Who We Are

Welcome to the  community of  Putney Commons owners and tenants.
Read on to get to know  about us.

Our Visionary Founder:

AnneAnne Fines
Anne taught locally for 35 years in elementary school, Community College of Vermont, and Antioch/New England.  She served on the Putney Central School Board with a particular interest in the appropriate  development and use of the School Forest.  She has been a Big Sister in the Big Sister/Big Brother Program for 13 years and is active in the Vermont Progressive Party.  Anne enjoys walking, kayaking, folk dancing, and opera.  Her interest in Putney Commons arose from a desire to provide an opportunity for herself and other older people to live in their own homes, be an active part of a small inter-generational community, and be close to and engaged in the life of the village of Putney.

Owners and partners:

El and Rich

Elisabeth Dearborn and Richard Brady
Elisabeth started a shelter for battered women in CA,  editedpublications  for an international Quaker organization in PA,  spent twenty years as a somatic psychotherapist in MD. Responding to a mysterious nudge, she and Richard discovered Putney Commons by google and moved to Putney Commons in 2007, having arrived in just as the first phase of building was launching. She loves living on land with a wild edge, raising a portion of family food, heating partially on solar, and composting, while being able to walk to the grocery, the Putney Friends Meeting,  the nearby wetlands, and many of Putney’s dirt roads and nearby trails.  Swimming mountain lakes is another favorite of hers as well as writing, folk music, natural foods cooking, alternative healing, spiritual direction, grandparenting.

Richard came to Putney four years ago from Takoma Park, MD, retired after teaching high school mathematics for 37 years, the last 34 at Sidwell Friends School.  He now supports mindfulness in education through his consulting business, www.mindingyourlife.org, and through the Mindfulness in Education Network, www.mindfuled.org, He and El, students in the Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, began Mountains and Rivers Mindfulness Community here.  Also active in the Putney Friends Meeting, Richard is a writer of life reflections and edited  Tuning In: Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning.  El and Richard enjoy  two adult children and four grandchildren.  He is a lover of jazz, qigong, art films, ice cream, and jokes.

ElizabethElizabeth Christie
With passions for singing, tai ji, vegetable gardening, and the out of doors, Elizabeth retired in 2008 from directing a non-profit organization working for quality child care both locally and at the state level.  She has lived in the area since 1972, with significant involvement with the Experiment in International Living and a number of other local organizations. Elizabeth is drawn to Putney Commons by a desire to live more simply and build community with others.  Elizabeth is an active volunteer with Hospice and the Putney Central School.


Cheryl Wilfong and Bill McKim
Cheryl came to Vermont in 1972 for a Masters’ degree at the School for International Training. Her varied career includes being a cross-cultural trainer, human services administrator, accountant, and psychotherapist.
In 2010, she published The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, and Mind. Her book, Following the Nez Perce Trail, A Guide to the Historic Trail (in Idaho and Montana), was republished in 2006.
A life-long learner, Cheryl teaches meditation at the Vermont Insight Meditation Center. She and Bill live nearby in East Dummerston as part of a community of seven households sharing eighty-one acres since 1979. Cheryl is a Master Gardener and Master Composter and invites you to come visit her gardens on Partridge Road. They rent their Putney Commons house.

Bill’s soul is classical music.  After receiving a Master’s degree from the New England Conservatory in 1960, he concertized and taught piano in Boston before moving to Putney to teach piano and ensemble at The Putney School.
He played organ for the Community Messiah Sing for 26 years, and takes voice lessons from an internationally-known opera tenor. He plays organ for various churches every Sunday. The congregation hushes when he plays the postlude.
Bill’s other passion is keeping fit by hiking, biking, and skiing.  A member of Rotary Club, and a Board Member for the New England Coalition Against Nuclear Pollution, he is also a Big Brother to a 14-year-old Little Brother.  Bill is a true extrovert with many interests.

Joan ShimerJoan Carr Shimer
Joan moved into Putney Commons in May 2014, returning to live in the town for a third time: an earlier year at the Putney School, five years with her two small boys, and now enjoying the last chapter of her life by quietly sharing a community of friendly neighbors.

She loves country and ballroom dancing, playing folk harp and recorder in nursing homes and hospitals, and singing with the Hospice chorus Hallowell.  She delights in tending her gardens, both flower and vegetable, and living close to the woods while being able to walk to all services.

A graduate of Waldorf teacher training and the movement discipline Spacial Dynamics, Joan is co-author of a collection of movement games for 3-5 year olds, Games Children Sing and Play, and currently leads circle time for preschoolers at the Putney Community Center.

laurie-coursinLaurie Rendall Coursin is currently building the seventh house at Putney Commons, a Unity/Bensonwood energy efficient home.  She plans to be in residence by the end of 2014.

Laurie comes from a large family; her 96 year-old mother lives in Pennsylvania. She is looking forward to having time to explore this next chapter of her life – kayaking, working outside, knitting, reading, and volunteering, while settling into her new home in a wonderful community where she can walk to the Putney Food Coop, library, post office, and the Quaker Meeting.

Laurie has been active in the Putney Quaker Meeting. She is retiring after 37 years as a Certified Nurse Midwife, most recently at the Dartmouth Hitchcock/Cheshire Medical Center in Keene. Owen, her 28-year old son, attends the Environmental Studies Program at Antioch and has started his own ceramic business “Coursin Clay.”

KaiKai George
Kai is a retired early elementary teacher from Maine.  She appreciates the many benefits of living in this community… having close neighbors, gardening in the community garden, living in close proximity to town and, at the same time, enjoying the woods, field, and mountain vistas that this location affords. Kai tutors at the Putney Central School and volunteers in its environmental program at the same school.  She serves on the board of the Putney Mountain Association, sings with a local chorus – the River Singers, and relishes the many hiking trails in southern Vermont.  Her grandchildren love to visit her at her home in Putney Commons.