Newsday, 15.12. 2003
I ngrid Lemme is known for her gimmicks publicizing Gurney's Inn in Montauk, but none would seem to approach what her latest effort could achieve: putting
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, 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-

Small Town Girl
Is a Real Dream
Drawing by Thitz
A Portrait of Ingrid Lemme, who is known from Monzauk to Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa
ples, 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
clear thinking."
   Douals recently took over third place
from Maharishi Vedic City. But the
polls are still open.
   Only in America.