Imagine a Center that would provide a spiritual setting for older adults…an ElderSpirit Center, resonating with traditional associations of “elder” with wisdom, leadership, dignity, and ritual.”
— Drew Leder (1996) Spiritual Community in Later Life
Meet Dene Peterson—one of my aging in community heroes.
Undaunted by the challenges of becoming a real estate developer at the age of 71, Dene co-created the place of her dreams to retire – a community of mutual support and late-life spirituality. It took ten years, but Dene along with a core team of former nuns and other true believers raised over 3 million dollars to build the 29 unit, mixed-income elder cohousing community that sits along the beautiful 35 mile Virginia Creeper Trail on the outskirts of Abingdon, a small Appalachian mountain town in southwestern Virginia.
One of three elder cohousing communities in the country, Dene is a pioneer in re-imagining what elderhood can be – and the great places we can create to grow elder.
The past couple days I have spent with Dene and others in Virginia to discuss plans for a second Elderspirit Community in the Shenandoah Valley. Interested readers can go here to learn more about the values and mission of Elderspirit or contact Dene directly for more information dpetersonATelderspiritDOTnet.
Namaste’ – Janice Blanchard