A house of Baba Yagas


Photo courtesy of Nancy Carson
Three senior friends

Adapted from CBC.ca radio by Nancy Carson
Level 1

Thérèse Clerc is in her 60s.
She lives in Paris, France.
She knows she is getting old.
She thinks where will I live?
How will I live? Who will live with me?

She wants to know
Where do seniors live now?
She visits many seniors’ homes.
She eats in their dining rooms.
She talks to women in their rooms.
What she finds makes her angry.
She does not like what she hears.
She does not like what she sees.

She decides
She says yes, I am old, but…
No one will tell me what to eat.
No one will tell me when to turn off the TV.

A Plan
Thérèse talks to her friends.
They are all feminists.
They always want to be active.
They want interesting lives.
For years they talk to people in the government.
Thérèse and her friends want something new.
They say they are Baba Yagas.
They are old, wise women.
They want a seniors’ home for women only.
Men and children are welcome to visit.
And the women will run it.
They will care for each other.

Thirteen years later
In early October 2012, their dream comes true.
Nineteen women move into a new apartment.
These women are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
The home has six floors. Each women has her own room.
There are common rooms, too.

An experiment
Now Thérèse is 85. And she has 14 grandchildren.
She loves her new home.
Many people are talking about this new home.
Maybe this idea will come to other cities.

Photo public domain
Illustration to Cinderella by Gustave Doré, 1800’s: the fairy godmother preparing an enchantment for her goddaughter

Here is a gallery of polymer clay dolls, by American artist Forest Rogers, portraying Baba Yaga in the traditional Slavic folktale “Vasilisa the Beautiful”.

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21 thoughts on “A house of Baba Yagas

  1. Wonderful Concept. I am an architect with two clients interested in creating a co-housing unit in south western Ontario Canada. I would like to know more about the accommodation provided as it would be easy to create an apartment building with common space. Need to be more creative than that.

  2. I’m a working artist in the PNW. I would very much like to find contact info or get on a list for the Baba Yaga House in Paris for the future. Does anyone know how I may accomplish this?

    Thanks, ~Andrea

  3. Hello Everyone:
    After placing my Mom in a nursing home 10 yrs. ago, I soon realized that this is for sure not a place for myself.

    I am 61 and live on a lake front property.in eastern Ont. I began renovations to accommodate this concept of sharing a property for my senior yrs.

    If anyone has a contact phone number to further my ideas or if anyone who may read this post who may be interested , please contact me at 613-801-4286 .


  4. I heard David Gutnick’s program January 2014 about Baba Yaga’s and loved it. I have been talking to two of my friends about this concept for a couple of years. I would appreciate any future comments or posts by email. Thank you!

  5. Also looking for contacts for any efforts in B.C.

    I heard David’s wonderful interviews and was very hopeful, only to see one of the first respondents take the name and start talking about men needing housing. As mentioned by Therese (I think) in the program, this is an initiative for feminist women who are not including men. The Baba Yaga women in France struggled against prejudice that women have a right to women-only housing to get their Baba Yaga going, and that is the model I would like to work towards, with like-minded women. Yes, we all have male friends and family members who may be in our lives, but we are not interested in including them in the Baba Yaga housing initiative.

    • Hi: I am a senior and belong to the BC Pensioners & Seniors Org. I have been visualizing this very thing the concept of co-housing for a few years now, have taken some steps but more people together would be much better. What I have seen around BC re: “co-housing” is not appealing, it is no diff. than living in an apt. bldg. and prices are just like the housing market, it is just a real estate development with pot lucks, we can do that in any townhouse or apt. complex. It has to provide real sense of community and purpose and be AFFORDABLE (eg. not averaging $300,000+ for your unit) and eventually become self- sustaining. Perhaps a hybrid from what is around here. Also, for the future, I am not opposed to living in another country, warmer, more affordable, but creating this very kind of community, shared living with like minded people. Many people aging out en masse, we better do something. Feel free to contact me.

      • Good morning,

        I am forwarding your comment to the writer of this story.
        She will contact you at your gmail address.

        We have had much interest in this topic,

  6. Hello.

    I heard the initial CBC production about the Baba Yaga that was aired in the fall of 2012. I am excited about the possibilities!!! If there is a conversation that has been started here in Vancouver, I would like to be part of it. Thank you very much.

  7. I will be in Paris from March 18th to the 24th doing research for an upcoming television documentary for our public here in Canada, CBC. I would like to come to visit and do some preliminary interviews. Could you please let me know if this would be possible. Please take a look at my website to see the find of films I have done in the past. thanks very much. Barbara

    • Hi Barbara,

      Have a wonderful trip and good luck with the documentary!
      Please feel free to email me at ngopaul@capilanou.ca so that we may have discussion and/or plan for a visit.
      We can set this up easily.

      Please send us your website, thank you!

      Thank you,

  8. My political, feminist friends and I have talked about this great idea for a couple of years so I am really happy to have found this information but I want to FORWARD the article but there is no FORWARD option. Please help. I am presently working with Dunbar Revision, Vancouver, BC to stop a 6-7 storey, block-long Corporate, outrageously expensive seniors’ residence outside the commercial area and backing onto residences in our neighbourhood. It is a cash-grab from seniors with high-priced marketing to get them to sell their homes. The rentals will be starting at $5,000 per month. These are not wealthy seniors but people whose properties have escalated in recent years. They cannot be described as “the wealthy” . Please tell me how to forward this information, otherwise I’ll create a separate email on the subject of affordable seniors’ housing. Thank you. Maggie

    • Hello, Maggie,

      Thank you for your kind words!
      Scroll down to the bottom of the article (under the Related Posts images) and you will see a button that says Email. From there, you can send it to whatever email address you need, or you can share it on Twitter or Facebook.

  9. Is there any serious discussion about establishing Baba Yaga ‘houses’ in Vancouver? Has anyone investigated how should an idea would work and if it would work?

    • Not as far as I know but the CBC Radio story garnered a lot of response, I gather. One woman wrote that she would do everything she could to get something like that started here in B.C.

    • Yes I would like to discuss ..I live in Vancouver ..I would like to set a coffee meeting to discuss this concept. Even if there is only 2 or 3 women to start I will be back in Vancouver in Mid January
      my phone number is 604 228 7771
      kind regards

      • I wrote the story out of interest after hearing about it on CBC Radio. I understand there are other housing solutions for specific groups of people in Vancouver. I also know of one which has been two years in the planning in Kamloops. People are looking for creative ways to find affordable housing.

  10. Pingback: A house of Baba Yagas - Audio - The Official Westcoast Reader

  11. All seniors really deserve a good life after so many years working hard to make the differences in the society. I hope we can make a better future for them!

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