In Canada, our Throne Speech, which is delivered to the members of Parliament when a session opens, sketches out our government’s agenda for the immediate future. The Throne Speech is used to outline the legislative agenda, and the government’s priorities. With four years of work under our belts, we have come a long way, so this is a propitious time for our own BYP version of the “Throne Speech”.
In the spring of 2013, CBC Radio One aired a documentary about a group of French women who created La Maison des Babayagas in Paris. Many listeners were inspired by the French activists and several Toronto women, who were similarly stirred to action, found each other online. After some preliminary meetings to discuss our goals, the concept of Toronto Baba Yaga Place (BYP) was born. At a special Information Session held on November 5th, we celebrated a significant milestone for Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, one of our founding members.
At a planning session held a few months ago, a core group of active members detailed a reckoning of our accomplishments since the pioneering group began this ambitious project:
- Endorsement letters from 5 Toronto City Councillors
- BYP Website and Twitter handle
- Communications Strategy
- Vision & Mission Statement
- Contacts in Municipal Gov’t
- Public awareness of BYP
- Media coverage
- Caring Support Group (pilot project)
- Group of informal advisers
- Analysis of BYP Principles
- Operationalization of principles
- Translation of La Maison des Babayagas materials
- Ryerson Grad Student Feasibility Study
- Publication of 2 newsletters
- Growing Contact and Membership Lists
- 4 Orientation Meetings
- Membership Categories
- Letters written to 110 MP’s
It took the French Babayagas thirteen years to create their community. We hope to reach the finish line in less time than that! With a Canadian government in place which, as per Budget 2017, proposes to “build an inclusive National Housing Strategy”, we plan to take advantage of the growing attention on housing, and continue to voice the need for viable options for seniors, especially senior women! Many of the activities we focused on in the first four years were values-based and procedural. While it was essential for ensuring that we have a strong foundation to build upon, over the next twelve months we will be working toward more concrete and measurable actions which include:
- Completing activities required following incorporation such as creating by-laws, having our first AGM, etc.
- Recruiting an Administrative Assistant for the Steering Committee
- Welcoming new members and helping more members become actively involved
- Identifying and recruiting a champion/patron and more Advisory Board members
- Initiating and maintaining conversations with more developers
- Defining clearly BYP ultimate model/structure (nuts and bolts)
- Increasing our knowledge of financing/funding and securing same
- Building relationships with Housing Co-ops and associations that share similar goals
- Updating our website, with the help of skilled members
At the present time, we have over 200 individuals who have contacted us in one way or other over the past few years. There are a modest number of paid members and a small number of members actively working toward the BYP vision, putting in the countless hours required. With all there is to do, there is a lot on this small group’s plate. Some contacts tell us they will officially join as we get closer to the bricks and mortar reality. Others want to know what they will “get” for paying their $35 annual membership fee. Creating a new community requires an investment of time, money and energy. Incorporation, website hosting, and professional consultants, all come with costs. The core group has been carrying the ball financially, as well as giving our love, sweat, and tears. Clearly, we will get to the finish line faster with more paid and working members. Those who are waiting to become a part of the community when there is an actual location, need to step up to the plate now!
The $35 annual membership provides an opportunity to be a part of this exciting initiative and see the development of our concept unfold. While we would love to have units for all who wish to be a part of BYP, the reality is that we will be limited by how many spaces are made available to us. Priority will obviously and of necessity be given to those who have worked diligently over the years.
Keeping people in the loop, while desirable, is also time consuming. We are committed to dedicating our time and resources to the highest priority activities, those which will concretely move us closer to our goal. Over the next 12 months we plan to update our website to keep members better informed. If you wish to have access to the Members Only Area (currently under construction) and the information therein, please join us today!
Here’s to our vision!
Baba Yaga Place