Steering Committee Members

Beth Komito-Gottlieb

BethBioLike so many other Baba Yaga Place members, almost two years ago now, I heard the CBC Radio program about the French Baba Yagas and found myself saying, “YES! YES!  This is what we need!!”  Before long I found myself with a group of other Toronto women, beginning our own Baba Yaga journey. So many people, women especially (although not only women) have found ourselves in a less comfortable position than we had hoped to be as we grew toward our senior years. Job layoffs, declining value of stocks and pensions, changes in marital status; all of these are curve balls which have affected so many. Joining together in a community similar to the French women’s model, just makes sense on so many levels. So I’m delighted to be a member of the Baba Yaga Place Steering Group, chairing the Communications Committee. I know we have a great deal of work ahead of us, but it will be worth it when one day we find ourselves in the community we have built together; a place where we can live, enjoying and supporting each other while maintaining our independence and autonomy as we age in place. I am divorced and the mother of two awesome, grown children, both of whom think this is a terrific project. I am also the housemate of Morrie, a rescue dog and Jake and Betsy, who are feline siblings born on the farm of a friend. I wear two hats, professionally speaking, with a private practice supporting people on the autism spectrum and a part time position as the family and youth coordinator for a downtown synagogue. I look forward to welcoming new Baba Yaga Place members and hope you will want to roll up your sleeves, find a place to help (small time-commitment or large; we’ll take what you can offer!), and let’s make this thing happen!

Norma Audain

NormaBioI am a senior single female residing in Toronto. My educational background is in social work with an MSW from Carleton University. I have worked in several community health and social service agencies, a rehabilitation centre, and a continuing care hospital. Over the years I have been involved in a voluntary capacity with various non-profit organizations including a health related agency and an artist organization which uses art to build community in a less advantaged area of the city. Recently I have been giving a fair amount of thought to planning for this particular time in my life, especially with respect to housing and community. So when I heard about the Baba Yaga Movement, I was very interested to learn more about it and become involved in some way. I have enjoyed being involved so far. I have been learning a lot and have met some great women. I look forward to my continued involvement in this interesting and worthwhile project.

Danka Zadorecki

DankaBioApproximately two years ago, I was reading a film review of “All Together,” a French movie with Jane Fonda. This is how I found out about the French Baba Yagas and the Canadian equivalent. I watched the movie and was inspired and went to my first Baba Yaga meeting. After meeting some of the wonderful women who are part of our Steering Committee, I was convinced that this was the right idea, group, and place for me. I’m retired now and work as a volunteer at the used bookstore at the Toronto Reference Library. I live alone at the Toronto Women’s Housing Co-op, which also requires some volunteer involvement. Right now I organize and co-conduct interviews with new members. In my professional life I used to be a mainframe computer programmer, manager, and owner of a family business and a customer service assistant. I’m a member of the Steering Committee and Treasurer of Baba Yaga Place.

Harriet Bernstein

HarrietBioA lifetime career in the film industry did not destroy my love of movies, which says something about my Romantic nature, as does the fact that I married a Poet. Now I am on my own and retired, which is fabulous: I am so busy! This is a wonderful time of life, when we have the opportunity to engage in pursuits for which there was little or no time while we were working in a business world, raising children, and so forth. It is also, of course, a time that brings its own very specific age-related issues, one of them being: how do we want to live? Alone or not alone? What elements are most important to us? What, in truth, are our options for affordable housing?  After hearing the CBC radio piece on the Baba Yagas in Paris, I actively pursued more information, and connected with the women in Toronto who are working to establish a housing model based on the French template. BabaYaga Place is in its developmental stage, which signifies both exciting times and challenging ones. I am encouraged by the women who are involved, and the common vision we share. We each bring our unique, diversified skills and interests. I sit on the Steering, and Communications Committees. We have made great progress, however there is a tough road ahead until we achieve our goal, which I know we will. My personal interests include writing, reading, cooking, music, film: creativity of all sorts. I have two books being published, and am deep into writing another. I also practice Therapeutic Touch, QiGong, and meditation. The place I envision living in will be warm and welcoming, and have light, air, and things that grow — including the residents! I delight in a very loving and close relationship with my marvellous daughter and my wondrous granddaughter. Wherever I live will be close to them for certain.

Ellen Passmore

EllenBioAfter a long career as a Sr. Manager in the Provincial Government, in policy/program areas related to women’s issues, disability issues, and human rights, I retired in 2013. During this time I also did some long volunteer stints in community development work in Latin America. A year after I retired, I took a position in a community agency providing programs for homeless and marginalized people, back to my social work roots. I have lived in a CMHC Co-op in downtown Toronto for over 20 years and appreciate helping to run the operations and having a say in how to manage the budget /housing charges, as well as being part of a community. As a long term feminist, active in many community organizations focusing on environmental issues, social justice, and women’s rights, when I heard the CBC program on Baba Yaga House in Paris, I was thrilled that a group of women were able to manifest a vision of social justice, environmental consciousness, community engagement, and caring for each other as they age in place. I am pleased to be able to work towards developing a similar model in Toronto, based on the same vision and principles, where I might be able to live in community with other women elders, where we can stay active and vital and help to support and care for each other when there are health bumps in the road. I love singing and folk music, and have participated in several community choirs, so I would hope to incorporate music into my life as I grow older. This process is not easy, especially in a costly city like Toronto, so I know it will take time and patience.

Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg

DorothyBioMy daughter and her family live in France and my son and his wife in Montreal where I was born and grew up and where I raised my children. I am a grandmother of three wonderful teen-age girls, my daughter’s children, also in France. I have been actively engaged in peace, gender, social and political issues for all of my adult life and continue to be so. I hold a Diploma in Physical Therapy, a Masters in Environmental Studies, and a PhD. I am an education and film consultant. I research, write, and speak on environmental health, equality, social, economic, justice, peace, and energy issues. I have worked with the National Film Board, school boards, non governmental organizations, and health professional and policy groups on these issues. I was principal research consultant and associate producer of the documentary video Exposure: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer and researcher/writer of the accompanying guidebook Taking Action for a Healthy Future. I researched and produced Toxic Trespass, a documentary on children’s health and the environment as a co-production with the National Film Board of Canada and co-wrote the accompanying educational resource guide, Taking Action on Children’s Health and the Environment and have led numerous trainers workshops using these materials as educational tools. I teach about environment and ecosystem health to graduate students at OISE/UT and model healthy behaviour to the greatest degree I can. So I have not been idle and, thank goodness, I have been well just about all of my life. However, several years ago, I developed painful shingles and later a groin injury which eventually led to my recent hip replacement surgery. My children, now in their late 40s, began to be concerned about me and, not living in Toronto probably wondered what I would be doing in my older years. When my son heard the CBC radio documentary about the Baba Yagas in Paris on The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, he called me to tell me about it. “Mom — you have to hear this — this is exactly what you need — the inspiration for something like these feisty activist women in Montreuil, France who achieved a project for older women where they would support and care for each other — a true community of concerned social activists with a dream,” which they made into a reality with hard work, dedication, and good luck. It was like a light was switched on for my future, I learned of a group that was forming in Toronto and the rest is history! While in Montreal helping my sister following her surgery, I was interviewed by David Gutnick (for part two), the producer of the documentary at which time he told me that they had never had such a large and wide response to one of their programs. This is clearly a much needed and exciting idea for many women as they age. Apparently there is action taking place all over the country. I must say that the true spirit of caring was to be evident when our Toronto Baba Yagas group heard that I was having surgery. Once my family left,  Annabelle, one of the core group, coordinated meals, helped with shopping, messages, laundry, walks, and so on for many weeks until recently when I became stronger and more mobile. I cannot thank her and all those (not only Baba Yagas) who helped me enough. The outpouring of concern and assistance has literally overwhelmed me and I am so appreciative. If this represents a model of what Baba Yagas can be for each other, we are off to a flying start for sure. My family is forever grateful as well. While no doubt much remains to be done, more power to us for a fruitful future. We hope more of such thoughtful, energetic, community-minded women will join us to make the Toronto Baba Yaga Place a reality for that future.

Iris Murray

IrisBioI’m 62 years old and I work full time. My 3 sons are grown up. I was seeking out intentional living arrangements prior to hearing the news about La Maison des Babayagas in 2012. Dr. Goldin Rosenberg is my inspiration. I enjoy discussing the practical aspects about living situations in Toronto and how Baba Yaga Place could be built. I’ve read about wonderful activities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Delaware, UK, Paris and Denmark. I figure that unassisted living will keep me fit — both physically and for mental health too!