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.