NOT Home Alone: 2006 Purpose Prize Fellow, Dene Peterson to Speak on Community for the 50+ Set!
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 13:03:43 -0700 (PDT)
Hello all --

Here is a news release about an upcoming workshop w/ Dene Peterson, founder and developer of ElderSpirit Community in Abingdon, VA, one of only four completed cohousing communities for Seniors (I think) and the only one based on later life spirituality. The workshop will take place in the Washington, DC area. If you know someone who might be interested in this workshop please forward it to them.

Thank you!

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC

August 20, 2008
Contact:  Ann (703) 663-3911
zabaldo [at]

NOT Home Alone: Creating Community for the 50+ Set!
2006 "Purpose Prize Fellow" Dene Peterson Offers Workshop in
Gaithersburg, MD

At age 65 Dene Peterson was in a quandary. A former nun, she was
looking ahead to what life was going to be like as she grew older. "I
didn't like the options: Live alone, live in a leisure retirement
community, end up in an institution," said Peterson. "Uh uh.  There's
gotta be another alternative."

That other alternative was founding and developing one of the first
cohousing communities for folks 55 and older and the first senior
cohousing community based on spiritual principals.

"I play golf ... I love golf but there is more to growing older than
whacking at a ball," she said.  "As we get older, we need to keep
living, to keep growing in a purposeful way." She cites an ancient
Hindu saying, "When your hair turns grey and you see your children's
children, it is time to go away and grow your soul."

According to Peterson, the later years can be a rich time of inward
exploration and outward service to others. She asks, "What are you
going to do with the next thirty years of your life?"

Using a creative patchwork of funding from public and private
resources, Peterson raised $3.5 million dollars to construct a
community of 29 households, a common community building called a
Common House and a prayer room. Thus was born ElderSpirit Community
located in Abingdon, VA--a community so successful that Peterson is
embarking on her second ElderSpirit Community in the same small town.

Now Peterson travels and helps forming cohousing groups around the
country. "To borrow from Dr. Bill Thomas, physician and author of
What Are Old People For?, the three top problems as we age are:
Helplessness, Loneliness and Uselessness. How can we be useful to
each other?" For Peterson, a resident of ElderSpirit for two years,
living in community where she can work, play, and pray together with
her neighbors, where they are useful to one another, provides the

Peterson asserts that a community built on the spiritual principles
of purposeful living, giving and receiving compassionate care and
support, caring for the earth and living simply generates the kind of
community that helps people live longer, healthier and happier lives.
"The later years can have a meaning of their own--one that involves
wholeness and fruition. People have to know there are alternatives to
'leisure retirement'. These are the years to find purpose, to find
meaning, and grow our inner souls."

Cohousing communities such as ElderSpirit are small-scale
neighborhoods that provide a balance between personal privacy and
living amongst people who know and care about each other.  The
individually owned, fully-equipped, private homes, common buildings,
and amenities are designed, developed and managed with a high degree
of input from the residents. Unique to these planned neighborhoods is
the lifetime commitment of its residents to being good neighbors from
the earliest inception of the built environment that houses their
spirited community.

Peterson is a 2006 Purpose Prize Fellow, an initiative that invests
in older social innovators by recognizing outstanding achievements.
She serves on two national boards: Aging in Community, Denver, CO and
Second Journey Chapel Hill, NC.

Peterson and the ElderSpirit community have been written about in the
AARP Bulletin and by the Associated Press. She is available for live
or taped interviews.

Dene Peterson's workshop, "NOT Home Alone: Creating Community for the
50+ Set", will explore the topic of 'conscious aging' and is open to
the public.

When:              Saturday, Sept. 13th, 2008 -- 2:00pm to 4:30pm

Where:             Gaithersburg UpCounty Senior Center
                   80-A Bureau Drive
                   Gaithersburg, Maryland
Fee:                $35.00 to defray expenses

Seating is limited. Early registration is advised.

Co-sponsored by Clarksburg Cohousing and Cohousing Collaborative, LLC

For further information and registration:

             go to
             or call (703) 663-3911

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