Lemme is known for her gimmicks publicizing Gurney's Inn in Montauk,
but none would seem to approach what her latest effort could achieve:
Maharishi Vedic City, lowa, on the map.
Lemme is the driving force behind American Dream Town,
USA, an enterprise that is running a contest to whittle 150 U.S. communities
(three from each state) down to 50 American Dream Towns, which will
be featured in a book Lemme is putting together. (She says she's choosing
between offers from two major publishers.) Soon to come: merchandise
-and a string of American Dream Shops, four of which are to open in
the Hamptons next spring and will sell, Lemme said, "all kinds
of nifty stuff " with a patriotic theme.
American Dream Town, USA, "is not a not for
profit, because, after all, we are putting out a book," Lemme
said. "We do not think we are going to make a fortune out of
this. ..[but] we assume we can cover the costs." But it is, she
said, part of a mission" she, her husband, Sunshine, and the
Long Islanders she chose for the American Dream Town board are on
to encourage exploration oft he coun- try's small towns.
Lemme said her plan crystallized after the World
Trade Center attacks and her realization that this country's tourist
industry might have a hard time recovering. "I knew we would
have to do something because we would have to rely on our own resources,"
she said. "Our mission is getting America back to travel. ...Besides
that, there are so many people looking for small towns, for livable
towns, pretty towns where they are welcome."
She and her board chose the 150 towns in the current
competition. (Next year, towns will have to nominate themselves -and
pay a $250 entry fee.)The winners are determined by mail ballots and
votes on the organization's Web site, www.americandreamtown.com. Each
winning community gets to submit a 1,000-word essay. The town with
the most votes gets a 3,000-word essay as well as the originals of
artwork com- missioned from the German artist Thitz.
The leaders, as of last Friday: Glen Rose, Texas (31,386 votes), whose
Web site promotes the tourist attraction Dinosaur Valley State Park;
Taylor, Neb. (27,855 votes -for a town in a county with a population
of only 712), whose Web site has been "developed and maintained
by Mrs. McNeill'sWeb site class of 2005"; and Douglas, Ga. (5,055
votes), where the Chamber of Commerce Web site lists periodic singles
dances as its only events.
Which brings us to Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, incorporated
July 21, 2001, as a community to put into practice the teachings of
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who most of us remember as the guru of transcendental
meditation. The town's Web site credits the Maharishi with "bringing
to light in a scientific, systematic manner the complete Vedic science
of consciousness." Vedic, the site notes, come from the Sanskrit
word "veda," or "knowledge."
A visitor to Maharishi Vedic City can take a half-day
tour beginning with lunch at the Raj Health Center and continuing
to the Vedic Observatory, three "stunningly beautiful homes and
office buildings constructed according to the Vedic architecture of.
ancient India," the campus ofMahal'ishi University of Management
and the Brain Research Institute. Two hotels are noted, one of which
has a sports lounge and billiard parlor, neither of which, on the
surface, would appear to fit in with Vedic princi-
Is a Real Dream
Portrait of Ingrid Lemme, who is known from Monzauk to Maharishi Vedic
but what do we know? The City's
mayor, Dr. Bob Wyne. does promise in
a message on the Web site that a guest
at either of the hotels will "ake up more
refreshed, more energetic and
Douals recently took over third place
from Maharishi Vedic City. But the
polls are still open.
Only in America.