media consultancy.

What subjects/ ideas/activities are you passionate about?
My memoir will be called, Zen Dad, Ninja Dad. I have benefitted enormously as a spouse, parent, and friend from growing a mindfulness practice in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn. For me, Buddhism is as much a psychology as a religion, and it has given a shape to my desire to make meaning out of the world and do the right thing in the service of others. Before the pandemic, I received my black belt in Aikido, which has been called the “martial art of mindfulness.” The physical, non-violent nature of Aikido perfectly complements meditation. I really miss training right now.

What aspects of the cohousing model speak to you most?
I’m excited to live in a place that has been deliberately designed, both physically and institutionally, to nurture people and relationships in place. As someone who has felt challenged to initiate relationships, the co-housings premise that we all want to be connected and are committed to building community means a lot to me.

What is something that makes you hopeful for the future?
My children have a wonderfully cosmopolitan and inclusive world-view given that they grew up here in Montana. Camas is a thoughtful and kind young man who is generous almost to a fault. Cedar’s vision as an artist is breathtaking. I have confidence that their way of being is making the world a better place.

Describe something you’re naturally good at & how you use that strength.
I may not be Irish, but somehow I kissed the Blarney Stone. Putting words together in text or in front of an audience comes perhaps too easily to me. I’ve written mostly non-fiction and poetry—everything from a children’s book to a PhD dissertation. Because with great power comes great responsibility, I try to use my eloquence to inform and inspire other people.

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Explain why. 
Loyal. Once I commit to something or someone, I really hate to give up. My first instinct is to try to be helpful.

Name a favorite place you’ve lived & what you liked about it.
I loved living with my grandparents for the first two years of college. They had a huge garden and orchard, a cozy house they built themselves, and were the ultimate do-it-yourselfers. Whether it was helping my grandpa cut firewood or working with my grandma in the kitchen, I learned a lot about making things and eating home-grown food.