Experiencing Elderspirit

My upcoming road trip with friends up to Abingdon, VA to visit Elderspirit inspired me to reminisce about my relationship and respect for what has been accomplished in that small town along the Virginia Creeper Trail.


Marianne inspired at Elderspirit 2007

The inspiration behind Elderspirit spoke to me very early in my quest for my community.

The attraction of Elderspirit for me came from its Founder, Dene (Geraldine) Peterson. She often said the one of the goals for those in the community was to live there “to a good death” like her family members did. No nursing home but in the caring arms of your “family.” But for me and many like me, family is chosen and deliberate. This is what I mean by building community.

 Visionary, Founder,  Developer Dene (Geraldine) Peterson

Visionary, Founder, Developer Dene (Geraldine) Peterson

I got to know Dene (Geraldine) Peterson and visited Elderspirit many times in the last 10 years for different reason

Dene is the founder, developer and Burning Soul behind Elderspririt, the first senior cohousing community. It was 10 years in the visioning, funding, and making and has been fully functioning with permanent residents since 2007.

Here is a collection of my photos from the project throughout the last 9 years. You can see the community take shape and as people enter the scene, Elderspirit has come alive.


Construction 2005


Dene and Marianne in the mud in 2005 construction


Group shot 2007 at the Elderspirit Tools for Building training

Elderspirit 2007

Elderspirit 2007

Elderspirit was developed as a non-profit and funded partially by grants. There is a very eclectic ownership and rental agreement that encourages economic diversity which, in turn, allows for all forms of diversity among the residents. This isn’t something I’ve seen in many cohousing communities.

After my trip I can update you with new photos and more details about how things are going. As part of my own Quest for Home, I continue to research and find out more about what is and isn’t working in established communities. Elderspirit is working well and I plan to learn more about why this week.

Special Note: If you visit my Resource page, you’ll see the cover of the book Aging in Community. Dene is pictured on the cover of that book along with a friend.



  1. nancy hunter says

    I look forward to your pictures and comments about Elderspirit 2015.

Women For Living in Community