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Baba Yaga's House - cohousing model for seniors started by a group of aging feminist activists

The idea is simple. Rather than moving into a seniors home, the women would live together in a large house and take care of one another. No professional staff, like nurses or cooks. They would be free to live as they chose.

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The Baba Yaga Housing model is a cohousing model for seniors started by a group of aging feminist activists in the Paris suburb of Montreuil. These women had fought for their rights their whole lives and were not interested in living by someone else’s rules or schedule as they got older.

The idea is simple: Rather than moving into a seniors home, the women would live together in a large house and take care of one another. No professional staff, like nurses or cooks. They would be free to live as they chose.

This model was created by Therese Clerc, who, in her 60s, began thinking hard about how she wanted to live in her old age. To learn more about her options, she began visiting seniors homes and talking with residents about their experiences. 

Appalled by what she learned, she rounded up a group of friends and began lobbying French politicians to fund what became the baba yaga’s house. It took 13 years, but the women eventually convinced funders to construct a 6 million dollars 6-story women only seniors home. The women moved in Oct 2012.

All of this inspired Montrealer Janet Torge to start tinkering with the baba yaga model to see how it could be replicated in Canada. Based on the same co-housing principles of living together without professional staff, Janet’s radical rest home concept is about getting together with a group of friends to find a place to live. Once you’ve moved in, you declare yourselves a radical rest home. 

She is envisioning a Radical Resthome Association, which is currently a work in progress, to help with setting things up, figuring out resources and connecting with the broader rest home network. There is another group called Baba Housing in Canada that was inspired by the Montreuil babas and have ambassadors in many cities across the country.

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Photo of Ashley Jablow

What an inspiring example of people feeling empowered to 'take control' of how they age. We should all be so proactive and forward-thinking!

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DeletedUser

agree~ super inspiring and seems like it is already taking hold. I love how the Radical Resthome association could help others replicate this idea with more ease, lowering the barriers of entry.

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Satsuko. I love this inspiration which highlights the importance of taking charge for yourself (and starting thinking about what you want before you are "forced to"), community and control over your life. Very much aligned with Ashley's comment (nice to see you back Ashley! ;-) )

It reminds me 2 other inspirations:

Jack who lacked this control; and a comment by his daughter on the need to think about it before not being able to be in charge of your choice:
http://www.openideo.com/open/mayo-clinic/inspiration/jack-s-story/

the research on the impact of social capital:
http://www.openideo.com/open/mayo-clinic/inspiration/the-importance-of-social-capital/